Thursday, October 05, 2017

COLUMN: Twin Peaks

Well, things were rough going there for a bit, but finally, all the world's problems are fixed. It almost doesn't seem real.

I mean, who'd have thunk that ONE television show would be enough to cut through our petty differences, mend global fences, and unite the world together for a cup of coffee and a slice of perfect cherry pie?

Yes, after 25 years of being away, the greatest television show in the history of history returned to the air last night: Twin Peaks. Less than a day later, world peace and global understanding has been reached.

Or at least I assume it has. Truth be told, my column has an early deadline. As I type this, it's Wednesday night and the Twin Peaks premiere is still four arduous and impatient days away. Ergo, at this time I can only presume that its return has ushered in a new era of world peace and a cultural revolution that will change the course of humanity from this time onwards.

After all, that's kinda how it felt the first time around.

When I was in high school, I pretty much ignored TV. Movies were cool, video games were cooler, music was the coolest, but TV? That was the lame thing my parents watched every night. Let's just admit it -- television in the 1980's was abysmal. Think about what some of the top offerings were at the time:

* a show about a guy and his talking car

* a show about a truck driver and his chimpanzee

* a show about wise-cracking mercenaries who drive around in a van loaded with weapons shooting at a measurable percentage of the population yet never hitting anyone EVER.

* a show about high drama and romance onboard a cruise ship where Charo keeps inexplicably popping up.

* a show about an island CLEARLY run by a supernatural demon and his vertically-challenged minion

The list goes on and on. They didn't call it the "idiot box" for nothing.

And then it happened. By divine providence or complete accident, a network TV executive green-lit a new television series from director David Lynch. The same David Lynch responsible for cult classic movies like "Eraserhead," "Blue Velvet," and "Dune." A guy whose film catalog is equal parts weird, wonderful, disturbing, and deranged. A guy who had no business being a part of the idiot box.

But with the partnership of Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, Twin Peaks ended up the perfect melange of compelling drama, quirky charm, and Lynch's patented weirdness. Within days, it seemed like the whole world wanted to know who killed Laura Palmer, the high school beauty whose life was filled with dark secrets. My roommates and I watched the premiere from our dorm room and were instantly mega-fans. Back then, TV reception in the dorm was spotty at best, so my poor parents were tasked with taping and mailing us every episode immediately after they aired.

With Twin Peaks, filmmakers learned that television could be art. The infamous dream sequence from the third episode might still be the weirdest thing ever aired on broadcast television. Twin Peaks almost single-handedly paved the way for the concept of TV as an actual artistic medium. Every envelope-pushing show from Lost to Mad Men to Breaking Bad owes a little bit to Twin Peaks for forging the trail.

We may be decades away from the original show, but I've never stopped being a fan. I bought all the books and own the series in multiple formats. I went to a Twin Peaks convention. A few years ago, I had the honor of interviewing David Lynch for this very paper, and it took Olympic levels of self-control to keep me from turning into a stammering fanboy.

And now, 25 years later, Twin Peaks is back for a limited run on Showtime. Most of the original cast jumped at the chance to be onboard for the reboot. My hope is that it's everything I loved about the original and more. Now that it's on a cable network, Lynch and Frost have the freedom to make the show darker, creepier, and sexier than ever. EVERY episode will be directed by Lynch, so anything's possible.

It could also be a spectacular flop. Lynch's most recent offerings have been SO out there that it's often hard to discern a plot. To keep viewers in suspense, no advance screenings, trailers, or previews of the Twin Peaks relaunch have been issued.

My hope, though, is that last night's episode was amazing. I've said it before: 2017 is The Year of Shane. Two of my favorite bands of all time (British shoegazers Ride and Slowdive) have reunited and are producing some of the best music of their careers. And now my favorite TV show is officially back on the air. Last night's episode might not have changed the world, but odds are pretty good that it rocked mine.

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