Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Path is Formed by Laying One Stone at a Time

In the spring of 1993, while attending a graduate school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, I met an undergrad named Eric who was showing episodes of Twin Peaks every week to a group of about twenty classmates, most of whom had never seen the series.

When I first heard about this I was thrilled. Twenty people? All new to the world of Twin Peaks? Great! I thought this type of “group watching” had died when the series was canceled. (Remember, in 1993 watching Twin Peaks was no easy task; you had to have home-recorded videotapes of the series in order to see the whole thing properly). Thanks to Eric (a big Twin Peaks fan who knew his fellow classmates would also enjoy the show), a weekly Twin Peaks party was alive and kicking.

Naturally, I had to check this out for myself.

Eric told me that the group was about to watch episode 14—the famous “Bob kills Madeleine” episode. Very soon they would all discover who killed Laura Palmer. I didn’t want to miss watching this with them because I realized I had a unique opportunity to see and hear how all these first-time viewers would react to one the series’ most important episodes. I remembered how stunned I was by the revelations in this episode, and by the brutal murder of Madeleine, and I wondered how these new viewers would react. With this in mind, I arrived at Eric’s early enough to get a seat with a good vantage point from which to observe the audience.

Soon the room was crowded and Eric popped the tape into the VCR. The twenty or so people in attendance had a good time with the program during the show’s first half hour; the various subplots involving Andy and Lucy, the vegetated Leo, and the super-strong Nadine Hurley all brought laughs.

But things got real quiet as the showed entered its final twenty minutes. The Log Lady delivered a cryptic message, Sarah Palmer crawled down the stairs and saw a white horse, Leland Palmer calmly adjusted his tie in the mirror. And then Bob’s face appeared in place of Leland’s reflection.

A couple of people jumped, and then the room went still. As Bob turned to attack Madelaine, the audience was silent and unmoving; everyone’s eyes were locked on the screen. The scene played itself out: Bob/Leland beat Maddy to death while the Giant stonily informed Cooper, “It is happening again.” 

Then the show was over.

And still the room was quiet as each person processed what he or she saw. But the questions began soon after: “Is Madeleine really dead?” “How much of the story is left?”  “Did Leland really kill Laura?”

As everyone threw questions around I realized how different their watching experience had been compared to mine when I first saw this episode. None of these viewers had been exposed to the pre-show hype originally surrounding the episode. They didn’t know that Laura’s killer was going to be revealed in this segment. They came to it cold. I, on the other hand, had seen all the commercials and read the TV Guide blurbs back in November of 1990. I knew the importance of the episode going in. (Even with that knowledge, however, I was still stunned.) But these people had no preparation for what it contained. Clearly shocked, most of them still weren’t sure what they had just seen.

Lots of discussion followed the episode. These people were excited by Twin Peaks and couldn’t wait to see more. They reminded me of how much I enjoyed Twin Peaks and how involved I became in the story. And here, three years later, was a room full of people experiencing it for the first time.

Eric had done a great thing. He gathered together friends and classmates who had never seen Twin Peaks and introduced them to it episode-by-episode. Every person at Eric’s party had the unique opportunity to experience Twin Peaks on a weekly basis, just like it was originally broadcast.

I wonder now, 23 years later, if many people take the time or effort to experience Twin Peaks slowly.

They should. Because Twin Peaks requires time to process. It needs to steep in the minds of viewers. That’s why I’m so glad that the new Twin Peaks will appear weekly on Showtime in 2017 (fingers crossed); the new story needs to unfold through measured doses. And we at home need time to think about what we’ve seen, to re-watch if necessary, and to properly prepare for the next installment.

This summer I watched the entire five seasons of Breaking Bad over the course of about three months. It was a thrilling, engrossing experience. But in watching it so quickly, I did not always take the time to fully appreciate the artistry and nuance of the show. As I watched, I wished I had originally seen the series on a week-by-week, season-by-season basis. There was so much to think about, to absorb and to study. In fact, as I approached the end of the series I did slow down, taking many days (and sometimes a week) between installments.

It is good to be reminded of this—that some stories work better when we experience them slowly, in chapters. And it is good to be reminded that the spaces between those chapters are important, for it is in these times that we contemplate and discuss what we’ve seen. These spaces are almost as valuable as the chapters themselves.

Think about it.

(A much different version of this article appeared as an editorial in Wrapped in Plastic #5, June, 1993.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Is a Divided Cooper a Defeated Cooper?

Episode 29 of Twin Peaks depicts two Dale Coopers, a “good” Cooper who remains trapped in the Black Lodge and a “bad” Cooper (probably Cooper’s Doppelgänger) who escapes the Lodge and is essentially free to terrorize the town of Twin Peaks, presumably continuing Bob’s killing (and his hunt for garmonbozia). In my book, The Essential Wrapped In Plastic, I argue that Cooper enters the Red Room as a “whole” person but subsequently divides into two beings: a Good Dale and a Bad Dale. I conclude with this observation:  “Cooper, who was once complex and rich, has been distilled into components of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Whole, Cooper was more than the sum of his parts. Divided, he becomes a lost soul.”

When I originally wrote that essay for Wrapped In Plastic, my co-editor, Craig Miller, wondered if the statement was necessarily true.  He posed the question: “Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Cooper divides?”

