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I feel like I grew up in Twin Peaks, the fictional Washington logging town that gave its name to David Lynch’s iconic TV series, which aired on ABC from the spring of 1990 to the spring of 1991. Twin Peaks has one of the best pilots in television history, which was followed by an abbreviated first season of seven episodes. A second season of twenty-two episodes was produced before the series was canceled.

Twin Peaks was a surprise smash hit and developed a fervent cult following. But few people seemed to really understand it at the time. Coastal urbanites thought Lynch was mocking wholesome hicks, when, in truth, in the character of Albert Rosenfeld—an arrogant Jewish urbanite from back East—he was mocking them.

Since its cancellation, Twin Peaks has receded behind a haze of nostalgia for cherry pie, damned fine coffee, cool jazz, and swaying pines, to the extent that few people seem to remember how painfully bad the series became not even halfway through its second and final season. When ABC axed the series, Lynch returned to direct the last episode, a 50-minute “fuck you” to the network, the critics, and unfortunately the fans as well.

Twin Peaks will always be David Lynch’s baby—and we know from Eraserhead how perilous parenthood can be. Although Lynch co-created Twin Peaks with Mark Frost and was one of fourteen directors who worked on the pilot and twenty-nine episodes, Twin Peaks is recognizably Lynch’s vision. This becomes clear when one compares it to the movies that came immediately before and after it: Blue Velvet (1986) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), projects where Lynch had complete creative control.

I read Twin Peaks as a sequel to Blue Velvet. Both are set in quaint, overwhelmingly white logging towns: Lumberton, North Carolina and Twin Peaks, Washington. Both towns are brimming with quirky Americana, much of it with an anachronistic 1950s flavor. The lead characters in both movies are played by Kyle MacLaughlin: Blue Velvet’s callow college-boy Jeffrey Beaumont and Twin Peaks’ FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Both stories are set in motion by a shocking crime that reveals evil forces beneath the idyllic surface of small-town life. Both movies involve (metaphorical and real) descents into the underworld, in which the hero encounters evil and vanquishes it—although not completely in Twin Peaks.

Both stories give prominent and positive roles to law enforcement in fighting evil: in Blue Velvet, the Lumberton police, in Twin Peaks the local sheriff’s office, plus the FBI, the US Airforce, and a secret society called the Book House Boys, who go outside the law when justice requires.

Both stories also involve young amateur sleuths: Jeffrey and Sandy in Blue Velvet, Donna Hayward, James Hurley, Madeleine Ferguson, and Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks.

In Blue Velvet, Jeffrey is mentored by Detective Williams, and after his successes as an amateur detective, it would be quite logical for him to go into law enforcement once he learned of the dark side of life and what is necessary to preserve order and goodness. Thus it is tempting to view FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper as what Jeffrey Beaumont might have become just a few years later.

Both Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks have elements of the supernatural. In Blue Velvet, this is merely hinted at with the surging electricity that accompanies Frank Booth’s death. In Twin Peaks, it is quite explicit: killer Bob is a possessing demon. In both stories, evil is strongly connected to sexual desire and drugs, both highly addictive pleasures. (Caffeine and sugar are the addictions of the wholesome characters, while smoking straddles the line. It’s only a bit naughty.) In both stories, dreams are also prophetic, very much so in Twin Peaks. Finally, both stories make a great deal of mysteries and secrets: mostly criminal and sexual, but also supernatural.

Kyle MacLaughlin was not the only Blue Velvet cast member to appear in Twin Peaks. Jack Nance and Frances Bay also had roles, although in all fairness, Lynch liked working with them. (Nance also had roles in Eraserhead, Dune, Wild at Heart, and Fire Walk with Me; Bay was in Wild at Heart and Fire Walk with Me.) More significantly, Isabella Rosselini was originally going to play Joan Chen’s role of Josie Packard. (Her name was originally to be Giovanna Packard.)

Composer Angelo Badalamenti and singer Julee Cruise first worked with Lynch on Blue Velvet and then went on to define the sound of Twin Peaks. It was their best work.

Many of Blue Velvet’s staff and crew also worked on Twin Peaks, but the only one who had a creative impact on Twin Peaks was video editor Duwayne Dunham, who also directed three episodes.

Lynch remains bitter to this day about his lack of final cut control on Dune. So why was he willing to take his ideas to network television? He had creative control of the pilot, but if the series were picked up, he could hardly have expected to control its subsequent development.

I think the connection with Blue Velvet throws some light on this. Lynch made Blue Velvet exactly as he wanted it. He made the Twin Peaks pilot exactly as he wanted it. Thus he could risk letting others make their mark, knowing that any subsequent developments could not change the originals.

What’s so great about Twin Peaks?

First, there is a compelling story that arcs through the pilot and the first sixteen episodes: discovering who killed Laura Palmer.

