the studio gate

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room

Getting older does strange things to the mind and body. That's no secret. Our tastes change and our memories aren't quite what they used to be. I'm not an old codger by any stretch of the imagination. I'm still young, yet old enough to have experienced three decades of movies and television. Watching "Twin Peaks" 17 years after its television debut, I found that my memories of the show had changed, yet remained almost the same as they had back in 1990.     

Unlike many of my peers who could watch "R-rated" movies, porno flicks and leaf through their dad's stash of magazines with those "good articles," I was a little late to the party. It wasn't until I hit 17 that I could get into and watch the forbidden "R-rated" films, and even rent them on tape. Around that tender and impressionable age, I watched David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" (1986). This was a dark and very sinister, yet totally addictive film. Many were turned off by its subject matter of voyeurism, sexuality and extreme violence. The film was made in the 1980s when Baby Boomers had forgotten about sex, drugs, and Hendrix. They and America had now become conservative, by gosh. I, however, was a young adult and just tasting the lurid world of sex and seduction. David Lynch, with his twisted sense of humanity, opened my eyes.

The world of Lynch was frightening and intriguing. I had seen his botched epic, "Dune," in 1984. Both a mess and at times a masterpiece, I thought Lynch's view of fantasy and reality was incredible. "Wild At Heart" (1990) was an over-the-top movie that purposely pushed the envelope on taste. "The Elephant Man" (1980) was a surprisingly beautiful and touching film from the same guy who would later give us Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth.  

When "Twin Peaks" was announced for the 1990 fall season, I couldn't wait to see Lynch's latest. Not much a television watcher, I was excited that something fresh and entertaining would come to my TV screen. And how it did, at least for a little while.

The movie pilot that gave us Special Agent Dale Cooper, the Log Lady, and the dead body of Laura Palmer was addictive. Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost threw us into a bizarre world of murder, seduction, mystery and drama. They melded a soap opera storyline with a good mystery and I was hooked. I needed...no, I wanted to know who killed Laura Palmer!

The town of Twin Peaks was a place where I'm not surprised that Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) would want to stay. The folks are mostly friendly on the surface, and the cherry pie & coffee are damned fine. Underneath the surface, as with many of Lynch's creations, there is something sinister going on.

I liked that most of the characters in "Twin Peaks" all had distinct personalities and quirky qualities. There was someone who you could choose and follow their journey through each episode, much like a soap opera. I liked the camaraderie between Special Agent Cooper and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean). I loved watching the sexy and flirtatious Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). The pilot and some of the following shows just seemed to get everything right. This was a show to follow.

What brought the show down for me, and perhaps a lot of fans, was that it kept on teasing us. Would we find out who killed Laura Palmer? Everything was set in place, then we were pulled along for a very long ride. I stopped watching, and so did a lot of other people. How could the show have been so good, then been dragged into a quagmire? I began to rethink my opinion of Lynch's work. Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought.

David Lynch, in a special bonus feature, reveals why the show went off course. Listening to Lynch, himself older and wiser, I got a sense of his passion for "Twin Peaks." He and Frost created an ingenious and ambitious show with the hallmarks of Lynch's world. I began to understand his reasoning for taking the show in the direction he took. I may not like how the murder and mystery of Laura Palmer was handled, but now I understand why. The show would've worked better, I believe, as a one season mini-series. By keeping the world of "Twin Peaks" short and sweet, the show would've held up better then and now.    

I can't believe that 17 years have passed since the original pilot was aired. Watching it again brought back memories of those luscious legs on Audrey Horne, and the humorous underlying tone behind the whole show. I had forgotten about the casting of "West Side Story" alums, Richard Beymer & Russ Tamblyn, as well as Peggy Lipton. The show has that "Lynch" quality of young biker types, spaced out ex-hippies, hot women with dark hair, and a jazzy soundtrack (via composer Angelo Badalamenti). I can admire the brilliance of a television show that took chances, and despite its flaws, at least held my attention for a little while. Keep in mind that 1990 also brought us dreck like "Beverly Hills 90210."
Lynch's work doesn't surprise me as much as it once did. When you watch a person's career in movies, music or writing, you get a sense of their imagination and limitations (myself included). Lynch has that "Lynchian" quality, if there is such a word. Haunting, dark and often times brilliant, Lynch's films will normally make me take a second look. They can also be ponderous. At times, they seem a little rough around the edges. Seeing Lynch on the DVD supplement, now as an older man with gray hair, I had newfound respect for him. His work in recent years has been spotty with "Lost Highway" (1997) and "Mulholland Dr." (2001). He made a little gem called "The Straight Story" (1999), which showed that he is capable of directing a moving film. This is the same director who brought me "The Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet," and "Twin Peaks." For those achievements, I am damned grateful. Where's that cup of coffee and cherry pie?       

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: CBS. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse


The strange and delightful David Lynch/Mark Frost series will make "TP" fans giddy

Directors: Various

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle,
Sherilyn Fenn


All the episodes, David Lynch pow wow, hilarious "SNL" skits

Not Rated 


Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

Lynch fans will notice his penchant for industrial images and sounds

Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

October 30, 2007