Eye-Popping Avant-Garde TV – ‘Twin Peaks’
Twin Peaks is tantalizing and totally spine-tingling. After 26 years David Lynch’s surreal soap opera is back with a bang!
It has been 26 years since the surreal and twisted tale of “Twin Peaks” was first aired. Part hypnagogic murder mystery, part small-town melodrama, network TV had never seen anything like it before. With a meandering, non-linear plot-line played out in a soporific and trippy tempo, the psychotropic soap epic was embraced by a die hard contingent of cultists and mainstream critics alike. It became one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV in the 90s. At VIVISXN, we’ve been hooked ever since.
In the intervening years since its debut, shows like “The X-Files”, “True Detective”, “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror” have mimicked the experimental and awesome optics (‘Lynchian imagery‘) of the drama. So expectations for the latest installment of “Twin Peaks,” which debuted last Sunday on Showtime, have been sky high. Masterminded by creative geniuses David Lynch and Mark Frost and filmed with much of the original cast (and lots of no-names and newbies added to the roster as well), the first episode from series III was beyond amazing and ran for a whopping two hours!
A typical episode can be manic, mystical, slapstick, hilarious, heartbreaking, sexy, hardcore, transcendental and downright befuddling in ways that will have you debating with your friends over the meaning and symbologies of the show for a lifetime. This time around, the cinematic scope and structure of the new “Twin Peaks” is equally big league and bold. Set in random US cities and towns, and specifically in Twin Peaks (a township in Washington state) and Buckhorn, South Dakota, the drama unfolds across multiple fronts, weirdo worm holes and Freudian funhouses.
In NYC a young man has been hired by an anonymous billionaire to monitor a spooky, teched-out translucent box to “see if anything appears.” He and his gal pal are then pecked to shreds by a chimeric alien demon (in hyper-fast frame rates) while having sex on a sofa. When a librarian is killed in South Dakota, police discover her decapitated head has been placed onto a man’s marbled and decomposing corpse. Meanwhile, in Twin Peaks, the Log Lady calls Deputy Chief Hawk with an urgent message: he must locate someone who has gone missing. In the infamous Red Room, a purgatorial netherworld that generates phantasmagoric states, Cooper has an encounter with a gabbling and grody tree (complete with a boiled chicken skin face – below). Nothing is what it seems, and we don’t know how these unconnected scenes fit together in Lynch’s stochastic quantum den. The coolest scene follows Cooper falling through a particle soup where he ends up in that plastic box thing in NYC and then fades into oblivion, in a mise en abyme-like dream sequence that is manic and mind-bending. Also, over at the Bang Bang Bar, we are treated to an airy carol from the Chromatics, whose foxy front girl, Ruth Radelet, looks perfect!
With a cast of more than 200 characters — including Monica Bellucci, Amanda Seyfried, Trent Reznor, Laura Dern, Sky Ferreira and Kyle MacLachlan — new viewers are likely to find “Twin Peaks” perplexing at first sight. Familiar motifs soon manifest, however. Mr Lynch is fascinated by the duality of human nature and the sinister corners of the soul. For him, people have a light and a dark side, a mild exterior masking an angsty and perverse inner cosmos. Agent Cooper, a coffee-imbibing, caffeine-addled Eagle Scout, has been supplanted by a hectoring and homicidal doppelgänger in a biker jacket with long hair reminiscent of Bob, Laura Palmer’s killer. Twin Peaks is a place brimming with a neighborly graciousness, yet sweet teens go missing and evil spirits lurk in every setting.
When it first premiered back in 1990, “Twin Peaks” gained a mind-boggling “33 share”, meaning that a third of American TVs were tuned in to the show. When it was cancelled a year later, its share had fallen to 9% — viewers dropped off when executives at ABC, the broadcasting network, insisted that the identity of the killer should be disclosed. For the reboot, Mr Lynch hopes to skirt such edicts. He directs all 18 episodes, which bodes well for those of us who enjoy his awesome, ill-boding and insane ideas. And even though we have countless questions for Messrs Lynch and Frost (perhaps a “Twin Peaks Hotline” could be set up?), the show is one of the most avant-garde and enjoyable experiments on television. Watch the latest trailer here and a cool doc below.
VIVISXN – Film + Culture