We’re back! I swear this time. No more posting and then disappearing for months at a time. I know I said that last time, but I meant it then too. Why do you keep looking at me like that? I said I was sorry. You know, maybe we should spend some more time apart. I just think we’re at different places in our lives right now. It’s just this work thing, and football is over, and I don’t know. God! I just wish things could be like they used to be.
I’ve come to realize that when it comes to watching one-hour dramas on TV, I’m a bad person. Some people would say that I’m a bad person most of the time, but definitely when it comes to watching new shows. I’m rarely on board from the beginning. As someone that claims to be an early adopter for most stuff (tech, movies, puppies), I am always woefully tardy when it comes to watching good dramas. I didn’t start The Wire until long after it ended. I jumped in with Breaking Bad and Mad Men midway through season three. The Shield? Season 4. I haven’t even started Downton Abbey. The only reason I jumped in with Justified during season one was because it was carrying some serious Walton Goggins cred. Gredit if you will. I tend to rely on the recommendation of a select few before I’ll take the time to watch a new drama. Much like a dyslexic third grader, I want that shit spelled out for me. Why don’t I give new shows a chance you might ask? Because shut up, that’s why. It’s my time and I’ll spend it however the shit I please. But I will admit that I need to be more willing to jump on board with new shows. However, if I’m investing an hour of my day to watch a new show, it damn well better bring its “A” game.
Through the power of Netflix, I’ve been trying to sate my hunger for all things TV drama. I normally only watch these shows while playing games. Or I watch when it’s 3:30 a.m. and rest of the world feels that irritating need to sleep, but I can’t sleep ‘cause I’ve been drinking for several hours and I have to max out my weekend fun because society isn’t going to tell me when to go to bed! That was kinda my way of saying that my dedication and attention paid to these shows (as with most things) is questionable at best. But hey, I’m trying.
One particular drama that’s been sitting forlornly in my Netflix queue for a couple of years now is Twin Peaks. Netflix claims I’ll love it. No 4-and-a-half star rating here. We’re talking five effin’ stars. That should be a lock right? Trusted TV watchers have also pitched me this show, but always with the disclaimer that I might not “get it”. Hearing that I might not “get it” has always made me wonder if the person I’m talking to thinks I’m just really slow. And I might be. Would I know if I was? For the sake of this post, let’s assume that I’m of at least average intelligence. Stop looking at me like that. I don’t need your goddamn pity. So with disclaimer in hand and a determination to “get it”, I ventured into the magical town of Twin Peaks, Washington. And I didn’t “get it”. Of course I didn’t. Not at first.
I remember watching the opening credits of that first episode and hearing that guitar play its slow, lonely chords. Oh that’s cool, they’re showing a lumber mill. Now I know that this is a logging town and I’ll likely be seeing more of that mill. Man these credits are dragging on a bit long. Oh well, it was the 90’s. My God, how big is this cast? There will definitely be plenty of names to remember. Hey I didn’t know Lara Flynn Boyle was in this. Ugh, this opening theme song is still playing. More shots of the mill? I get it! Oh good, it’s starting. I remember thinking from word one of the first episode that this show was very different. But I wasn’t sure that it was a good kind of different.
Here’s what I mean by maybe not a good kind of different. I recall watching the murdered girl’s mom (can’t remember her name, I think she’s credited as hysterical woman) cry for an overly long time. Like five straight minutes of crying. Loud, shrieking crying. I just sat there waiting for scene to end so that we could move on to a character that doesn’t communicate through dolphin screeches. But no, she just kept on wailing like a goddamn banshee. Then I tried to get really introspective about the whole thing. Maybe David Lynch is refusing to let me off the hook. I have to sit here and feel this poor woman’s pain. Or maybe he’s just trying to figure out how to fill an hour. Also, the ambient music just never seemed to fit the scene in which it was playing. And do I really need a slow dramatic close up of every character? I dunno, maybe I do. Why must every character get five minutes of precious screen time? I don’t care that you hired a deputy with Down syndrome and I don’t need to see you demonstrating it repeatedly! So around the time that the mourning mom-banshee halted her squealing, my WI-FI went out. I decided to obey the omen and go to bed rather than fix the connection and continue with what was an all-together strange experience.
