CVIndependent

Sun09242017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

As I write this, David Lynch is apparently in France, awaiting the reactions to his final episodes of Twin Peaks.

After a 26-year pause, the story of Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer continued this summer with 18 otherworldly episodes—and the series concluded in a way that was just as perplexing as that moment when Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) stared at his Evil Bob reflection in the mirror all those years ago.

Peaks fans, let’s face it: Whether or not this is the final bow for Peaks, the story will never be tied up in a neat little package, even if it does come back again. Lynch loves his puzzles—see Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway as proof—and Twin Peaks has proven to be the ultimate Lynch puzzler.

You can approach the series in so many different ways—all of them making perfect sense—or you can look the whole thing as a failure of narrative, and a script writing copout. I choose the former; in fact, I think Twin Peaks: The Return is an absolute masterpiece.

The show wrapped up with two hour-long episodes aired in succession. Dale Cooper—truly awake for the first time this season after many hours in a happy stupor—returns to Twin Peaks for a final confrontation with Bob. I won’t spoil too much, especially if you’ve yet to dive into Peaks, but the confrontation provides the closest thing to closure that Peaks fans will get.

The final hour displays the heroic intentions of Cooper, still trying to rescue Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) from an eternal, hellish existence, and that’s all I will say. Things don’t resolve in a typical, narrative faction. That’s simply not the Lynch way.

Does the final episode leave much to interpretation? Yes, but I believe most of the questions that fans have been asking can be answered in the 18-episode series, along with the now-invaluable and formerly maligned 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. (Hey, that movie sort of makes sense now!)

Does the final episode leave things open for a continuation of Peaks? Sure it does, and I hope there are more. I will always hope for more Peaks; I’m a junkie when it comes to this show.

This new cliffhanger, as opposed to the one Lynch put in play at the end of Season 2 back in 1991, is much different. Lynch was sort of toying with ABC executives back in the day, almost making it impossible for them to cancel the show—yet they did. Lynch had every intention of continuing the story, but ABC cancelled the show, and the first Peaks film was a flop—so the story went into limbo.

This time, the cliffhanger is more of a statement—that the Peaks universe is a never-ending dream/nightmare, just like the universe around all of us. Many stories don’t get a tidy resolution, and it just might be the case that Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer are eternally fucked in one universe, while having a decent time in another.

If this is the end for Twin Peaks, it’s a solid, fitting one. Thank you, David Lynch, for giving the summer a sinister, funny, puzzle of a series—the best work you have ever done.

Please make more. Or stop. It’s entirely up to you.

Published in TV

Too many people told me that I “just have to” watch Ozark (streaming, Netflix), another summer series that got by me because there are Too Many Shows. Ozark must be good, since Netflix has renewed it for a second season, right? I blame Netflix’s idiotic, downright Trumpian “Very Good/Very Bad” ratings system. The Jason Bateman crime drama (he also directed half of Ozark’s episodes) mostly lives up to its Southern-Fried Breaking Bad hype, leaning more heavily on action than creating any characters to give a shit about. This makes for a quick binge—smart, because the plot (a nonsensical money-laundering operation in a Missouri tourist trap) shouldn’t be overthought. “Very Meh.”

Meanwhile, The Guest Book (Thursdays, TBS) is halfway through its debut season, and you’ve probably never even heard of it. Creator/producer Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) has created a sorta-anthology comedy about a rental cabin in a small mountain town that features a rotating cast of out-there characters and a Coen Brothers-lite zeal for interconnected storylines. Each episode stands alone well enough, but The Guest Book will ultimately work best as a 10-part whole on whatever streaming service it eventually winds up on—at which time, I’ll be asked, “Have you seen this new show on Netflix? It’s sooo funny and weird! Love it!” Bonus: Indie-folk duo HoneyHoney closes each episode, Twin Peaks-style.

Speaking of Twin Peaks (two-hour season finale, Sunday, Sept. 3, Showtime) … yeah, so that happened. The Return, Showtime’s 18-episode series revival, has been more for fans of David Lynch in general than Twin Peaks-specific devotees—a careening WTF? ride with many fantastic performances (Naomi Watts! David Duchovny!), brain-imploding visuals (the atomic nightmare collage of Episode 8), and tear-jerking farewells (R.I.P. “Log Lady” Catherine Coulson). But what does it all mean? Maybe the finale will reveal all, or not. Best to just consider Twin Peaks a summer diversion that at least drew some eyeballs back to the original series, and set up a Wally Brando spinoff. (Let’s make this happen!)

