Catherine and I are journeying through the Twin Peaks series. She's never seen it before; I've seen it several times completely through, though not in about ten years.
Watching it again, I'm struck by how everything that made us obsessive about it back then is still intact. The quirky details, the sub-hip music, the overwrought emotion, the donuts, the coffee and pie, the improbable streaks of comedy, the warm visual spectrum that makes the whole world look firelit, the fantastically beautiful men and women who populate the show. None of it has dated. Even the late-eighties fashions still look smashing, though they, alas, are so dated as to seem impossible now.
One thing that shines forth is the likability of almost every major character. Even the ones who lead double lives and are having affairs and breaking major laws have something there to be attracted to. And of course the two male leads, Dale Cooper and Harry Truman, are, though different in every way, a perfect match. Coop is all black and white and slickness and city and fanatical; Truman is all brown and tan and rusticity and country and laid-back. Both are men of true blue integrity, fairness, decency, dignity, and good humor.
We used to gather at Ron Landreth's house to watch each new episode. Each of us had dibs on a different girl: Ron had Donna (the heavenly young pre-surgery Lara Flynn Boyle), Darren had Shelley, I had Audrey, and in Shawn Floyd's absence we assigned him Laura/Maddy. Perfect! And of course we all had dibs on being
agent Cooper. The suits, the passionate coffee-love, the mercurial brilliance, the square-hip straight-guy coolness: man! Interestingly, Maddy looks precisely like Catherine when she was a lass — right around the time Twin Peaks was on — with the black-black mane and the giant specs and the long-sleeved high-waisted dresses.
David Lynch, the show's creator and sometime director, also gave us, in Twin Peaks, a way of looking at the world. This happens in all good art, but Twin Peaks was a prime example of what Viktor Schklovsky called ostranenia
— that is, "strangemaking," the artist's task of making the world look as strange as it really is by making strange the art that represents it.
There's one whole episode in which the lobby of the Great Northern Hotel is crowded with guys in white sailor suits playing with little balls that make pocking sounds. It's never explained or even referred to: the characters just walk in and out of it, carrying on their conversations. I remember seeing that episode for the first time and thinking how truly odd that was. Only a few weeks later, I was walking through the lobby of the St Anthony Hotel, downtown, and noticed that it was crowded with very small Asian boys and girls, all playing with maracas. Hah! Of course I would have noticed it no matter what, but, having just seen that episode, I saw it through David Lynch's camera.