Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Film (TV) Appreciation - The Black Lodge

This week, Jay Burleson uses Film Appreciation to talk about a TV show as he discusses David Lynch's Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Created by: David Lynch and Mark Frost
Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Madchen Amick, 
Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, 
Michael Horse, Harry Goaz, James Marshall, 
Everett McGill, Ray Wise, and Piper Laurie

I mentioned Twin Peaks a few months ago in a Worth Mentioning and noted then that it wouldn't be the last time I wrote about it on this blog. Well, here it is again, and this time I'm showing my appreciation for it in a different way. Since Twin Peaks is a TV show and ran for two seasons I will stay away from major plot details, as there is too much happening to do it all justice. Instead I'm focusing this appreciation on the characters, many of whom are the most endearing that I've had the pleasure to watch on screen. This is no easy task, as there are a ton of characters worthy of writing about, from Agent Dale Cooper all the way down to Margaret Lanterman, "The Log Lady", a woman known around town for carrying a log with her at all times.

Twin Peaks is a quirky mystery drama that revolves around the murder of teenager Laura Palmer in the small town of Twin Peaks. Special Agent Dale Cooper arrives in town to solve the murder and is led on many odd adventures as he learns tons of startling truths about the area and the people who inhabit it. It's all over the place in its absurdity (in a good way) and the oddness of the characters is what makes it work so well for me.


Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) is the Sheriff of Twin Peaks. He's a loyal cop as well as a honest man who only wants to do right. Michael Ontkean plays him exceptionally well and endears him to the audience. The bond that grows between Truman and Agent Cooper is a wonderful thing to witness and is one of the many reasons I love the show as much as I do. In one scene, Cooper puts his hand on Truman's shoulder as they speak and ends the conversation by playfully pulling at Truman's nose.

Truman seems to be a hopeless romantic as well. He is in love with Josie Packard, a woman with a lot of secrets, and is set up for a huge downfall in their relationship. It was still an interesting angle to play though and made all the more heartbreaking by Truman's absolute devotion to her.

Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) is a secondary character in the show but still manages to be one of my favorites. He's of Native American descent and is known as a good tracker, but he's also one of the more stand-up guys on the show and possesses an air of righteousness on screen. It's easy to see that he's a great guy and one that you'd like to have on your side during tough times.

Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) is more of a nerdy cop who can sometimes be pushed around. He is in love with Lucy, the secretary at the police station, but at times doesn't have what it takes to keep the relationship going. He comes off as a bit dimwitted at times, but is a super likeable character and one that I quickly grew to love.

Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is easily the coolest character ever to grace any screen. Always armed with a tape recorder and recording notes to someone named Diane, he is the backbone of the show and an honorable guy all around. He's an oddball, but one with a lot of dignity and heart. He manages to come across as nerdy yet cool all at the same time, and while watching he always leaves me with the feeling that he's going to figure everything out. He quickly attaches himself to the other law enforcement agents in Twin Peaks and seems at home with them. The chemistry that develops between the key members of the law enforcement officers is a thing of beauty.

Video: Cooper's Detective Work 
This is also one of the coolest scenes in the show and is a great example of all the characters I just mentioned, as they are together on screen, including Lucy.



Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) is the father of the murdered Laura Palmer, and quite the oddball. There's a lot to his character, and some things come out over time that explain why Leland acts the way he does, including moments where he breaks out into dance. Ray Wise is really sharp here and brings a lot of dynamic to the part. I found his vulnerability to be intriguing. There is a great air of deceit around the character and as an audience you never fully trust him. There's obviously a war going on inside Leland as he goes from one extreme to the next, and Wise is immensely entertaining in the part.

Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) is the owner of a local service station and is married to Nadine Hurley, a strong woman who sports an eyepatch over her bad eye. Ed's true love is his former high school sweetheart, Norma Jennings, but Ed ended up with Nadine even though he now has something else going on with Norma.

Ed's one of my favorite characters in the show. He's the middle class hard worker and reminds me a lot of people I know here in Alabama. Some of his mannerisms are priceless. Everett McGill has a great on screen presence and it's hard not to feel sorry for the situation he has ended up in.


Catherine and Pete Martell (Piper Laurie and Jack Nance) own the Packard Mill in town. Catherine is a bit of a shrew and is always up to no good. She feels sinister from the very start but has a hilarious and enjoyable character arc as things go on. Pete is her unfortunate husband, and I say unfortunate because he doesn't seem to get much joy from being married to Catherine. He's mostly treated as an idiot, but has a great heart and is the perfect yin to Catherine's yang. Pete is slightly goofy in a mild-mannered way and it's for this reason that I enjoy his scenes a great deal.


Bobby Briggs and Shelley Johnson (Dana Ashbrook and Madchen Amick) are in a secret relationship together, even though Shelley is married to the abusive Leo Johnson. Bobby is on the football team and is a real jackass. He's the typical entitled football player who thinks he can get away with anything. Shelley works for Big Ed's lover, Norma, who runs the local dinner. At one point her and Bobby plot against her abusive husband, Leo, who ends up in a vegetable-like state. They think they'll be able to live off of Leo because of his medical condition, but things turn out to be a lot less like the party they had envisioned.

Bobby grew on me over time, but is mainly mentioned because he has such a big part throughout the show. Shelley is awesome and Madchen Amick is definitely the most beautiful of all the actress on the show, though Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne is a close second. I really enjoy Shelley's story for the relationship with Leo, who is a complete nut, and the locations used for her home with Leo as well as the diner set.

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is the daughter of Benjamin Horne, a ruthless business owner in Twin Peaks who owns the Great Northern Hotel as well as other businesses. Audrey is 18 during the show and quickly develops a crush on the much older Agent Cooper. She's a wild child but with more of a classy side, probably due to her well-off upbringing at the hands of a wealthy father. Audrey gets caught up in some questionable situations as she tries to assist Cooper in her own way, and I really admire the character's detective work.

The same can be said about a lot of the younger characters, as much of them end up on their own journeys and in search of their own answers about Laura Palmer's murder. Audrey is my favorite character of this bunch though, and mainly because she doesn't have some of the typical high school subplots that the other young characters do. She's just a much more interesting character than most of the others because of her father's past and her relationship with him. This adds a lot to the mystery and allure around her own character and makes her very intriguing.

I've only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to all of the dynamic characters on Twin Peaks, but those are the ones who personally stick out the most to me. Characters such as Bobby's dad, Major Garland Briggs, and Ben Horne himself are also high on my list. There is also the very sinister character of Bob, as well as the Giant, who add completely different elements to the show. To get into those characters would require much more in-depth story analysis. Anyone who has watched the show knows how enjoyable (and downright creepy) those characters can be.

If you've never gotten around to watching Twin Peaks, then I highly recommend that you do so. There is a reason it has such a huge cult following, and while it definitely isn't for everyone, I do feel that it has something for everyone if you are willing to give it a look. I have only recently discovered the show, and have still yet to see the movie, but consider it to be one of my favorite TV shows of all time. It's engrossing and has no qualms about being all over the place at any given minute. It's certainly a breath of fresh air for a TV show and I admire and respect it for what it was able to accomplish considering the risks that it took during its two season run. No matter your opinion about the show, one thing is for sure, you can't say that it lacks interesting characters.

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