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Posts Tagged ‘Twin Peaks’

31 Monsters Between The Screams #10

October 10th, 2014 No comments

31monstersbts26

Seriously, Bob freaks me out even here.

(Still, I can’t wait until Twin Peaks returns in 2016!)

Ruh-Roh

April 5th, 2013 No comments

Laid low today with the head cold that’s been going around, I was able to watch the final two episodes of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated live. This last week has seen the show carry through with its crazy-as-a-soup-sandwich take on the venerable kids’ franchise.

Remember last week, when we learned that Scooby-Doo was descended from interdimensional aliens? And he visited the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks? Well, this week’s run kicked off with the entire Scooby gang venturing into that same sinister Red Room to meet up with the dancing dwarf, played once again by Peaks‘ Michael J. Anderson.

Oh, and later this week, this happened…

Yes, that’s Scooby-Doo blazing away with arm-mounted gatling guns. And check out the weaponized Mystery Machine.

The whole thing wrapped up in apocalyptic fashion, with a tentacled, Lovecraftian entity collapsing the town of Crystal Cove and eating…well, pretty much the entire supporting cast. If all of this seems rather dark for a show about a mystery-solving Great Dane, that was rather the point. The metaplot of the series was that the entire town–including and especially the various “four investigators and a talking animal” teams throughout the centuries–was tainted by this ancient evil.

It occurred to me about midway through this week that by turning the Mystery Incorporated kids into the latest iteration of an archetypal monster-hunting team, the writers were treading close to The Cabin in the Woods. I began to wonder which of them was The Virgin. (My conclusion: Scooby.)

While the ultimate ending leaned heavily on the reset button–which, come on, it had to once the whole community was fed to a titanic octopus-parakeet–it was a satisfying wrap-up that set those meddling kids back to the beginning and firmly onto the path they’ve traveled since 1969.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

March 29th, 2013 No comments

I swear that the programmers at Cartoon Network suffer from ADHD. Shows will disappear in mid-run, pop-up five months later at a different time and day, then inexplicably vanish again with several episodes still unaired. It’s frustrating, and doubly so if the series in question has an on-going story arc.

I’ve written before about Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, which earlier this week reemerged from a forgotten closet at Cartoon Network headquarters to finish out its long-neglected run in a weekday afternoon burn-off slot. It should wrap up next week, unless the head of programming spots a shiny object.

Perhaps the very qualities that made Mystery Inc. such a compelling series for older fans of the characters are what kept it bouncing around the schedule. It broke from the standard Scooby formula in favor of a two-season, 52-episode long storyline.* It romantically involved Velma and Shaggy, had Daphne (and later Velma) temporarily break from the gang, and revealed that Fred’s adoptive father was a villain who’d blackmailed his birth parents (who were part of a previous Mystery Incorporated team) into giving him up.

Even more remarkably, it introduced elements of real danger. A couple of supporting characters have been killed (off-screen, but still) by the sinister machinations of Professor Pericles, the talking parrot who was the real brains behind the earlier incarnation of Mystery Inc.

Okay, I realize that I have just typed the phrase “the sinister machinations of Professor Pericles, the talking parrot.” This ain’t exactly House of Cards. Yet, the notion that something going out under the Scooby-Doo banner has a murderous bird in it is strange and wonderful.

And then, yesterday, this happened.

Scooby-Doo visited the Red Room (aka the Black Lodge) from Twin Peaks. Okay, it was a dream, but so was the original Red Room. And as the scene involved a metaphysical entity speaking to Scoobs through his dog girlfriend,** I’m willing to accept that yes, Scooby-Doo was in the Black Lodge. Agent Cooper and BOB were presumably in the next room over.

And what was discussed? Oh, just that the reason certain dogs (and parrots) can talk is that they are the descendants of the Anunnaki,*** extradimensional spirits who can only physically exist  by inhabiting the bodies of animals.

Mind. Blown.

Okay, maybe I do understand why this didn’t fly at the Cartoon Network. But that anyone ever allowed it to happen in the first place is as peculiar as any ghost encountered by those meddling kids.

*Thanks to the delays, said storyline will finish out three years to the day from when it began.

**Again, I totally get how ridiculous this seems when I type it out.

***The Anunnaki are a “real” thing, in that they feature in real-world crackpot theories regarding the rogue planet Nibiru (also namechecked in Mystery Inc.) and the end of the world. 

