This site is devoted to film and filmmaking, but also to the visual language as a whole. Examples of work that move the medium forward and craft the language can be found anywhere, but rarely are they found on television. TV is a storytelling medium where the writer and actor (and frequently, anyone at all) are filtered through a camera as a functional mechanism of delivery, not necessarily as an instrument and not necessarily with regard or concern at having a reflexive relationship with its own existence, more or less chiefly concerned with increasing the potency by which consumer and creator can become more drugged up on it. Television's instinctual drive toward more television, increased streams of Audio/visual information at more rapid paces with increasingly prevalent attitudes of 'who gives a shit?' is a perfect approximation of life in the 21st century, so much so that I would call it brilliant were every television channel and program originating form one singular mind. I'd say it had its finger on the pulse. I make no bones about my distaste for the box, and the damaging effects it's had on filmmaking as well as human beings in general. That having been said, it's been co-opted in interesting ways over its 75 or so year history as America's favorite piece of furniture.
Despite a childhood spent with near-daily contact with the thing, as well as years earning the rent working on its programs, I feel starkly out of touch with what it is. A distant memory that can still be recalled from early life, a feeling that it was once enjoyable, but trying to relive that enjoyment in the present results only in nausea; like fast food or cigarettes or any other other of the myriad curios one must suck it up, grow up and move on from. Cessation from any vice is a strange experience, but after 10 years without a television it's not something I notice on a daily basis.
Enter Twin Peaks.
Yes, the point of this ramble. It was also 10 years ago, coincidentally, that I first laid eyes on this lone gem of television, inarguably in a class of its own. Something like this rips through the fabric of the status quo feed of information and will never allow it to return to its former legitimacy. Twin Peaks will return in exactly one year's time after a 25 year gap between season 2 and 3. Unprecedented and a miracle that it's truly happening.
It's the best thing that ever aired on television because it's not part of the rat race of television programming, it's a distorted Fun House mirror being held up to television and reflecting our world back at us, with a dose of spirituality and soap opera. It fulfills the classic check list of what makes great TV with an engaging plot, incredible dialogue and memorable characters and somehow also provides none of them in the classic sense. If you try to judge it against another show it won't compete because it's playing on a different field. Twin Peaks created its own arena that many have tried and none have succeeded at playing in.
The Pilot is a work of art, though I don't recall initially falling in love with it. In fact, the whole show is a confusing jumble of various genre tropes and mixed emotions; the magic doesn't start to take hold until a few episodes into the first season when the seemingly scattershot construction can be seen for the deft balancing act the show is actually achieving.
Season 1, by and large, is good. It's not pushing itself into greatness, but it sets the stage and grows itself nicely.
Season 2 is where the first season comes to fruition. For the most part it is better on all levels. Gone is even the hint that the show is random or oblique in any way, the series is finally revealed for the deeply unsettling and deeply felt journey that it truly is. Well, until it "peaks" with its seventh episode, Lonely Souls. Here, the series hits its high note, one of the most profoundly affecting swatches of time in any visual medium.
In the second season's eighth episode, the turn for the worst begins. It's still the show you know and love, but something is different. Gone is the depth, the profundity, the connection you've been building over the course of it all. Everything seems, well, scattershot again, confusing bits of faux comedy crop up that lead nowhere, you're suddenly questioning whether the show had a point to it in the first place. The creative team waste no time shuffling plot lines and shoving necessary characters onto the back burner (or off the screen entirely). Bad decisions abound, the show becomes literal in a way it was never meant to. Within a few episodes it's an absolute bore, you're wondering how something could go south so quickly.
The rest of the season goes no better, in fact, it continues to miss the mark. The unfortunate part is, the mark was created by the first 14 or so episodes of the series. If there's one offensive bit of Twin Peaks, it's that it creates the thing you crave and then deprives you of it, creates its own standard of quality and then royally screws any attempt to reach it for the rest of the season. Watching the show pantomime itself is disappointing at first and eventually embarrassing.
Then the finale of season 2 arrives. Suddenly, the show you knew and loved returns for one incredible moment. You're not sorry for waiting while the show fumbled and stumbled, botching literally everything it had taken so long to get so right. The finale of the second season is worth all of the God awful nonsense that makes up episodes 9 - 21.
Looking forward to writing more on the topic beyond this in the year ahead.