Today 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 conclude with David Ward:
I remember Twin Peaks fever during the summer of 1990. It was insane – from t-shirts emblazoned with “I killed Laura Palmer” to Kyle McLaughlin hosting Saturday Night Live to books, books, and more books popping up every few books. I even owned The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, because I, like so many other foolish people, thought I could figure it all out from a book sent out by the makers of the show.
Twin Peaks is a difficult show to describe, and what I find even more difficult to describe is the effect it’s had on me over the past twenty years. A murder mystery? A supernatural horror story? A town with too many questions? What was the appeal? To this day, I find it difficult to either quantify or qualify.
It is scary, though. Amusing, quaint in places, but truly terrifying in others. During some of the reveal scenes in the second season, your eyes widen and hair stands up on the back of your neck. The first season, which gets the ball rolling in terms of the murder mystery and the town’s denizens, also has its moments, but between BOB, MIKE, and the Black Lodge, well, there’s enough there to send you to therapy for years if you’re particularly sensitive.
Perhaps that’s why I find it appealing. I’ve always liked to be scared. Or perhaps it’s the uncanny ability of Lynch and co. to blend character and setting so seamlessly. Twin Peaks, and the land that surrounds it, is infused with darkness and is also a living and breathing entity unto itself (and The Bookhouse Boys are only too aware of this). All of the settings are characters: the woods, the Double-R, the mill, the Great Northern Hotel, the sheriff’s department, the hospital, One Eyed Jack’s, the Bang Bang bar – they’re as real, and as important, as Cooper, Truman, the Palmers, the Haywards, the Log Lady, the Hornes, Big Ed and Nadine, the Renaults, etc. Land and person sit on equal footing in this show.
And let’s not forget the truly weird shit. I’ve already mentioned BOB, MIKE, and the Black Lodge, but there’s also The Man from Another Place (a.k.a., The Arm), the Giant, the White Lodge, and the surreal dreams. The supernatural in this show, or at least the perception of the supernatural, is some of the most original stuff I have ever seen, and I still stand by this. These aren’t classic monsters; they’re physical manifestations of the darkness in us and in the land that surrounds us. They’re also us. They’re really unnerving, from the moment we first see BOB on-screen, to the show’s very last scene. Lynch has used this before and since – in the face of absolute personal horror, the monstrous manifests in either physical or dream-like form. Are they real? It’s strange to say, but I hope so. I’d rather it be monster than man.
Oh, and lastly I wanted to mention the horse. Still don’t get the horse.