This question supersedes the real-life demands of TV production. As we all know, Lynch re-wrote the script for Episode 29, significantly altering much of the final act. The original script contained a cliff-hanger in which Cooper was possessed by Bob. Lynch did not accept this terrifying proposition, but to keep the shock ending of the script he decided to have only “part” of Cooper possessed. Lynch was explicit about this outcome when he told Chris Rodley, “Coop wasn’t occupied by Bob. Part of him was. There are two Coops in there, and the one that came out was, you know, with Bob.” (Lynch on Lynch, page 183—emphasis added.) For Lynch, this result was clearly more palatable than having the one-and-only Cooper inhabited by Bob. If Lynch had not been saddled with the pre-ordained, season-ending cliffhanger, he might have supplied a dramatically different ending (and that famous final shot of Bob in the mirror may never have existed).

Still, the question remains:  Is it a negative development for Cooper to “divide”? Perhaps a better way to think about it would be to ask: If the Good Cooper had escaped the Black Lodge, presumably leaving the Doppelgänger trapped inside, would this Cooper be superior to the “whole” Cooper? Would a Cooper who had vanquished his evil side be a better FBI agent? A better human being?

Twin Peaks is all about duality, and virtually all of the characters have their two sides. (The exceptions are few. Bob and Windom Earle are evil; the Log Lady and Major Briggs are pretty close to purely good, though each has suffered tragedy and difficulties.) Unfortunately, the idea of a character shorn of his darker side is not addressed, and neither Lynch nor Frost have provided many clues as to whether this would be a good thing or not.

Craig and I were on different sides of this question.  More specifically, we differed over whether Cooper should “remerge” his two selves or remain divided.  Personally, I saw a divided Cooper as a failed Cooper. For me, the only way to defeat the Bad Cooper was for the Good Cooper to contain him—to make him part of himself in order to keep him in check.  Part of being “good” is the ability to choose to be good, to reject evil by controlling and suppressing your darker impulses.

The Twin Peaks finale is bitter because of the good Cooper’s entrapment. But would the ending be more palatable with the good Cooper free and the bad Cooper trapped? Bob would have been defeated, of course, and the evil would be purged from Cooper, but (in my mind) this ending would leave “Cooper” diminished. He would still be only half-a-person. He would, in all likelihood, be incapable of comprehending the human condition, of understanding the impulses and emotions and weaknesses that contribute to the full essence of human behavior. What’s more, his abilities as a detective would be immediately impaired; it would be impossible for the good Cooper to comprehend the motives and attitudes of criminals and suspects.  (This is illustrated in a memorable scene from the series, Homicide: Life on the Street. Seasoned detective Frank Pembleton tells rookie Tim Bayliss that to be a great detective, Bayliss must be able to think like a criminal. In Pembleton’s mind, Bayliss will never be a great detective because Bayliss is too good; he does not have a dark side that he can tap into in order to understand the criminal mind.)

Bayliss and Pembleton from Homicide
I would argue that a good Cooper cannot see in complex and subtle ways; that he actually fails Laura in Fire Walk With Me when he warns her not to take the Owl Cave ring.  At that moment, he is thinking in a binary way: Take it or don’t take it: Danger or safety.  Laura will later see that despite the dangers of the ring she can take it and defeat Bob, not merely surrender to him.  The good Cooper cannot see this path, cannot intuit a way through darkness to light.  Laura, an amalgam of good and bad, can. She sees through the complexities of the ring and uses it as her salvation.

For me, a divided Cooper (no matter which side escapes) is a tragedy for the character. Sadly, the series ends with the worst of two possibilities—the bad Cooper triumphant. 

Craig was not convinced that a divided Cooper was defeated. He thought it possible that the Good Cooper was a superior being to the Whole Cooper. Lynch scholar, Martha Nochimson, has noted that according to Lynch, “you have to get through that base energy that’s roaming around about your subconscious in order to get through to the visionary part.” (WIP 32, p. 3) Put another way, Jeffrey Beaumont (in Blue Velvet) has to survive the horror of Frank Booth to enjoy the dream of the robins that Dorothy talks about. 

Cooper’s experiences in the Red Room could have been a cleansing ordeal. The Whole Cooper is fearful of the Doppelgängers (particularly the shrieking Laura), whereas later (after the division), Good Cooper is no longer afraid; he calmly confronts Windom Earle and even Bob. Without hesitation, he offers his soul in order to save Annie. (Again, this is an easy, binary choice for him.)

If the good Cooper (instead of his Doppelgänger) had escaped from the Black Lodge, he would have been a sort of super-being, able to understand the lessons he learned while “whole,” but never giving in to base temptations. While this may have presented future storytelling challenges, it would represent a spiritual maturity of Cooper who, far from lacking in crime-solving ability, would be the perfect incorruptible cop.

This view is optimistic and essentially posits a triumphant conclusion to the Dale Cooper story. 

