Tag Archives: 1990s

‘Twin Peaks’: What A Brief, Strange Trip It’s Been

Better twenty-three years late than never. (That’s how the saying goes, right?) It certainly applies to my latest foray into cult television, Twin Peaks. I was a wee tot when the series first aired, but the Internet gods preserved it for me.

On the surface, Twin Peaks is a murder mystery/cop drama set amidst the pines of the Pacific Northwest. Following the death of Laura Palmer, special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) comes to the aid of local law enforcement. Other notable characters like Audrey Horne, the Log Lady, and Garland Briggs round out the quirky band of townsfolk who help (and sometimes hinder) the investigation. The deeper the law men delve into the secrets of Laura Palmer and her loved ones, the further the show strays from its original format.

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Here we see David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan giving their enthusiastic approval for ‘Twin Peaks’.

Stylistically, Twin Peaks is perhaps the most complex show I’ve seen. Creator and director David Lynch teases viewers with abstract scenes of scarlet drapery and distorted conversations, but he doesn’t fully indulge them until the  end of the series. What he consistently delivers, however, is a combination of parody and pastiche. Overwrought portrayals of love and loss call soap operas to mind, while Angelo Badalamenti‘s jukebox score lends a distinctly retro feel. In turn, these elements find harmony amongst snappy dialogue, shared secrets, and cups of coffee.

What I love most about Twin Peaks–aside from dorky dreamboat Dale Cooper–is its commitment to weirdness. Watching via Netflix, I almost could not believe it had ever aired on network television. The premise of the show is palatable enough; primetime is saturated with dramas that depict similar situations. But the show’s intent can be challenging to navigate.

One could reasonably approach the soapy scenarios with an earnest mindset. Yet, it seems more likely that Twin Peaks is an exercise in the uncanny. Often the characters are caricatures and the subjects are clichés; this only seems obvious when contrasted with scenes that break from convention. (In other words, it takes a giant in a red room to suggest that there is more than meets the eye.) Viewers must possess a fair amount of patience and mental acuity to stick with a show that leaves so much room for interpretation. If one is a fan of the cerebral and the supernatural, however, the journey is well worth it.

 

Note: Both seasons of Twin Peaks are available on Netflix streaming.

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Desperately Seeking Moranis

There are certain movies that just stick with me. I have not seen Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in over a decade, but scenes of kids swimming in French onion dip and standing alongside an enormous Oatmeal Creme Pie still run through my head on a regular basis.

This past weekend, I saw Little Shop of Horrors for the first time and encountered that same sticking powerThe music! The colors! The abundance of goofiness! From Steve Martin’s sadistic tooth extractions to the sweeping refrains of “Suddenly, Seymour,” I was enthralled.

Moranis as Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

One could dismiss my appreciation of these films as part of an undying affinity for the fantastic–both exhibit overblown caricatures and hyperreal settings. Yet, when one looks past the wackiness of these ’80s gems, there remains a significant common thread: Rick Moranis.

Moranis–arguably the king of bespectacled beta males–has some golden film credits to his name. In addition to the titles above, he’s also been a part of Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Strange Brew, and The Flintstones. He became a ubiquitous figure by the mid-1990s.

Then he disappeared.

After scanning his artistic credits, it would appear that he has based recent projects on their level of anonymity or obscurity. Since the start of the 2000s, he has voice acted for children’s movies and written for a short-lived television show. He even released an album, “The Agoraphobic Cowboy,” in 2006 (which earned him an unexpected Grammy nod in the comedy category). While these projects are every bit as offbeat and creative as one might expect, many folks (including myself) hold out hope for an overdue return to the big screen. Moranis, however, has other priorities in mind:

“I’m a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it.”

One can hardly disapprove of his decision to play the role of family man. Ultimately, he should be commended for taking a break when he did. His current elusiveness only increases my appreciation for his past visibility. (“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Right?) No matter how extended or how brief his hiatus, I can watch him rock Ray Bans and quirky sweater vests whenever I please.  That’s enough to appease any wistful fan.

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