This show was a cult hit back in my day. From the very first episode I am overwhelmed with reasons why it become so popular. I find myself drawn back into the strange dream-like world immediately. This time however I am able to stand apart and marvel at what the show does and how it does it. I’m no professional film critic, mind you. Here is what I see:
From the very beginning both graphics and music are used cunningly to aid the plot. You see Agent Cooper driving in and remarking on the beauty of the trees. Notice how the words themselves are reinforcing the background of the landscape. This happens in other places, as in the scenes where Agent Cooper is in his motel room. He usually adds a short memorable phrase to his assistant that always describes his motel room. Add to this the skillful use of haunting music. Not too much, just enough. I heard it at the edges of my dreams all night.
The show is so uncluttered. In Episode 1 there was a fight in the roadhouse that almost appeared like the characters were performing a stylistic dance. Even in scenes in the forest you see just what is necessary and nothing more. This restraint extends to the characters’ language, too. They say just what needs to be said without extraneous verbiage. This restraint extends to other aspects of the show as well. I sometimes have “watched” other shows merely by listening to them while I did something else on the computer. Not Twin Peaks. I want to experience every detail, because everything matters.
The use of language is amazing. From the iconic phrases that spring from Agent Cooper’s interactions with the town-“a clean place at a reasonable price”, “a damn, fine cup of coffee”, just to list a couple-to the way that Norma and Shelley describe a day of beauty, the wording is pithy, well-chosen, and to the point. I’ve found myself repeating catch-phrases from the show during the day just b/s they have such mouthfeel.
Lastly, but never least, with his characters Lynch skates the fine line between caricature and portraiture with such artistry that I am bedazzled. Agent Cooper is the very image of the straight-edged Feebie…but he has visions of firewalking and gets his clues by deep intuition. The sheriff is the stereotypical small-town sheriff….who just happens to belong to an age-old secret society that protects the town from ancient evil. The plot itself centers around the murder of the home-coming queen and most popular girl in town…who is turning out to hold secrets connected to everyone in town. No-one and nothing are what they seem. Yet all of these characters ARE those things they appear to be. It’s just that in the world of Twin Peaks, there is SO much more to their story and to the story of Twin Peaks itself.
I’m conflicted about Season 2. How can it possible measure up?