Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Twin Peaks 20th Anniversary
Hard to believe its been 20 years since Twin Peaks first aired. Twenty years since half America stood around water coolers discussing the question du jour; "Who Killed Laura Palmer?"
Twin Peaks, for the uninitiated, was an ABC drama that focused on the murder of a homecoming queen in the Pacific Northwest. But any similarity to a TV cop show stops there. Instead, the surreal story involved among other things, a giant, a dwarf, Tibetan and American Indian mythology, and a lady who talked to a log. It was weird and quirky long before it was cool to be...and I loved it!
Put it this way, without a Twin Peaks, there is no X-Files and no Lost. David Lynch had made TV hip again!
I always thought the main protagonist, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle Maclachlin) was one of the coolest TV characters ever. Instead of using logic and reason to solve the murder, Cooper would use dreams, visions, black coffee, and cherry pie. How cool is that?
Anyhow just before I first went to Hong Kong in 1990, Twin Peaks was re-running the first few episodes to catch everyone up for the new season. I got hooked and made my friend Tom tape every episode I missed for the months I was away.
When I returned in June 1991 Tom gave me two video tapes loaded with the remaining episodes. Nowadays getting a whole season on DVD of a show and doing a marathon is pretty standard stuff...but not in 1991. I spent a day or two glued to the screen watching one episode after another. And did it get a little scary...rare is the show that can "freak" me out. Twin Peaks did
True story: right after my marathon of Twin Peaks I made another marathon of sorts by driving 19 hours from Detroit to Tulsa to visit my then future wife Tammy because I had a bit of a crush on her...and guys do crazy things like that when they are in love! Anyhow, I pulled over in a rest area at about 2:00 AM just to sleep for an hour or two. I put clothes on hangers in the window for a little privacy...but all I kept picturing in the window was the freaky killer BOB from the show. I hardly slept a wink...
(A montage to Twin Peaks's love of Black Coffee)
Anyhow, Twin Peaks broke the mold for TV. The writers would introduce some element in the show that would only become relevant 3-4 episodes later. Gone were the self contained episodes that tied up the plot so neatly at the end of the hour.
Twin Peaks is also a cautionary tale. Once the Laura Palmer murder was solved, ratings plummeted and the show was cancelled after the second season. X-Files fell into the same trap of not knowing how to "end it". Lost's writer's learned from these misfires. They told their story...and quit!
But Twin Peaks still resonates on the TV landscape showing that a great story can be told on the small screen. So Happy Anniversary Twin Peaks...I'm off to have a black coffee and a piece of cherry pie in your honor!