Tagged: Twin Peaks

John Ostrander: Fool Me Once

Entertainment Weekly recently made its (multiple) cover story the return of the TV show Twin Peaks. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or even if I want to watch it. This is surprising to me since I was a big fan for most of the show’s run.

The show was set in the Pacific Northwest in a small town and was created by David Lynch (writer and director of the movie Blue Velvet) and Mark Frost (one of the main writers of the TV series Hill Street Blues). The show took place in the mythical small town of Twin Peaks, nestled in lumber country, and deals with the townsfolk, many of whom are, well, odd. The show starts with the discovery of high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer who has been murdered. Circumstances draw in the FBI in the person of Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, a favorite actor of Lynch’s. Agent Cooper is, well, odd. He solves mysteries with the help of dreams and visions that he gets. He’s a very Special Agent and, I think, something of a shaman.

The show is a surreal mixture of crime drama, soap opera, and supernatural horror. The being ultimately responsible for Laura Palmer’s death is a serial killer named Killer Bob who is a demonic being who possesses humans – including folks living in Twin Peaks. And some characters have evil doppelgangers. Did I mention that the show is, well, odd?

It opened very well against stiff competition on April 8, 1990, but it lost a lot of its audience as it went on. It was cancelled half way through the second season but a big letter writing campaign had ABC run the last episodes. There was no third season but there was a movie in 1992 – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. It served as a prequel and sort of an afterword. It was not well received either critically or commercially and that was about it for over 25 years.

My late wife, Kim Yale, and I were big fans of the show at the start; what can I say – I like ‘em odd so long as they are also interesting. We even went to the movie and were badly disappointed. As the show went on, we became increasingly convinced that those running the show didn’t know where they were going. I’ve since read that both Lynch and Frost thought the murder of Laura Palmer was a MacGuffin and they originally hadn’t planned on ever resolving it.

(A MacGuffin is a plot device, some object or goal that the characters in the story care about but we, as readers or viewers, really don’t because we’re more interested in what happens to the characters. A classic MacGuffin is in Casablanca; lots of the characters are after “Letters of Transit” and getting them is life or death for them. However, the audience is more interested on who Ingrid Bergman is going to wind up with – Paul Henreid or Humphrey Bogart.)

The death of Laura Palmer doesn’t strike me as a MacGuffin. It’s too central to the overall plot of Twin Peaks. And, for me, if you’re going to show me a murder, you’d better damn well tell me whodunit.

They did but it was obviously not important to the creators and I’m not sure they knew whodunit when they started the show. Oddly enough, it’s very central to the movie.

Both Lynch and Frost wandered off to other projects after launching the TV series and it shows. Especially after the killer was revealed, it didn’t seem to know where it wanted to go.

Which is why I’m uncertain if I want to look into the revival. Do I want to invest the time? More important, do I want to invest the money? It’s going to be on Showtime and that’s a premium channel on cable and you pay to get it.

Furthermore, even in the article, everyone doing the new version are tight lipped. Lynch will reveal almost nothing about the new series except that it occurs 25 years after the last one ended. We see that a lot of the cast is back but just about nothing else. C’mon, man; sell it! Tell me why I want to sign on again… because I feel burned.

This is not to say that Lynch isn’t a great director. In addition to Blue Velvet, he did Wild At Heart and, a particular favorite of mine, The Straight Story. But he also did Dune as well as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. He’s always interesting but I’m not sure if the new Twin Peaks will be worth investing my time and money.

One good thing – he and Frost wrote all the installments of the new series and Lynch has directed all of them. That’s hopeful. But I’m still leery.

Fool me once, fuck you.

Fool me twice, fuck me.

The Point Radio: 3RD STREET BLACKOUT A Really Dark Comedy

Brilliant comedian Negin Farsad has moved from stand up to documentary filmmaker to book author, and now a romantic comedy. 3RD STREET BLACKOUT isn’t a typical RomCom, but Negin rarely does anything typical. Plus after six decades of TV and movie roles, Robert Forrester talks about paying his dues a few times over and his part in the upcoming TWIN PEAKS reboot.

And…ComicCon 2016 has started!  Follow our daily reports here and see who we run into here on Instagram

John Ostrander: Broadchurch Secrets

Ostrander Art 130825Ordinarily, I wouldn’t “review” a TV miniseries or movie until it was completed. You should know the story before you comment on it. I know this is heresy these days but I feel you should know something about a topic before you drop an opinion bomb on it. I have no use for those who have decided they don’t like something without having bothered to experience it. That’s lazy and presumptive. I fully admit some things I have not sampled based on what I know of it, but I don’t render an verdict on it. If I hate something it’s because I tried it – like broccoli. Yuck. Broccoli.

