Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It is happening again

I know, that’s the most cliched heading I could possibly have written.
But it’s appropriate in this case as I am both returning to writing bloggy type stuff regularly and writing about Twin Peaks in anticipation of the 3rd season starting in May.  

It’s pretty difficult to understate just how influential the 1990 series was on the current “Golden age” of television, and not only that on myself. A lot has been written already about the cinematic sensibilities of the series and how they helped push television drama out of the realms of locked off cameras and flat editing. I specifically want to talk about how the series impacted me as a 14 year old and how it helped shape my appreciation for storytelling and genre fiction. (Other people have written more extensively and better than I can on the series influence on the so called golden age of television we now live in) 
In Australia Twin Peaks premiered on the 18th of February 1991, in those days prior to online video and other digital distribution methods it wasn’t strange for programs from the US to appear on our screens a year or so after their premier. In fact, the mystery of Laura Palmers murder had already been wrapped up in the US and the series was amongst its much talked about downturn. The premier of the series was still an enormous TV event, and as a teenager who almost exclusively consumed Sci-fi based television and animation it was hard not to get swept up in the interest. “Who killed Laura Palmer?” had to be the most notorious and successful TV hook since “Who is Number one?” or “Who shot JR?”, the newspapers ran full page ads with the suspects pictured after the pilot. Everybody watched it, I mean everybody. (When a newspaper columnist spoiled the mystery’s resolution around the time of the premier there was more than a little anger)  I was not one for watching cop shows or mysteries, preferring to spend my time on Star Trek Next Generation which had also just appeared, or Doctor Who repeats on the ABC. 
The collective experience brought me to the series, David Lynch made me stay. I had been aware of Lynch on the fringes of my young psyche, I had seen Dune and my Father was a big fan of The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet (I was too young to appreciate either when we had last watched them on VHS). Twin Peaks brought them all together as the threads my subconscious had grabbed hold of saw the reflections in this new TV show everyone was talking about. On the surface it was just Kyle MacLachlan, but there was a surreal quality that tied the series to Lynch’s other works in my mind and not to other MacLachlan films such as “The Hidden” which was a repeat VHS viewing for myself a few years before. The qualities that stood out at the time were distinctly the subconscious strings of Lynch’s visual and aural sensibilities. The weird 50s throwbacks, the velvet drapes, characters obsessed with some specific minutia of their lives, all of them hallmarks. Mark Frost helped ground the vision somewhat, weaving in elements of traditional American drama series and I am sure getting Lynch past the network as unfiltered as possible. But as the series moved on and Lynch took his attention away from it to work on “Wild at Heart” , it became very clear whose vision drew the audience, and my then teenage eyes, more. 
So it has been just over 25 years, an auspicious period of time and one I suspect our new age of adaptation and reimagining allowed the creators to take advantage of. In May 2017 Showtime will air the long awaited season 3 of Twin Peaks, with Frost and Lynch and a large part of the cast returning. So I am taking this opportunity to revisit the series here, episode by episode, in the lead up to the new series. I have rewatched Twin Peaks on a few occasions, my old VHS copies where prized until the DVD sets were released, and this time I do so with the hindsight of over two decades and the prospect of seeing the once unthinkable continuation. What works still? What doesn’t? I hope to capture at least some of that here. If I have time I will also make some side comment on the European released Film version of the Pilot, as well as Fire Walk with me and the recently released “Missing Pieces” published in the Blu Ray boxed set of the series. (And possibly the Audio version of the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, if I get time to give it a listen) 
Sit back over the next few weeks as we travel through a place both wonderful and strange.