4.15.13 | Patrick Pryor
This week at AFF we’re all about television. Season 3 of On Story premiers this Saturday, April 20th on Austin’s KLRU Q at 7:30pm. Tune in to watch a Conversation with Chris Carter, Creator of the X-Files. To celebrate, this week the AFF Staff got together to discuss our favorite TV Series, episodes, and how the pilots originally hooked us. Today, Young Filmmaker Program Director Patric Pryor kicks us off with a look at the early 90’s series Twin Peaks.
Forget about all the hoopla surrounding the HBO renaissance. Twin Peaks really gave television the artistic kick in the keister it needed way back in the early 90’s. The program marked a feature film director (David Lynch) turning his attention to the idiot box and squeezing out something substantial, strange, and new. After Twin Peaks, television became a viable medium for top tier talent to explore. A-list actors crossed over into TV land, and more film directors staked out their own series. Some shows have tried to copy the Twin Peaks formula (Lost, anyone?) but none have come close to creating such an endearing and eclectic cast of characters you enjoy revisiting again and again.
Like all great pilots, the first episode of Twin Peaks introduces a memorable cast and hooks you in with a strong central conflict, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” I love the synth-drenched score by Angelo Badalamenti. Each character has a distinct theme that burrows its way into your skull and keeps you swaying for weeks. From the dreamy swirl of the opening credits, to Audrey Horne’s finger snapping theme, to the sinister dirge of Laura Palmer’s tune — each piece is a killer. One of my favorite moments in the pilot features Julee Cruise crooning Lynch lyrics in a biker bar. Many other idiosyncrasies make the pilot stand out as a classic: doughnuts stacked two in a row across a police station table, Laura Palmer’s corpse wrapped in plastic, deputy Andy crying at crime scenes, James pouting on his motorcycle, and Agent Dale Cooper catching a whiff of Douglas Firs. I’m such a Twin Peaks head that I even own a cassette tape of all of Coop’s recordings for Diane. On especially rainy days, I like to pop it in my rusted jalopy and dream of slow motion waterfalls and abusive ponytailed boyfriends.
Although I adore Twin Peaks, I have to admit I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with David Lynch. I had the misfortune of watching the patience-draining Inland Empire in a theater with a clock on the wall, and I almost fell asleep during Lynch’s lecture on transcendental meditation. However, Twin Peaks will always have a special place in my heart. Even today, I think it hands-down surpasses most series on television in terms of writing, directing, and acting. So do yourself a favor. Grab a cup of damn good coffee, nestle into your couch, and visit (or revisit) that small town in the Pacific Northwest crawling with deep, dark secrets.
Interested in checking out our staff picks for yourself? Head over to Vulcan Video where you can find all of our picks labeled as AFF Staff Picks. Go to vulcanvideo.com for location and catalogue information.