Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nose-Talgia Visits Twin Peaks!

Who killed Laura Palmer? With that simple question, one of the scariest, loopiest and most brilliant dramas ever to grace US broadcast prime, began its brief reign. From the first pitch black dreamy tones of Angelo Badalamenti's haunting score to the establishing shots of a strange little lumberjack town in the Northwest, all who flock to the unusual on TV were hooked like salmons on a line.

David Lynch became the master of exploring the dark secrets that lurk beneath a small town's innocent exterior by weaving his cast into a psychedelic dream of a plot. Who could ever forget Agent Cooper (magnificently underplayed by Kyle MacLachlin) and his coffee and donut obsession? Or the beautiful blue lipped and extremely dead Laura Palmer ("she was wrapped in plastic!"). What about the dancing dwarf who talked backwards? Any one of these items on a normal show would have had critics claiming that Lynch had "jumped the shark". But Twin Peaks came out swinging and proudly did a triple gainer flip over a tank full of great whites from episode one. Personally, I thought the Log Lady was one of the greatest nut ball characters ever created. The way she cradled her little log in a baby blanket was both touching and hilarious.

I had the pleasure of working at ABC network while Twin Peaks was on the air, and one time found myself trapped on the elevator in Century City with David Lynch and his loyal entourage. He was wearing a gray suit and black sunglasses and chewing on a toothpick. He never said a word as the world's slowest elevator descended three floors. It was like spotting something rare and extraordinary, like a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker. Or an alien. He was the coolest celebrity I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty.

Alas, poor Twin Peaks was too special and glorious and, well, weird for regular TV. It was greatly ahead of its time. In today's cable world, it may have lasted many seasons but better that it burned brightly and briefly than not at all.

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