For years, I wondered about the possibilities of a Good Cooper versus Bad Cooper versus Whole Cooper.  I never expected to have an opportunity to see this subject further explored on screen.  Next year, with the advent of a new season of Twin Peaks, perhaps we will have more data on this curious philosophical debate.  (In the meantime, if you have any thoughts to share on this debate I’d love to hear them!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The 1993 Twin Peaks Festival: A Reminiscence

Badge, Pencil and Brochure for the 1993 Twin Peaks Fest
Next week, I’m travelling to Seattle, WA to attend the 2016 Twin Peaks Festival.  I’m very much looking forward to it and my anticipation had me remembering the first festival I attended twenty-three years ago. The 1993 Twin Peaks Festival was the first true fan festival. Unlike the 1992 “festival”—a  promotional event organized by New Line Cinema to promote the release of Fire Walk With Me—the 1993 fest was managed and organized by Twin Peaks fans, Pat Shook to be specific.

The festival was held on August 13-15 and featured a number of wonderful guests including Al Strobel (the One-Armed Man), John Boylan (Mayor Dwayne Milford), Jan D'Arcy (Sylvia Horne), Frank Silva (Bob) and Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady).  (Coulson arrived toting the original log from the series; “I thought it was important for the log to return to its roots,” she said).

The Schedule of Events

The “Kick-Off Dinner” (now better known as the Celebrity Banquet) was held Friday night at the Issaquah Holiday Inn.  Coulson and Boylan could not make the dinner, but the other actors spoke briefly and answered questions.  Jan D’Arcy spoke first, relating several stories about her character.  She expressed disappointment that Sylvia Horne was basically “forgotten” by the show's writers.  When David Lynch returned to shoot the final episode, he asked Jan why she hadn't been involved in more of the shows.  “Because they never called me,” she said.  So, he made sure that she was in that last episode.

Jan D'Arcy at the Dinner (Al Strobel is on the right)

Al Strobel treated everyone to a reading of his “Darkness of Futures Past” poem.  It was as powerful live as it was on television—Strobel's deep, dramatic voice was captivating.

Strobel then related an amusing anecdote about the scene in FWWM where the One-Armed Man confronts Leland and Laura in the car.  “Originally, David had a Dodge Charger, or something, all suped-up and had a stunt driver to do the driving.  And I said, ‘What about my little Chinook camper?  I can stunt drive that.’  And he said, ‘Oh, okay.’  And so I drove the thing around—got it up on two wheels, ruined a set of tires!  And David was having so much fun watching all this that he insisted on driving the camera car!  It was really great fun.”

Al Strobel's drove the Chinook to the Fest! (FWWM's biggest prop!)

The showstopper of the night was Frank Silva.  He recounted a number of fascinating stories about his work on the show, and then took quite a few questions from the audience.  (For more about Frank Silva and his appearance at the festival, see this post.)

Frank Silva Captivates (WIP editors Miller and Thorne are mesmerized).

First thing I have to say is that Bob was an accident.  He was never, ever there from day one.  It was a whole, unbelievable accident.  It basically happened during the original pilot. I was a crew member, the on-set dresser in the art department.  We were doing the shot in Laura Palmer's bedroom.  I was tweaking the bedroom, and the camera was in the doorway.  David was out in the hall, and he jokingly said, "Frank, you'd better get out of there.  You're going to get caught in the camera."  And I looked at David and went, "Okay."  And then, a blood vessel kind of like burst in his head, and he said, "Frank!  Get down at the end of the bed, just crouch down there, and act scared!" And I went, "What?!?" "Just act scared!" And that was how Bob began.

Frank Silva tells a scary story (Craig Miller watches warily)

The only time that David and I discussed Bob was when we were doing the Red Room scene in Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk With Me.  We were talking about Bob as being the bad seed of the group.  It didn't matter to him how much trouble he caused, whether it was in the limbo world, or whether it was in the real world.  He just didn't care.  He was an obnoxious punk.  He doesn't care what kind of havoc that he wreaks in any world.  And he's out to have fun.  He doesn't care about the consequences, doesn't worry about them.  But that's the only discussion we had about Bob, or how to play certain scenes with restrained anger and stuff like that, but other than that, there was nothing really discussed about Bob.

Al Strobel, Craig Miller, and Frank Silva
Craig Miller from Wrapped In Plastic gave a brief keynote speech.  Craig worked hard on this speech and was quite proud of it.  He had the unenviable position of delivering it after Frank Silva had spoken.  Craig ably delivered a wonderful and appropriate concluding address. Here’s a very small part of it:

My sole qualification for being here is that I collaborate with John Thorne in the publication of Wrapped in Plastic, a magazine about David Lynch and Twin Peaks.  John and I both live in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas.  John and his wife did the smart thing and flew up here. I decided to drive. I wanted to see the northwest part of the country closer than an airplane window would allow.  And, despite the extra time it took, I'm glad I drove.

Because I got to see lots of mountains up close. When I saw the mountain range outside of Denver, I was astonished at just how—huge—they were compared to the city below.  But it wasn't until I got to Utah that I was profoundly struck by their immense power, their colossal volume.  I was in awe.  I could barely keep my eyes on the road.  It was pretty dangerous!

I believe David Lynch didn't forget these mountains, or the trees and the wind and the water.

I believe David Lynch remembered nature's beauty and nature's dangerous power when he was creating Twin Peaks with Mark Frost. After my drive here, I will never view Twin Peaks the same way again.

Jan D'Arcy, Al Strobel and Frank Silva Review the Fest Schedule
On Saturday, many fans spent the day sight-seeing and visiting various shooting locations.  That night, there was a screening of Fire Walk With Me at the North Bend movie theater.  After the show, Frank Silva spent about 45 minutes outside the theater talking with fans and answering questions.

