Friday, October 27, 2017

Wrapped In Plastic at 25: In the News

This is the last of my 25th anniversary posts. It is also my most self-indulgent. Forgive me.
As Twin Peaks faded into history, Wrapped In Plastic was often acknowledged as being a stalwart reminder of the lasting impact of the series. Over the years, a number of media outlets either reviewed Wrapped In Plastic or interviewed Craig Miller and myself about how (and why) we were still making a magazine about a show that had been cancelled after a mere 30 episodes. Wrapped In Plastic was a curiosity and it became a good human-interest topic.

It was always a thrill to get mentioned in another magazine or on a radio show. The first real interest in WIP was local; Craig and I appeared on a Dallas public access TV show. It was the kind of program that aired at 2:00 AM on the B-cable (remember that?). Despite its very limited reach I was amazed when I walked into the grocery store a few days after it aired and an employee said, “Hey! I saw you on TV!”
It's not Wayne's World (but it's close)

WIP started to get attention in small-press magazines and fanzines. Before the internet a plethora of publications reviewed all manner of obscure media. Factsheet Five was the most famous of these and it was an honor to be included in their fanzine review. We were also reviewed in dozens of other small press mags, and, honestly, the reviews were usually pretty good. 

A few of the magazines that reviewed WIP.

But not always. Here's one that says "the editors' love for Twin Peaks fails to shine through." (We were also "fawning" in our interviews and "haughty"!) Believe it or not, this reviewer wanted us to publish WIP less frequently! 

Accused of 'stilted analysis' by a magazine called Your Flesh.

The mainstream media got interested WIP and our biggest vault into public awareness came when the Dallas Morning News did a long piece. That article was picked up by one of the wire services and was reprinted in dozens of major newspapers all over the country:

Shortly after the DMN piece, Entertainment Weekly gave us a call. To our amazement, they selected Wrapped In Plastic as one of their “Cool” things for the Summer of 1994! It was a huge honor to share a page with the brilliant Patrick O’Brian. (And Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was on the opposite page!)

After this published I became a huge fan of Patrick O'Brian. Really.

A few years passed and, at last, plans were being made to release Twin Peaks on DVD. Artisan, the company behind the discs, asked us to help put the release together. 

We contributed liner notes, an excerpt of our Sheryl Lee interview (from WIP 16), and a new interview conducted with Mark Frost. We interviewed Frost by phone for almost an hour but they only used 10 minutes of footage. Oh well, it could have been worse. (Oh. That’s right. It was.)

Craig Miller and me on the phone w/Mark Frost (sort of)

One of the biggest articles about Wrapped In Plastic appeared in a 1999 issue of Texas Monthly. Pamela Colloff spent many hours talking to Craig and me on the phone and in-person. It was a really great article and a high-point for coverage of WIP.

 A few years later, Wrapped In Plastic finally ceased publication.  Video Watchdog wrote a very nice obituary and that was the end of interest in the magazine.

Or so I thought.

After the October 2014 announcement that Twin Peaks was returning to television, I started to get calls about Wrapped In Plastic again. Jeff Jensen at Entertainment Weekly spoke with me for some time and wrote a long piece about the history of the magazine.

And Showtime also had some interest. They wanted me to talk about Twin Peaks and Wrapped In Plastic for their Twin Peaks Phenomenon documentary. It was a huge thrill to go to New York and contribute to their promo. Wrapped In Plastic was featured prominently.

So that's it. Wrapped In Plastic has a (very) small place in the history of Twin Peaks. Twenty-five years later a few still remember what Craig Miller and I did over 75 issues. I feel very good about what we accomplished. We didn't do it for money (ha!) or notoriety. We did it because we loved Twin Peaks

Thanks for allowing me some time to reminisce. It was fun.

This guy has got to stop talking.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wrapped In Plastic at 25: Letters

Over the years we received lots of letters at Wrapped In Plastic. In the pre-internet days, the letters page in WIP was a forum for many fans to connect with one another. Most fans wrote to share interesting theories about Twin Peaks. Others took us to task over one topic or another. (The dream theory in Wrapped In Plastic #60 probably garnered the most mail. Some readers were quite upset that we suggested an alternative take on their favorite film. Others were open to the idea and relished debating the new interpretation.)

We got letters from many different countries. I can remember getting some from South Africa, Israel, Australia. It was exciting to realize we were reaching Twin Peaks fans all over the world!


Here’s a sample of some fun or interesting letters from Wrapped In Plastic. This is but a tiny portion; there are probably enough letters in the 75 issues of WIP to make a book! 

WIP 6 (Aug 1993): Some interesting theories and predictions from decades ago.

