Monday, February 20, 2012

RR Twin Peaks

It's time for yet another "Random Review", 'haven't done one of these in a while.
This time, featuring a cult classic from the early 90s.

Twin Peaks!
A show like no other else.
Part-drama, part-science fiction, part mystery, part-fantasy...

It only lasted for 2 seasons, but it marked an entire generation of directors and writers.
And without it, I'm sure we wouldn't have gotten any of our current recent productions, these serials storyarcs-driven shows like LOST nowadays (or any of those other Bad Robot productions as well).

Name: Twin Peaks: The Complete Series
Created by David Lynch & Mark Frost
Original run 1990-1991
Genre Supernatural/Mystery/Thriller/Drama serial

Twin Peaks is a show created by famous director David Lynch, the man who made such  classics as The Elephant Man, Dune or Blue Velvet.
Lynch co-created the show with the novelist Mark Frost.

As soon as the pilot originally aired in 1990, the show was unlike anything else the TV market had back then.
Part-murder mystery thriller, part-fantasy drama with supernatural tone. It was the brainchild of two visionaries who wanted to bring in something deeply personal amongst a sea of generic sitcoms and usual cop/spy/medical shows.

Because Twin Peaks is very much a Lynch creation at heart.
And like most of his films, it is quasi impossible to really define the show with such themes.

The show touches a broad genre, depending on the mood.
It could really go anywhere at any time, from little comedy/campy moments to another scene featuring the melodramatic characters that inhabits Twin Peaks.

It was more than a simple murder story.

But let's start from the beginning, shall we?
What about the story itself?

Meet FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

The plot revolves around an FBI Special Agent as he arrives in the little town of Twin Peaks in some unspecified part of the United States. (probably near Washington from what is implied during the show)
This agent, Dale Cooper (played fantastically by Kyle MacLachlan) was tasked with the investigation of a very strange murder case, the murder of a popular teenage Laura Palmer.
Everything seems to point a mysterious killer Cooper had been chasing for the past 10 years. His m.o. always similar, leaving very strange clues on the victim, such as a tiny letter from a typer under their fingernails, this time an R.

To help him on this investigation, Cooper starts working with the local police force. He quickly make friends with the town sheriff
Harry S. Truman (played by Michael Ontkean).

A big, diverse and original cast of colorful characters populate the not so peaceful anymore-town of Twin Peaks.
Some will be helping out Coop, like rest of the police department like Andy, Hawk, or others less friendly folk will be there to prevent him from resolving this sorry affair.

As a main character, Cooper is a very strange fellow as well.

While other regular detectives on TV usually rely on hard work, reflexion and deduction, Coop openly follows his instincts or even listen closely to his dreams.
Coop also has a lot of strange quirks and habits. He will want to stop by everybody and meet the inhabitant of Twin Peaks, learning about the lives and whatnot. Believing what he sees in his dreams to be actual clues and have important meanings, Coop will try to understand these signs send from beyond our realms. 
Also, a fun way to narrate the story, Coop is often seen recording his thoughts and ideas on a tape recorder, for an unseen person called Diane. (or is that the recorder's name?)

The owls are not what they seem-

For the most part of the series, the more serious one, it is mostly a characters driven piece.
We learn about these characters, their lives. Segments of these characters' life.

Cooper and his interaction with the Sheriff and his deputies.
The lives in Twin Peaks that won't ever be the same anymore, with the loss of this Laura Palmer leaving such a huge impact (as Bobby points out in the pilot).
A destroyed Leland Palmer, Laura's father (a fantastic Ray Wise covering such a wide array of emotions, never stopping to impress and surprise us) going to the deep end.
Her former friends trying to live their lives no matter what, with no success and her ghost still haunting their thoughts.
Twin Peaks' adults covering their lies about what was really going on this little regular American town.

But slowly, the death of Laura Palmer starts to reveal this small town for what it really is.
This apparently respectable piece of American land hides various layers of uglyness beneath the fake smiles.
Everybody was living double lives.

The more supernatural aspect of the town (and its forest!)  only glimpsed in the first episode starts invading Cooper's mind and slowly taking over the direction of the show.

It's quite an original and fun show to analyze as well.

Each episode represent a single day "in chronology", set in 1989. So we are often left with Cooper on a cliffhanger in the middle of the night, or simply going back to his hotel room.

Who is the real killer? What or who is this BOB? Where is the Black Lodge?
And what about that man from another place Coop seems to meet in his dreams?
What is really going on in the dark woods?
What about this deadly unfinished game of chess Cooper used to play with a certain Windom Earle?

The show loves to throw red herrings at us along the path.

All in all, it's an original show that wants itself original, fun and entertaining like TV used to!
The complete series on DVD allows to enjoy this unique experience seamlessly. (only interrupted by the Log Lady's random visions and allusions at each episode's start).

There was a lot of improvised reactions on the show, which really makes all these characters unique and real. Lynch and his directors used to let the actors play with that. Most of these came from the incredible Kyle MacLachlan in the role of Cooper, but let's not also forget all the other characters that gave life to this fictional town. (Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, Madchen Amick, etc.)

The music also.
Let's not forget to mention the music!
Composer Angelo Badalamenti's score is as much part of the show's success as the rest of the cast and crew!
He gave the show its mood and atmosphere. Moody, slow, it is composed of a mix of cool jazz, percussions, electric piano and other symphonic medleys. Sometimes almost parodical (in more talky/drama scenes), and works perfectly to create the uncertain feel of the town.

Overall, it is fun most of the time. Creepy in other occasions. Weird most of it. And always entertaining in the long run!
No, really. It is a must see! 
Give it a chance, the first hour might be hard on you if you're not used to Lynch work.

It's is an odd mix of soap opera and supernatural fiction for everyone to enjoy! 

There's a lot of interesting things to see, even on a secondary viewing. The shows plays with the audience in the composition, directing, etc.
For example there's this fictional soap opera that plays within the series, Invitation to Love. An over-the-top sort of pocking fun at the genre.

Sadly, when the ratings dropped in the 2nd season, ABC insisted they revealed the murderer's identity mid-season (2). Which is a bad move from the producers if you ask me. The show has a problem finding its feet afterwards, before picking up again in the end...

David Lynch also directed a movie based on the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
Which works actually as prequel (and pseudo-sequel as well, clarifying some points regarding the ending and Cooper...).

Dreams is a big part in the shows' mytho.
And like a dream, it clings to your memory and leaves this blur, this presence in your thoughts.
Likewise, the series doesn't leave things really clear regarding most occurrences and events. Things are left open to the audience.

A recommended must-see for all!
(I'd gave it a perfect 3/3 must watch recommendation, if the 2nd Season didn't get as lost midpoint, finding back its track...) 

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Films!

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