On Sunday, the final day of the Festival, Pat Cokewell, owner of the Mar-T Cafe (RR Diner) in North Bend, spoke about some of her experiences with David Lynch and the filming of the pilot and FWWM:

One of the first questions people ask is, how did they find the Mar-T?  My first contact was in February of 1989.  We weren't very busy.  I told the location scout, "You can use it, but we're fixing to do some remodeling."  But they said, "Oh, no, no, no, don't do anything like that.  We want it just like it is."

The Mar T Cafe in 1993

About two weeks later, they said that David Lynch will be up on the weekend and he'll decide.  (They'd looked at another cafe, too.)  So they came up, and they told us they wanted to use it.

For those of us who met David Lynch, he's a wonderful director.  You hear stories about directors yelling and screaming on the set, and that did not happen for the four days that we had the privilege of having him around the Mar-T.  When he was not working, he was talking to you.

When they came back to do the movie, he came about 8:00 in the morning.  That evening, he was still there when they finished up about 10:00.  He was still his calm self.  During the filming, he would go over and show exactly how he wanted it done.  He is a perfectionist.  People would say, "Is he really as weird as his shows?"  No, he's not.

Pat Cokewell
The pie thing—we didn't know the pie thing was in there.  One night when they were filming, I gave the location person the key and said, "You lock up, and I'll get it tomorrow."  And she said, "Can we eat pies?"  And I said, "Yeah, just mark it down."  So I got back the next morning—seventeen little marks!

We had one little lady who made pies.  We'd make about six per day and twelve on the weekend.  Well, it started, and it grew, and it grew, and it grew.  There was no way that she could handle it.  So we've have as many as four pie-makers doing two shifts in there sometimes.  One day, when the second season started, we sold sixty pies from 11:00 until 8:00 that evening.  That's three hundred sixty slices!

The 1993 Festival had many great moments and started a tradition that survives to this day.  All the organizers of the festival over the many years—from Pat Shook to Rob and Deanne Lindley—deserve credit for creating (and sustaining) a unique and important event.  Twin Peaks fans everywhere owe them a debt of gratitude.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Autobiography of F.B.I Special Agent Dale Cooper, My Life, My Tapes

Written by Scott Frost (brother of Twin Peaks co-creator, Mark Frost), The Autobiography of F.B.I Special Agent Dale Cooper, My Life, My Tapes was released in April of 1991, just as the second season was losing steam (and network support). The Cooper book was likely designed to plant seeds for a potential third season of Twin Peaks, specifically by introducing Dale Cooper’s brother. The book also described critical events in Cooper’s youth that remained unresolved and which may have haunted the character in later life. Many of these details were alluded to in the original (unproduced) script for the final episode of Twin Peaks.

Where The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer figured prominently in the unfolding Twin Peaks story (it was an actual artifact of the plot—an object sought and guarded by various characters), The Autobiography of Dale Cooper is not anchored to the show’s narrative. No reference to the Autobiography is made in the show (and it seems highly unlikely that Cooper actually wrote an autobiography). But, like the diary, the Autobiography does provide unique and revelatory insight to one of the show’s most significant characters.

Written as a series of transcripts from tapes made since he was thirteen, the “autobiography” traces the life of Dale Cooper from boy to man. Detail are provided about his first love, the death of his mother, his college years, and his eventual career as an agent for the FBI. The book shows that Cooper’s whole life has been leading toward the mysterious events that manifested themselves in Twin Peaks and his ultimate confrontation with evil in the Black Lodge. First, there are dreams both he and his mother share. His mother dreams of a “man” who is apparently pursuing her. Later, the young Dale has a similar dream in which the “man” attempts to get into his room. In yet another dream, and perhaps the most startling part of the book, Cooper’s dead mother gives him a ring. When he awakens he is clutching the ring in his hand. All these events seem to foreshadow what happens to Laura in Fire Walk With Me.  Could the Autobiography have been an inspiration for what Engels and Lynch would later script? Scott Frost explained that he briefly consulted with David Lynch while writing the Autobiography and so it’s possible that certain elements in the book originated with Lynch (though it seems unlikely in this specific case, since many of the details regarding the Teresa Banks investigation were changed for the film).

The book was designed as an extension of the second season. In it, we learn that Windom Earle apparently monitored Cooper through much of his adult life and ultimately recruited Cooper into the FBI. These details mesh nicely with existing information from second season storylines and hint that we would have learned more about Earle had there been a third season.

Frost does a fine job channeling the Cooper character onto the page; he also succeeds at conveying the “Lynchian” environment in which Cooper lives. Throughout the book Cooper encounters dead bodies, people with severed body parts (hands, fingers, ears), and a bizarre connection between sex and fire. (Cooper’s first sexual experience occurs during a brushfire ignited by stray fireworks, another occurs at a college bonfire, yet another with a gasoline-soaked arsonist.) Because all the entries are supposedly transcripts from Cooper himself, Frost has to recreate the style of Cooper’s speech and delivery. He pulls it off surprisingly well.