Dear Wrapped in Plastic,
I hope any future films of Twin Peaks will be done for television.  If the networks don't want it, then have it in syndication.  FWWM could have been done for television just as well, maybe better.  Twin Peaks was born on television; it should stay on television so everyone can see it at the same time and then start analyzing the tape.  That's the way it should be.  It would be nice if it could come back as a weekly series, even if some parts have to be replaced.  I would love to see that third season. 

Dear Craig and John,
I just received WIP, and after reading it I felt like seeing FWWM again.  I must say that upon second viewing it appeared to be a stronger film than I had remembered.  Do you have any thoughts on the significance that clocks and time played in the film?  Toward the beginning of the film, Chet Desmond, speaking to Sheriff Cable, said, "We keep our own clock."  Shortly after this, the first of many shots of various clocks is shown.  Clocks appear throughout the film and Desmond plays a little joke on Stanley by asking him what time it is.  And on Laura's last day we see the shot of the clock that runs out of control while accompanied by the song, "Moving Through Time."  I pondered the role that time may have played in the film, but I couldn't come up with any strong theories.  Any thoughts?

Here's a fun letter from an enthusiastic Twin Peaks fan. I wonder what he is doing today?

Dear WIP,
I need to clarify this thing about a monkey in FWWM.  Throughout the Twin Peaks series and movie, one point has always come up:  "The owls are not what they seem."  The owls!  It's not a monkey, but an owl close up and eating creamed corn.  The owls are BOB and his followers.  Look under your nose, and you will see that I am right.  The owls have been watching Laura, Cooper, and all the other characters throughout the series, books, and movie.

I hope the WIP team sees what I see, because I don't want to hear about monkeys any more.  They're owls!

Sheriff Truman said to Cooper in episode three that there is some kind of darkness in the woods, and that they take many forms (as spirits and owls).  Hope you get the message!

Occasionally we received a special letter. This was one from Catherine Coulson, shortly after we interviewed her for WIP 5:

WIP 9 (February 1994): Some people didn't like articles. Some people didn't like interviews. And some people didn't like covers.

Craig and John,
Just read WIP 8.  First let's start with the cover.  WIP cannot be accused of predictable "formula" when it comes to magazine covers.  That is without a doubt the most tacky, unflattering photo of Frank Silva I have seen.  Thought you'd like some feedback.  Nice illustration of Bob on page 1, though. 

WIP 19 (Oct 1995): We wrote a lot about The X-Files. But, let's face it, The X-Files was just a TV show (sometimes good, lots of times not):

Your complaints about The X-Files being "notorious for sucker-punching the viewer with unfinished stories and dangling subplots" puzzled me.  These are a bad thing in XF, but they are okay in Twin Peaks?  Let's face it, TP has a lot of unfinished stories and dangling subplots, and I have yet to see you criticize it for this in the same harshness and consistency that you do for XF.  Instead you praise TP and declare it one of the greatest series ever.
TP's producers and writers had opportunities to wrap up all of the stories.  They had to know their show was in danger of being cancelled, and they could have resolved everything, but they didn't.  Then a movie was made.  They could have wrapped up everything in that, but they didn't.  You watch XF and declare that "Mulder's fate [from the second season finale] must be shown."  What about Twin Peaks and Cooper's?

I like this one. Some good comments about electricity and then a mention of the picture of the nuclear explosion on Henry's wall in Eraserhead:

WIP 47 (June 2000): Here's a good one. "It's Twin Peaks, man!"

Ten years ago I was finishing the first year of teacher training in a small New England college.  The spring of that year, there was a buzz going through my dormitory about a new television series called Twin Peaks.  Between work and study and a general disinterest in television, I never watched the first episodes.  That was until the night I walked into the lounge from the campus library at the very end of the first season finale.  I entered just as Cooper opened the door to his room.  I saw the gun barrel at the same time he did and felt those same three shots to the stomach.  As the screen went black and his body hit the floor, I remember being paralyzed, completely transfixed and unmoved, and all I could say was, "What is this?" over the awed shouts and screams of disappointment the small legion of watchers in my dormitory were experiencing.  "It's Twin Peaks, man!" the resident assistant told me.  And right at that moment, on that very spot, in what can only be compared to a religious experience (I'm sure many fans know the feeling all too well), I was hooked. Ten years later, as a teacher in a Tibetan refugee settlement in Northern India, I still have a serious disinterest in television, but am as in awe of Twin Peaks as I was in those last thirty seconds of the first season finale.  Experiencing Tibetan Buddhism here on a day-to-day basis, my mind reels at the similarities to Cooper and the series.  I hope this will be an angle pursued sometime within these very pages.  For now, I remain honored to have caught Twin Peaks ten years ago, like a comet hurtling through space for a brief instant, or ducks on a pond, or a wonderfully strange dream.

