‘That gum you like is going to come back in style’ – they weren’t kidding! I was excited enough about the 2016 Twin Peaks return but now the The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks novel by Mark Frost, due late 2015, has been announced. This year (2014) really is turning into a damn fine year for Twin Peaks fans! Anyone who knew me back in the early 90s will remember how obsessed I was with the television show Twin Peaks. Now imagine what I’ll be like twenty-five years later! If like me you’re wondering what to do between now and then here are my five suggestions on how to pass that time…
1. (Re)Watch ‘The Entire Mystery’
With the recent release of entire (to date) Twin Peaks saga on blu ray, now would be a good time to catch up. Or to discover for yourself what all the fuss is about. The ten disc set includes the pilot episode (including the European version), seasons one and two, the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and hours of extras including the cut footage from Fire Walk With Me (The Missing Pieces). A suggested viewing order:
- Season One
- Season Two
- The Missing Pieces
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
- Between Two Worlds
Also worth reading are the tie-in books The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes. Both are surprisingly good. Though both chronologically set before the events of the series, Secret Diary probably works best between Season 1 and 2, and My Life, My Tapes works best in the middle of season two, before the Windom Earl storyline kicks off. I’m looking forward to adding The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks to that list at some point!
2. Read ‘Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks’
Brad Dukes’ Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks is an essential must-read for the Twin Peaks fan. Comprised of a collection of interviews with cast and crew members (including Mark Frost, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Sherilyn Fenn, Dana Ashbrook and Ray Wise) discussing their time on and off camera during the filming of Twin Peaks. These first-hand accounts have been edited and re-arranged in chronological order covering their time working on the pilot, seasons one and two of the show, its inital popularity, the backlash and finally its eventual cancellation. There’s a lot of interesting stories (and some refreshingly honest opinions) from behind the scenes. Quite a few were new to me. No David Lynch interviews unfortunately, but that at least makes the rare times when he does discuss Twin Peaks all the more special (see A Slice of Lynch and Between Two Worlds on the Entire Mystery set).
3. Binge Watch Another Quality Series
I would argue that Twin Peaks ushered in a whole new era of quality television. There’s an abundance of great television shows that you can catch up with between now and the Twin Peaks return in 2016. For example: The Wire (five seasons), The Sopranos (six seasons) and The West Wing (seven seasons) should keep you busy for a while.
The period setting and black suits of Mad Men (soon to finish with its seventh season) remind me of the retro fashions and decor of Twin Peaks. Look out for appearances from Twin Peaks‘ Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) and Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) among other connections.
Fringe is another good series, if you like shows with more of a sci-fi twist. Five seasons in total, it takes a while to find its feet in the first season but stick with it (it gets good around the half-way point and the arrival of ‘David Robert Jones’). It’s a rare series where the plots and twists actually pay-off. There’s also a few Twin Peaks references and a connection between Doctor Walter Bishop and a Twin Peaks resident.
A more recent arrival is True Detective, with its done-in-one-season story. Centred around a murder of a young woman, the investigation spans from 1995 until 2012. True Detective captures the same sinister atmosphere and the impending darkness of Twin Peaks. It reminds me very much like the first half-hour of Fire Walk With Me (the murder investigation into Teressa Banks, BOB’s ‘first’ victim). It’s a quality show, so good that unfortunately it seems to have ruined any other television for me this year.
4. Revisit Another 90s ‘cult’ series
The initial success of Twin Peaks caused an influx of similar shows, usually set in small American towns with quirky characters and/or mysterious/sinister forces at work.
Northern Exposure was one of the more successful (and one of my favourites). Lasting six seasons (though I’d suggest skipping most of the sixth) the show had lot of similarities – the small town setting, eccentric town folk, the woods, strange dreams etc. – but without the murder, incest and sinister undertones of Twin Peaks. Though set in the fictional Alaskan town of Cicely it was actually filmed in the town of Roslyn, not that far from Snoqualmie, where the pilot and film of Twin Peaks were shot.
Other small town set shows included Eerie, Indiana (featuring Twin Peaks‘ Deputy Andy Brennan, Harry Goaz, as another policeman in a recurring role) and American Gothic. Both unfortunately only lasted one season each.
Probably the most successful 90’s cult series is The X-Files, starring Twin Peaks own cross-dressing DEA Agent ‘Denise’ Bryson (David Duchovny) as FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. Together with his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), the pair investigated the unexplained, UFOs, paranormal events and various conspiracies across nine seasons and two feature films. The earlier seasons have dated quite badly compared to Twin Peaks but it’s hard to forget just how massive this series was in its prime.
Also Worth a mention is Due South. It’s quirky characters and off-beat comedy have a Twin Peaks vibe about them. It lasted three seasons.
5. The Game
The Twin Peaks: Murder Mystery Game board game (Paul Lamond Games) provides hours of fun and entertainment for your friends and family and… no, no it doesn’t. It really is a piece of crap. In the game BOB seems to be depicted as My Little Pony character for some reason.
Instead try Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut, the closet you’ll get to playing an actual Twin Peaks game. The small town setting of Greenvale features a number of ‘familiar-looking locales: the Diner, the Sheriff’s Station, The Road House, the hotel, the woods and the water falls. The map is basically the town of Twin Peaks. You even play the game as an FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan (‘But please, call me York. That’s what everyone calls me’ – you’ll hear him say that… a lot) investigating the murder of a teenage girl.
Deadly Premonition has been described as the gaming equivalent of ‘Marmite’. With good reason. It’s a game you’ll either love or hate. This game has PS1 level graphics, jerky animation and the most cack-handed, un-responsive controls I’ve ever had the misfortune to use in a game. If you can stick with it – and there was more than one-time that I found myself turning the air blue as the controls froze, or I failed on some endless annoying quick time event sequence – you will be rewarded with a compelling story and interesting, well written characters. I loved it, but then I also like Marmite, so be warned.