There are problems with the book, however. Some are minor, like the misspelling of Albert’s last name. Others are less forgivable: The dates of Caroline Powell’s murder don’t match with what is described in the show. In the series, Cooper says Caroline died “four years ago” (i.e., 1985) but the book places her death in 1979—ten years before Cooper arrived in Twin Peaks. The most noticeable mistake, however, are the details Cooper provides about the Teresa Banks investigation. The discrepancies between book and Fire Walk With Me are numerous and stark.  In the book, Teresa’s body is found in a ditch; she worked at the Cross River Café, and lived in a Lakeside cabin. Cooper does encounter Sheriff Cable, but there’s no mention of Chet Desmond or Sam Stanley. In the book, Cooper conducts a completely different investigation from the one shown in Fire Walk With Me. (Although, given the slippery nature of the Deer Meadow prologue, this is not necessarily surprising.)

Even though The Autobiography of F.B.I Special Agent Dale Cooper, My Life, My Tapes is not as compelling or crucial as The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, it is still a worthy book. It provides a unique perspective on Dale Cooper, and allows for a better understanding of how his story was being developed for the second (and possible third) season of Twin Peaks. Will any of the tantalizing hints from the Autobiography survive into the show’s revival on Showtime? (Or did David Lynch “reset” the character entirely in episode 29 and Fire Walk With Me?) If Mark Frost used it as a reference for his new book (or for any of the backstory to the new series), The Autobiography of F.B.I Special Agent Dale Cooper, My Life, My Tapes—a seemingly insignificant and forgotten piece of tie-in merchandise—could suddenly become quite relevant again.

Scott Frost commented on the book in an interview in Wrapped In Plastic #73 (March, 2005):

Scott Frost:  I wrote the book because I was the only body left standing at that moment. Everybody else was furiously trying to do the show. I believe I had finished my scripts at that point. So it was either me or someone completely from the outside. I had also done the script for the Cooper tape [Diane: The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper] so I had Kyle [MacLachlan’s] voice in my head pretty thoroughly. I sat around with David for a morning and his idea of an autobiography was:  “At some point I want him to investigate peeing asparagus!” [laughs]  That was his approach. Then I went off to Philadelphia and spent a few days out there. And I went to FBI headquarters. That was great fun because they were fans of the show. I got to go around the academy at Quantico and shoot guns.

The idea for Cooper’s brother came up after the book was finished. For some reason there was an actor [Roger Rees] who Mark had decided would be a great older brother for Dale. [But] they decided he would be great without ever actually talking to him. The book was already done and they came back and said, “Now put his older brother into it.”  I came up with the notion of having him run off to Canada as way to dispose of him rather quickly—to get him into the book and then out of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Collecting Twin Peaks

A big fan of Twin Peaks, I’ve been collecting anything and everything associated with the television show and film for 26 years. I’ve got some cool stuff and some weird stuff (and some one-of-a kind stuff).

What's in the box?

Twin Peaks generated only a few pieces of official merchandise (books, T-shirts, cards, etc.), most of which were relatively easy to get, back in the day. Still, there were some goodies out there, beyond the official products.  These items were often unique, and fun, and worth having.

Twin Peaks was big hit outside of the U.S. and many overseas tie-in items were amusing and well-designed (check this one out). Promotional materials (press-kits, posters, free merchandise) from both here and abroad were rarer to come by and quite desirable (these pieces have always been highly-prized by me.) Finally, there were those very rare items such as props and cast gifts, which were extremely tough to find.  A lot of these items have been listed and discussed on Dugpa.com forums.  Check them out here.

As a collector, one of the most exciting aspects of the new Showtime Twin Peaks series is the prospect of new merchandise.  I’m sure we’ll get a new soundtrack and assorted books and calendars and such.  But how far will they go this time?  Will David Lynch approve things such as action figures, a common item for almost every series nowadays (I mean, if they can make Breaking Bad figures, surely they can make Twin Peaks figures.) Will there be Funko Pop figures? Card games?  Comic books?

All of this is possible and some of it is probable.  Although I strongly believe David Lynch will not want to dilute the brand, or diminish the magic of Twin Peaks by simply making it a commodity. (Lynch reportedly did not approve the 1992 Twin Peaks calendar, and it’s hard to imagine he will endorse something like a silly bobble-head figure.) Still, I’m certain some interesting treats are on the horizon.

To celebrate collecting Twin Peaks, I’m posting pictures of some of the cool and unusual items I have in my collection.

Today, I’ve got the New Line Home Video Promotional Box.  This unmarked black, cardboard box contained a T-shirt, a thermos and a coffee mug.  

The box was shipped by New Line cinema to video wholesale distributors who used them as incentives: video stores that ordered a certain number of Fire Walk With Me videotapes could get one of these special boxes.  

The mug is quite handsome: it is shiny bright red and displays the FWWM logo.  

The thermos is rather disappointing: it simple lightweight plastic container.  

The T-shirt is the most unusual item as it was “pine-scented.” (I should say, 25 years later, the pine scent is barely noticeable.) All the white areas on the shirt are embossed with a puffy, soft texture.

I don't know how many promotional boxes were made, or how many survived intact to make it into the hands of collectors.  I haven't seen one for sale on eBay in quite awhile. Fifteen years ago, a few sold online for about $100. I don't what, if any value, these boxes would have today.

BONUS: Fire Walk With Me matchbook.

