We're wrapping up our Friday Night Watch Parties this coming week, and maybe that's all for the best. For - I may never top Teen Witch (1989) as an offering. It's all downhill from here.
It's one thing when people make a movie and try and it doesn't live up to expectations. It's another when you can tell someone was pushing out garbage to take advantage of a place in the market and literally seemed to not care how the movie turned out. And that's being generous, because the alternative with Teen Witch is to accept that adults made this film and this was their moonshot, and then we have to wonder: do you know how movies work?
Twin Peaks: Pilot
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing: Unknown. 5th or so.
Decade: 1990's River's Edge
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: 5th or so
Laura and Ryan's exploration of High School Movies takes a turn for the grim when they pick the topic of "Dead White Girls in the Water". Join us as we talk the pilot to Twin Peaks (1990) and seminal 80's flick River's Edge (1986). It's a look at two pieces of media where the death of a young woman means very different things, but maybe under the plastic, how and why they work means they have more in common than we think at first glance.
Music Here Come the Warm Jets - Brian Eno River's Edge Theme - Jürgen Knieper - River's Edge Original Soundtrack Laura Palmer's Theme - Angela Badalamenti - Twin Peaks Original Soundtrack On Some Faraway Beach - Brian Eno
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Here was the thing about television in 2017: there was so damn much of it.
I think we're all pretty comfortable at this point just telling people "I've already got too many shows, I'm not looking for anything new." Anything and everything is discussed as if it's must-see water-cooler discussion material, but the fact is, the audience is so splintered, and there's so much supposedly quality content on, none of it qualifies as required viewing nor are characters and storylines part of the shared cultural lexicon.
Despite all the Twin Peaks love you've seen here lately, I'm not someone who actively sought out much in the way of the movies of David Lynch. It's always been a guilty spot for me, but I have so many hang-ups, who can keep track?
So I'm finally watching some of his movies and rewatching others, mostly because Dune is the only one I've watched over and over the past 15 years or so, and I still haven't seen about half of his feature film output. Maybe more.
I missed Mulholland Drive when it came it, and despite the year 2002 adorning the movie here and there, it was released in 2001. Early October 2001. And for you kids who don't recall that particular window in history - we were a little preoccupied with planes crashing into towers and what would come next. So I'm not entirely surprised I missed this one, given how I remember my schedule at the time.
As I mentioned previously, as a TV series, Twin Peaks managed to limp along for most of the second half of the second season. You could feel the writers realizing they'd taken a bad turn and trying to right the ship in the final few episodes, but the good continues to be outweighed by the bad.
The drippy plotline of the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, and Robyn (Teen Witch) Lively doing her best with a dog of a plotline for her wildly inconsistent character, Lara Flynn Boyle being reduced to a background character, Audrey and Billy Zane going full in flagrante in a private jet right in front of Pete... and the tired plotline of Lucy choosing the father of her kid - something so worn out even the show winked at how nobody cared anymore by the time she made a decision...
Lost in all this was Harry and his plotline with Josie. And from what I can find online, Michael Ontkean who played Sheriff Harry Truman walked away from the show fairly bitter about the whole experience. And I can hardly blame him.
That said - the final episode of the show, directed by David Lynch with writing by Mark Frost, Robert Engels and Harley Peyton, returns the show to form. Doing such a good job and creating some of the most memorable moments of the entire series that it's easy to forget the meandering path we took to get there.
If you've never seen the original series of Twin Peaks, my recommendation is to watch Season 1 and then Season 2 up through Episode 10 or 11 and then quit.
Over the years I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about what happened in Season 2 as the series went along, but for those of us who remember television in the 1980's and 1990's, who couldn't believe Twin Peaks was ever on a major network to begin with, it seems plain that the networks did what they always did back then - refused to leave well enough alone.
Around Episode 10 of Season 2 (of 22), David Lynch and Mark Frost seem to have moved on from Twin Peaks, abandoning one of TV's most singular visions behind, one must assume, to the suits. You still see Caleb Deschanel's name appear as a director, but Frost and Lynch's names are basically listed as "creators" by that point, and the series is handed off to folks whose names will mean nothing to you. A quick Google search will tell you that the network insisted that Frost and Lynch wrap up the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, and after completing their mission in Episode 9, they made haste to distance themselves from the show.
Of course, that doesn't mean the first half of Season 2 of Twin Peaks continued to deliver the same visionary television that the first eight-episode season provided that made the show a small cultural phenomenon.
This spring, Showtime will bring back Twin Peaks, the short-lived, much beloved show that ran on TV circa 1990-1991 and had one feature film release, Fire Walk With Me in 1992. Way, way back in the 1990's the show made headlines, and managed to capture the public imagination (sort of) during it's initial first season, which ran only 8 episodes. But in the 1990's - as I am sure is true in some ways now - success meant the network and studio boys wanted to get a piece of the pie and get involved, and the second season started strong only to wobble under the weight of 22 hour-long episodes, as was the standard of the era for network shows.
The bizarre turns to quirk turns to a self-parody in pretty short order. Time changes and a loss of the charm that marked the first dozen or so episodes plagued the show, and the show lost viewers. At least it went out quickly.
It's hard to explain how utterly weird it was that Twin Peaks ever happened. We were still basically in the era of three networks (with Fox just finding its footing) and a bunch of cable channels that were usually putting out original material of iffy quality. Shows on the major networks were scientifically designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and so we wound up with a lot of what still shows on the networks today. Cops, lawyers, doctors, and family sitcoms. Some evening soaps with implied sex that came on between 9 and 10 in the Central time zone. Hell, ALF was quirky.* If you wanted a flavor of anything oddball, you were in deep cable or finding video stores with a "cult" section. I mean, David Lynch was hardly a household name in 1990.