Twin Peaks has always been one of those big-time, intriguing, intimidating cultural juggernauts to me, helmed by a big-time, intriguing, intimidating cultural juggernaut by the name of David Lynch. You see, up until I had seen the first season of this show, I had only seen Lynch on Louie (thanks, Jesse Thorn for not leaving me alone in this!), and I felt pretty out of the loop. This guy has directed a bunch of cult classics, and he’s basically the reason why we have a treasure like Kyle MacLachlan out there, being great all the time, and I had never bothered to attend even a single service at the Church of Lynch. A viewing of Twin Peaks was long overdue.
I don’t even really know what this show did to me, but it did something. The whole time I watched it, I was on edge, and it took me a few episodes to realize that that nervousness, that inability to relax, was due to the fact that there was always music playing in the background of scenes, and it was most likely a variation on that eerie, mysterious theme song. It created tension where there already was tension, and it made me paranoid for reasons I couldn’t fully explain. It was masterful.
The world of Twin Peaks is populated by true characters, people who are at once easy to like, because of their memorable names and easily identifiable quirks, and hard to get to know, because of their layers and layers of secrets. Twin Peaks itself is a small town, one in which everyone knows everyone’s business but tries desperately to keep to themselves, so it’s no surprise that the smallest bit of drama escalates quickly into an epic tale of (this part you already know) Who killed Laura Palmer?
Laura Palmer. Man. That girl must have been awesome, because an entire town spends an entire season looking for her killer, and doesn’t completely figure it out anyway. She has a creepy face, as far as I’m concerned, and a completely sketchy lifestyle. She’s the ultimate enigma, especially for the outsider, incoming FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who I desperately wish I could be best friends with. The aforementioned MacLachlan is stellar as this dude, who is the forefather to other quirky cop-show dudes like Adrian Monk, Walter Bishop, and probably even Patrick Jane and all that bullshit. He eats a lot of pie, appreciates a strong cup of coffee, enunciates his words well, and may or may not be psychic, but that’s beside the point. (Or maybe it isn’t! Damn you, David Lynch.)
There’s also Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean), local nice guy and lover of Josie Packard (Joan Chen), owner of the saw mill (which I haven’t completely figured out yet). And there’s Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), Laura’s ex and Shelly Johnson’s (Madchen Amick) current, and Leo (Eric Da Re), Shelly’s abusive husband. Trust me when I say that theirs is a very sharp, dangerous love triangle I wouldn’t touch with a 20-foot pole. And there’s Donna Hayward (pre-crazy Lara Flynn Boyle) and James (James Marshall), Laura’s best friend and ex, respectively, who are both attractive and young, and yet not hatable. And there’s Lucy (Kimmy Robertson), the helium-y receptionist at the sheriff’s office, and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), heiress to Horne’s department store and all-around sex kitten. Obviously I’m leaving a lot of people out here. The world seems over-populated, but it’s not. Everything’s connected, and not in the way you’d expect, and it’s tangled and delicious. To be honest, I found it a little difficult to keep track of some of the older male characters, like Laura’s father, Audrey’s father, and Dr. Jacoby, because they’re all played by too-tan white men with probably perms. But I’m not holding this against David Lynch. He falls into that category and, besides, I wasn’t aware of this show when these actors were a bigger deal.
Maybe I haven’t sold this show enough here. It’s not for everyone. But it’s for more people than it might seem. It’s got a whole lot of weirdness, what with the Log Lady and One-Eyed Jacks and Cooper’s dreams and… I could go on, but it’s better just to experience these things yourself. If you dare to step into the world of Twin Peaks, you probably won’t regret it. Just be ready for a singular, unique type of suspense and a constant craving for donuts.