Twin Peaks: Season 1 (1990)


Who’s The Lady With the Log?

I feel like I’ve heard so much more about this television show than I ever knew.  Hell, even after watching the first season, I can’t say I really understand it too much.  I know I had heard the name a long time ago, but never really felt the need to research it.  I had heard about the show again when I played the game Alan Wake, as many things I read about Alan Wake drew comparisons between the game and this show.  Finally, when Kevin Smith was recalling parts of the show on his podcast, I decided it was time for me to watch it.  This show is part drama, part comedy, part thriller, but pretty much all surreal.  Let’s see how well a very confused person reviews the TV show Twin Peaks, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and starring Sheryl Lee, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Eric Da Re, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, James Marshall, Dana Ashbrook, Madchen Amick, Richard Beymer, Michael Horse, Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie, Russ Tamblyn, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Jack Nance, Warren Frost, Peggy Lipton, Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goaz, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, David Patrick Kelly, Walter Olkewicz, Victoria Catlin, Don S. Davis, Charlotte Stewart, Mary Jo Deschanel, Chris Mulkey, Catherine E. Coulson, and Miguel Ferrer.

The base story of the entire first season gets kicked off right in the pilot.  Pete Martell (Jack Nance) discovers the naked corpse of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) by a river.  Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) and Dr. Will Hayward (Warren Frost).  Her death becomes big news around the tiny town of Twin Peaks, especially at the high school she once attended.  FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) comes down to aid in the investigation.  Over the course of the first season, they unravel hidden motivations involving sex, drugs, but a distinctive lack of rock and/or roll.  Laura’s parents, Leland (Ray Wise) and Sarah (Grace Zabriskie), suffer nervous breakdowns, but they take turns being crazy.  There’s a small group of people in the town, but they’re practically all cheating on each other.  A guy named Leo (Eric Da Re) is dealing drugs and beating his wife, Shelly (Madchen Amick).  Some of Laura’s friends, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James (James Marshall), start their own investigation into Laura’s death, eventually using Laura’s identical twin cousin, Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), to get at Laura’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn).  Cooper starts investigating leads based on a dream he has.  Also, this sexy 18-year-old falls in love with Cooper.  By the end, they narrowed in a bit on who killed Laura, but I was nowhere close to understanding anything.

I was almost as confused by the show as I was in my feelings about the show.  For a while, I was just put off by how weird it all was.  Let me give you some examples.  For one thing, there’s a lady that carries around a log that she claims has seen something that will help the police solve the murder, but they must ask the log for the information.  A dude sends his ex-wife a picture of a domino from in prison.  Someone assassinates a bird.  Suspects are decided based on how close to hitting milk bottles Agent Cooper can get with some rocks.  Cooper has an entire dream that’s really off-putting.  Everyone speaks weirdly because they all delivered their lines backwards and then had them played forward, a midget got up and started dancing, and Laura was saying something about her arms bending backwards.  It seemed that each episode took me one step closer to figuring it out, but then two big steps back in the same episode.  But, as time went on in the show, I started realizing that I was still really interested in it.  It was strange, but oddly engrossing.  It was confusing in the small scale, but I feel like I was beginning to understand the big picture.  They used some really cool and intriguing ideas too.  That dream, for instance.  It really did have a strange, otherworldly feel to it because of something as simple as recording their lines backwards and playing it forward.  You could kind of make out what they were saying, but it definitely wasn’t normal.  I did get vaguely annoyed at the end of the whole season because they just had to have the whole cliffhanger thing.  I get annoyed when shows do that at the end of their seasons because, typically, that would mean we’d have to wait a number of months to figure out what happened and, sometimes, we would never find out what happened because they show got cancelled before they could end it.  I was only able to get vaguely annoyed by this because I was streaming the first season on Netflix, where the second season was available as well.  This time the cliff is hung because I had a review to write.  I am so pro!

It’s kind of hard to judge some of the performances here, because pretty much everyone was acting so weird.  I was beginning to feel bad for Sheryl Lee because she, as Laura, was the driving force of the entire show, but she was dead before it began.  She got to pop in for some flashbacks for a minute or two, but it seemed like a bummer.  Then they threw her a bone and she got to come back … as her cousin that looks just like her with dark hair.  I don’t know.  I guess that could be a thing.  Kyle MacLachlan was good, and pretty close to normal until the dream started to make him weirder.  Also, he turned down naked Sherilyn Fenn, and it don’t get much weirder than that.  She was smokin’ hot.  I enjoyed the performance of Miguel Ferrer as the forensics expert that Cooper brought in, but mainly ’cause he was an ultra dick to everyone in the town for no reason.  Until Michael Ontkean punched him in the face.  There was something that was constantly off about Eric Da Re’s performance, but I could never tell if he did it on purpose or was just a strange actor.  Madchen Amick – who played his wife – was pretty hot though.  I also found Kimmy Robertson oddly cute.  Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie confused me.  They played Laura’s parents and, for obvious reasons, were a little distraught about the loss of their daughter.  What bothered me is that one of them would be having the nervous breakdown in one episode while the other was being strong, and then next time their roles would be reversed.  In or out, people.  It was also interesting to me that Lara Flynn Boyle was in this.  For one thing, she was very cute.  For another thing, she was in Men in Black 2.  But I never really understood her character either.  It seemed like she was trying, with James Marshall, to find out what happened to Laura, but I think they intended to cover it up for some reason.  I’m fairly convinced they weren’t the killers.  They seemed to be really good friends with Laura, pre-mortem.  Maybe the whole “three different semens and drugs” thing would’ve ruined her image or something.  Kobe seemed to get past it, though.

I’m really not sure what to tell you about this show.  It’s very interesting, but also very confusing.  I feel compelled to continue on to season 2, and possibly even to watch the movie that most people hated, but I’m also afraid that doing so will not only fail to clear anything up, but will only heap on more questions.  One thing’s for certain: Laura Palmer’s dead, and she isn’t coming back.  If you have Netflix streaming, and think you might be down with a confusing cult hit TV show, give it a look.  Hopefully season 2 will make more sense.  In the meantime, Twin Peaks: Season 1 gets “Fire walk with me” out of “She’s dead.  Wrapped in plastic.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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