WIP 52 (April 2001): I liked this one, even though I didn't totally get what the writer was trying to say:

February marked Laura Palmer's sad anniversary.  Who really is Laura Palmer?  Everything or nothing, the essence of mystery and transcendentalism. The people of the town are broken-hearted and yet their lives go on, as if Laura somehow reincarnated in all of them.  Now that I think about it, Laura never really dies but always resurfaces in Donna or Madeleine Ferguson, for example.  When Donna visits James in jail there certainly is something very different about her, the attitude especially.  Also, notice how Nadine all undergoes a major change as if she were in high school.
Unfortunately, like all martyrs, Laura has to die in order to be reborn.  She died in the body which caused her anguish and pain only to seek redemption.  Who can forget the triumphant smile and tears when Cooper, also a sacrificial lamb of sorts, is sitting with her in the waiting room, opening the door to paradise?  Cooper and Laura's fate have been sealed, not in this world but in another time dimension.  Cooper sees her in his dream, in Glastonbury Grove and finally in the end.  The mystery will never be fully solved.  Lynch's spectacular scenarios (I don't see why critics dissed Fire Walk With Me) are picture perfect.  The many Laura's coincide with our own multiplicity, the shivic cosmic dance of death and rebirth.

WIP 54 (August, 2001): I always liked this analysis of Laura's hand gesture in episode 29:

Dear WIP,
Wonderful, thought-provoking article on Twin Peaks's final episode.  As a pianist/composer, I have been fascinated for many years by sacred and secular hand gestures throughout the world.  Whether intended or not by Mr. Lynch, Laura Palmer's hand gesture in the Red Room is identical with a common "mudra," or symbolic hand gesture, found in Buddhist sculpture called "semui-in" (in Japanese), "shih-wu-wei-yin" (in Chinese), and "abhayamudra" or "abhayamdadamudra" (in Sanskrit).  It is used in meditations to create the absence of fear and is similar to the teaching mudra, "an-i-in" except that Laura’s left hand would have to be turned outward and somewhat down.

This one never saw print. This guy really didn't like that we were charging money for back issues:

WIP 61 (October 2002): Just one of the many, many letters about the dream theory essay. Some readers liked, others didn't. That's the way it goes. (Still, one prominent film critic who had been a big influence on my writing wrote and praised the essay. I felt like I had written something substantive and worthwhile. It was a good feeling.)

Craig and John,
Just recently finished your article about FWWM's Deer Meadow prologue.  Your theory that it's all Cooper's dream is quite brilliant, holds together well, and should make lots of your readers very happy.  But....

I reject it.  I reject it because I don't feel any need for it.  The first thirty minutes of Fire Walk With Me are probably my favorite half hour in any film, and accepting your take on it would honestly spoil the magic for me.  Taken as "reality," I find the prologue to be mysterious, incredibly intriguing, and a whole lot of fun.  I actively enjoy trying to piece together all my little theories about how the supernatural elements "work."   After finishing your essay, I sat and thought about the prologue as a dream, and the whole film suddenly seemed less interesting to me.  It felt like a cop out.  So my own search for answers will continue.  

That's it for now. There's more WIP 25th Anniversary celebration to come. Stay tuned. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Wrapped In Plastic at 25: Beginnings

October 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Wrapped In Plastic magazine.  Issue 1 went on sale in comic stores across the country on October 14, 1992. Over the next 13 years, Craig Miller and I published 75 issues of WIP. By the end of the run we calculated we had printed roughly one million words about Twin Peaks, David Lynch, Mark Frost and other associated films, TV shows and artists.

Wrapped In Plastic 1 (bottom) and Wrapped In Plastic 75

This month I’m walking down memory lane, publishing a few short blog entries about WIP. There’s nothing weighty here. Nothing that will mean much to others. But indulge me, if you will. This is my online scrapbook and I’m going to reminisce about Wrapped in Plastic and celebrate a few of my favorite moments.

I’ve told the story before about how Craig Miller approached me at a Dallas comic convention in 1991. He said, “Let’s make a Twin Peaks magazine!” and I said, “Yes! Let’s do it.”

It would take us over a year to actually make it happen, but in 1991 I was so gung-ho after meeting Craig that I sat down to make a list of possible magazine titles. Wrapped In Plastic was always my favorite (it was a phrase recognizable to Twin Peaks fans but also a title that might evoke curiosity in the casual magazine buyer, anything to get a potential customer to take a look.) I think my second choice would have been, Wow Bob Wow.

