“That gum you like is going to come back in style.”
Mike and Casey are consulting our logs and getting a booth at the Double R Diner to share some damned good coffee and pie with returning panelists Roz Townsend and Pól Rua. Our topic: David Lynch’s surrealistic supernatural thriller/soap opera: Twin Peaks.
We get into the show’s weird and often contradictory tone, and its widely panned theatrical follow-up movie Fire Walk with Me. We discuss its massive influence on shows like Lost and the X-Files, and try to figure out if Lynch was creating fantastical, challenging art, or just being pointlessly weird for its own sake.
“Falling” from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti
Previously titled: “Happening v. Fargo”
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I haven’t seen any of Twin Peaks, nor do I know much about Dale Cooper aside from what I heard in this episode, but I would still pick him over Fox Mulder for the simple fact that Mulder’s sole defining characteristic is that he is incredibly credulous.
I kind of wish you guys had given Mark Frost’s contribution a little more weight. I quite like his novels THE LIST OF 7 and THE SIX MESSIAHS, and his television series BUDDY FARO is a delight. (You can find it up in pieces on youTube.) But TWIN PEAKS remains his masterpiece and hardly anyone except nerds like me who look at script credits make the connection. I really feel that at least half the awesome that makes up the show is his, not Lynch’s. Weirdness is easy. Narrative structure is hard and a great many directors (see Tim Burton, Michael Bay, dozens of others) can’t be bothered to take it the extra step and ask if something actually adheres to the film’s internal logic even AFTER it’s performed by a brilliant acotr or given them a great visual.. I think Frost had the heavier load to carry.
TWIN PEAKS, for all its crazy and self-conscious eccentricity, had internal consistency and it was canceled just as it was building some cool momentum again– the stuff with Windom Earle and the Black Lodge was laying pipe for a story platform that could have gone for YEARS. Later Joss Whedon built BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER on the idea of a small town on a Hellmouth, which was a very similar concept. The culture clash of the mundane small town folks with the apocalyptic forces of evil, the idea that this weird little place will be the battleground for the soul of humanity– that’s an idea with a LOT of juice in it, and TWIN PEAKS did it first. Lynch may have had the concept, but Frost built the house. He took a mandate– solve Laura’s muder– and came up with a solution that was a story SPRINGBOARD. i never bought into the idea that ‘everything afterweard was anti-climax.’ When the show was about Windom Earle, the slow revelation of Bob’s nature and the introduction of the Black Lodge, it still sang. The book Pol mentions about the journals of Dale Cooper gives you a hint of what could have been. It was the side trips with Leleand’s civil war breakdown and James’ road trip that sucked all the life out of the thing. That’s desperation born of ‘we need to give these people something to do.’ But even the trainwreck side trips were instructed, a lot of shows that followed learned the lesson. Use your Big Bad sdparingly, set up your arc in advance, etc.
But the fact that there were arcs at all comes from Frost, I am convinced. Because you can look at his NON-Frost collaborations and see the ones that benefited from a stronger narrative voice. It’s not Lynch’s strength.
Twin Peaks was just one of those series that just never appealed to me. I tried a couple of times and couldn’t get into either the characters or the mystery. Same was true for X-Files. It just struck me, too often, as weirdness for weirdness sake. Now, I’m a fan of The Prisoner, which often got quite weird; but, there seemed to be more method to the madness, there. In fact, the point about Lynch refusing to give definitive answers about the series reminds me of Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner. He was notorious for avoiding definitive statements about it, preferring to let people make their own interpretations. The soap opera aspect didn’t help matters, as I have rarely enjoyed that kind of storytelling, without an adventure element.
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