Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twin Peaks Pilot

“She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.”

I saw a trailer for a really creepy video game the other day, called Alan Wake. Reading up on it I found that it was inspired by a tv show called "Twin Peaks". Now I've heard a lot about this show but I've never seen it. I was intrigued though and having now watched the pilot I can tell you it's the weirdest tv show I've ever seen but also one of the most intriguing. It was co-created by David Lynch, who also directed "Dune", also very weird. The storyline is intriguing, the characters are original (and weird) and there is so much going on that it's difficult to keep straight. There will be SPOILERS so if you want to discover the show for yourself, read no further.

I swear the intro is the longest in tv history. Clocking in at 2.5 minutes, the music is creepy as all get out because it's calm and soothing, the complete opposite of the show. We're also introduced to the small logging town of Twin Peaks. I don't remember what tv intros were like in the early 90s but to me this was a hint that "Twin Peaks" wasn't like most shows.

On to the show; a man named Pete Martell sets out to go fishing only to find a body wrapped in plastic on the beach. It turns out to be teenager, Laura Palmer. Friends, family and local townspeople are shocked at her death. But the more we uncover about Laura the more we see she's not who everyone thinks. This is actually true of all of Twin Peaks citizens. There's more to them than meets the eye. While the main storyline centers on the mystery of Laura's death, viewers are also left wanting to discover more about Twin Peaks itself and the mysteries it hides.

Have you seen Twin Peaks? If so, what did you think of the show?

The Players:

Josie Packard (Joan Chen) - Widow of Andrew Packard, former owner of the Packard Mill. Andrew brought her over from Hong Kong six years ago. When he died in a boating accident a year ago, she inherited ownership of the mill. She seems to consistently butt heads with her sister-in-law Catherine and is currently having an affair with Sheriff Harry S. Truman. (Yes, that's his real name)

Pete Martell (Jack Nance) - Husband to Catherine, brother-in-law to Josie Packard, who owns the Packard Mill. Jack works at the mill, possbilly on the accounts. He also really likes fishing. His wife seems somewhat distant and his way of describing what happened to Laura after phoning the sheriff's department was "She's dead; wrapped in plastic" which is kind of cold. Later in the day he seems to have gotten over his shock at finding a dead body, just watch.

Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) - Sister to Andrew Packard, deceased owner of the Packard Mill. She is a bitter woman who runs the Packard Mill and is jealous of Josie who was given ownership of the business after Andrew died in a boating accident last year. Catherine also happens to be colluding with Ben Horne, owner of the Great Northern Hotel, phoning him when Sheriff Truman comes over to visit Josie for some nookie. Catherine's also kind of a meanie. When she loses a fight to Josie she fires one of her employees for no reason.

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) - Laura is dead before the pilot begins. We learn she was pretty, popular, homecoming queen and tutored Ben Horne's mentally disabled son. She was dating Bobby, a football player but lately they'd been having problems and she had started to see James, a leather-jacket-wearing fellow student. She also happened to secretly be seeing a shrink, sneaking out after hours and doing cocaine. She also owned a safety deposit box with $10 000 and a porn magazine with her friend's picture in it.

Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson) - This flighty receptionist at the sheriff's department is more than awkward at times. She's told “not a word about this to anyone until you hear from me” when discussing the discovery of Laura's body. I get the sense that lucy tends to blab a lot about things she shouldn't to people she shouldn’t be talking to.

Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) - Besides having a ridiculous name he seems to be one of the few people in town who isn't insane and is a responsible human being. Teams up with Agent Dale Cooper to uncover the truth behind Laura Palmer's death. Lover of Josie Packard.

Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz) - A somewhat simple minded man who seems to cry easily. We see Andy cry twice in the pilot. This seems strange because he belongs to a sheriff's department. You would expect that he's exposed to more death than the average person so wouldn't he be used to seeing these types of things? He seems new to the job though or perhaps Harry is because he asks “is this gonna happen every damn time?”

Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) - Laura's mother. She has no idea about Laura's double life but you want to watch for her reaction about Laura's death. It's something I’ve never seen before on tv. It’s so uncomfortable-making. It's raw and real and I felt as if I were intruding on a private moment of anguish and despair.

Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) – A smarmy douche if there ever was one. We first meet him spitting into a fire. The owner of the Great Northern Hotel he’s currently trying to ink a land deal with a bunch of Norwegians. The problem is the land he’s trying to sell isn’t his yet. It belongs to Josie Packard. “We have solid information. Packard’s Sawmill is going to go belly up within a year. We're going to be able to get it for a song. One verse no chorus.” Great writing! The inside information must come care of Catherine. It makes you wonder whether she’s actively trying to make the mill fail. Ben has two children, Audrey, who went to school with Laura, and Johnnie, a special needs child that Laura worked with after school. Ben also works with Leland Palmer, Laura’s dad.

Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) – Father to Donna and husband to Sarah. He seems to go a little nuts after hearing about what happened to his daughter because he says he wants to see the body. Gross.

Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) – It’s difficult to believe he’s on the football team since he doesn’t seem the type to care about school. In fact, he’s blown off football practice for the past few weeks. We don’t know what he’s been doing but it’s possible he’s been at the diner. He offers to give Shelley, a waitress, a ride home. It turns out they’ve been seeing one another for a while and Bobby had a big fight with Laura, his girlfriend. When questioned about her murder he adamantly denies being involved and also denies that she could have been seeing someone else.

Shelley Johnson (Madchen Amik) – She’s been seeing Bobby who is apparently scared of ‘her old man’ who we later learn is actually her boyfried/lover/husband? He’s abusive, makes threats of violence against her and is all around scary. He has a 1950s attitude when it comes to women and is paranoid about her cheating on him, which lets be honest, he's right about that.

Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) – She works as a waitress at the diner. Her lover, Hank is in jail for manslaughter and meanwhile, she’s carrying on with a man named Ed who runs Big Ed’s Gas Farm a gas station out of town. She arranges a rendezvous with Ed at the Roadhouse which seems to be the not so secret meeting place for a lot of people.

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) – We see Bejamin Horne’s dauther smoking at her locker. What is it with people smoking in this show? Audrey seems to like breaking the rules. She smokes in school, seems indifferent to Laura’s death and disrupts the negotiations with the Norwegians after telling them her friend was murdered. I get the sense that perhaps she doesn’t get enough attention at home and maybe that’s why she acts out.

James Hurley (James Marshall) – A leather-jacket wearing, motorcycle-driving mulletish boy who was secretly seeing Laura. He and Laura and Donna Hayward were close friends. In fact, he’s the one who shot the video that Agent Dale Cooper brings up in Donna’s interview at the sheriff’s department. James decides to hide out while the investigation is ongoing, handing over a letter for Donna to Ed at the gas station. He and Donna arrange to meet at the Roadhouse and then in the woods they kiss! I guess he got over Laura and her death really fast.

Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) – Laura’s best friend and her complete opposite. While we assumed that Laura was the model daughter, Donna is really the one that's the goody two-shoes. Although, she does sneak out after hours, meets up with her dead best friend's lover and kisses him in the woods, so...

Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re) - A complete jerk who drives truck for a living. He's paranoid and smokes, just like everyone else in this show. He threatens Shelly whom he seems too old for. Someone's going to need to give him a dressing down. The character I like the least so far.

Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) - An ocd FBI agent who loves coffee and trees, a lot. He's seems like a contemplative man and often uses strange ways to decipher evidence. He records his daily routine on a recorder to a woman named Diane. I have doubts about her existence as I'm not sure she's real. He and Sheriff Truman make a great odd couple.

Highlights of the Episode

- Pete calls in to the sheriff’s department and instead of acting like a normal human being he blurts out, “She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.” Thanks for the info Pete. Now, one more time, who’s dead?

- Here’s a drinking game for you. Count how many rotary phones are used in this episode. I swear every character gets their hands on one. Were they still that prevalent in the early 90s? Pity, I never got to use one.

- I love how retro everything is. Everyone’s hair is big, their clothes are baggy, the sets are kitschy.

- Andy crying. You feel for the guy and he’s the only one to ask “Who is she?” when the group gets to Laura’s body wrapped in plastic. Out of everyone I feel that he’s the most sane (though that isn’t saying much)

- Laura’s mother smoking. This feels so foreign. Is there anyone on tv who still smokes apart from Mad Men characters?

- What is up with the various shots of the staircase at the Palmer household. It’s a weird angle and Lynch keeps harping on it. It’s creeping me out.

- I love how much is going in the background here. When we first go to the diner we see a logging truck drive down the street, reiterating how this is a logging town. Then when Leland is on the phone with Sarah about Laura we see Harry’s sheriff truck pull up in the parking lot.

- How is Bobby on the football team? How? He seems more of the boozing, late for class, devil may care, drinking and driving, pick-a-fight moron type.

- It’s interesting to see how the characters receive or try to get information we the audience already have. For example, we know Laura’s dead before her parents do.

- Another disturbing scene is when a girl runs screaming through the courtyard outside the school. Again, Lynch is good at the creepy and notice how he manages to do it without any gore.

- I loved when the principal broke down over the PA system while trying to address the students. It felt real. Anyone recognize him from ER?

