Email Roundtable #34 – Twin Peaks


Jane: This week on the roundtable we continue with our Fall Television Secret Santa. Jane gifted Katie the first Season of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks is about a lot of things, but basically, it is the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer.

Katie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your viewing experience.

Katie: Well, let me start off by saying that I respect that Twin Peaks is a favourite of yours and Kerri’s but I just hated it. The pilot took me a week to watch (in 5 minute increments.)

To the readers that haven’t seen Twin Peaks, I would add to Jane’s description of the show saying that Twin Peaks is a melodrama with a murder plotline. It’s like a soap opera that aired during prime time in 1991.

I tried to pin down what turned me off so hard from Twin Peaks, and it comes down to the question of “What am I watching?” It looks like a movie but it’s in episodes. It has episodes but the episodes aren’t self contained like most TV shows are. The tone is melodramatic, but am I supposed to be taking it seriously or laughing at it?

I respect that the show is trying to do something different but I wasn’t feeling it. And that’s the key with melodramas. You need to feel it.

Anyway, that’s my initial rant about the show. What was your viewing experience with Twin Peaks, Jane?

Jane: Well I had the exact opposite reaction to the show. Twin Peaks is one of my favorite shows of all time. I love how the show is able to be so many things. Melodrama (which more often than not I was moved by), comedy, thriller, mystery and everything in between. Laura Palmer’s funeral is a great example of the range of emotions this show was able to grab from me. Here the melodrama worked exceptionally. The reactions of the spectators to the minsters speech before they lower Laura into the ground moved me tremendously. When Lealand leaps into the casket as it is being lowered I wasn’t sure if I was feeling more sad or uncomfortable. Then when the mechanics failed and the coffin was going up and down amusement was thrown into the mix. As Shelly recreates the scene in the diner using a napkin dispenser, it was a laugh out loud moment for me, releasing most of the tension built up in previous scene. I love the surprise of never knowing how I’m going to feel next with this show. The shifts in tone are like nothing I’ve ever experienced while watching a show. I also think it is alright and even encouraged to laugh at the melodrama at certain points. Is there anything at all that worked for you?

Katie: You make really good points. I can totally understand why people like the show. You know, it’s just one of those things. I’ve never cared for David Lynch’s sensibilities, and this show screams Lynch. He clearly had a hand in every aspect of the show. And again, I respect that in a director.

I liked the secretary in the police station. A lot of the characters seemed weird for the sake of being weird, but she seemed grounded in her weirdness and I was charmed by that actress.

Who was your favourite character on the show?

Jane: I love everything about Lynch so I guess this is the perfect show for me. I loved Lucy as well. She is so wonderfully specific about everything. She may appear ditzy at first but in fact she is always striving to give as much detail as humanly possible! I certainly agree that the other characters are eccentric but I will argue that their eccentricities are grounded in the strange town of Twin Peaks. Jack Nance as Pete Martel may appear to be kooky for the sake of being kooky but for me his eccentricity is motivated by his horrible marriage. I think he is a man who just wants to have a simple and happy life and his words come out stilted and strange because he’s not sure how to make that happen. He’s never been allowed to express himself with his wife and every word is a struggle. I will say that I didn’t like the town and was weary of its inhabitants early on in my viewing. That’s where Agent Dale Cooper comes in. Being new to Twin Peaks himself, he acts as the viewer’s guide through the town. I was quickly won over by Agent Cooper’s contagious enthusiasm for everything Twin Peaks. As for favorite character, I have so many. The Log Lady, Pete Martel, Joceyn Packard, Agent Cooper (of course) I could go on and on and on. Which episode did you get to and when and why did you stop watching?

Katie: I only watched the first three episodes and as for the reason I’ll just say, I don’t have anything nice to say so I’m not going to say anything :)

I don’t think there will be much that we will agree on about this show. And Agent Dale Cooper is one of them. Like you said, I think you need to connect with the entry point character in a show like this one. But he was just as strange as the town Twin Peaks! Even more so. What motivates him to be so enthusiastic about this horrible murder?

Jane: I didn’t see it as being enthusiastic about a murder but more about the place the murder happened in. I’m not sure if you got to the part at the coroner’s office or not, but here he shows deep concern for Laura’s family and the situation. I love that he has never lost his child-like love of discovering new things. I think in part it is how he deals with the more gruesome aspects of his job. I will concede that certain details seem to excite him but I think his love of mysteries and how certain elements are connected is separate from his feelings about Laura’s murder. I also love how he uses the tape recorder and talking to “Dianne” as a humorous method of pouring out piles of exposition. Agent Cooper may be my favorite television character of all time. I’m not really sure where to go from here. Anything else you would like to say about the show?

Katie: No, I don’t think so. It’s an agree to disagree situation!

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