Second, this serious story is counter-balanced by warm-hearted Americana, quirky side characters, and some genuine hilarity: Audrey Horne’s cherry stem stunt, Mr. Tojamura, Leland Palmer calling out “Begin the Beguine,” any scene with David Patrick Kelly as Jerry Horne or Russ Tamblyn as Dr. Jacoby, and the fact that practically everyone smokes, even in the hospital.

Third, there are a lot of interesting, well-drawn characters, some of them horrible, some of them quite likeable. My favorites are Kyle MacLaughlin as Dale Cooper, Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Truman, Ray Wise as Leland Palmer, Grace Zabriskie as Sarah Palmer, Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings, Jack Nance as Pete Martell, Piper Laurie as Catherine Martell, Dana Sahbrook as Bobby Briggs, Don Davis as Major Garland Briggs, Warren Frost (father of Mark Frost) as Doc Hayward, and Catherine Coulson as the Log Lady.

Fourth, there is a great-looking cast, including Lara Flynn Boyle, Mädchen Amick, Sherilynn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Peggy Lipton, James Marshall, Dana Ashbrook, Gary Hershberger, Kyle MacLaughlin, Michael Ontkean, and Billy Zane.

Fifth, there is some excellent acting, especially by Ray Wise (Leland Palmer) and Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer). Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs is also surprisingly good, something I appreciated only on a recent viewing.

Finally, there is the series’ metaphysical depth. For Lynch, good and evil are not merely social or merely human. They are metaphysical forces. This is what the urbanites and Leftists cannot understand about Lynch: he is a fundamentally religious and conservative filmmaker with a strong populist bent.

What went wrong?

The serious and comic elements of Twin Peaks existed in a delicate balance through the end of episode sixteen (episode nine of season two), when the murder of Laura Palmer was solved. At that point, there was no reason for agent Dale Cooper to stay in Twin Peaks and nothing to counter-balance the goofier elements, which rapidly became tiresome: Remember super-strong Nadine Hurley, with amnesia, going back to high school and joining the wrestling team? Ben Horne reenacting the Civil War? David Duchovny in drag? Dick Tremaine and little Nicky? The little pine weasel? Dougie, Dwayne, and the seductive Lana? The Miss Twin Peaks pageant?

(Even at its worst, though, Twin Peaks was un-PC: for instance portraying the South winning the Civil War as therapeutic and showing how sociopathic businessmen use environmentalism as a weapon against their rivals.)

The writers contrived ways to keep Cooper in Twin Peaks: first a DEA/FBI investigation then the return of Cooper’s old nemesis Windom Earle. There were lame attempts to add some drama and romance to the silliness, usually in the form of useless new characters. Remember James Hurley and Evelyn Marsh? The return and death of Josie Packard? Sheriff Truman’s bender? The return of Andrew Packard? Thomas Eckhardt and his assistant Jones? Donna Hayward wondering if Ben Horne is her father? Billy Zane and his screamingly gay jumpsuit?

Some blamed the death of Twin Peaks on schedule changes and the Gulf War, which preempted a lot of programming. But these explanations don’t wash. People would have followed the show to new days and times if it had remained compelling, and pretty much all shows got preempted by the war, but not all of them failed.

How should you approach Twin Peaks if you’ve never seen it, or want to see it again? My recommendation is simply to watch the pilot and the first sixteen episodes (all of season one and the first nine of season two). Then stop. You’ll enjoy everything quintessentially Twin Peaks. The Laura Palmer story arc will be resolved. And you’ll miss almost all of the bad and boring stuff, including the absolute nadir of the series: episode twenty-two, directed by Diane Keaton with such poisonous contempt for the bumpkins that it might as well have been directed by Woody Allen.

Here are some highlights to look for. The best part of the pilot is everything up to the introduction of Dale Cooper: the discovery of the body of Laura Palmer; the exquisite tension and pathos of the scene in which she is rolled over, unwrapped, and recognized; cut to Laura’s mother Sarah calling her to get ready for school, discovering she is missing, and with mounting anxiety calling around to track Laura down; Sarah talking to her husband Leland as the sheriff’s truck pulls up at the Great Northern Hotel to tell him the terrible news; Leland realizing something is wrong as the sheriff approaches, while his wife melts down on the other end of the phone. Another brilliant sequence is the word of Laura’s death spreading at the High School. It is exquisitely heartbreaking. Aside from Blue Velvet, the Twin Peaks pilot is Lynch’s best work and blows away anything on television before or since.

Another highlight are episodes seven through nine, beginning with the brilliantly constructed cliffhanger at the end of season one and continuing into the first two episodes of season two. Episode seven is directed by Mark Frost, episodes eight and nine by David Lynch. They are wonderfully bizarre and imaginative.

Also outstanding are episodes fourteen through sixteen, directed by David Lynch, Caleb Deschanel, and Tim Hunter respectively. In this sequence we learn who the killer of Laura Palmer is and see him brought to justice.