However, I’m currently watching the BBC miniseries Broadchurch on BBC America. I’ve just seen the third episode of the eight part series and I think it’s incredible. I want to tell people about it. The series is set in a small coastal English town and follows the investigation into the murder of a ten-year old boy and the effects the murder and the investigation has on everyone – including the ones investigating.

The series was created, written, and executive produced by Chris Chibnall. ComicMix readers might know of his work on Doctor Who and Torchwood, among other things. Other Who influences include David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) as the lead inspector and Arthur Darvill (Rory) as the local pastor. I’ll be honest, it was Tennant that first drew me to Broadchurch; I’ve been interested in seeing what else he could do as an actor although, being honest again, I was not crazy about his performance in another BBC miniseries, Spies of Warsaw. His performance there, to my mind, was very one note.

Not so here. This time, he plays Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, a haunted depressed man with secrets of his own; there are levels in his performance that show his talent and skill.

He is matched by Olivia Colman as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller. (That’s another Who connection; in Matt Smith’s first outing as the Doctor, Ms. Colman plays “Mother” – one of the identities that the villain of the piece assumes.) DS Miller comes back from vacation expecting to be promoted to DI, only to find DI Hardy – an outsider – has gotten the job. And the best friend of her own son has been murdered.

For me, the biggest star is the writing. Everyone has secrets in this small town and they are gradually peeled back, revealing deeper and deeper levels of characterization. Grief is real and palpable. The mystery so far deepens with each episode and, at this writing, I have no idea who killed the boy or why.

There is a slight Twin Peaks vibe to the show – it’s deliberately paced and it has a slight undertone of supernatural in the person of a very odd man who claims he is getting messages from the dead boy. He seems sincere but – is he? Unlike Twin Peaks, however, I have the sense that the creator, Chris Chibnail, knows exactly where he’s going and how to wind it up. I trust him; OTOH, I also trusted the creators of The X-Files at the beginning. I thought they knew what they were doing; they fooled me.

The show isn’t simply about the murder, although that’s the engine that drives everything. It’s about secrets and that’s one of the most powerful narrative tools I know. Everyone has secrets and what gets revealed to whom, when, and how and is that a good idea really drives narrative and character. The revelation of secrets may answer some questions but may raise more.

It’s not only the secrets the characters reveal to one another, but the secrets that we learn as viewers, when do we learn them, what does that tell us. There’s more going on here than we initially know and it is only gradually unfolded to us.

The production values and the direction are all first rate. The acting is wonderful throughout. The show may not be to everyone’s taste – some might find it slow – and it demands that you pay attention but I’m riveted.

If you’re interested in the first three episodes (and I would not recommend you watch the show without seeing them), you can find them on BBC America On Demand, Amazon Instant Video and probably elsewhere. I’m certain it’ll also eventually be available on DVD and Blu-ray and such. I plan to own it when it does. It’s gotten excellent reviews both in the UK and the States. A second series of the show is reportedly in development and I’ve heard there are plans for an American adaptation.

For me, this is first class television and I can’t wait for the next episode. It’s not broccoli.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Legacy Author Visits Earth Station One

The ESO podcast crew are not what they seem, but they do enjoy a damn good cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, Jennifer Hartshorn, and the award-winning author Bobby Nash are joined by The Oncoming Storm’s Josh Wilson to discuss the ground breaking 90′s series, Twin Peaks. We wanted to put the Log Lady’s wooden friend in The Geek Seat, but it turns out its answers were not able to be recorded, so we settled for Gerald Welch, co-author of The Legacy Series with Warren Murphy, who found the experience only slightly less painful than a match with Chiun. We also make time for the usual Rants, Raves, Khan Report, and Shout Outs.

Join us for yet another episode of The Earth Station One Podcast we like to call: Who Killed Laura Palmer? ESO Visits Twin Peaks at www.esopodcast.com

Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/earth-station-one-episode-176/

ESO would love to hear from you. Let the ESO crew know what’s on your mind at esopodcast@gmail.com, www.esopodcast.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. We love hearing from you.

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Legacy Author Visits Earth Station One

The ESO podcast crew are not what they seem, but they do enjoy a damn good cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, Jennifer Hartshorn, and the award-winning author Bobby Nash are joined by The Oncoming Storm’s Josh Wilson to discuss the ground breaking 90′s series, Twin Peaks. We wanted to put the Log Lady’s wooden friend in The Geek Seat, but it turns out its answers were not able to be recorded, so we settled for Gerald Welch, co-author of The Legacy Series with Warren Murphy, who found the experience only slightly less painful than a match with Chiun. We also make time for the usual Rants, Raves, Khan Report, and Shout Outs.

