Twin Peaks: damn fine drama
Wonderful, twisted, unforgettable… The first notes of that timeless, desolate soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti are all it takes to transport you right back. I was 13 when I got hooked on mystery crime drama Twin Peaks, and in the 25 years since, nothing has come close for pure originality.
As co-creator David Lynch (with Mark Frost) once said, “I didn’t try to make Twin Peaks realistic – it’s sort of a mythical town and it’s a desire town. It’s where you’d want to go at 10 at night to just float and see what was gonna happen.
“The story revolves around what happens when the most popular girl in high school is mysteriously murdered – she’s found floating face down at the Packard Saw Mill. We then get to know the secret lives of all the people in the town as an FBI agent attempts to unravel the crime.”
Choc-full of long, static camera shots, broken props, oddball characters, lines deliberately delivered wrong, bizarre riddles and strange dream sequences, it’s not an easy watch. But hang in there – it’s worth the effort. ‘Who killed Laura Palmer?’ became the question on everyone’s (and I mean EVERYONE’s) lips. And it all kicked off with that now infamous scene, in which Sherriff Harry S. Truman picks up the phone and hears the hesitant words, “She’s dead… Wrapped in plastic…” Then, the haunting, blue-white corpse of Laura Palmer, the girl-next-door and Homecoming Queen, is discovered in the quiet town of Douglas Firs, and the weird and wonderful roller-coaster ride begins.
Twin Peaks, which ran from 1990- 1991, is ingrained in the psyche of many. Mostly, for being – like much of director David Lynch’s output – eternally unfathomable. Which didn’t stop us loving it.
Remember Laura Palmer in the Red Room, promising, “I’ll see you again in 25 years”? Well, early 2017 is close enough – but the long-anticipated third series showing on Sky Atlantic in the UK should richly reward our patience. There’ll be new faces on board, as well as key cast members from the original series, top of the list being old chisel-face himself, Kyle MacLachland as Special Agent Dale Cooper, Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne).
The great eccentric, Agent Dale Cooper, with his fondness for Tibetan dream interpretation to help solve cases (and his love of donuts, cherry pie, super crispy bacon and a damn fine cup of coffee at the Great Northern hotel) was reason alone to watch. Endearingly inept with others (was it OCD, ADHD, Aspergers or a mix of the three?), he seemed more at ease when speaking into his mini-cassette recorder, or to ‘Diane’ (who the hell was Diane – was she his secretary at the station or some other-worldly creature? That’s the kind of series it was!). Always managing to fit the pieces of the puzzle together – even if we didn’t have a clue what he was at, his joie de vivre was infectious.
Causing arguably more of a splash than the 50s pin-ups of Mad Men, the brunette beauties of Twin Peaks (Audrey, Shelly and Donna) were to die for, with their cherry red lipstick, curvaceous figures, ample cleavage and cute smiles – which always seemed to be there, offsetting its very darkest moments.
It began with a murder investigation, but Luther it ain’t. Twin Peaks introduced us to a freaky existence of other-dimensional Native American purgatories, demon possession and horror magicians, exploring a fantasy world that went far, far beyond the sheriff’s office. And underneath the quirkiness, there were the elements all humans can all relate to – romance, grief, loss and love (and a bit of prostitution for good measure).
The new season, say its writers, will continue the story. So given the complex nature of Twin Peaks, we suggest those who haven’t delved into its wonderfully warped world catch up before tuning in. I really wish I were a Twin Peaks virgin so I could experience it for the first time all over again. Alas, certain things – like black magic and backwards talking dwarves – once witnessed, can never be unseen.
“Twin Peaks is about entering a world, falling in love with it, working within it, and letting it talk to you”, said Lynch once. ‘And slowly, it sucks you in…’
Welcome to Twin Peaks, folks. Enjoy the trip.