The Lynch-directed episode fourteen is one of the best in the series, and one of the most difficult to watch as it ends with the murder of Maddie Ferguson.

Episode fifteen is an utterly creepy game of cat and mouse as the killer covers up his crime and disposes of the body. It brilliantly portrays a combination of madness and cunning. It ends with the discovery of Maddie’s body.

Episode sixteen begins the morning after Maddie’s discovery. Dale Cooper, Sheriff Truman, Deputy Hawk, and agent Rosenfeld are walking after a sleepless night at the crime scene. Once the killer is caught, the episode ends with Cooper, Rosenfeld, and Truman meeting Airforce Major Briggs on a path and discussing their common commitment to the fight against evil. It is a fitting end to the whole series.

Don’t be tempted to watch further thinking that certain plot lines might be resolved, because they won’t. You’ll just be strung along a bit more, as television is wont to do. You’ll sit through hours of crap and then be left hanging anyway because the series was canceled. So you might as well just accept that you’ll be left hanging and avoid the bad stuff. Or, if you can’t resist looking at the later episodes, give yourself a week or ten days break, then go back to it with the idea that you are just watching outtakes and deleted scenes. It will make it easier.

ORDER IT NOW

Twin Peaks is not free from the farcical and manipulative elements of television. Certain conceits are repeated to the point of absurdity. For instance, in total of thirty episodes, there are eleven murders and at least ten attempted murders—in town of 51,120 people. (By the way, that number seems high for the area. Perhaps it was inspired by the Hindu idea that when a town has more than 50,000 people, decadence is inevitable. Sadly, even much smaller logging towns are now rotted by drugs and deindustrialization.)

There are a lot of stupid plot elements and lapses of continuity. The business intrigues of Ben Horne, Catherine Martell, and Josie Packard don’t really make sense. Agent Cooper asks a lawyer to represent the man he is arresting for killing the lawyer’s own daughter—and the lawyer agrees. Court hearings and other important community events are held in a dive bar. Ben Horne is allowed to wear a tie in his jail cell, where he is being held on suspicion of murder. Then he is magically released even though he is known to have been involved in racketeering, arson, and attempted murder. The show is set in February and March—April at the latest—but people go deer hunting and autumn leaves litter the ground in several scenes.

At its worst, Twin Peaks is just a prime-time soap opera. It keeps you watching by stringing you along with various unresolved subplots, especially romances. Because soaps lack finite stories with dramatic closure, the whole medium is empty and unrewarding. But at its best, Twin Peaks is better than anything on TV.

In upcoming articles, I will discuss Lynch’s prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and his sequel, 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return.

 
• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: David Lynch, Hollywood 
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  1. TG says:

    That gum you like is going to come back into style.

  2. Pheasant says:

    ‘David Duchovny in drag?’

    Pass.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  3. Pericles says:

    It was soon clear in season 2 that this should have been a mini-series. The show runners, if you will, lost interest and left the show adrift in pointless zany wackiness and boring genius villainy. I suppose the poor writers had no idea how to work with what had gone before. (Hint: they had the Major and the Log Lady available to take things in a related but different direction. Oh well.)

    However, contrary to the reviewer, I did find the final episode 22 to be memorable, in particular the Black Lodge parts. As promised, we only had to wait 20 years to know what happened after that cliff hanger. Hm.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  4. eD says:

    I thought the returned series, aired right before the Year of the Mask, was excellent, and it may be worth watching episode 22 to set it up, since Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodege is an important part of the background.

    I agree it should have been planned as a mini-series from the start. However the Oliver Stone mini series “Wild Palms” has been forgotten despite being both interesting and quite good, so there is a chance that a shorter “Twin Peaks” mini-series would have been less influential.

    With most series, there is usually a part where the series takes a big dip in quality, and often continuity with the rest of the series. There is an website “jump the shark”, about the phenomenon. So viewing the series later, you have to research which parts to skip, which sometimes means finding a point to start at the last episode, though with “Twin Peaks”, you skip five episodes, probably view the last episode and then the supplementary ones that aired after a twenty year gap.

  5. Because Lynch left the show early and left it to others, most of TWIN PEAKS is Lynchesque than Lynch. At best, imitation cheese.

    It’s like the shows on Alfred Hitchcock TV show. They were done in the spirit of Hitchcock but not by the master of suspense himself. Hitchcockian isn’t same as Hitchcock.

    Also, Lynch works best with long gestation periods. He hadn’t enough ideas about TWIN PEAKS to complete the show. (INLAND EMPIRE suffers from the fragmentary improvisational approach. It looks like an idea for a movie than a completed one. Too bad.) On the other hand, it seems he thought long and hard over TWIN PEAKS THE RETURN, and that is one of his major achievements. It’s all of one piece.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  6. What about TWIN GEEKS? The greatest movie Lynch never made.