A list from 1991 of possible magazine titles. (I almost threw this away a long time ago, as you can tell.)

After a year of on-and-off-again plans (we tried to get a license to use Twin Peaks in the title but the cost was too prohibitive) Craig and I started work on issue 1 in the summer of 1992. Around that time, I had been lucky enough to win a private screening of Fire Walk With Me (long story) and that was a real motivator to get the first issue into production.

Dallas Observer ad for FWWM contest. (I spent a whole day "gaming" the system to win. I figured I had a 60% chance.) (Oh, and FWWM really was the hippest, hottest film event of the summer!)

We wrote a review of Fire Walk With Me. It was an embarrassingly amateurish review but that’s how you get started, just jump right in. We’d get better at analyzing the film as we returned to it “time and time again” over the next decade (in issues 34, 60 and 71, in particular).

Early layout page of FWWM Review

Issue one was fun but it really was a “fanzine.” We were only starting to find our way.

We published a calendar that displayed plot events from the film and series. It was a fun, fannish exercise, but people liked it:

I had tried putting together a flowchart that showed the narrative structure of the show (which events led to the next, etc.). But it was too unwieldy and it fell apart as I went along. It was one of the many abandoned ideas for the magazine:

We were happy with issue one. We printed up advertisements about it to distribute at comic conventions. It was the best way to spread the word in the pre-internet days. We started work right away on issue 2, which was a much better issue. And then we started to receive letters, LOTS of letters. I’ll talk about some of those in a future post.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Some Early Theories on Twin Peaks: The Return

The following is some quick ideas I developed during a recent re-watch of the new Twin Peaks (Parts 1, 2 and some of 3). I am well aware that all of what I've written here could be proven wrong in just a matter of days, but I wanted to put my thoughts down and maybe get a few reactions.

In Part 2 of the new Twin Peaks, The Arm says to Cooper: “253” and “time and time again.” Can we assume 253 is a time, as in 2:53? Quite possibly. In Part 3, Cooper encounters American Girl in the otherworldly room of the “socket portal.” There, when her watch turns exactly to 2:53, a lamp illuminates on a table next to Cooper, indicating, it would seem, that Cooper’s portal is now accessible.  And, indeed, he does travel through the portal and exchange places with Dougie.

But what does “time and time again” mean?

Earlier in Part 2, Cooper encounters the One Armed Man who says, “It is future or is it past?” Cooper then sees Laura and experiences some visions. Then he abruptly finds himself back with the One Armed Man who again asks, “Is it future or is it past?”

Is Cooper caught in a time loop? Does he attempt to leave the Red Room over and over again, only to be shunted off to the “socket room” where he experiences 2:53 “time and time again?” This repetitive experience might be illustrated by what happens to Cooper when he appears in the glass box in New York. He seems to undergo a shuffling of sorts, his image shrinking and growing along a vanishing point within the box. Are these shuffled appearances of Cooper “echoes” of earlier visits to the box? Has he already been there many times before, always to end up in the socket room?

Could it also be that the evil Cooper, or another force, is continually re-routing Cooper to alternate—manufactured—realities (like Dougie’s) to prevent him from exchanging places with the evil Cooper? (After all, hitmen are poised to take out Dougie just after Cooper arrives.)

These are just idle speculations, ideas that seem to fit with what little information we have in the first four hours of the new Twin Peaks. Still, it’s an intriguing scenario: that Cooper has been many times tricked into a manufactured world. (Note that he is referred to as a “dream weaver” by Janey-E (Naomi Watts)). If he is killed there, the Evil Cooper remains at large.

But time-loops within the Red Room continually allow Cooper the opportunity to get it right: To exchange places with his doppelganger either by jumping through the curtains just as the Evil Cooper drives by, or by refusing to exit through the electric portal when urged by the American Girl. What if Cooper’s proper exit from the socket room is through the barred metal door? What if the banging he hears on the other side is not a threat but a warning—an attempt to stop Cooper from leaving via the socket?

It’s all hard to say, of course. The Dougie scenario so far seems to promise much more for Cooper than a simple parallel existence. And right now, after Part 4, Cooper might be slowly “awakening.” There is evidence that implies he remembers being shot or stabbed (note how he looks at his stomach when the boy, Sonny Jim, appears in the hallway).

So who knows? I’ve always liked parsing Twin Peaks and I’m happy to be doing so again.  The new show is rich with possibility and it allows for many curious ways to connect the narrative dots we’ve been given so far. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Red Room Redo

It's undeniable that the Red Room plays an important role in the Twin Peaks saga.  Not only are these scenes some of the most memorable of the series, but the final events of both Fire Walk With Me and (except for a brief epilogue) the television series take place there. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper's ability to tap into the secrets and mysteries of the Red Room helps him solve the crime of the murder of Laura Palmer.  In FWWM, the Red Room is the place in which Laura's angel meets her, allowing Laura finally to experience the peace and joy that eluded her in life.