This is a cool piece.  I don’t know where I got it, but I always thought it was the perfect promotional item for Fire Walk With Me.

Hope you like these photos!  More to come!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Obscure Twin Peaks: The Twin Peaks Hotline (Episodes 11 & 12)

Here are the next two installments in the Twin Peaks Hotline: a service that allowed viewers of Twin Peaks to call and listen to recorded messages that would recount recent plot developments on the series.   The messages allowed listeners “eavesdrop” on Lucy and Andy (and a mysterious, unidentified voice) as they discussed what was happening around the town.

Episode 11:

Lucy:  Hello, Twin Peaks Sheriff's station, Lucy speaking.  Oh hi, I guess you're calling to find out what's been happening.  Well, I'm going to tell you!  All men in the world should be taken to a desert island and forced to eat sand!  If I ever meet another guy wearing an ascot, I'm going to--to--okay, Dick Tremayne is a weasel, a spineless, penny-loafing weasel!  If he thought he could buy is way out of his responsibility to me, well, he has another thing coming!  And--
Andy:  Lucy?
Lucy:  What!
Andy:  You have another call.
Lucy:  Hello?  Mom?
Andy:  Sometimes I figure you just need to talk to your mom.  I may have jumped over the fence before the horse started--uh--pulling the cart.  I think I was wrong about Lucy seeing other men.  Doc Hayward says I'm better!  And there's no reason I can't jump in the saddle, and gather moss.  Whenever I want.  I guess you want to know what else happened.  Uh, Judge Sternwood arrived.  He'll be handling Mr. Palmer's case.  Harry said that Leland will probably plead temporary insanity.  [Stat­ic]
Voice:  I'll try to stick to the facts.  Jean Renault has made a deal with Ben Horne--Audrey's life for Agent Cooper's, a simple clean exchange.  Jean also removed Mr. Battis from any further business dealings--point blank.  Agent Cooper should be very careful here.  Our visitor from the East, Josie Packard, has returned from her--shopping trip, and was welcomed home by her cousin Jonathan, a mysterious Asian man who's been sniffing around the Great Northern.  They seem to be making plans that don't include Sheriff Truman or the mill.  Jonathan also paid a visit to Hank Jennings to sever his relationship with Josie.  Hank agreed, of course--and is fortunate to still be among the living.  I do hope Donna is as cautious with her friend, Mr. Harold Smith.
Lucy:  [amidst static] --who told my mother?
Voice:  I better go!
Lucy:  Andy Brennan, you come back on this line!
Andy:  I--
Lucy:  Did you tell my mother about the baby?
Andy:  Not exactly.  She asked me how you were, and when was I ever going to marry you, and--
Lucy:  Marry?
Andy:  It slipped out.
Lucy:  Slipped?!
Andy:  Then she said that I should do the proper thing, or she would break my legs.
Lucy:  Oh no!
Andy:  I thought she liked me.
Lucy:  I have to go now.  Thanks for calling.  I'll be here next Sunday with more news.

Length of recording:  2 minutes, 33 seconds.

Comments:  This recording followed episode 11 by Jerry Stahl/Harley Peyton/Robert Engels/Mark Frost (writers) and Todd Holland (director).

Lucy's anger at men results from Tremayne's offer to pay for an abortion for her.  (She plans to keep the baby.) 

While Lucy talks to her mom, Andy updates the listener on various plot developments. Andy's comment about his being "better" refers to the impotency test that he "flunked" but was allowed to re-take.  (Although, he doesn't get his test results back until episode 12.) The mysterious voice then takes control of the line. Obviously, the quick recitation of facts fails to convey any of the story’s nuance, particularly regarding Harold Smith and Donna.

Episode 12:

Lucy:  Twin Peaks Sheriff's--uh, actually I'm over here in Tacoma at my sister's, helping her out because she just had a baby.  So I came out her to help and to clear my own head, which, as you know is a little clogged up at the moment.  I also got the name of a clinic upcomplete amateur.
here that can help you with decisions about ba­bies, and life, and what a huge mess I'm in.  So, I'm here, which means that I won't be at the station, which means the phones are in the hands of a
Andy:  Ow!  Hello?  Miss Zipman?
Lucy:  Andy?
Andy:  Lucy?
Lucy:  What are you doing on this line?
Andy:  I was talking about Miss Zipman about her--where are you?
Lucy:  None of your business!
Andy:  I've been looking all over--
Lucy:  So what's happened in town?  The caller would like to know.
Andy:  Oh.  Hi!  This is Deputy Andy.
Lucy:  They know who you are.
Andy:  Uh, Mr. Palmer got bail.  I did a drawing of his head, and it might go in the newspaper.  Leo isn't going to stand trial until he stops being a vegetable.  So I guess he's going to go home so Shelly can take care of him.
Lucy:  Poor Shelly!
Andy:  I don't even think she likes vegetables.  Lucy?  I want you to know--[static]
Voice:  This is all very interesting, but I don't think it's why you called.  Let's get to business.  Donna Hayward and Harold Smith have gotten quite friendly--so friendly, that with the help of Maddy, Donna tried to steal Laura's diary.  It didn't work; he caught them.  And now they're both in big trouble.  Ben Horne tried to play it fast and loose, setting Cooper up to get killed when he tried to rescue Audrey.  Cooper had other plans, and, with a little help from the Bookhouse Boys Truman and Hawk, dear Audrey is back and safe, with only a few casualties sustained by the rabble at One-Eyed Jacks.  Although thanks to Jean Renault, good old Blackie has bought the farm instead of the casino.  How we will miss her!  My time is just--[static]
Andy:  Lucy, everything is going to be all right.  Lucy?
Lucy:  Andy, are you there?
Andy:  I'm here.  I can hear you.
Lucy:  Is that you, Mrs. Zipman?
Andy:  It's me!
Lucy:  Andy, if you're there and not saying anything, like you always used to in high school when you hyperventilated, and had to breathe in the bag in French class--
Andy:  Lucy, I'm trying to tell you--
Lucy:  Unlucky in love:  my life story.  I'll be back next Sunday with more news if my life hasn't completely fallen apart more than it already has.  This is Lucy.  Bye-bye.