  7. syonredux says:
    @Pericles

    The final ep of Twin Peaks is the most genuinely terrifying thing to ever appear on US television.

  8. I don’t know many intricacies T. Lynch writes about; I’ll write a few sentences from memory.

    As far as social-political elements & cultural critique go, I haven’t noticed them. I believe Lynch (Trevor), but I haven’t noticed them.

    Twin Peaks reminds me of another, in my opinion better TV series of the 90’s, Northern Exposure. Both are soaked in the fantasy & the supernatural; but differences are bigger than similarities.

    Northern Exposure is far superior in humor, characterization, wisdom & wealth of cultural references & erudition. Twin Peaks, on the other hand, dwarfs Northern Exposure as uncompromising artistic experiment & in its hallucinatory intensity.

    With Lynch, there is a split between his work & world-view. As a life-long follower of Transcendental Meditation, he may have personally profited (inner peace etc.), but TM remains a shallow doctrine, not comparable to any serious wisdom practice & doctrine. And Lynch himself, as a creative personality, is the polar opposite of TM.

    Strange.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  9. I couldn’t get in to TP personally. Lynch is indubitably a genius but he’s hit and miss for me. Kobra Kai on the other hand is the best show yet aired.

  10. jamie b. says:
    @Pheasant

    Then just watch season one, which is recommended anyway.

    • LOL: Pheasant
  11. jamie b. says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    N.E. was an obvious rip off of T.P. It shamelessly imitated T.P.’s superficial form, and failed to capture any of the substance. No surprise then that many people liked N.E. more.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  12. Anon[342] • Disclaimer says:

    Where else but the internet does one read an excellent offering like Mr Lynch’s review and respond with little more than: As to the population being too large, rumor has it they added a zero (0) to the original sign population number to bring it (wildly) up.

    That said, excellent as always, especially the noting and recounting of the various opening scenes. They are truly so beautifully, hauntingly powerful. Looking forward to the coming follow ups.

  13. @jamie b.

    You just don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Lynch and NE creators Brand & Falsey have virtually nothing in common. B & F are educated intellectuals who have been working in TV industry; Lynch is a genuine filmmaker with little “high & broad” education.

    B & F vision is, as far as NE is concerned, Joseph Campbell put into TV show. They both had undergone Esalen Institute experience & they tried, in this series, to merge three different strands: visionary fantasy that owes, probably, something to Castaneda & similar authors; satirical-comical comments on American society (for instance, treatment of homosexuality & race); and wisdom married to high culture, having roots in Jung & Joseph Campbell.

    I’ve seen that show 3 times & can vouchsafe that there is nothing similar in the entire history of TV. Where else could you find readings from Dostoevsky, Joe Campbell, Shakespeare, Melville, …; references to Mrs. Sartre (Simone de Beauvoir); Indian shamans in training quoting St. John’s Epistle; experienced Native American shaman trying to locate white people’s Jungian Collective Unconscious; music from Mahler & small talk about Melville, French painter Ingres or Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel, Meister Eckhart etc.

    So, it has nothing to do with TP.

    TP, and I’ve seen just a part of it- so I am not too qualified to comment- seems to me a typically Lynchean surrealist experiment, superior in imaginative boldness. But- NE characters, even if we include all fantasy trips, are “real”. Most of characters’ dilemmas are convincing human experiences: envy, jealousy, love, aging, illness, snobbery, magnanimity, boredom, …. On the other hand, TP characters & situations are not “real”. They are interesting & frequently impressive, but the entire atmosphere is surrealist & ineluctably a fantasy. There is no high culture content in TP; Lynch’s work is that of a professional, master, but- he has no vision of life in TP. All supposed Evil is a surrealist play: villains are not villains, psychos are not psychos; victims are not victims.

    TP is an orgy of visual mastery combined with low-level plotting. But it is a play to enjoy, not something deeper to absorb.

    • Thanks: SeekerofthePresence
    • Replies: @Yusef
  14. jamie b. says:

    “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.” / “…and I’ve seen just a part of it- so I am not too qualified to comment…”

    A displaced big city character finds himself surrounded by quirky people in a small Northwest town. NE was even filmed in Roslyn, just a half hour from TP’s North Bend. But the two shows couldn’t possibly be similar because… Brand & Falsey were better educated than Lynch? Is that your argument? And you yourself brought up the comparison for… no reason whatsoever?

    Heck, on several occasions NE itself even acknowledged its debt. But since you are admittedly “not too qualified to comment” on TP, you probably missed the sly comments about cherry pies and ladies holding logs.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  15. @jamie b.

    A displaced big city character finds himself surrounded by quirky people in a small Northwest town. NE was even filmed in Roslyn, just a half hour from TP’s North Bend. But the two shows couldn’t possibly be similar because… Brand & Falsey were better educated than Lynch? Is that your argument? And you yourself brought up the comparison for… no reason whatsoever?