Upon examining the presentations of the Red Room throughout the series and film, however, one notices a difference of interpretation among the show's writers as to the identity and function of this place.

Lynch first committed the Red Room to film in the so-called "European version" of the Twin Peaks pilot in which Lynch ad-libbed an ending that would allow the episode to be presented as a film.  In this version, Sarah Palmer remembers seeing the killer hiding at the foot of Laura's bed.  Deputy Hawk makes a sketch based on Sarah's description.  Meanwhile, Mike, the one-armed man, has information about the killing and calls Cooper, who meets him at the hospital.  Cooper, Sheriff Truman, and Mike find Killer Bob in the basement.  Mike shoots and kills Bob, then mysteriously dies himself.  Cooper says, "Make a wish," and a ring of candles blows out.  Suddenly it's "25 years later" (as a subtitle on the screen tells us), and Cooper is in the Red Room.  The Little Man introduces his "cousin, who looks almost exactly like Laura Palmer," and the footage is virtually identical to what would appear at the end of the second Twin Peaks episode, but re-purposed there as Dale Cooper’s dream.

Unlike in the series, the scenes in the alternate (Euro) version are not part of a dream--or if they are, they're not identified as such.  The story simply moves ahead twenty-five years.  Obviously something strange is going on--Cooper is considerably older, yet Laura has not aged.  The speaking is odd, the room is peculiar--everything is quirky, yet the viewer is not told why or given any context for the events.  It doesn't make any sense and doesn't conclude the story at all.  Lynch admitted to Chris Rodley that he was "just winging stuff for this ending that we had to do.  Feeling our way." (Lynch on Lynch, P. 165)  He also admitted that "it had the feeling of an ending that may or may not relate to anything else....It all happens so fast and nothing was really that thought out." (LoL, p. 167)

We can only wonder what Lynch was thinking when shooting these Red Room scenes, and what his ideas of the place really were.  And though written and directed by Lynch, the scenes, as existing in the European edit, are hard to consider as part of the official Twin Peaks canon, falling, as they do, so far outside the television series and FWWM continuity.

When episode 2 of Twin Peaks was developed, however, the Red Room footage appeared, though altered.  Most importantly, the scenes take place within the context of a dream that Cooper has one night.  Also, the "25 years later" line has been deleted--though it was obvious from Cooper's age that many years had passed, and in fact in the next episode, Cooper tells Truman and Lucy that in his dream, "suddenly it was twenty-five years later."  (In the final episode, when Cooper physically enters the Red Room, Laura tells him that "I'll see you again in twenty-five years.")

Whatever Lynch intended the Red Room to be in the European edit, the third episode clearly establishes it as a dream-world, a gateway to the subconscious, full of secrets that provide guidance to Cooper and answers to the mystery of his case if only he will utilize them.

However, when the Red Room appears in the final episode of Twin Peaks, something has changed.  As noted above, Lynch went so far as to say that "it was  . . .  completely and totally wrong."

Television is a collaborative medium, and Twin Peaks had two primary co-creators, Lynch and Mark Frost.  But Harley Peyton and Robert Engels also contributed significant elements.  As the second season progressed, the involvement of Lynch and Frost varied.  An element like the Red Room--vague and mysterious to begin with, and quite possibly intended to exist only in subjective reality anyway--was bound to experience some change as different writers brought their own interpretations.

For Mark Frost, there were two aspects of the Red Room, which he called the Black and White Lodges, an idea he had picked up from the works of Alice Bailey and Dion Fortune.  In an interview with Wrapped In Plastic, Frost said, "I brought it [the idea of the Lodges] in, in general."  More specifically, he notes that the Bailey writings "influenced me as a young person..., and it becomes the basis for your thinking about the duality of good and evil in the world.  Is evil, in fact, made manifest anywhere in the world?  And the Black Lodge was all about  . . . the idea that there was, in fact, a true manifestation of evil that needs to be actively and physically combated." (WIP 9, 1994, p.2.)

For Frost, then, the Red Room becomes a place that can be physically entered. This interpretation would become a critical element of the final episode, in which Dale Cooper leaves this world for the world of the Red Room.  But when David Lynch returned to direct the final episode he was not comfortable with what the Red Room had become. Discussing the Frost/Peyton/Engels script for the final episode, Lynch said, "[W]hen it came to The Red Room, it was, in my opinion, completely and totally wrong.  Completely and totally wrong.  And so I changed that part." (LoL p. 182). Unfortunately, Lynch does not elaborate, and interviewer Chris Rodley does not press him on the point, so we are left to guess what Lynch was referring to.

