The Joy of Sets: Twin Peaks

twin peaksI haven’t seen Twin Peaks since it originally aired in 1990-91, but I’ve always wanted to see it again. Now, thanks to the channel that currently calls itself Syfy, I can. I settled down to watch the pilot episode feeling a tiny bit apprehensive in case I was disappointed – maybe it wouldn’t have stood the test of time and be as freaky/wonderful as I fondly remembered.

The weirdest thing to begin with was how pin-sharp and beautiful it looked. I remembered it as a bit grainy-looking. This is possibly because I had a rubbish TV back in 1990 and everything looked grainy. And small. Now, on my shiny newish flat-screen model, Twin Peaks looks crystal clear.

It’s the only crystal clear thing about it, of course. Twin Peaks was the first programme I remember watching that made me realise you don’t have to follow and understand every tiny thing that happens. Some things, you just have to go with the flow and trust that some sort of sense will happen eventually. It swings between hilarious and harrowing and you just have to go along for the ride.  

It looks amazingly contemporary, possibly because so many things since have copied from its gloomy, quirky visual style (Utopia and Fargo are just two that spring to mind). The only thing that gives away its age are some of the costumes and hairstyles. The broad-shouldered, slash-necked, flared skirted midi dress is so not a good look. The only female character who looks absolutely timeless is Audrey Horne (Sherilynn Fenn): with her classic preppy style and 40s movie star hair, she could be from any era. Audrey is one of the characters who provides welcome light relief in a story that can get almost overbearingly upsetting (the pilot episode featured more crying than the entire first series of Broadchurch). The quirky characters in Twin Peaks are too numerous to mention, but obviously the one who stands above them all is Kyle MacLachlan’s eccentric FBI agent Dale Cooper. For once I don’t think it’s over the top to describe a character or performance as “iconic.” Or, as he might say himself (and I’ve got to get the phrase in somewhere – it’s practically mandatory) – “Damn fine.”

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