Only recently have I finished watching the original two series of Twin Peaks. I missed out when they initially aired – at the time, I was only a few years old – but the release of the new series motivated me to watch the original Twin Peaks. A dark undercurrent flowed through the original series, expertly woven together with goofiness, silliness, paranormal activity and plenty of black comedy. Characters were weird and wonderful, and even those you perhaps thought were annoying at first were strangely likable (for example, Dick Tremayne). I loved the original Twin Peaks and I strongly suggest that anyone who hasn't watched it should put it on their 'To watch' list immediately. Each show is 45 minutes of pure delight. But enough of the original Twin Peaks, let's move on to Series 3.
I appreciate that much has changed in 25 years and TV viewing preferences have morphed but the third series left me thoroughly underwhelmed and disappointed. I'm not someone who dislikes weirdness or having my mind messed with, far from it, but this series was weird purely for the sake of being weird; a sentiment clearly shared by many others. It (Twin Peaks 3) isn't metaphorical or allegorical, even at some obscure level, contrary to those who say they 'interpreted' the various elements of the series as such. For the most part, it's an incoherent mess of non-relevant characters engaging in equally pointless interactions. Worse still, it's boring.
Some of the series' 'highlights' include a man sweeping a floor for about 3 minutes, Dr Jacoby spray painting shovels for what felt like an age, and episode after episode of characters staring blankly at each other, waiting an eternity before delivering their lines. The Douglas Jones aspect became tedious almost immediately. The police officers /detectives who were supposed to be funny, notably the one with the idiotic laugh, were about as funny as haemorrhoids. And the less said about episode 8 the better. Watching a nuclear explosion in e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n, the Giant floating upwards for minute after painful minute, and a full performance by Nine Inch Nails?! If I wanted to watch a music video, I'd go on YouTube. The pacing of each episode was excruciatingly slow, just for the sake of being slow; the 55-minute episodes could easily have been condensed to 20 minutes and they still wouldn't have felt rushed.
The original series tackled dark issues and the supernatural but it didn't resort to nudity, swearing or any particularly graphic content, things which are now all too common in series three. Not that any of these things bother me at all but they simply have no place in Twin Peaks; in my opinion, it's just not that type of show. Most of the swearing feels totally excessive, unwarranted, forced, and included for no other reason than to include some swearing. The sex scenes seemed pointless too, especially the one in the first episode that was put in purely for Madeline Zima to flash her flesh. The graphic scenes (the crushing /bursting skulls spring to mind) also appeared to have been added for sake of showing graphic content.
Moving on to the original cast and original locations, in series one and two Norma's café, Norma, Shelly, and later Annie, all played important roles. They were the equivalent of the local pub and friendly bar staff that you find in any soap opera, the community hub of the show, if you will. However, in series three Norma's seemed totally irrelevant, as did Norma and Shelly. Audrey too was pretty much a special, and pointless, guest, as were Nadine and Jacoby. In fact, the majority of the original characters were borderline irrelevant and it would have been much better if they hadn't been included at all.
The Bob /Agent Cooper, Douglas Jones /Agent Cooper, Gordon, Albert and Tammy characters and associated themes were (mostly) consistent throughout the entire series. However, virtually everything else that happened was a collection of unconnected mini stories with no bearing on anything else outside of their own tiny sphere of interest; essentially random and irrelevant content. I have seen the words 'Masterpiece' and 'Perfection' thrown around all too liberally in many reviews of the latest series of Twin Peaks and all I can presume is that I was watching something completely different. The climax of the finale would have been quite good if I (like many others) hadn't already given up caring as to what was actually happening, or why, three quarters of the series earlier.
There were a few (heavy emphasis on the word 'few') good points though, it wasn't entirely bad. I liked Gordon, very much how he was in the original series and he delivered a few lines that made me laugh when he responded to things he'd misheard. I found the casino scene – "HEELLLOOOO!!!" – very funny, very Twin Peaks. I liked the song by Au Revoir Simone during the end credits of one episode. And oh yes, you get a few minutes (quite literally) of the ACTUAL Agent Dale Cooper in the penultimate episode in which we are finally shown his friendliness, determination and idiosyncratic personality.
However, I think I need to end this review on probably the biggest failing of the series, something I allude to above. Why oh why oh why was Kyle MacLachlan reduced to a brain dead idiot for 80-90% of the series when he is brilliant at playing the real Agent Cooper? It makes no sense at all, a bit like the series.
Twin Peaks was just one large, Lynch-driven, 18-hour vanity project. If it hadn't been called, 'Twin Peaks' or had Lynch's name attached, the series would have been instantly overlooked by far more entertaining new TV shows like, 'Watching paint dry in 60 minutes' and 'The floor sweeping world championship'. Ultimately, it would have disappeared into obscurity, which I suspect it still may.
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