But although Lynch told Rodley that the script's presentation of the Red Room was "wrong,” he is careful not to state categorically that his version of the final episode is better than what Frost, Peyton, and Engels had written.  "I'm not making a judgment on it....If Mark and I had been working together, it would've been different." (LoL p. 182.)

This is a very important comment. Lynch acknowledges that he and Frost had not been working together on the final run of Twin Peaks episodes, and he admits that a collaborative effort between the two may have resulted in a stronger interpretation of the Red Room. 

We are now on the cusp of new Twin Peaks. The fact that David Lynch and Mark Frost are creating Twin Peaks together is a cause for celebration. Perhaps we will soon find out how they mutually interpret the Red Room. Will it be a physical place? Will it be a realm of the subconscious? Or will it be something else entirely?  On May 21, we may have our first answers. Stay tuned.

A much, much, longer version of this article first appeared in Wrapped In Plastic 54; it is worth seeking out for the deep analysis of the Red Room it provides.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Twin Peaks Pilot: Comments from Creators, Cast, and Others

“Originally [Twin Peaks] was going to bet set in North Dakota but I said to David that I spent a weekend there once, there’s not a lot going on in North Dakota. . . . We moved it to the Northwest where David spent his time growing up and he felt very connected to the landscape.  The big primeval forests are very important to the tone of the show.” – Mark Frost (producer and co-writer, Twin Peaks pilot), Seattle Weekly (as reported in Twin Peaks: Behind the Scenes, by Mark Altman, p. 17.)

“Once it became the Northwest we just went up there and did a lot of location scouting and found a lot of great, great places.  Like the sawmill—that was pretty incredible because it was a beautiful old sawmill. . . . [W]e had maybe four days shooting inside and outside and we were always using those images—the saw blades and stuff.” – David Lynch, (director and co-writer, Twin Peaks pilot), Lynch on Lynch (ed. by Chris Rodley), p. 160-161.

“One of the first questions people ask is, ‘How did they find you?’  How did they find the Mar-T?  They sent out a location scout in February of 1989.  We weren't very busy and I said, ‘You can use it, but we're fixing to do some remodeling.’  But they said, ‘Oh no, don't do anything like that.  We want it just like it is.’  About two weeks later, they said that David Lynch will be up on the weekend and he'll decide.  So they came up and told us they wanted to use it.  They came up about the 28th of February and I'd never seen so much equipment.  There was about seventy-five people that were working, and there was another hundred that were watching from the outside.” – Pat Cokewell, (former owner of the Mar T CafĂ© – a.k.a. “the Double R Diner”), Wrapped in Plastic #7, p. 13.

“There’s this story about the Double R Diner.  See, the highway used to go through there and the diner was, you know, doing business.  And then the big freeway went in and nobody was stopping there.  And the owner . . . used to make, like, maybe six pies a day when we got there, if that.  After Twin Peaks she was making sixty pies a day!  That place is on the map, you know, forever.” – David Lynch, Lynch on Lynch, p. 161.

“The day we were doing the town hall scene was actually the last day of filming on the mainland.  The following day, we were going to Bainbridge to the Kiana Lodge to do the Great Northern stuff.  So we were doing the town hall scene, and I was standing next to David and Debbie Trutnik, his secretary.  David leans over, and he goes, ‘Debbie, did you give Frank his scene yet?’  And I went, ‘Scene?  What do you mean “scene?”’  Debbie went, ‘No.’  ‘Well, you better give it to him.  We're shooting it after lunch.’  And I thought, you know, it's probably like one word, or one line.  So then Debbie comes and brings me this huge scene in a boiler room with Kyle [MacLachlan], Michael Ontkean, and Al [Strobel] as the One-Armed Man. . . . . So they say, ‘We're shooting this after lunch.’
            “So I look at this scene, and it's a long scene.  And there's this monologue that Bob has to do.  And David's going, ‘See this?  We do this scene.  And see these four lines here?  Well, that's a song, Frank.  Those are lyrics.  Make up a tune.  Just make something up.’  So I was totally flipping out.  Here I was, a part of the crew for months.  They're running around looking for a location--they didn't even have the location for this scene yet.  We're running late.  It's now probably 11:00 at night.  We have to catch the last ferry to Bainbridge at 1:30.  We're still trying to shoot this stupid scene.  So I didn't know what I was doing.  I thought, ‘Here I am, I'm a crew member.  If I'm horrible, everybody's going to laugh at me.  I'm going to be this big joke doing this scene.’  So every ounce of energy, every ounce of everything, was drawn up.  I don't know how I did it.” – Frank Silva (On-set dresser, Twin Peaks pilot, actor, “Killer Bob”) Wrapped in Plastic #7, p. 9