I awoke the next morning in a cold sweat. My faith in my friends was shaken and now at an all time low. How could so many people recommend a strange show that had the pacing of a quadriplegic tree sloth? Why did that crazy lady have an eye patch? Also, why was she being such a bitch to the bad guy from Under Seige 2: DarkTerritory? Why was everyone overacting so hard? Was there a talent scout on set that day? And my God the hair. So very early 90’s. What was I missing? Why didn’t I “get it”? How could my friends and Netflix be so wrong? Why am I here right now? Is there a God? Why did the Pope just quit? Was it because there’s no God? Was he going to be on the next Scandal Makers? I’m just so scared right now and Twin Peaks is the cause of it all.
Determined to at least get through one episode, I dragged my emotionally drained husk out of bed and finished Season 1: Episode 1. And I still didn’t much care for it. Don’t get me wrong, Twin Peaks had some merit. There were several “hey, I recognize him/her!” moments. Kyle Maclachlan’s oddball genius Agent Cooper is a great character and he deadpans perfectly. The setting is pitch-perfect. I grew up in a small, dying town and I can identify with the feeling of living in an isolated place that never reached its potential and never really had a prime. A show revolving around a murder mystery in a place where everyone is a suspect and everyone has a secret is a rock solid idea. But was all that enough to offset the pacing and just plain weirdness of Twin Peaks? I wasn’t sure. But pilot episodes are rarely great. I figured that I’d give it at least one more shot. Later though…way later.
A week later to be exact. I found myself drunkenly playing a game and decided I should play a movie in the background. Maybe some Karate Kid music would improve my performance. So up pops Netflix, and there’s Twin Peaks staring me in the face like a sad puppy in a shopping mall pet store. After episode two, I still thought it was all super strange. But I didn’t close the browser window. That damn theme song revved up again and I was back on board the crazy train for episode three. I couldn’t stop watching. Did I even like this show? If not, why didn’t I just turn it off? I couldn’t figure it out. But I kept coming back for more. Now I’m about eight episodes into the second season. I catch an epsiode here and there, but I keep finding myself drawn back to Twin Peaks. In my time watching this show, I have been witness to overly longing mirror stares, alien visitations, extended dance scenes, extended singing performances, menacing glares, diner twirling, cross-dressing disguises, demonic possession, one-armed soothsayers, dancing little-people dream sequences, doppelgangers, maniacal laughter, and teen angst. Despite all of that, I somehow don’t think this show has jumped the shark. I think Twin Peaks exists in a perpetual shark-jump. Every time it seems like it’s descending from one shark-jump there’s a big springboard launching it over yet another shark. I can’t get enough. The best way to categorize Twin Peaks is as a sci-fi/detective noir murder mystery/prime-time soap opera/comedy. That seems like a pretty apt description.
I think the main reason that I’ve come to love Twin Peaks is because it’s not trying to be any one thing. It’s trying to be everything. And goddammit, it’s going to go for it. Sure it’s sloppy, and waits forever to pay things off, but it’s pretty damn entertaining. Twin Peaks is utter chaos squeezed into a one-hour format. David Lynch had the courage to create whatever he saw in that LSD trip and followed through without pause. You have to respect that. It’s too easy to say that this show is just another product of 90’s television. Twin Peaks was a creative, fearless show. I can only imagine what the studio notes looked like before Lynch urinated on them and then made the show he wanted to make. You say you have a problem with watching a random lounge singer perform a terrible song while the main cast sits and watches for a good four minutes? Tough shit. You’re gonna sit there and watch with them. Don’t really care about that irritating receptionist’s baby-daddy drama? Fuck off. For better or worse, you’re taking a peek into her life too. Why is the wholesome high school girl suddenly smoking and trying to seduce the agoraphobic? I dunno, but I’m gonna keep watching to find out. And maybe that’s one of the big reasons that I’m addicted to this show. It throws you right in and doesn’t explain a thing. You arrived in town at the same time as Agent Cooper and it’s up to you to figure it all out.
Well I’m tired of typing so it’s time to wrap this up. Let’s just say that I “get it” now! I feel like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged. I kinda understand how the show garnered such a strong cult following. Maybe I even understand how all of those Firefly fans feel. Yeah, that’s still an overrated show. If you haven’t checked out Twin Peaks yet and you don’t mind being twenty years late to the party like me, I’d recommend giving it a chance. It’s strange, ridiculous, overacted, and wonderful. I will say this though. Twin Peaks isn’t for everyone. You might not “get it”.