    I’m wasting time here. What you say is, basically, that Mitchell & Faulkner are the same because both write about the South or that Dostoevsky and Chandler are more or less of equal worth because they’re into crime.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  16. ruralguy says:

    Twin Peaks was simply too fictional. Many if not most of the exterior scenes were filmed in the Snoqualmie/Fall City/North Bend area of Washington — it’s slowly become the Seattle-Bellevue exurbs. It’s a sleepy area, shrouded in the perpetual mist from the Cascade foothill rain, except during summer when it’s always sunny. The most exciting thing to do in that area is to pick blackberries, which I and my family did year after year. I also worked in that area many years ago when I talked to a group of teenagers in a nearby small town, who were approaching high-school graduation. When I asked what they will do, they all quickly agreed with a firm conviction that they will “move away.” I just looked around and smiled. The scenery was an extremely beautiful backdrop for exterior shots of a TV series, but those teenagers nailed it — there was no future there for them. It’s lifeless. TV isn’t real.

  17. Love your reviews, Mr. Johnson. Twin Peaks takes me back to the 90’s and my obsession with all things Lynch and the great magazine “Wrapped In Plastic”. How far we have fallen since those times!

    This piece is a very good take on TP and I am awaiting your thoughts on the Season Three. Although far from perfect, Season Three gave many of us weirdos something to look forward to. I especially liked Lynch’s musical ending to every episode. I still get chills remembering the anticipation of who or what would be performed.

    We need more David Lynch today!

    I haven’t read all of the comments but I would like to find a source for your “Guide To The Movies” after it has been censored/banned/burned by our friends over at Amazon.

    • Replies: @Trevor Lynch
  18. @SonOfFrankenstein

    Thanks for your kind words.

    You can order my four movie books at Counter-Currents: https://counter-currents.com/tag/lynch-book/

    I am pretty sure the first three can be ordered from Book Depository with free worldwide shipping.

  19. jamie b. says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Mitchell & Faulkner are the same because both write about the South or that Dostoevsky and Chandler are more or less of equal worth because they’re into crime..

    Uh-huh. A somewhat humorous account of a displaced big city character who finds himself surrounded by quirky people in a small Northwest town with a vaguely supernatural background. That’s an entire genre, completely comparable to westerns or crime mysteries, right?

    (Rolling my eyes.)

    • Replies: @Sebastian Hawks
  20. @ruralguy

    You are probably completely right, but you underestimate Lynch. Of course that TV isn’t real in conventional realistic sense- but no art (and here Lynch is trying, mostly, to “do art”, as far as it is possible, having in mind production constraints).

    Lynch’s work is much more than just a stylistic exercise or, in this case, evocation of life in small rural environment. His effort is both metaphysical & socio-cultural.

    As far as metaphysics goes, TP is about the Evil, not evil characters, but the Evil. The dominant figure is, basically, Satan. Whether he succeeded is a matter of dispute.

    But, what I find dubious is his attitude towards that milieu, which is almost all-white rural community. He seems, in TP, to oscillate between two positions: this is, on one hand, presented as a sentimental idyll; on the other hand, various nefarious events happen & it turns out that supposed idyll could be a thinly veiled Hell. While both approaches are extreme & conventional (for instance, one can find them in most short British TV crime series located in rural & provincial areas)- I have an uneasy feeling that Lynch was fundamentally wrong.

    I may be too ideological here, but, my critique would be: why not present life there as oscillating between buoyancy & boredom, which is, well, right? Lynch did not demonize local folks, but a thinking man could, theoretically, ask: why maintain this fake idyll?

    Why not dump a bunch of Somalis there to make life more feisty?

    Lynch was not too explicit about politics, but he seems to me, in this aspect, another rootless cosmopolitan who may be a good person, just he lives in abstractions & projections. And simply doesn’t get historical America.

  21. It’s a fascinating show, and one of the shows whose socio-cultural layers become more meaningful over time as America evolves into its disintegrative, post-nationalist phase. The broad framing of the plot involves outsiders (the FBI agents) who intercede into a local affair, and become metaphysically rearranged as a result. The geography doesn’t make exact sense, since the town is in a lush western PNW temperate rainforest setting, while the script has references to ‘nearby’ locations like Castlegar, BC (up north of the much drier eastern regions of Washington). But that’s not much of an obstacle, since the self-contained little universe of the town is the primary setting.

    But the whole thing is one of the best depictions of the ‘weird Americana’ genre which is gradually passing into history. The notion of the American palimpsest, where the present is inevitably layered on a genetic and mythological history which is a bit alien (that of the natives) and where the people are essentially a distant cadet branch of the main European family. It reminds me of a filmmaker like Jon Jost, who also uses the geography of the northwest/mountain west to develop a very specific kind of mood which reaches into a metaphysical understanding the filming locations where the action occurs.