“I would say that generally a lot of the scenes from the pilot were shot from the hip.  There was a lot of improvisation.  So we might go into one scene with expectations we had from the script, and David would change the format and change the intent of the scene. . . . [A]nd of course he was influenced by the powerful setting up there.  The weather was changing by the minute. . . . So sometimes we'd have to move the scene in under a shelter because it was lightly snowing, and of course that would change the mood.  It was a wonderful experience, shooting that.”  Everett McGill, (actor, “Big Ed Hurley”) Wrapped in Plastic #44, p. 14

“I remember we shot the pilot here [at the Kiana Lodge].  It was so cold and rainy--it was so freezing!  I had a call at 11:00 in the morning.  I came and got make-up and got dressed, and my scene went up at 11:30 that night!  I stood around and froze.  We came over here [to the banquet hall] and had dinner around 9:00 at night.  They were going to have my scene the next day, but David said, ‘No.’  [Mine] was the last scene that they got here.”  Jan D’Arcy, (actor, “Sylvia Horne”) Wrapped in Plastic #25, p. 3

“When we shot [Sheryl Lee] it was cold—I mean, it was so cold.  And she lay out there, and then we’d have to take her away, where they had these blankets and heaters set up behind this giant log.  So she’d run fifteen and go into this warm little tent and get her body temperature back up, and then go back and shoot.  She was a great sport” – David Lynch, Lynch on Lynch, p. 172.

“I was hired for the pilot as a guest, and they said, ‘possible recurring,’ which they always say to anybody who’s a guest and they don’t really know what they’re going to do with the character.  What happened was, we did the pilot, I rambled on, they liked it, and it just worked.  I think that’s how my part got bigger. . . . When they screened the pilot at the Director’s Guild everybody laughed after I did the phone thing.  Then, when I came on again, everybody cheered.  Nobody else in the pilot got the same boisterous response as I did.  I was completely shocked.  I couldn’t shut my mouth.  I have witnesses; they were there with me.  Afterwards, David and Mark came up and said, ‘We’ve got plans for you.’”  -- Kimmy Robertson, (actor, “Lucy Moran”) Wrapped in Plastic #43, p. 3

“I remember I went home and my dear, dear friend, Brandon Lee was over, and I said, ‘Watch this Lynch thing with me.  They want me to do this TV show.  Let’s sit back and watch this.’  So we opened up a couple of beers and watched the pilot of Twin Peaks.  And it was unbelievable!  We didn’t say a word to each other the whole two hours!  It was just incredible.  It was the kind of TV I had never seen.  I’ll never forget that endless shot of the telephone cord.  Oh, man!  It affected me as much as any movie I had ever seen.  The two of us just sat there and said, ‘Let’s watch it again!’  And we did!  I couldn’t wait for Monday to roll around so I could call Mark Frost and just say, ‘God bless you.  It’s phenomenal.’” -- Miguel Ferrer (actor, “Albert Rosenfield”), Wrapped in Plastic #35, p. 4

“So, we had shot the pilot, and then it aired.  And I remember that night as if it were yesterday.  We had a big party at our house and lot of the cast members and crew were there.  It was airing on television and the phone started ringing.  People on the East Coast had just finished watching it.  There was this wave of people across the United States calling as soon as it finished airing in their time zone.  It never occurred to me that it was going to air on other people's televisions!  I thought it was only on mine!  Very surreal!” – Sheryl Lee (actor, “Laura Palmer”) Wrapped in Plastic #16, p. 5

(A longer version of this piece originally appeared in Wrapped In Plastic #46, (April, 2000).)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Twin Peaks Season One: The Artisan DVD Audio Commentaries (Part 2)

On December 18, 2001, Artisan Home Entertainment released a four-disc DVD set containing episodes 1-7 of Twin Peaks. Due to legal issues at the time, the set did not contain the pilot episode of Twin Peaks.

The most valuable thing about this set, and what makes it a unique and important Twin Peaks collectible, is that all the episodes feature audio commentaries, either from directors, writers or other production members from the series. No other DVD or Blu-ray release of Twin Peaks features these kinds of commentaries. The Artisan set was produced without the cooperation of David Lynch, who does not support audio commentaries. Hence, these valuable insights will only ever appear on this set. And they are very interesting insights, indeed.  The Artisan DVD is worth having, if only for these astounding, informative audio commentaries.