Length of recording:  2 minutes 33 seconds

Comments:  This recording followed episode 12 by Barry Pullman (writer) and Graeme Clifford (director).

Andy and Lucy can't seem to agree on the marital status of Ms. Zipman; twice Andy refers to her as "Miss," but Lucy calls her "Mrs."

This recording reveals how Andy knows French—he apparently took classes in high school.

There is no explanation of how Lucy--at her sister's home in Tacoma--answers a phone call into the Twin Peaks Sheriff's sta­tion.  Following recordings handle the situation more logically--Andy answers our phone call, and Lucy calls on another line.

The mysterious voice relates what is happening with Donna, Maddy and Harold, but doesn’t mention Harold’s curious reaction when he is forced outside by Donna--one of the most fascinating occurrences in the episode.  While much of the details of what happened in the episode is conveyed, any of the promised "new information and clues about events on upcoming shows" is completely missing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Obscure Twin Peaks: The Twin Peaks Hotline (Episodes 9 & 10)

Twin Peaks began its second season on Sunday, September 30, 1990.  Because of the show's complexity and serial structure, ABC television wanted to help viewers stay up-to-date on plot developments and so initiated the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Station Hotline.  Viewers could call a number and listen to a recorded message featuring some of the show’s characters.  Ostensibly, viewers were calling the actual Twin Peaks Sheriff’s station and “eavesdropping” on Lucy and Andy (and a few other Twin Peaks characters) as they discussed the recent happenings in the town (i.e., the recent plot developments).  Another character—a mysterious, unidentified voice—typically interrupted Lucy and Andy's conversations and relayed information about events they could not know. (This allowed for more detailed story updates.) Then the phone line would be “returned” to the sheriff's station.

Lynch-Frost Productions created the recordings, which were available by calling a 900 phone number.  The entertainment wasn't cheap—it cost callers $2 for the first minute and $1 for each minute thereafter.  Supposedly, parts of the proceeds were donated to environmental causes.

The recordings stand as an amusing sidebar to the Twin Peaks phenomenon.  The writing was in keeping with the tone of the series, including the alternating humorous (Lucy/Andy) versus serious (mystery voice) presentations.  Having Kimmy Robertson and Harry Goaz reprise their Peaks characters provided a legitimacy to the endeavor and made the recordings fun.  Additionally, Angelo Badalamenti's music was part of every Hotline.  The “Twin Peaks Theme” (“Falling”) ended most of the spots.  “Dance of the Dream Man” provided the background music to all of the mysterious voice segments except the final one, which used “Laura Palmer's Theme.”

Nevertheless, despite the oversight of Lynch-Frost Produc­tions and the inclusion of Andy and Lucy, the Hotline cannot be considered part of any official Twin Peaks canon. In Twin Peaks, every episode (with minor exceptions) comprised a single day in the life of the characters.  But in the Twin Peaks Hotline, these one-day accounts are presented as weekly accounts.  Clearly, this was done so that Lucy or Andy could tell callers to “call back next week.”  As a result, there was a strange, off-kilter air to the proceedings, as if everything has been stuck in a time warp.  Perhaps appropriate, now that you think about it!

Here are the first two Hotline messages.  Look for more in the coming weeks.

Episode 9:

