GROUPWATCH: Twin Peaks – “Pilot Pt. 1”

by Piers Rae

July 15, 2014

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There’s nothing more satisfying than introducing a friend to something you love. You vicariously re-experience the thrills of stumbling on an amazing piece of art for the first time. Or you wind up arguing about their complete lack of good taste and artistic sensibility. Regardless, you’re certain to learn something new about the person sitting next to you. Even if it’s awful.
In GroupWatch, two or more of our writers introduce each other to their favourite pieces of pop culture and live stream their thoughts, reactions, and questions. In this iteration, Piers Rae is bringing Margaret MacLennan into the Twin Peaks fandom, or at least he will try to.


Piers: I’m thrilled you’re watching Twin Peaks.
Piers: It’s a series I’ll recommend to everybody; I could revisit at any time
Margaret: thank you for not making six thousand boob jokes about the title.
Piers: The night is young
Margaret: I hit play and there was a morning dove and a smoke stack and I hit pause again that’s all i saw and i’m confused
Piers: Don’t do that. Before we start: Why did you decide to watch Twin Peaks?
Margaret: I decided to watch Twin Peaks because you’ve mentioned it as an inspiration, and I love the Simpsons
Margaret: I want to know whether the Who Shot Mr Burns episode is parody, or if the “Twin Peaks” bit that Homer was watching was just an aside.
Piers: I believe that episode is a parody of Dallas and the “Who Shot JR?” storyline
Piers: That bit is just a throwaway gag. You’re watching this because of a throwaway gag on another show.
Piers: But it is Twin Peaks related. I declare it the most brilliant gag of the Simpsons past and future run.
Margaret: You’ve just ruined it for me! Let’s watch Dallas instead.
Piers: NEVER
Piers: Let’s mash play on this jambox.
Piers: ready?
Piers: 3
Margaret: What’s a jambox
Piers: 2
Piers: It’s a TV. Or a boombox. It’s whatever you want it to be.
Margaret: ok, ready
Piers: 1
Piers: PLAY

Margaret: Okay so mourning dove smoke stack construction rust
Piers: We open on quiet shots of Twin Peaks
Margaret: So it’s an industrial town?
Piers: It’s a logging town!
Margaret: Ugh what year is this from? The soundtrack…
Piers: The series ran 1990-1991. Two glorious years.
Margaret: The HD is making the rest of my living room seem fake.
Piers: Everything is fake compared to Twin Peaks. This is what life would be if God knew what he was doing.
Margaret: Population 51,201 I’ve seen that sign so many times. Does it mean anything? Is it a prime number?
Piers: oh wow. You’re right to look for meaning in every shot of Twin Peaks, whether it’s there or not, so I admire your spirit. However, numerology remains meaningless.
Margaret: waterfall, snow? Is this winter? Fall?
Piers: It’s an enchanting waterfall in Autumn.
Margaret: There’s a Deschanel. Any relation to Zooey, or… the other one?
Piers: and no, no relation to Zooey. Or the other one.
Margaret: I feel like I’m in a psychology experiment where they show you calming images, and then BOOM – porn.
Piers: You’re not far off. The opening credits is as idyllic as this place gets.
Margaret: Aww ducks.
Margaret: The ducks aren’t going to die are they?
Piers: No promises. Life is cheap in Twin Peaks.

Piers: By the way, the soundtrack is one of my favourite pieces of the show. You’re going to fall in love with it over the course of the first season. The dreamy synth is one of a kind, still stands out as unique today.
Margaret: I. love. her. lip colour.
Piers: Joan Chen?
Margaret: And the subtle Geisha pink eyeshadow.
Piers: She is an incredibly beautiful woman. You will hate her soon.
Margaret: And a bonsai-cut large tree in the yard? What’s with the eastern imagery?
Margaret: Oh lord I’ve seen enough cop shows to know there’s a body in that bag.
Margaret: Where is this, Oregon? I see a totem pole.
Piers: Washington State. Cascadia. The Pacific Northwest. There are trees. Which is why there’s a lumber mill.
Margaret: The body’s wrapped up like a bouquet!
Piers: Twin Peaks is right on the Canadian border, for our fellow Canucks.
Margaret: It’s like film noir Seinfeld in terms of style and set decor.
Piers: Both series would be starting about the same time.
Piers: Seinfeld is ’89 if I’m not mistaken
Piers: This series does a better job of representing nineties fashion
Margaret: Lucy needs to stop touching her face, it’ll make her break out!
Piers: Lucy the receptionist wears some unfortunate sweaters but for the most part characters in Twin Peaks dress pretty well for a rural town.
Margaret: They’re all dressed so beautifully. The clothes look worn but clean and well taken care of. How much of a budget did they have?
Piers: So this is the start of the series: a body in the water, wrapped in plastic
Piers: I’ll look into the budget for the next episode, but it would have been significant. It’s a network show (when being a network show mattered) helmed by an oscar winning director.
Margaret: Look for the woman, that’s how I always try to piece together a mystery.
Piers: Cherchez la femme?
Margaret: Yes that’s it.
Piers: BAM
Margaret: Cherchez la femme unless he’s into men. Then cherchez le homme.
Piers: The reveal of Laura Palmer, and Laura Palmer’s THEME begins to play
Margaret: Oh no it’s going to be all Broadchurchy and the mother’s going to start crying. Where have I seen that actress before? Or after. What else was she in?
Piers: Note the amount of smoking that goes on here. I miss smoking in TV.
Piers: And yes, there’s going to be plenty of crying throughout the series
Margaret: The lighting is beautiful!
Piers: This up the stairs shot is pretty disturbing.
Piers: Something about the odd angle, cast shadows, and the overhead fan is very off-putting.
Margaret: There are almost no colours in this house — just some peach and browns. The light really effects it.
Margaret: The houses are all colour coordinated, aren’t they.
Margaret: Palmers are canary, gold, peach?
Margaret: So Bobby is… Laura’s… boyfriend?
Piers: Correct
Margaret: It must be fall. Still football season.

