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Return to Oz, Psych

I was so out of it yesterday that I forgot to note here that my post about Return to Oz went up at Tor.com. Fortunately, the post garnered plenty of comments without this.

************

I'd heard chatter here and there about Psych, but never enough to get me to the point of actually checking out the show - until, that is, I heard that they had a Twin Peaks episode.

Ok, so, that I had to check out eventually, which I did last night. And found myself laughing straight through. Brilliantly done, from the various appearances of Twin Peaks actors to the marvelous and varied Twin Peaks references - I mean, myna bird! Dancing! That's one damn fine cup of cider! And of course the pie... (And I gather Ray Wise is actually a regular on the show, and not just there for the Twin Peaks jokes?)

So, question for those who have actually seen the show: Is it always like that, or was that just a special parody episode? I ask, because apparently the show is already in season 5, and I'm curious if it's worth multiple successive trips to the library or not for catching up purposes.

All you really need to know about my life:

When my friends come by to watch Twin Peaks, the handle of my bathroom door explodes.

Twin Peaks, part two

So, to allow various people to enjoy continued moments with Harry Potter, I cancelled the planned Twin Peaks marathon, using the medium of the Internet, which said people were avoiding so that they could enjoy continued moments with Harry Potter, thus showing up for the Twin Peaks marathon anyway. Please take a moment to savor the irony.

Moment over? Good, let's continue.

We finished up the first season with its flurry of cliffhangers, followed by the second season opener of bizarre giant and Special Agent Cooper's stunned response to the summary of said cliffhangers, "How long was I out?" And then we sailed into the first few episodes of the second season. These are the episodes that I haven't seen since the show initially aired, and for a show that I thought had strongly remained in my memory….well, let's just say that I'd forgotten a lot, including a few of the stranger moments – like, say, the bit about creamed corn.

But some scenes had been powerful enough that I remembered them exactly – the first encounter with the giant; the delivery of a certain message from the Air Force, Maddy's vision of Bob, and Ronnette Pulaski's freakout. What didn't stay was many of the interpersonal relationships and vague sidelines – I remembered some of the outlines, but none of the details. The second season is already considerably more violent, considerably more willing to explore oddities (like giants wandering into hotel rooms) and with a little less of the trademark deadpan humour, although Special Agent Albert Rosenfeld has one utterly hilarious bit that had all of us rolling..

On a minor note, coldecho noted that Dana Ashbrook, who played Bobby Briggs in Twin Peaks, never did anything after this. I beg to correct him: Internet Movie Database notes that Dana Ashbrook continued on to do nine full episodes of Dawson's Creek.

Ok, perhaps coldecho is quite right.

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Twin Peaks

Diane, never drink coffee that has been anywhere near a fish.
Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks.


So I've just started rewatching Twin Peaks again, in a semi marathon with friends that will get broken up into multiple sessions. My obsession with Twin Peaks can be blamed on my father, who had me watch most of the pilot episode during a weekend home from college. When I returned, I found that one of my housemates had also seen the show, and desperately wanted to know who had killed Laura Palmer, which immediately pitted us into a desperate house war: we had two TVs (only one worked well) and one VCR (which did not work well) and three shows that absolutely, positively needed watching all at the same time on the same night: Twin Peaks, LA Law, and Knots Landing. Evvveeeennntttuaaaallllly we compromised, with L, S and I watching Twin Peaks as L rushed back and forth between that and Knots Landing in the other room, and then everyone piling on for a very poorly taped episode of LA Law.

That first season was gripping and creepy, especially the dream sequence scene with the dancing red dwarf and the ghost of Laura Palmer admitting that sometimes her arms bent backwards. Chills ran up and down my back. Of course this was upstate New York and our building was not exactly well heated, but still. Red images danced in my dreams. In the second season, I actually started sort of dating someone because of Twin Peaks; we watched the show on my tiny television screen and watched almost obsessively.

Almost.

We missed one episode that season – I can't tell you which one – and when we returned the following week, we could barely follow what was going on; that was how entangled and confusing Twin Peaks had gotten. The show began switching time slots, and I missed several episodes, finally returning near the end to watch an episode that left me utterly confused.

Nonetheless, the show continued to haunt me, to the point where I brought elements of it into some various roleplaying games and even in a few of my short stories. So when, several years back, we decided to run a Twin Peaks marathon – one that got aborted after the first season – I eagerly watched it again. My emotional reaction on a second viewing had changed: this time I found myself more fascinated than creeped out by the show's various assortment of odd characters.

Yesterday I started a third marathon with some friends. (This time we have obtained both seasons on DVD in advance.) On this third run through I found myself no longer creeped out – perhaps Carnivale has changed my standards – and laughing much more this time around.

As I recall, though, the second season – which I only saw part of and that long ago – is the season where the show stopped flirting with the odd and mystical and otherworldly and dove into it; the first season focuses more on the quirky inhabitants, the betrayals, the lies, and the strange camera angles. But a few more observations about the first season:

1. I really can't remember another television show so obsessed with food outside the Food Network. Actually, the Food Network should probably consider running this instead of Rachael Ray. It's not just the various discussions of coffee: it's the lingering camera shots focused on pies, donuts, griddle cakes, brie sandwiches, giving a general theme of "Twin Peaks: home of happy serial killers and good cops fighting evil in the woods because we're really freaking loaded up on sugar and caffeine."

2. Marathoning highlights one flaw: the Twin Peaks music is beautiful, yes, but wow is it monotonous. The show's opening music, with its soaring theme, is one of the better opening themes devised for television – but when that theme is repeated four or five times per episode, intermingled only with a jazzy sort of theme and another sort of theme, the theme becomes rather oppressive. (Which might be kinda the point.) Watch five episodes of this, and you begin to wish that the entire cast would stop angsting about all of their secret sex and betrayals and deceptions and instead burst out into a happy rendition of "Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog!" while waving around logs and looking for owls. (Which, come to think of it, might even have worked with this show.) As it was, the constant repetition, with the focus on just two themes, was one reason why we paused after five episodes.

3. The show remains engrossing, I think, in part because of the constantly shifting and odd camera angles – if you watch it, keep an eye out for the number of shots made on the diagonal, and the multiple shots which distort the actual heights and relationships of the various actors – and this in the first season, when things are (comparatively) normal.

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