Lucy:  Hello, Twin Peaks Sheriff's station, this is Lucy speaking.  Boy, has stuff been happening or what!?  I heard through the Meals on Wheels people--I used to help them on my days off--that Donna went to see this old lady whose little kid took her creamed corn and held it in his hands like it was just a bunch of corn!  Which, I guess it was, except it was creamed, and that is just about the worst food in the history of the world. Speaking of creamed corn, do you believe that story about Deputy Brennan?
Andy:  I like creamed corn.
Lucy:  So now you're listening in on my calls!
Andy:  I was not.  I was just walking by the phone, and it blinked. What are you talking about?
Lucy:  I'm trying to tell the caller what's been happening.
Andy:  The fire department had its annual hose race.
Lucy:  Hose race?!  Can we stick to business here?  Some of us are professionals. Then Agent Cooper showed Ronette the drawing of Bob, the man in his dream, and it was the man who hurt her and killed Laura Palmer. Then, Leland Palmer recognized him too from when he was a kid up at Pearl Lakes.
Andy:  Yeah, the third man at the train car.
Lucy:  Real quick, Deputy.
Andy:  Then Agent Rosenfield told Agent Cooper that his old partner, Windom Earle, has vanished.
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan won't be joining us for any more of this conversation, now will he? Hello?  [Static begins, then subsides; an unidentified voice takes over the line.]
Voice:  Hello.  Look, I gotta be quick.  Audrey Horne paid a visit on Emory Battis at One-Eyed Jacks with some ice cubes and a vacuum cleaner and found out her father is the owner. She tried to call Cooper but got caught by Blackie. Kids these days! Then Major Briggs told Agent Cooper that messages have come from outer space that say, "The owls are not what they seem." I think he took it quite well.  Ben and Jerry have the ledgers from the mill. They were going to burn them but decided to roast marshmallows instead. Hey, look, I gotta go. Oh, one other thing: I believe Donna is about to go visit this mysterious Mr. Smith. I think it's a mistake.  [Static returns to the line, then sub­sides.]
Lucy:  What the hey is going on with these phones?  Have you heard a word I said?
Andy:  I don't think you should be talking that way from the sheriff's station, Lucy.
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan, how nice of you to join us again.
Andy:  I wanted to say that Hank Jennings used to be a Bookhouse Boy with Harry before he turned to a life of crime.
Lucy:  Man, what is a person to think!
Andy:  Lucy, there's a smelt fry down at the VFW Friday. Do you want to go?
Lucy:  You mean those little fish that look like something you'd feed your cat?
Andy:  You get a whole basket.
Lucy:  How romantic! No thank you! Well, thanks for calling. I'll be here next Sunday with more information. This is Lucy signing off.

Length of recording:  2 minutes, 36 seconds
Comments:  This recording followed episode 9 by Harley Peyton (writer) and David Lynch (director).  It sets the pattern that would be followed for all but one message: banter between Lucy and Andy (and, later, Dr. Hayward), then static as a mysterious voice interrupts the call to give a fairly straightforward plot synopsis (with occasional personal opinions), then finally a return to Andy and Lucy.

Hotline callers expected to receive new information and clues about events on upcoming shows. The only new information in this first recording is the bit about Donna's visit to Harold Smith--all in all a fairly undramatic revelation.

One notable scene from the episode not mentioned in the recording is Maddy's vision of Bob at the Hayward home.

Episode 10:

Lucy:  Hello, Twin Peaks Sheriff's station, Lucy speaking. Oh, hi. I'm kind of depressed at the moment. Well, see, there's this other man I've been seeing, once, Dick Tremayne--he's in men's wear up at Horne's.
Andy:  Hello?
Lucy:  Excuse me, but you picked up the wrong line again, Deputy Brennan!
Andy:  Oh. I thought you might be talking about what's been happening.
Lucy:  No! We were talking about--Austria!
Andy:  I've been to Austria.
Lucy:  Oh, well then please continue since you're such an expert.
Andy:  Um, they have good, really good chocolate, and I bought a pair of these leather shorts, latter-hoses, that the trolls wear, and they gave me a rash, so I--
Lucy:  I think we pretty much covered this area. Thank you for your assistance, Deputy Brennan. I have Doctor Hayward on the other line. He will fill you in on what's been going on over at the hospital.  Doc Hayward, are you there?
Hayward:  I'm here, Lucy. Well, Ronette Pulaski was visited by the killer in her room. He placed a small, typed letter "B" under her fingernail and a blue liquid in her IV. Other than that, Ronette was unhurt. Nadine Hurley, with the help of her husband Ed's singing voice, has come out of her coma with no permanent damage. She does, however, believe she is a cheerleader back in high school and that the nurses are pom-pom girls.  As soon as Doctor Jacoby is recovered enough himself, we expect he'll be of great help in bringing Nadine back to the present.
Lucy:  Thanks Doc! Hello?  [Static]
Voice:  Hello. The doctor doesn't know what kind of games his daughter is up to.  She visited Harold Smith, Laura's mysterious friend. He gave her a flower to put on her grave. Affairs of the heart. I believe this Mr. Smith has taken a liking to Donna--as he did to Laura, whose diary he has secretly kept. Oh, and do keep an eye on the last of the Renault brothers, Jean. He plans to kill Agent Cooper, and dear Audrey is caught right in the middle. I think they're on to me!  [Static]
Lucy:  Doctor Hayward?  Are you there?
Hayward:  I'm here.
Lucy:  There's something strange going on around here.
Andy:  Hi, Doctor Hayward!
Lucy:  Andy, are you listening again?
Hayward:  I have to get to a patient.
Andy:  Bye, doc!
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan, has anyone seen that one-armed man around here since he had that fit and injected himself with something?
Andy:  No.
Lucy:  Boy, what a day! And to top it all off, Leland Palmer was arrested for the murder of Jacques Renault! Well, thanks for calling. I'll be back next Sunday with more news. This is Lucy. Good-bye!

Length of recording:  2 minutes, 33 seconds
Comments:  This recording followed episode 10 by Robert Engels (writer) and Lesli Linka Glatter (director).

Lucy's depression results from her lunch date with Tremayne in which she tells him she's pregnant, and his response is far from encouraging.

"The Voice" provides no new plot information; Renault's plan to kill Cooper is alluded to in the episode.  (The word "kill" isn't specifically used, but the context is clear enough.)

This is the only Hotline recording that includes Dr. Hay­ward.