    • Replies: @James O'Meara
  22. Dumbo says:

    The original Twin Peaks was funny and at times creepy, but increasingly silly. I agree that after the discover of “Who killed Laura Palmer” it becomes only silly and loses most of its interest.

    David Lynch, with a few exceptions (i.e. Mullholland Drive) is very uneven, it’s rare that a film by him is completely good. And that becomes worse in longer works such as TV series.

    I don’t know still what to think of the more recent Twin Peaks: The Return; there are some brilliant moments, such as the black and white episode of “Birth of Bob”, together with random or nonsensical or just plain bad stuff (but almost no soap opera silliness, which I think it’s really why it didn’t please most fans. That, and Audrey appearing in just a couple of scenes, whose meaning is unexplained).

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
  23. @Bardon Kaldian

    I deal with this issue in my essay here on Blue Velvet: https://www.unz.com/tlynch/now-its-dark/

    The “fake idyll” isn’t really fake. It is a real construct.

    Blue Velvet is fundamentally conservative, but not naively so, because it has descended below the surface of the manicured lawns, seen the warring insects, but conquered them with the obviously fake but still real mechanical robin.

    In both Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, the forces of law and order are like the robin: a real construct, and they make Twin Peaks or Lumberton possible as a constructed bur real — and nice places to live.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  24. @Bardon Kaldian

    Come to think of it, Lynch’s oeuvre is horribly unwoke. I can’t think of a single black character! They should force him to do a movie about blacks and the hood. That’s how he’ll get his Oscar. It’s curious that he was able to maintain his level of unwokeness, somnolence as it were, for such a long career. I suspect that’s what we like about him so much—the implicit whiteness of it all.

    I recommend Charlie Varrick to you guys. That’s a very seminal film, which I believe was a huge influence on lynch and Tarantino. The character of Molly is very lynchian.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    , @Dumbo
    , @Lurker
  25. @Trevor Lynch

    I vaguely remember these, but- and I am not dogmatic about it, I forgot many things- I think that Lynch cannot be categorized along conservative & liberal lines. He is a visual artist, in this genre- and yet, he doesn’t possess a developed national consciousness. He’s socio-culturally dumb.

    He’s a rootless cosmopolitan, whether one likes it or not. Let me repeat-his work cannot be dissociated, completely, from his life. And he is a lifelong practitioner of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation. I’ve been initated into TM when I was in my early 20’s, practiced it for 3-4 months, had very good experiences (positive altered states of consciousness etc.), and dropped it soon after I realized it’s just a diluted neo-Vedanta with added quantum mysticism mumbo-jumbo plus fakery. Basically, they sell mantras or sacred words for meditation. The story is that you get some special mantra, a word to repeat when meditating, and that mantra is specifically designed to match your psycho-spiritual profile.

    So far, so good.

    But- it’s all fake. I’ve gotten a list of mantras, and have found mine. These are just names of Hindu gods categorized into time segments of two years: you’ll get one mantra if you are initiated when you’re in the 17-19 years old category; another if you are 20-22 & so on. Basically, mantra yoga does work, differently, but it is irrelevant how the sound sounds; also, it is mostly a good relaxation practice when done during 20-30 minutes. After that, it becomes either irritating, or boring, or simply you fall asleep. And nothing truly transformative happens.

    Plus, there are genuine wisdom traditions operating with images, sounds, breathing,.. (Hermetism, Christian contemplative traditions, Sufism, Taoism, Kabbalah, ancient Greek traditions, Buddhism, Vedanta, …) that make TM basically a joke.

    And Lynch has stuck, uncritically, with TM for decades. If I appreciate him as a visual artist/fantasist- how can I take him seriously if he has shown to be so uncritical in one significant matter which colored all his life? Or his attitude towards cultural & historical traditions of his own country?

    I don’t expect filmmakers to be thinkers, but if we discuss Lynch’s case, my position is that he just doesn’t have a cognitive ability to see what’s right & what’s wrong re some social, cultural, let alone racial crucial issues.

  26. @Happy Tapir

    He is unwoke because he just doesn’t get anything. He is a rootless cosmopolitan without being conscious of it.

  27. just a moment to acknowledge one of the great spy actors has passed . . .

    Here’s to Sean Connery

    and thanks.

  28. ruralguy says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Good point about abstractions. Romanticized art is abstracted art achieved by imbuing reality with an extraordinary vision (a famous Romanticist described it this way). But, artists lacking a vision try to fool its audience by imbuing reality with surrealism instead of a profound vision. It’s similar to a successful rock band like KISS, .. when they lack the ability to compose something profound, the volume goes up and the drama increases, to mislead the customer into thinking they are supplying a great sound. For KISS, that works for 13-14 year old teenagers (actually maybe 33% of adults?), but it’s far from art. Same with David Lynch. What is his profound vision? Is he just a Gene Simmons, or doesn’t he have something profound to express?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  29. @ruralguy

    Lynch is fascinated by style & he is good at it. But, there is not much substance in his work. I am not saying he is “shallow”; he is a creative stylist, so to speak. But not more, I guess. Even a clumsier director like Woody Allen has a world-view which can be articulated; Lynch does not have one.