Join us for yet another episode of The Earth Station One Podcast we like to call: Who Killed Laura Palmer? ESO Visits Twin Peaks at www.esopodcast.com

Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/earth-station-one-episode-176/

ESO would love to hear from you. Let the ESO crew know what’s on your mind at esopodcast@gmail.com, www.esopodcast.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. We love hearing from you.

Mindy Newell: The Culture Cult

Newell Art 130107I was listening to NPR the other day – I think it was Leonard Lopate’s show – and the guest was television critic Alan Sepinwall, who used to write for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger and now has a regular column discussing television on Hitfix.com. Mr. Sepinwall is the author of the just published The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers And Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever, in which he hypothesizes that the same old same-old television drama in which the hero wears a white hat, the bad guy is in black, and truth, justice, and the American way prevails by the end of an episode, with all elements of the plot neatly wrapped up with a bow and placed under the Christmas tree (or Hanukah menorah) and with no messy, lingering thoughts to bother the viewer – is dead, gone the way of the dodo bird.

I found the conversation extremely interesting, especially as the shows Mr. Sepinwall believes are responsible for the new landscape of television drama are those usually associated with the word cult.

Cult, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, has several meanings, but in this case the one that applies is: a great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad; (b) the object of such devotion; (c) a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.

As in “the cult cop show The Shield.”  Or “the cult science fiction show Battlestar Galactica.” Or “the cult teenage horror-fantasy show Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Or “the cult late 1950s – early 1960s drama Mad Men.”

I think this usually means that the person describing these shows really thinks “I haven’t seen it, but my colleague/competitor is raving about it, so I’d better get on the bandwagon so I can sound just as cool and auteur as he/she does.” It can also mean “everybody is talking about it in the office, and I don’t want to sound like I don’t know what they’re talking about, so I’ll just go along with whatever they’re saying.” Or it can mean “I tried watching it, and I just don’t get it, but my wife/kids/best friend/boss loves it, so I better pretend like I do.”

It also usually means that the shows don’t have the greatest ratings, but the network executives love the prestige and the publicity and being thought of as brilliant by the television critics who rave about the shows. (Hey, who doesn’t love an ego boost?)

These are the shows that Mr. Sepinwall believes ushered in a new “golden age” of television drama:

Oz (HBO, 1997 – 2003)

The Sopranos (HBO, 1999 – 2007)

The Wire (HBO, 2002 – 2008)

Deadwood (HBO, 2004 – 2006)

The Shield (FX, 2002 – 2008)

Lost (ABC, 2004 – 2010)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The WB, 1997 – 2003)

24 (Fox, 2001 – 2010)

Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi Channel, 2004 – 2009)

Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006 – 2011)

Mad Men (AMC, 2007 – Present)

Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008 – Present)

Mr. Sepinwall also gives note to those shows he believes were the “building blocks” of this new millennial golden age of television:

Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981 -1987)

St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1982 – 1988)

Cheers (NBC, 1982 – 1993)

Miami Vice (NBC, 1984 – 1989)

Wiseguy (CBS, 1987 – 1990)

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990 – 1991)

Homicide: Life On The Street (NBC, 1993 – 1999)

NYPD Blue (ABC, 1993 – 2005)

The X-Files (Fox, 1993 – 2002)

ER (NBC, 1994 – 2009)

I never considered Cheers or ER or even The Sopranos cult hits. But reading the book, I understood why Mr. Sepinwall included them – all of the shows took chances, whether it was in the scripts or in the use of the production values such as camera work or even simple casting. I also found, as I read the book, that it was really not so surprising that so many of the people involved both behind and in front of the camera have intertwined histories, or that at one point or another in their careers they believed themselves to be “hamstrung” by the parameters of the shows with which they were involved, whether through executive interference or through mythology.

Ron Moore described the mythos of Star Trek as a “fly stuck in amber.” Bottom line, every single one of them, whether network executive or producer or writer or actor, had a desire, an eagerness, a need to break barriers. Sometimes it was because, as in the case of the WB and Buffy, a “what the hell, what have we got to lose?” attitude, as a network tried to establish itself as a viable competitor to the “Big Three” and cable. And sometimes it was because one executive believed in the vision of one writer, as in the case of Bonnie Hammer and Ron Moore.

If you’re a cultist like me (also known as a nerd or a geek), I recommend you read this book.

•     •     •     •     •

On a personal note… The Newells have been participants in an honest-to-God miracle.

My father suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve that progressed to continuous seizure activity. After four days in the hospital, with nothing left to do, we brought him home to die surrounded by the family he loved him.

On New Year’s Eve, he woke up.

He has no memory of that week. He has residual left side weakness, but he is getting stronger every day with the help of physical and occupational therapy. And he has the appetite of an elephant. Yesterday all he wanted was a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard, which he ate vigorously.

