Monday, May 22, 2017

It is happening again...

As the 80s turned into the 90s I became obsessed. My first experience of the genius of David Lynch came with Dune, adapted from a book I hadn't read. I loved science fiction, so checked out anything remotely SF, and the movie of Dune was a visual masterpiece. My friends in the old D&D group pointed out the differences between the movie and the book, but while I didn't *get* bits of it, I still loved it.

Off of the back of that, and when most (but not all) of my gamer friends had gone off to university, I rented Blue Velvet. Hell, I rented just about everything from the local video store. I had time to kill. But Blue Velvet was a complete mind-frell. Hey, it had Paul Atreides in it, so it should be good. Oh, it's the same director as Dune. Cool...

After that, I was a bit obsessed. I checked out David Lynch's other works, and being late to the party it wasn't long before I discovered a VHS tape called Twin Peaks at the video store. A "made for TV" movie.

I remember watching it with one of the guys from the D&D group. It was weird, intriguing, and had a strangely sinister feel that was very reminiscent of Blue Velvet. But, what would be known as the International Pilot, wrapped everything up with Laura Palmer's killer, and had a weird epilogue dream sequence that provoked "huh?"s. This was before the internet, so I knew nothing else of it. It was a strangely mesmerising little video that captured my imagination, and I thought it was over.

My parents used to buy the TV guides (remember the days that you bought the Radio Times for BBC listings, and the TVTimes for ITV and Channel 4?) and every week we used to go through the four channels and highlight the programmes we were interested in. One fateful week in 1990 I picked up the Radio Times and found that cover...

(I think I still have that issue somewhere in the loft) ->

That little "made for TV" movie was actually a TV series. There was a diagram in the magazine to introduce the characters for this new soap opera that had taken America by storm. I was ready for it. I bought a pile of blank VHS tapes, and every week on Tuesday nights I would sit there, tuned to BBC2, with that agonising wait through the last ten minutes of Alan Bennett's monologues that seemed to last ten hours. Fingers poised over the record button on the VHS machine to record the latest episode.

(Yes, I still have the VHS tapes of those recordings).

I was quickly obsessed. I wore my Agent Cooper trenchcoat all the time outside the house. I bought a dictaphone. I bought the books, the soundtrack, and rewatched the series on tape.

At art college one of the big projects was to create something to explain something to a newcomer. Whether this was "how to fold a paper plane" or "how to bake a pie", I decided to explain Twin Peaks - taking that initial, simple diagram from the Radio Times and incorporating every character into a massive flow diagram / relationship map. I passed, but I don't think it really explained anything...

When Twin Peaks ended, I was a bit lost. That cliffhanger...

I filled the hole in my entertainment life with The X-Files. It shared a lot of sensibilities. FBI agents investigating the weird, mentions of Project Bluebook, and it had the guy who played Denise Bryson in it.

I never thought I'd see more Twin Peaks, or ever discover the aftermath of that cliffhanger...

Who'd have though it?

Twenty-six years later, I've just watched the first two parts of Twin Peaks season 3 (or Twin Peaks: The Return as it's sometimes called). The first two parts, being the first two hours - shown as one feature length episode. Thanks to Sky Atlantic, they're showing it at 2am in the UK, the same moment the States gets to experience the wonderful and strange.

No, we didn't watch it live - we recorded it and watched it at 9am this morning, with a large box of donuts, and hot beverages - just as Twin Peaks is intended.

I had that moment just before we watched it, and I said to Debs, "What if it's rubbish? I've waited over 25 years for this, what if it's no good?"

In my head I had worked out what I wanted from a Twin Peaks revival.

1) A new murder case. Things should start with a murder case, just like the original Twin Peaks, and the FBI (and Gordon Cole's strange division) should get called in to investigate. That way you can start afresh, and resurrect elements of the original series as necessary to tie things up.

2) Lots of new characters, with a sprinkling of the originals.

3) Some Black Lodge stuff, so we can resolve some of the cliffhanger from season 2.

That was about all I'd hoped for really. And thankfully, all of those boxes were ticked.

Needless to say (and I'm keeping this spoiler free for those of you who are going to watch it on Tuesday night on the normal primetime broadcast slot - ah, 9pm on a Tuesday, it's just like 1990 again) I loved it. Every confounding, uncomfortable, sinister, hilarious, bizarre and mindblowing second of it.

I'm already itching to rewatch it. I'm worried that Debs is going to witness another strangely obsessive phase for me where I sit and stare at the glass for hours watching for something to happen...

Probably not the last post you'll see from me about Twin Peaks in the coming weeks...

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