Piers: Pre-internet, pre-cell phones
Piers: Small town phone network goes into operation here
Piers: And it’s just a matter of time before everyone finds out Laura is already dead
Margaret: Okay, this is the second actress wearing 50s inspired fashion. Oxfords, a kilt, a sweater with a bullet bra…
Piers: Did 50’s fashion come back into style in the 90’s, along with swing music?
Margaret: 90s shows are so strange. It’s so shocking to see displays of wealth.
Margaret: Are these guys swedish?
Piers: I believe they’re Norwegians, here to invest in Benjamin Horne’s properties
Margaret: I’m not sure re: fashion but the jackets are 80s leftover huge.
Margaret: the textures look so beautiful on the HD, the clothing.
Margaret: everything is falling into place like a stage play.
Piers: The cops are here to talk to Leland Palmer, and it’s all coming crashing down
Margaret: So as the realization hits, they’re stripping the music back?
Piers: And here’s those tears you were waiting for
Margaret: ;___;
Piers: This is some of the tense “moment-building” music, they use it in a lot of the heartfelt scenes. The more soap opera type stuff
Margaret: they’re completed the octave on the song. oh noes
Piers: A long slow crawl down the phone cord to where the receiver lies abandoned
Piers: the palmers phone is dead, just like their daughter
Margaret: Poor phone. I mean Laura.
Margaret: That actress (Mrs. Palmer), she’s really hitting it. I’m a little jarred.
Piers: She’s a hell of a screamer

Margaret: So I’ve seen lots of canary yellow, burgundy, red, and here’s the 2nd instance of teal. The sheriff’s office was teal as well.
Margaret: And it’s a 50s diner.
Piers: The waitresses uniforms and the diner itself also seem like fifties throwbacks
Piers: jinx!
Piers: Lynch spent a lot of time in diners, drinking coffee and smoking.
Margaret: The lipstick has an orange tint, too. The 40s lipsticks had orange tints.
Margaret: Who was David Lynch? Was he famous at the time?
Piers: most definitely
Margaret: The car scenes remind me of the way Hitchcock does them.
Piers: by this point Lynch has Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Lost Highway, Dune under his belt. Though he wanted his name off of Dune. Doesn’t count.
Piers: He had won his oscar by this point
Margaret: Okay, we’re into exotica lounge smooth jazz
Piers: Bobby is such a little scumbag. Then he turns into one of your favourite characters. Dana Ashbrook really runs with the character.
Margaret: I’ve seen Dune. I liked it, because I had someone to explain it all tome.
Piers: You know somebody who can explain Dune?

Margaret: Bobby is afraid of semi trucks?
Piers: of THAT semi truck
Piers: which belongs to Shelly’s tyrant husband, Leo.
Margaret: Does everybody grow and change? Will Lynch keep anyone static?
Piers: Yes, and Yes.
Margaret: Oh no this poor guy is having every parent’s worst nightmare.
Margaret: Teal for her body.
Piers: Poor LeLand
Margaret: Poor dear. 17? 18 did they say?
Piers: 18 at most, senior year of high school
Margaret: Did Lynch write from experience?
Margaret: More canary yellow! in the school!
Piers: She was originally just cast to play the body, but Lynch liked her so much that he expanded the role.
Piers: In ways you won’t be able to see, yet
Piers: Lynch grew up in small towns in the pacific northwest, that’s it
Piers: The blocking on that shot of the high school highway is so perfect
Piers: Two students cross, one student dance crosses away from his locker, and two men walk across in perfect unison.
Margaret: I never danced in high school. I awkwarded my way around.
Margaret: The background actors — do they always do unique things?
Margaret: He doesn’t use patterns, like whatshisname with The Shining. But colours, and the constant soundtrack. Colour and texture.
Piers: You’re thinking of Kubrick.
Margaret: How did he arrange casting?
Piers: Lynch’s background training was in art school
Margaret: Teal, orange, yellow.
Margaret: I haven’t seen green yet.
Margaret: Well except there. on the green blackboard.
Piers: If Lynch ever did a horror movie like Kubrick did with the Shining, I think it would be huge. All of his work already contains elements of horror. Eraserhead is terrifying.
Margaret: So, this woman is crying already.
Piers: This moment where everyone discovers their friend is dead is pretty brutal
Piers: That is Laura’s best friend
Piers: She just KNOWS
Piers: It’s a small town – everyone can just FEEL IT
Margaret: Oh, poor dear. Nobody wants to lose a friend.
Piers: And guess what? We haven’t even met our protagonist yet
Piers: 25 minutes in
Margaret: How many more people can there be?

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