You know who could really use Dr. Jacoby’s golden shit shovel? CBS. In a garbage fall 2017 network TV forecast, the Eye Network will be churning out the rankest trash of them all—which makes their CBS Fall Preview (Monday, Sept. 4, CBS) a gotta-watch trainwreck: “What could be a worse idea than Young Sheldon? Hold our beer! Besides that forgone conclusion, we have SEAL Team and S.W.A.T., which are the same show—and Red State ’Merica will looove ’em! Also, there’s Wisdom of the Crowd, yet another tech-billionaire-solves-crime procedural! And don’t forget new sitcoms Me, Myself and I and 9JKL—at least not before we cancel them and plug in Big Bang Theory reruns! Only … CBS!”

I’ll continue to argue that Season 1, Murder House, is still the best of the series, but American Horror Story: Cult (Season 7 premiere Tuesday, Sept. 5, FX) looks promising as hell. Cult begins on Election Night 2016, with Trumpy the Clown’s victory shattering leftie Ally (Sarah Paulson) and delighting loony Kai (Evan Peters)—but it’s not about politics. Showrunner Ryan Murphy says this season is about paranoia and “the euphoria and the fear” of the nation (which is current politics, but whatever). Several regular AHS players are returning for Cult, joined by newcomers like Billie Lourd, Alison Pill, Lena Dunham (!) and Billy Eichner (!!). This might finally be the one to top Murder House … thanks, Trump?

When we left You’re the Worst (Season 4 premiere Wednesday, Sept. 6, FXX), Jimmy (Chis Geere) had just proposed to Gretchen (Aya Cash) … and then abandoned her on a hilltop. Jimmy’s cold feet haven’t warmed up at the outset of Season 4; Gretchen’s bitterness hasn’t cooled off; and hangers-on Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and Edgar (Desmin Borges) have no idea how to function in a post-GretchJim world. Don’t be sad: As funny as they were as self-absorbed/-destructive bang-buds reluctantly falling in love, Gretchen and Jimmy are even more darkly hilarious as toxic exes who’ll inevitably get back together—if Gretchen’s revenge schemes don’t kill him first. Hulu Seasons 1-3 now, if not sooner.

Published in TV

Some 26 years ago, ABC did a very, very bad thing: The network cancelled Twin Peaks after just two seasons, without telling David Lynch the season finale would be a series finale. This resulted in the most unholy of cliffhangers.

That cliffhanger that would last 26 years.

Thanks to Showtime, Twin Peaks fans finally get some relief with the return of Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the Black Lodge and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz).

As of this writing, I’ve seen the first four hours of what will be 18, all directed and co-written by Lynch. The first two hours play like the latter-day Lynch films (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway), and have more in common with the dark, horrific Peaks movie Fire Walk With Me than the comparatively bright original TV show.

Episodes 3 and 4 take on a funny, goofier tone at times, reminiscent of the odd humor that propelled the original series. Even with the laughs (chief among them a moment involving cell phones and a run of casino jackpots), the new Peaks is a dark and sinister place—a fascinatingly brilliant, dark and sinister place.

There’s no sense in me going too far into the plot. Those who remember the show know that it ended with Dale Cooper stuck in the Black Lodge, with his evil doppelganger released upon the Earth, possessed by Killer Bob. Well, this series provides the long-awaited answer regarding Dale Cooper’s fate. MacLachlan is afforded all kinds of opportunities to go crazy as an actor.

The Showtime show is as good as the ABC show was when Lynch was directing it. Lynch directed all the episodes we will see this year—and as a die-hard Peaks fan, I can’t believe I got to write those words just now. I’m in heaven.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Friday, May 19, Netflix), season premiere: Where will the perkiest TV character ever created (cartoons included) go in Season 3? Now that she has her post-doomsday-cult-imprisonment GED, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is entering higher education: “After high school, most white girls go to college,” explains Kimmy’s landlady, Lillian (Carol Kane). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will also welcome back everybody’s favorite cult leader and No. 1 draft pick for his own spinoff series, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), as well as guest stars like Ray Liotta, Laura Dern, jinx killer Robert Durst (actually, Fred Armisen) and Beyonce (actually, Titus Burgess). We’ll also learn that Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski) attended Trump University, which makes sooo much sense. Still full of heart, Kimmy is as weird, warm and hilarious as ever.

12 Monkeys (Friday, May 19, Syfy), season premiere: Before the 2016-17 TV season’s onslaught of time-travel shows (Timeless, Time After Time, Making History, all of which have been canceled), there was Syfy’s 12 Monkeys. There was also Doctor Who, but there’s always been Doctor Who. Anyway: 12 Monkeys, based on the 1995 movie of the same name, doesn’t so much replicate the Bruce Willis/Brad Pitt classic as warp the hell out of it, with Cole (Aaron Stanford) expanding on Willis’ stop-the-apocalypse tenacity, while Goines (show-stealer Emily Hampshire) takes Pitt’s mental patient to giddy new levels. Season 3 will be the final chapter for 12 Monkeys, and Syfy is blowing out all 10 episodes over three nights—I’d suggest a Hulu binge of the first two seasons before sending off the TV Time Travel Trend. Except Doctor Who, because, Doctor Who.