  30. El Dato says:

    Fuck all the haters

    Also used by Biosphere in “The things I tell you”

  31. Finally, there is the series’ metaphysical depth. For Lynch, good and evil are not merely social or merely human. They are metaphysical forces. This is what the urbanites and Leftists cannot understand about Lynch: he is a fundamentally religious and conservative filmmaker with a strong populist bent.

    These days, the proggy view of evil is metaphysical.

    White Evil is eternal and cosmic.

    Jewish-Negro-Homo goodness is holy and pure.

    P.S.

    Given the nature of the deep state, it is naive to believe that the FBI and lawmen are ‘conservative’. They work to enforce the order of whomever is in charge. They now serve Jews and homos and worship Negroes.

    Comey, Strozek, and Brennan are The Order.

    • Replies: @James O'Meara
  32. syonredux says:
    @Priss Factor

    It cannot be described, only experienced.

  33. @ruralguy

    While Twin Peaks was filmed near Snoqualmie and the Seattle exurbs, the fictional setting for the town was actually in the Northeast corner of Washington. In Cooper’s first on-screen appearance in the pilot episode, he mentions to his secretary that Twin Peaks is located within 5-12 miles of both the Canada and Idaho borders.

  34. Now, this is depressing.

  35. How about discussion of Lynch as ‘painter’?

    https://www.wikiart.org/en/david-lynch

  36. Dumbo says:
    @Happy Tapir

    Come to think of it, Lynch’s oeuvre is horribly unwoke. I can’t think of a single black character!

    Actually, there is one black character that is violently murdered online by a white man (Nicholas Cage), in “Wild at Heart”, so he would be a “racist” today. (But “Wild at Heart” is probably one of Lynch’s worst movies, I don’t recommend it).

    Lynch is like Allen in a way, both grew up or love a certain world (for Lynch, quaint small towns and the 50s, for Allen, New York and the jazz age) and they reimagine it idealized for the screen.

    But neither is much deep (Lynch a bit better, by instinct – he’s the better artist for sure).

  37. @Dumbo

    I saw it but I don’t recall that part. Wild at Heart is actually one of my favorites. Oh maybe when they go to that voodoo place? I suppose I mean main characters. One of the young guys friends is black in Lost Highway, but that’s a very short scene.

    Who is Allen?

  38. Dumbo says:

    Woody.

    Ah I meant “murdered on screen” not “online” LOL.

    It’s at the beginning of the film.

    I’m trying to think of more black characters but I can’t remember many. Perhaps Lynch is really racist or doesn’t like blacks much. But there are gays and transexuals in his movies. As well as other perverts.

    • Replies: @James O'Meara
  39. @Priss Factor

    Interesting point. One of the nostalgic, or throwback elements of TP was the notion of the FBI as good guys fighting bad guys. Just a couple years later we have a transitional series, The X-Files, where rogue FBI agents are good guys, fighting metaphysical evil.

    Now of course, after the RussiaGate hearings, we can see that the FBI and other lawmen (and wahmen) are just servants of the PTB

    As I said regarding Strzok:

    “While the FBI has, over the years, carefully crafted an image of itself as Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (The FBI) or the Hannibal-hunting Will Graham (Manhunter) and Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs) or even nutty Dr. Fox Mulder (The X-Files), it appears that after eight years of Obama, the agency is being led by Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Evil Sheldon Cooper.
    https://counter-currents.com/2018/10/mueller-do-you-realize-what-this-means/

    Not, alas, Dale Cooper.

    It’s also a bit ironic for the FBI of “worshiping gays” given its longtime leader, J Edgar. Back in the day more or less closeted homosexuals (not “gays” which is a leftwing lifestyle, like “gender fluid”) were in the forefront of the war on bad guys: Hoover, Cohn, Whitaker Chambers, Cardinal Spellman. “Silence of the Lambs” began the presentation of the FBI as worshiping women and blacks (Clarice gets to deliver little sermons on each, talking Truth to Power).

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  40. @Dumbo

    “Perhaps Lynch is really racist or doesn’t like blacks much. ”

    Perhaps, but perhaps it’s just a factor of his 50s nostalgia. America, outside of the big, big cities was almost entirely White, as folks here like to point out, so given his settings it would be entire natural; as opposed to today’s woke trend of deliberately shoving black, gay, etc. characters into historical continuity. For that reason, he would still be criticized for being insufficiently woke — “Why DIDN’T you introduce diversity.”

