Thursday April 8th marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of Twin Peaks, one of the most influential and memorable programs in the history of television. Over the next two days Biff Bam Pop writers share their memories of the show. We begin with JP:
I missed David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks the first time it aired but caught it, appropriately I suppose, on its second run.
Of course, I had been aware of the series when it premiered – it was the darling of television critics everywhere and I read my TV Guide as thoroughly as the Entertainment section of the Toronto Star but for one reason or another, the pilot eluded me and I didn’t want to start my “detective work” on the show in the middle of the following seven episodes. So I waited, caught it on repeat and then dove headfirst into season two, transfixed by the strangely meandering soap opera-like story of unsolved small town murder, the surreal yet transfixing cast of characters, the sultry female actors, the haunting musical score and, of course, the amazing Kyle Maclachlan as the now mythical Agent Cooper.
Twin Peaks is a series that will stay with me forever – not because of the story. No, to be honest, I found the series too perplexing and impenetrable for that aspect of the show to be deemed classic. In fact, I found the second season to be so much filler to what the story was supposed to be about. Twin Peaks will stay with me for the timeless imagery it served up to my young eyes: sometimes pleasing, sometimes horrifying, sometimes bizarre – but always fascinating.
There are four specific images from the series’ two “seasons” of broadcast that are imbedded within my consciousness. The first two typify both the sublime and the ridiculous nature of the series: how could I ever forget the beautiful visage of Madchen Amick serving cherry pie at the Double R dinner? Yeah, I fell in love at that greasy spoon every time she was onscreen. And then there was the strange dwarf, the Man From Another Place, as he was called, dressed in a 1930’s leisure suit, walking and talking backwards in a mysterious lounge decorated with sweeping red velvet curtains, illuminated only by the light of a strobe. Disturbingly whacky.
But there was also another side to the show. A dark side.
The other two images that haunted me in the early nineties, just as they do now, revealed the antagonist, Bob, a tall, thin drifter with long and wiry gray hair and maniacal eyes, malevolently leaping over a couch and coming straight for me, the viewer! And in the final episode, heroic Agent Cooper, not immune from the wickedness he’s investigated for so long, slamming his head against a washroom mirror, revealing a broken reflection of the evil Bob, as he incessantly asks “How’s Annie?”
Those kind of primordial images entrench themselves within you, stay with you, both in the conscious and the subconscious. So powerful were they that they have also informed – and continue to inform – my own creative outputs ever since I first witnessed them twenty years ago.