This report discusses discs Three and Four of the set and the audio commentaries that they contain.

Disc Three:
Episode 5: Director, Lesli Linka Glatter, notes that, unlike most television programs in which directors would pop in, work on their episode, and pop out, most of the directors on Twin Peaks were present during much of the first-season shooting.  So while she was preparing for her episode, Tina Rathborne and Tim Hunter were still a presence.  Glatter thinks that she may have been the one who started the running joke of always having a convention going on in the background of the Great Northern during those scenes.  In this episode it is the American Indian Movement; later would come a Tuba and Cheerleader Convention and a Square Dancing Convention, just on her episodes.

Glatter was most interested in exploring the themes of sensuality and unspoken longing (especially in Cooper and Audrey).  Most of the characters had this element, or something closely related.  The Shelly/Bobby relationship, for example, is spoken, but hidden.  As Glatter saw it, James expressed "the big theme" of the show in his meeting with Donna--that secrets destroy happiness.

Cooper could "see more" than other people and was open to another level of consciousness, but Twin Peaks was "a world where mysteries can't really be solved, so something happened when the mystery got solved....It was a world of mystery, so you might be able to gain more truths, but you might never be able to solve it."

Episode 6 features commentary from director, Caleb Deschanel, and writer, Harley Peyton, who supply a detailed commentary on the episode, as well as the entirety of the series.  Peyton offers a number of fascinating observations and insights.  He talks about writing in the voices of the characters--"hearing" their voices and trying to capture the appropriate cadence for their delivery.  Cooper was the hardest character for him to write and it was very rewarding when he came up with a good Cooper line (Peyton cites Cooper's "give yourself a present" line as an example). 

Peyton provides an interesting comparison between Cooper and Josie, describing them both as outsiders who came to the insulated world of Twin Peaks.  As such, they were never quite part of the community, and Josie's "outsider" status played into her eventual demise.

Peyton also discusses the many Twin Peaks sets that were built and the opportunity it allowed the writers to enter the fictional world.  He called it "a place of magic" and mentions sitting in the Double R Diner set while writing a scene. 

Caleb Deschanel provides some terrific comments to complement Peyton's.  He describes some of his directorial decisions and (like Duwayne Dunham) the editorial considerations that went into them.  He shot some scenes to imply someone was listening to the characters.  So, in the middle of the conversation between Donna, James, and Maddy (in act 1), Deschanel cuts to a distant wide shot to convey the sense of another person watching.  This approach fits perfectly with concept of "evil in the woods" (as Truman explained in episode 3) and with the eventual direction of the storyline (the idea of the demonic Bob being a presence in and around Twin Peaks).  But, more importantly, this shot foreshadows the scene in Act 4, in which there really will be "someone else" watching them at the park.

Deschanel's most interesting comment comes when he talks about the subversive nature of the show.  There was an implied "sexiness" to Twin Peaks, and although the network did censor a few things, they often did not perceive the subtext of the show.  Deschanel explains that the implication of certain ideas and themes (including sexuality) was a strength to Twin Peaks because it allowed the audience to use their imaginations. 

Disc Four
Episode 7: Production designer Richard Hoover supplies commentary to episode 7 and although Hoover's observations are invaluable and certainly worth having on the DVD set, his comments would have been better suited to a different episode--much of 7 was shot either on location (the hospital), outside (the park), or on one-time sets (the exteriors of the burning mill). 

Hoover's production designs were important to the effectiveness of the series.  He explains that he would work with the director of photography and the director to establish the look of the show.  Hoover was responsible for the decorating group, prop group, construction crew, and painters.

Hoover credits Lynch with teaching him about the importance of color.  Twin Peaks is a world of darkness and rich colors, especially red.  But, he notes, each location should have its own look.  Leo and Shelly's house is very "working class."  The Hayward house is a typical upper-middle-class home that contains safe colors such as gray, white, and beige, with some bits of color throughout (such as yellow to imply a sense of insecurity.)  The sheriff's station is a place of logic and therefore contains many horizontal lines.Nadine's house, however, is "demented" because she's gone through a lot of stress in her life.  The big, empty house represents the state of her relationship with Ed.  Nadine is trapped in the past; the relationship is frozen in time, like a frozen wedding cake.

Hoover acknowledges the difficulty in shooting in the Double R Diner and admits that, in the speed of designing all the sets, he did not design the set properly.  He mentions that they tried to improve it for the second season.

Hoover notes that they "fought to have ceilings" in the sets because it provided a more realistic environment and one that would "compress" the characters.  They also used real wood on all the set decor (rather than paint or fiberglass) because it provided a more authentic look.