    Sure, Mulholland Drive is in Hollywood, but off the top of my head, consider Raymond Chandler’s novels of the time, the black or brown characters are stick out and are usually played for comic relief (or sinister menace).

  41. @Rick Johnsmeyer

    “But the whole thing is one of the best depictions of the ‘weird Americana’ genre which is gradually passing into history.”

    In writing about the American metaphysical Tradition — what Camille Paglia diagnosed as the collision of British Puritanism with European Romanticism — I’ve found Bob Dylan’s phrase “the old weird America” to be useful.

    The opening of “Portlandia” used to focus for a few seconds on what I presume is an authentic local sign — “Keep Portland Weird.” There was also a shot of a grizzled old timer. I’ve seen similar signs in small towns in the PNW, mostly towns near the border, which were invaded by hippies seeking among other things close proximity to Canada during VietNam; later, hippies who made some money retired there for the scenery.

    “Portlandia” of course signified (without any self-awareness) the usual way urban hipsters (and now wokesters) colonize “charming” semi-rural spots, driving out the Deplorables who built them. Like the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, they take over and transform them into facsimiles inhabited solely by other Wokesters. I wrote about this in “The Gilmore Girls Occupy Wall St.”
    https://counter-currents.com/2011/11/the-gilmore-girls-occupy-wall-street/

    In this way they continue their comfy experience in their old college towns, which have a similar dynamic, sort of like the British “town and gown.”

    One can only hope more of these places devolve into Portland or Seattle style hellholes.

  42. Yusef says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Yeah, well Northern Exposure wasn’t even filmed in Alaska. It was filmed in Roslyn, Washington, a faintly yuppie-light pseudo small town in the Cascades not far from Seattle.

    You can make schmaltz and pastiche out of Joseph Campbell (especially Joseph Campbell!) Dostoevsky, Melville, and Simone de Beauvoir(especially Simone de Beauvoir!)– nothing could be easier. Let their books fall open, put one hand over your eyes and point your finger with your other, YOU’VE got your quote!

    The rest of the stuff you mention may have been cool, in its day, but by the time these sorts of things hit prime time TV, the real juice is drained away.

    There’s no feeling of anything having been drained away in Twin Peaks.

    Yet I thoroughly agree with you: Twin Peaks’ is all surface schmaltz and kitsch; Northern Exposure’s surface feels profound and full of high culture, (or elements of high culture long ago appropriated to pop culture to make itself feel better about itself.)

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  43. @Priss Factor

    “(INLAND EMPIRE suffers from the fragmentary improvisational approach)”

    I believe fragmentation and dissociative states were themes in that film. Lynch went back to his roots and created a series of loosely-connected, experimental shorts. Where it suffers is from its length.

  44. @syonredux

    Twin Peaks Season Three Part 8: “Gotta Light?” The best horror film in years.

    • Agree: John Johnson
    • Replies: @John Johnson
  45. @Dumbo

    “Lynch is like Allen in a way … love a certain world”

    Allen’s idealized world is Bennie Goodman, NYC smart-set banter, and 14 year old girls. Lynch finds his muse in the darkness at the edge of his idealized small town.

    • Replies: @John Johnson
  46. @Yusef

    You don’t get it, eh?

    Melville is not about whaling, Dostoevsky is not about murdering, Proust is not about time…and NE is not about showing off by cramming a TV show with a bunch high brow quotes.

    Well, to end with one those quotes….

    “We dance round in a ring and suppose,
    But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”

  47. @SunBakedSuburb

    Twin Peaks Season Three Part 8: “Gotta Light?” The best horror film in years.

    And the Dougie episodes were the best comedy.

  48. @SunBakedSuburb

    I don’t see why Allen is held in such high regard.

    Most of his comedies contain a lot of vain filler for 3-4 laughs.

    His con is duping people into thinking they could hang with a trendy metropolitan crowd by laughing at his jokes.

    He doesn’t challenge how people think and like most liberal filmmakers just wants the audience to feel smug and superior to the conservatives.

    His views on women are oversimplified and cynical because he rightly knows that he would be single if he was a janitor.

  49. @jamie b.

    X-files was also inspired by this but more original. Filmed in the Pacific Northwest and dealing with strange supernatural stuff. They even got one of Twin Peak’s minor actor’s Duchovny. X-files was also easier to write, just listen the the nightly Art Bell show and take the crackpot topic of the day and work it into an episode.

  50. Lurker says:
    @Dumbo

    Actually, there is one black character that is violently murdered online by a white man (Nicholas Cage), in “Wild at Heart”

    Violently manslaughtered.

  51. Lurker says:
    @Happy Tapir

    At least one line in Pulp Fiction is more or less lifted direct from Charley Varrick.

    Pincers become pliers.

  52. @James O'Meara

    It’s also a bit ironic for the FBI of “worshiping gays”

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