About ten minutes ago, I finished the first season of Twin Peaks. I had seen the show several years ago, but I can’t remember if I watched it on VHS or DVD, if that gives any idea about how long ago that was. I can say that I saw Twin Peaks before Bryan Singer’s X-Men was released in 2000. Wow, I’m old. So, this is the part of the piece where I give a brief overview of the show.
Twin Peaks is a surrealistic, funny, horrifying night-time soap opera created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. You might know Mark Frost from his excellent novel, The List of Seven, and, if you don’t, then you should read that now. Lynch you know from every weird thing he’s ever done. The plot is loosely built around the investigation of the murder of Laura Palmer. This murder investigation is not what the show is “about.” This is not Prime Suspect; the investigation is only an excuse for the audience to dig into the private lives of the inhabitants of a sleepy Northwest town. And, secrets abound in Twin Peaks. Everyone seems to have a few.
The principal investigator is FBI Agent Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, who is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and the Dalai Lama. He is equally led by brilliant deductions and his bizarre dreams. The rest of the characters include the woman who talks to her pet log, the one-eyed woman obsessed with her drape runners, the one-armed shoe salesman, the biker with a heart of gold, the crazy-ish psychotherapist, and an evil presence named Bob.
This show has all the staples of a good serial drama, with larger than life characters, small and gigantic mysteries, evil evil cliffhanger endings, and sudden plot twists. Twin Peaks adds the element of absurdity to an old formula. I don’t mean absurd like the Marx Brothers, except that I almost do. There isn’t a madcap zaniness, but there is an overall sense of twisted and warped logic to everything. Nothing on the show makes any sense, but it all makes a sort of non-sense.
There is no doubt that Twin Peaks has flaws. There was incredible pressure from the network to make the show conform to the formula. This was generally to the show’s detriment. Additionally, to some degree, David Lynch was just making it up on the spot. This increased the dream-like nature of the show, but it severely diminished the plot’s cohesion. The tendency is there to call Twin Peaks a flawed masterpiece, but I prefer to think of it in the same way I think of Firefly. This is a show where interesting things happened, that was great overall, with a few rough patches (Yes, there are episodes of Firefly that I didn’t really like. Sorry.), and a ton of meddling from the wrong people. I don’t think the show was perfect, but I absolutely think it’s worth watching.