He’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s got his throttle all the way open, and his nose up in the air and he’s pushing the envelope, chasing the demons that live in the sky.

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

 

The Point Radio: PSYCH’d Out For The Holidays

The Point Radio: PSYCH’d Out For The Holidays


The USA Network has brought back PSYCH for a few new episodes this month, including a Twin Peaks Parody and a Christmas Show. The cast fills us in on what’s coming up on the show for Season “5.5”, plus “Jed Bartlett” as Uncle Ben??? Really?

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Sci Fi Finally Green Lights ‘Caprica’

Sci Fi Finally Green Lights ‘Caprica’

In an overdue announcement, Sci Fi Channel has formally picked up Caprica as an ongoing series.  The show, a prequel to Battlestar Galactica, will star Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson and Polly Walker in a story set fifty years prior to BSG.

Variety describes Caprica as a “Family-drama-themed series will focus on the Earthlike planet of Caprica as two rival families deal with, among other topical issues, the broader implications of their society’s emerging artificial intelligence technology sector.”

Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, along with Remi Aubuchon (24) will executive produce as they have on BSG. Caprica‘s pilot was co-written by Aubuchon and Moore and directed by Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights).

A promo for the series can be found at the Sci Fi website with a “Coming Soon” despite the trades saying it won’t air before 2010. Production will begin in the summer of 2009 while BSG will begin airing its final ten episodes in January.

"Battlestar Galactica was absolutely our flagship show. It put us on the map and helped transform the perception of the network," Sci Fi president Dave Howe told Variety. "We want people to come to this who have never heard of Battlestar Galactica. I think, because (Galactica‘s) backdrop was space and spaceships, there was a barrier to entry for some viewers. Caprica has none of that. It’s an intense family drama set on an Earthlike planet, in the near future, speaking to a lot of the ethical dilemmas that we as a human race are going to have to face very shortly."

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ComicMix Interview with Ray Wise

Wise DevilFor years, in television, many hybrid series involving both science fiction and comedy have come and gone. It’s a fine line to juggle the fans of a pretty strict mythos (whichever that may be, they are all pretty strict) to also keeping the show fresh and witty for people who may not be into the science fiction or fantasy element. Reaper happens to be one of those shows that has walked the line successfully for a season and is already planning on doing it again in season 2. We got a chance to grab Ray Wise, who plays the show’s antagonist—the Devil himself—about his role in the show and some things to look forward to.

ComicMix: With the WGA strike hitting Reaper mid season last year, do you think it effected the story of the overall season, much like it did other shows that were effected?

Ray Wise: While it didn’t effect the story, it did however effect the logistics on when we would be able to come back and start shooting. We do know that the network [CW] had some decisions to make as a result of the writers’ strike which lead to coming back for a second season in doubt for a time, but I’m happy to say that we’re currently on episode 9 of a 13 episode pickup. the current plan is to air those news episodes either in January of March of 2009, and once those are on the air, we think we may be able to do some more.

CMix: Speaking of season two, can you give us any kind of hint on what The Devil might be up to this season?

RW: Well we’re going to be more character relationship oriented this season. We plan to delve a little more into each of the characters’ relationships with one another. We plan to find out a little more about the hierarchy of Hell, and even some more appearances from the Nether region will be arriving here on Earth. There will be plenty of conflict, and to sum it all up; all hell is going to break loose!

CMix: There was an interesting relationship in the first season between your Devil and Bret Harrison’s Sam, almost a love/hate relationship. Are we going to continue down that road this season?

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Early Review: ‘Justice League: New Frontier’

Early Review: ‘Justice League: New Frontier’

 

Like many of you out there, a bad taste was left in my mouth coming off of Superman: Doomsday, so of course I was wary of DC’s next direct-to-DVD flick. I wasn’t a huge fan of the graphic novels (Isn’t that what we call thick comic books these days?), but I am certainly a fan of the Justice League and its animated counterpart. 
 
I’ll start with a warning to those who aren’t totally familiar with The New Frontier and its universe, but ARE fans of the established animated DC universe: this is a whole new direction from shows like Justice League Unlimited and others, but it is full of exciting DCU fan favorites. In fact, my biggest complaint about Superman: Doomsday was that there were no outside DC heroes, even though they were all over the original story. But I digress.
 
Looking at the animation first, I was very pleased that Bruce Timm (main creator of the animated DCU) and Darwyn Cooke (wirter/artist of The New Frontier graphic novel) were able to find a happy medium between the already established look of the animated Justice League and the very stylized look of Cooke’s art, thought I do think the eye-slits works much better for Superman than the baby blues. The entire artistic feel practically beamed with that golden age look, which is what attracted me to the books in the first place.

 

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