- Laura had a phone in her room? Can you say spoiled child? And speaking of Laura, how can she possibly have hidden so many secrets and yet nobody knew? She was seeing a shrink, doing drugs, seeing some guy named “J”. Is everyone blind in this town? Actually I think everyone else was too wrapped up in keeping their own secrets from everyone else to notice Laura’s.

- Big Ed’s Gas Farm may just be the best name for a gas station ever.

- Does James seem sensitive on the same scale as Andy? The look on his face when he’s stuck behind bars with Bobby and Mike makes me want to give him a hug.

- When we learn that Janek Pulaski’s daughter is missing as well we then cut to an image of a gigantic bandsaw cutting through some wood. It’s an ominous transition and just adds to the level of creepy.

- Oh Norway, you poor country. “My air sacks have never felt so good.” That would make anyone think the Norwegians were weirdos.

- Agent Cooper is a total weirdo. Like the Muppets. He skips from the strange, “What kind of fantastic trees have you got growing around here?” with that goofy smile and then cleanly switches into FBI mode.

- Hands up, how many of you think Diane isn’t real? Or maybe it’s simply the name of his recorder. It’s a poor way to get exposition across but it’s quick and frees up time for more awesome dialogue.

- I have a great feeling that Truman and Coop are going to become the best of friends, like the Odd Couple. Only they’re really odd because Harry’s the straight man and Coop is cuckoo bananas.

- Why did Donna ever decide to date Mike? He seems almost as big of a jerk as Bobby.

- I almost died laughing when they read from Laura’s diary. “Asparagus for dinner again. I hate asparagus. Does this mean I’ll never grow up?” This makes as much sense at the line from “All About Eve” 'Have you ever looked into the heart of a artichoke?’ What in the great googly does THAT mean? More Lynch weirdness.

- Then, when Truman and Coop are interrogating Bobby, Coop somehow manages to write an entire sentence on a calculator. “He did not do it.” And he’s really cold when he tells Bobby that he didn’t really love Laura. Gave me the jibblies.

- “The Norwegians are leaving, the Norwegians are leaving,” get me every time.

- I’m not even sure I want to know about that safety deposit box. Again, weird.

- Shelley’s husband! Shelley’s husband! How much older is he? Cause he looks super old and she seems close to Bobby’s age, which would be 16/17. Where are Shelley’s parents and how do they not know this guy is a scumbag?

- And Ed’s wife, Patchey? A total nut but I heartily approve of her use of flag semaphore with her curtains if that indeed is what she was doing. Hilarious!

- Coop calls a town meeting because why not get all the crazies in one room but it's great because that’s where we meet The Log Lady! I love her because she seems cooky in a normal way. She’s carries a log with her everywhere and flicks the lights on and off in the meeting.

- We learn Laura wasn’t the first girl to go missing and end up dead in the same state. (Agent Cooper doesn’t mention the letter under the fingernail but the viewers know about it). I wonder how this will play out in town now that they know the FBI thinks a serial killer is on the loose. Coop even says the killer could be someone in town. Yikes! Currently I can’t think that anyone really has any motive to want Laura dead. She did all this volunteering and the whole time Truman and Coop were wandering around town, all anyone could say was how nice she was.

- Donna’s sister kind of sucks.

- James tells us part of the real Laura Palmer story. She’s more of a weirdo than Coop! At least Agent Cooper's weirdness directly affects his job for the better. Laura's just scared of her secret lover.

- Donna & James! What is wrong with you two! Your best friend and girlfriend are dead and somehow you’re drawn to kiss one another? Unacceptable!

- Donna’s dad comes to pick her up and he’s way too understanding. Verbatim he says “I know you wouldn’t do something like this without having a good reason.” And he says he’s lucky to have a daughter like her. This feels like they’re trying to force a parallel between her and Laura’s personality.

- The donut setup in the sheriff’s department is glorious but diabetes waiting to happen. Where's Wilford Brimley when you need him?

- And then there's more creepiness because really, we don’t have enough of that here. There’s a foghorn and Mrs. Palmer is dreaming. We get another weird shot of that staircase. Someone’s walking through the woods. We see a hand pick up the necklace from where James and Donna buried it and Mrs. Palmer screams. If that doesn’t unsettle you for a moment or two then feel free to watch the next episode. I’m sure it will be just as disturbing.

- This feels like an Agatha Christie novel. Everyone’s a suspect and there are so many red herrings you could open up a cannery.


Anonymous said...

Harriet is not a sister of Laura, nor a child of Leland. She is Donna's sister and daughter of Will Hayward.

I had to laugh at the many times you used the word 'weird'.

You're weird.

theduckthief said...

Whoops! Thanks for the catch.

I don't know why you think it's weird that I find the show strange. It is strange and I love it because of that. It's not predictable and has layers.