Agent Cooper

A Return to Twin Peaks: David Lynch is Back.

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After the 27 year hiatus, many of us returned home again on Sunday night as Twin Peaks returned to our television sets. The two hour series premier featured a lot of content and played upon various emotions that left us all withering for more. There sure as hell was a lot to take in, especially if you stayed awake until 4am in the UK like I did. It was however, all worth it in the end. David Lynch and Mark Frost presented us with a spectacle, unlike anything currently on television. They essentially took the reins and schooled every other television show in history. This is how you do horror. This is how you do mystery. This is how you toy with the emotions of your audience when you pick up exactly where you left off 27 years ago.

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After starting with the familiar scene from the last episode in 1991, we are thrown again into the red room with Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper. Only this time when we see Coop, there are no prosthetics or make-up in place to make him look older. He is older, almost exactly as predicted from the earlier seasons. We then transfer to a black and white filter as Agent Cooper is addressed by the giant, once again played by the iconic Carel Struycken. The weirdness is most definitely happening again.

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Following this scene we are placed in an empty hallway in Twin Peaks high school, as the camera makes its way toward the trophy cabinet and focuses on that picture of the poster girl. The girl that started it all: Laura Palmer. The green font appears on our screens once again and those notes ring out exactly the way they did all these years ago. The same theme conducted by the brilliant Angelo Badalamenti is layered over a new title sequence filmed in glorious HD. Shots of those Douglas Fir trees and the waterfall next to the Great northern Hotel resonate with the audience. However a main importance of the new title sequence is the inclusion of the Red Room. The red drapes and zig-zag floor cements the role of the Black Lodge into the world of Twin Peaks, foreshadowing that the next 18 hours of content will indeed be both wonderful and strange.

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So what has changed? The most immediate difference we see as a returning viewer is the image. Almost entirely gone are those warm 50’s style tones and soap-esque lighting. Instead, we are introduced to a bizarre case of modernity. It looks so new! We are subjected to the crisp world of high quality digital camera work. After watching Lynch’s last project ‘Inland Empire’, which was shot entirely in standard definition, I was sceptical of the fact that Lynch would not use HD and maybe film the new season similarly to ‘Inland Empire’. Once again he surprises me and most likely many others.

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The concept of image does take a key central role in this new season. We see what we have seen previously in terms of characters and scenery, yet something always feels different. Old and familiar characters begin to appear, mostly wearing similar outfits, yet they look much older. This is of course inevitability, there is no masking the process of aging, yet David Lynch and Mark Frost use this to their complete advantage. The appearance of the familiar characters plays with the viewer’s emotions ranging from nostalgia to sadness. Everyone looks the same but different would be a sweeping way to summarise and this pretty much what can be said for the entire feel of this new season. More than a direct sequel to the original two seasons, it definitely feels more closely related to ‘Fire Walk With Me’, the feature length prequel. In essence, it feels more Lynchian.

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As well as the re-introduction to old characters, there are a whole load of fresh faces as this is not solely based within the fictional logging town of Twin Peaks. Arrays of stars appear, most of who have worked with David Lynch previously in his other works. If you’re a Lynch fan, you will most likely be shouting at the screen ‘Oh it’s that guy’ and trying to picture where you have seen the person before. Again, this furthers the dynamic of familiarity that this season has managed to foreground. A personal favourite of mine is a brilliant performance from Matthew Lillard who is caught up in a messy situation involving a murder.

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The location of the first two episodes switches from Twin Peaks, New York, Las Vegas and South Dakota. We cannot help but try to interlink the locations into one storyline, but as of yet, the storyline is typically non-linear and realistically would be a waste of time to try and interlink it until we have the full picture in front of us. The way the story is told in this season is totally unlike anything else on TV. It is incomparable. Therefore, I don’t see the point in analysing the potential theories at this point, because they will most likely be so very wrong.

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Another aspect of the show that adds to the unease is the pacing. A lot of these scenes are slow and atmospheric. It is much more of a feeling than it is a typical linear show. There are a lot of camera tracking shots or long uneasy silences between dialogues. Again, this is typical of David Lynch. The building of tension once again plays with our emotions and strays from the conventions of what viewers would consider ‘normal’.

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Compensating the long unsettling silences and uneasy pacing is spectacular sound design curated by David Lynch himself. It differs from what we are used to once again. There is a complete lack of jazz music which is notable from the conventions of the original two seasons. Instead, there are low rumbles similar to those in Eraserhead, low industrial rumblings again adding to the build of tension.

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In essence, Twin Peaks is back, but not as we all know it. It is different. It does not aim to appease fans and rightly so. It aims to break boundaries. It could be considered as David Lynch’s Magnum Opus and gives a nod to his past works as they echo throughout the styles and themes of the show. Where it will go from here remains a mystery, perhaps the ultimate drama mystery that audiences have ever seen and are likely to ever see. It is very much what David Lynch wants and therefore it is exactly what true fans of Twin Peaks have been longing for.

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Twin Peaks: A Cultural Phenomenon (Part 2)

Hi all,

Just a quick apology to those waiting on Part 2. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks and simply have not gotten around to posting this. Anyway, my apologies and I hope you enjoy this post. 

Thanks again.

gordon

Gordon?

The ‘need to know’ among viewers drove the show into a second season due the lack of conclusion and clarity over the death of Laura Palmer, this time, for a lengthy 22 episodes. More episodes mean more directors and the need for a bigger crew. Many consider this to play a fundamental part to the show’s downfall. David Lynch and Mark Frost became less involved with Twin Peaks and other directors took the helm. Week after week passed and ratings dropped with the investigation into the main plot still no closer to a conclusion.

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Attention spans were drifting and so ABC wanted answers. Head of ABC at the time Bob Iger demanded that Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed mid-way through the season. This was everything that both David Lynch and Mark Frost did not want. Lynch has been quoted saying that the show was like a goose that laid golden eggs. What ABC did when they pressured them into revealing Laura Palmer’s killer was cut the head off of that goose. It’s a great analogy and truly does put into perspective just what the network did to the show.

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Iger, our fate is in your hands.

Once Laura’s killer had been revealed, many viewers dropped off from the show. This was most likely due to the sense of closure that the episode gave to the ongoing mystery. It did make way for a new plot, with new characters, but it did not have the same aura around it that it did for the first season. This was also impacted by the change of scheduling. The show was moved from a Thursday night broadcast, to all different times. Interest dropped off pretty quickly after that and many, myself included, consider Bob Iger’s decision to be the hands down worst decision that anyone in the TV business has ever made.

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So what happened to Iger after that? Destroying a cultural phenomenon that many loved surely would lead to a decline for this guy? Surely he would be left out of more executive decisions because he doesn’t understand both the text and the audience? Nope. Iger is now currently the C.E.O of Disney, yep, Disney. So this man now holds the fate of Star Wars, Marvel and all other cult favourites. Although they are not really cults anymore are they? They are the face of popular culture. Merchandising of these products makes it almost impossible to avoid the gaze of the Disney eye. So realistically, don’t hold your breath for the next Star Wars installment as it might signal the end of the franchise we all know and love.

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Who knows what this will hold…

The blame for the show’s demise can be spread throughout impatient audiences, irrational network bosses, drifting storylines and confusing scheduling. It can be summarised in the simplest of terms that TV was simply not ready for a show like Twin Peaks. However, lessons were learnt. The introduction of HBO meant a whole new platform for TV in the shape of big budgets and larger than life shows. With the introduction of HBO, audiences were introduced to the concept of ‘quality TV’. From the demise of Twin Peaks, came The Sopranos, Sex in the City and The Wire to name a few of the network’s successful shows. These helped shape TV as we know and love today.

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Possibly the greatest show to emerge from the cancellation of Twin Peaks.

In essence, Twin Peaks took one for the team. Since being cancelled, the fanbase has grown and there is still an annual festival held in which cast members and fans from around the world can revel in the world of Twin Peaks. Sort of like a comic con specifically for Twin Peaks. It is now seen as a prestigious landmark in the history of television.

So, twenty five years after the series ended on a dramatic cliff-hanger, Twin Peaks has had the greenlight for a third season. This is the longest gap between seasons ever in a show’s history, allowing the show to continue to break records. Who knows what boundaries the third season will break? Maybe the show will expand its fan-base even more and lead to more content, either in the form of television or even film. Either way it is gratifying to see a show get the recognition it deserves, especially after the original broadcast being so long ago.

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Season three poster

Prior to the new season, Mark Frost has released a novel; ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ allowing keen fans of the show to delve into a hidden past of the fictional town that the show never really dipped into (with the exception of the lack lodge). Frost has also announced that he is planning on releasing another novel after the show’s final episode is broadcast. ‘Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier’ will most likely give viewers the conclusion to the show that they have waited patiently for.

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‘The Secret History’ 

Something tells me that this will not be the last we will see of Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks. Its legend will not be forgotten and I predict that fans will simply refuse to let the series die. There is a whole world of possibility to be explored, both mysterious and strange.

A Return to Twin Peaks

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“I’ll see you again in 25 years.” Said a backwards talking Laura Palmer to a confused looking Dale Cooper in 1991. Only one person would have the dedication to infuse the diegetic with the non-diegetic over a literal quarter of a decade time span. In other words, David Lynch’s cult TV show ‘Twin Peaks’ is coming back to screens this May 21st on Showtime (Sky Atlantic in the UK) after a lengthy 25 year absence.

After the longest cliff-hanger in television history, many of the original cast are returning for the 18 episode season, with new additions to the inhabitants of the bizarre Washington town including David Lynch favorites Laura Dern and Naomi Watts as well as Jim Belushi and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It is not only the cast making a long awaited return, Co-Writer Mark Frost is back to contribute as well as legendary David Lynch counterpart Angelo Badalamenti recreating that soundtrack we all love (cue jazz drums).

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So, everything seems to be pointing in the right direction for an epic revival into one of the most important TV shows ever to grace our screens. With the current demand for new, exciting and binge worthy shows to watch at our disposal, it only seems fitting that we pay homage to one of the shows that started it all and made us so addicted to our TV drama. Due to audience ratings the show was originally dropped and David Lynch had to reveal Laura Palmer’s killer half way through the second series because of declining figures. Maybe it was a case of wrong place at the wrong time for the show, but the impact it had on those that engaged with it paved the way for many of the episodic TV shows that we know and love today.

For those that watched first time round and everyone else that has watched it in the past 25 years, answers are most definitely needed (especially after THAT finale). In typical Lynchian fashion, many questions may be answered only to be replaced with new ones! In regards to the main plot, it has been kept a secret with the only information we have being that the newest series is a direct follow on from the previous season. It will be interesting to see what has become of F.B.I Agent Dale Cooper; did he eventually settle into his reasonably priced property? What about Bob? Where did he go? Hopefully all will become clear (or cloudy, it is David Lynch).

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With such a strong line-up, especially with Lynch in the driving seat, it is set to be a success and could prove to be a pivotal moment for television in 2017. If you haven’t experienced the wonders the world of Twin Peaks has to offer, then it is strongly recommended you catch up! For those of us that have waited for this return then get yourself a couple slices of that cherry pie and load up on some damn fine coffee before re-visiting those beautiful Douglas Firs!

With the release date edging closer, expect a few more Twin Peaks themed articles with an episode by episode review after each broadcast. In the mean time, amaze yourself with how well the cast has aged judging from these magazine covers!