We’ve been on a Twin Peaks kick lately, plowing through a bunch of episodes that I taped when it originally aired. Fancylady never watched the show—she was too busy getting a life at the time.
I can imagine a lot of people still holding a grudge against Twin Peaks. I bet people have bitter memories of inane water cooler conversations about who killed Laura Palmer, or of Halloween parties where four people came as the Log Lady. Even I got tired of “damn good coffee!” and other catchphrasery, the same way that I want to clobber anyone who says “yada yada yada” within earshot these days.
But I won’t question the fact that Twin Peaks is/was quality television. It was probably the first time that an American network produced anything that you could compare favourably to Denis Potter’s The Singing Detective or Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom. It did pretty well in the ratings, too, until, like most American shows, it lost its original spark and outstayed its welcome.
Aside from the occasional mullet on display, Twin Peaks hasn’t dated too badly. Because I already know what’s going to happen plot-wise, I’m finding a lot of other things to enjoy about the show.
* The opening credit sequence of automated saw blade sharpening is really soothing and beautiful.
* The relationship between Major Briggs and his son Bobby is both hilarious and touching. It’s easy to chuckle at the Major (who is always in uniform and speaks in a grave tone that never wavers) and his heartfelt efforts to connect emotionally with his son. Yet it’s hard not to feel for him, because he never gives up or shows any irritability in the face of his son’s utter indifference and contempt.
* There was a time when Lara Flynn Boyle looked like a healthy human being.
* Invitation to Love. This is Twin Peaks’ show within a show, a ridiculous soap opera that’s on TV in the background of many scenes. I guess Invitation to Love is Lynch reminding us, not very subtly, that we’re watching a soap opera ourselves. Anyway, I like that Invitation to Love is always on, day or night, and that all the characters, regardless of age and gender, watch it.
* Jerry Horne and his obsession with exotic food.
* My all-time favourite Twin Peaks scene. Near the end of episode 10 we find ourselves at a singalong (or a recording session?) on the floor of the Palmers’ living room. James, Donna and Maddie sit around some 50s-style microphones. James says, “That was really good. Let’s try it again.” They begin singing a simple ballad whose lyrics mainly consist of “Just you and I/Together forever in love.” James plays a hollow-body electric guitar and sings in an unearthly falsetto. As the song progresses, bass and drums join in. All three kids seem entranced by the sounds they’re making. Donna and Maddie, who’ve come to resemble each other during the episode, sing backup. Donna looks at Maddie looking at James, then at James looking at Maddie, then becomes upset and runs off. James gets up to console her and the music stops abruptly, like the tape was cut. As James and Donna kiss, Maddie, alone and perplexed on the floor, has a frightening vision of BOB.
I love this scene for its randomness. Aside from the romantic tension and Maddie’s vision, it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. None of the characters have shown any musical inclinations before, and what’s the deal with those microphones and James’s voice? I also love it because of the creepy song they sing. I assume that David Lynch wrote it, because the phrasing is similar to his “Heaven (Lady in the Radiator)” song from Eraserhead. The mysterious James song isn’t on the soundtrack album, unfortunately, so the only way to enjoy it is to watch this scene over and over—which I have.
We’re also watching the Ben Stiller Show these days. I only have a 10-minute scrap of it on tape as evidence of its brief lifespan, but fancy got me the whole works on DVD for my birthday. There’s a definite early 90s slant to our entertainment intake right now. Where will it end? I invite you to break down our door and berate us if we start listening to The Spin Doctors.