Categories: TV Tags: , ,

That Show You Like Is Going To Come Back In Style

April 4th, 2008 No comments

One good thing to come out of this week’s phlegm-o-rama was the opportunity to plow through the remaining half of my Twin Peaks “Definitive Gold Box Edition” DVD set: fifteen episodes spread over three days.

Coming back to Twin Peaks seventeen years after this late and very much lamented series blipped into cathode ray oblivion it strikes me as nothing less than the Rosetta Stone of modern scripted television. I’d argue that shows ranging from The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica to Gilmore Girls and Desperate Housewives all border on the same woods surrounding that famous Washington logging town.

When Peaks debuted in April, 1990 it looked like nothing else on television. Co-creator David Lynch was a celebrated film director making a leap to the small screen at a time when that was seen as a step down, and he brought his cinematic sensibilities to the composition of shots and the pacing of scenes. Meanwhile, his surreal storytelling and strange visions turned the weirdness knob to eleven and demonstrated to other film directors that working in an episodic TV format didn’t mean they had to check their creativity at the studio door.

Lynch poked a pointy stick at small-town life, exposing both seediness and silliness, and in the decades that followed, the odd qualities of Twin Peaks and its inhabitants have informed other quirky fictional communities. Cicily, Stuckeyville, Trinity, Stars’ Hollow, Sunnydale and many more can trace a route back to the Double R Diner.

But what really fueled the pop-culture juggernaut that was Peaks before it became a spectacular, flaming wreck was a deceptively simple question: “Who killed Laura Palmer?” The discovery of the popular-but-troubled high school student’s plastic-wrapped body captured the public imagination.

Unlike Dallas‘ famous query, “Who shot J.R.?” there was no easy answer. The clues were numerous and not easily interpreted, coming often in dreams and visions. The enormous cast of characters offered dozens of potential suspects, and magazines published two-page spreads detailing the web of connections between them.

The funny thing was that, as we eventually learned, the producers originally had no intention of solving the mystery. Laura’s death was meant to be the catalyst that brought Kyle MacLachlan’s FBI Agent Dale Cooper to the town and led to the exposure of its many seamy secrets. However, they hadn’t reckoned on the audience’s demand for closure, nor the endless drum-beating of the network’s own publicity department. Honestly, I don’t see how it would’ve worked as a multi-year premise even if ABC hadn’t been pushing the “Who killed Laura Palmer?” gurney as fast as its little wheels could spin.

Originally airing as an eight-episode miniseries in the spring of 1990, Peaks returned with a full season that fall, but the pressure was on and the producers capitulated by November and revealed Laura’s own father as her spirit-possessed murderer. And when he in turn died a few weeks later, the show deflated like a pie without cherry filling.

That’s not to say that some interesting things didn’t come out of the final thirteen episodes. I really got into the supernatural elements which came to the forefront: demonic owls, Project Blue Book, and the search for the hellish Black Lodge that ended in David Lynch’s nightmarish and infuriatingly incomplete cliffhanger.

Back in the day, Twin Peaks‘ use of long-term storytelling was an anomaly. Most TV dramas were episodic, with plots both introduced and concluded in a single installment. (Or, if they were feeling frisky, they might toss in a two-parter.) This format made them more attractive once they hit the after market of syndication; local TV stations could run episodes in any order without disrupting continuity.

Peaks didn’t introduce the story arc format. The soap operas which it both emulated and spoofed relied on it for decades, and even more conventional dramas had begun to adopt the idea, notably the late ’80s crime drama Wiseguy. Still, I think it’s worth noting that in a day when shows boasting multi-year story arcs are both commonplace and diverse (ranging from Lost to How I Met Your Mother), Peaks is inevitably trotted out as the cautionary tale of “what not to do.”

As for myself, I see Peaks not as a failure but a trailblazer. It arrived just a few years too early to take full advantage of the Internet’s ability to connect fans into manic, clue-solving engines. (It did inspire a “save our show” letter-writing campaign; letters, remember those? If it was on the air today, some poor ABC mailroom drone would be drowning in logs or pieces of cherry pie.) Furthermore, story arcs have become enough of a norm that both viewers and networks are a bit more patient in allowing them to unspool. They won’t wait indefinitely (see Lost), but the frustration takes longer to set in.

I continue to hope that someday we’ll get one final journey back to Twin Peaks, just to find out if Agent Cooper ever shook the malevolent evil of BOB, and, more importantly, whether he ever managed to brush his teeth.