Twin Peaks (Sunday, May 21, Showtime), return: Sure, it seems like you’ve been reading/ignoring this TV column forever, but it didn’t even exist during the original 1990-91 run of Twin Peaks—no, really! David Lynch’s long-long-long-awaited Showtime revival takes place 25 years later, consists of 18 episodes, features 200 characters, and … that’s about all anyone knows. The new Twin Peaks hasn’t been shown to critics, and Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost have been tight with details beyond name-dropping guest stars (Laura Dern, Ashley Judd, Tim Roth, Naomi Watts and Robert Forster among them). This Pacific Northwest bizarre-noir was too much for ’90s television to handle, and even after dozens of subsequent rip-offs (sorry, “homages”), no one should doubt Lynch’s ability to push the envelope on Showtime. Now, where’s the pie?

Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter (Monday, May 22, Adult Swim), season premiere: Now that Neon Joe (Jon Glaser) has exacted revenge upon his father, defeated the evil Cybots and retired from the werewolf hunting game (see how much you missed in Season 1?), he can finally realize his lifelong dream: opening his own tiki bar, Oahu Joe’s. But, before you can say “Heyup!” Joe’s pulled back into supernatural danger to take on a rival werewolf hunter, billionaire playboy Plaid Jeff (Godfrey, Steven Universe). Glaser’s eye-patched mercenary with an incomprehensible Cajun accent may be one of the most ridiculous Adult Swim characters ever, but at least he’s concise: Neon Joe’s second season is only five episodes long, running nightly and wrapping up on Friday. Jason Sudeikis (R.I.P., Son of Zorn) shows up in the premiere, not that you needed to be sold harder.

The Fox News Specialists (Weekdays, Fox News), new series: Weird times at Fox News: Bill O’Reilly’s out; Tucker Carlson keeps failing upward; Jesse Watters somehow still has a job after dropping an Ivanka Trump blowjob joke; on and on. And now there’s The Fox News Specialists, a new weekday talker hosted by personality free stalk of celery Eric Bolling, too-smart-for-any-room-but-especially-this-one Eboni Williams, and my personal favorite Fox News floater, National Review reporter Katherine Timpf (also a regular on The Greg Gutfeld Show, the best thing to happen to Saturday nights since blackout bingeing). The trio are joined daily by two “specialists” on … something … making five—but not The Five, which is a different Fox News show. It all adds up to an even more pointless waste of airtime than Fox and Friends, bringing less to the news cycle than a waterskiing squirrel. Just lock down Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos and launch Live! With Tomi and Milo! already.

Published in TV

At long last, the entire Twin Peaks series is out on Blu-ray—along with the inferior but still interesting prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

The complete series—with both the American and European pilots—and the film come in a nifty collector’s box with a ton of special features. Director/creator David Lynch oversaw many aspects of the Blu-ray’s production (it’s titled Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery), and the transfer is visually stunning.

The show itself—a mystery about a murdered young girl named Laura Palmer, and the supernatural forces that took her—remains one of the most innovative and scary TV productions ever. Something like Twin Peaks would never make it to ABC, NBC or CBS these days; this is the sort of stuff reserved for HBO, AMC and FX.

The show was actually very funny at times, anchored by the quirky performance of Kyle MacLachlan as special agent Dale Cooper. The absurdist humor is mostly lost in the movie, which is a dark, unpleasant film that accentuates the dark side of Twin Peaks and characters like Leland Palmer (Ray Wise). However, more than two decades after its release, I can now watch the prequel and like it. I see its value now. As for the TV show, this is one of the few series that I can watch over and over again, and never grow tired of the experience. (Breaking Bad also holds this honor.)

Special Features: There’s much to uncover here, including newly filmed interviews with actors in character, directed by David Lynch. It’s an interesting retrospective approach that gives us the unnerving experience of seeing Leland Palmer reminisce.

There are plenty of archival and new features, too, but the big reason to get this set would be “The Missing Pieces,” 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. These scenes include characters from the TV show, most notably Sheriff Truman, who were left on the cutting-room floor. There’s one scene involving Jack Nance and a two-by-four that would’ve given the film a much needed dose of absurdist humor. Indeed, the scenes show Lynch had a better movie in his back pocket.

One problem: My copy of the Blu-ray contains an audio-sync problem on the deleted scenes; the sound doesn’t match up with the mouths. I’ve done some research and found out that I am not alone—many copies have this glitch. The glitch can be improved by messing around with your player’s audio settings; it’s an annoyance fans will have to endure.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing