Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Obscure Twin Peaks: The Twin Peaks Hotline (Episodes 9 & 10)

Twin Peaks began its second season on Sunday, September 30, 1990.  Because of the show's complexity and serial structure, ABC television wanted to help viewers stay up-to-date on plot developments and so initiated the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Station Hotline.  Viewers could call a number and listen to a recorded message featuring some of the show’s characters.  Ostensibly, viewers were calling the actual Twin Peaks Sheriff’s station and “eavesdropping” on Lucy and Andy (and a few other Twin Peaks characters) as they discussed the recent happenings in the town (i.e., the recent plot developments).  Another character—a mysterious, unidentified voice—typically interrupted Lucy and Andy's conversations and relayed information about events they could not know. (This allowed for more detailed story updates.) Then the phone line would be “returned” to the sheriff's station.

Lynch-Frost Productions created the recordings, which were available by calling a 900 phone number.  The entertainment wasn't cheap—it cost callers $2 for the first minute and $1 for each minute thereafter.  Supposedly, parts of the proceeds were donated to environmental causes.

The recordings stand as an amusing sidebar to the Twin Peaks phenomenon.  The writing was in keeping with the tone of the series, including the alternating humorous (Lucy/Andy) versus serious (mystery voice) presentations.  Having Kimmy Robertson and Harry Goaz reprise their Peaks characters provided a legitimacy to the endeavor and made the recordings fun.  Additionally, Angelo Badalamenti's music was part of every Hotline.  The “Twin Peaks Theme” (“Falling”) ended most of the spots.  “Dance of the Dream Man” provided the background music to all of the mysterious voice segments except the final one, which used “Laura Palmer's Theme.”

Nevertheless, despite the oversight of Lynch-Frost Produc­tions and the inclusion of Andy and Lucy, the Hotline cannot be considered part of any official Twin Peaks canon. In Twin Peaks, every episode (with minor exceptions) comprised a single day in the life of the characters.  But in the Twin Peaks Hotline, these one-day accounts are presented as weekly accounts.  Clearly, this was done so that Lucy or Andy could tell callers to “call back next week.”  As a result, there was a strange, off-kilter air to the proceedings, as if everything has been stuck in a time warp.  Perhaps appropriate, now that you think about it!

Here are the first two Hotline messages.  Look for more in the coming weeks.

Episode 9:

Lucy:  Hello, Twin Peaks Sheriff's station, this is Lucy speaking.  Boy, has stuff been happening or what!?  I heard through the Meals on Wheels people--I used to help them on my days off--that Donna went to see this old lady whose little kid took her creamed corn and held it in his hands like it was just a bunch of corn!  Which, I guess it was, except it was creamed, and that is just about the worst food in the history of the world. Speaking of creamed corn, do you believe that story about Deputy Brennan?
Andy:  I like creamed corn.
Lucy:  So now you're listening in on my calls!
Andy:  I was not.  I was just walking by the phone, and it blinked. What are you talking about?
Lucy:  I'm trying to tell the caller what's been happening.
Andy:  The fire department had its annual hose race.
Lucy:  Hose race?!  Can we stick to business here?  Some of us are professionals. Then Agent Cooper showed Ronette the drawing of Bob, the man in his dream, and it was the man who hurt her and killed Laura Palmer. Then, Leland Palmer recognized him too from when he was a kid up at Pearl Lakes.
Andy:  Yeah, the third man at the train car.
Lucy:  Real quick, Deputy.
Andy:  Then Agent Rosenfield told Agent Cooper that his old partner, Windom Earle, has vanished.
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan won't be joining us for any more of this conversation, now will he? Hello?  [Static begins, then subsides; an unidentified voice takes over the line.]
Voice:  Hello.  Look, I gotta be quick.  Audrey Horne paid a visit on Emory Battis at One-Eyed Jacks with some ice cubes and a vacuum cleaner and found out her father is the owner. She tried to call Cooper but got caught by Blackie. Kids these days! Then Major Briggs told Agent Cooper that messages have come from outer space that say, "The owls are not what they seem." I think he took it quite well.  Ben and Jerry have the ledgers from the mill. They were going to burn them but decided to roast marshmallows instead. Hey, look, I gotta go. Oh, one other thing: I believe Donna is about to go visit this mysterious Mr. Smith. I think it's a mistake.  [Static returns to the line, then sub­sides.]
Lucy:  What the hey is going on with these phones?  Have you heard a word I said?
Andy:  I don't think you should be talking that way from the sheriff's station, Lucy.
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan, how nice of you to join us again.
Andy:  I wanted to say that Hank Jennings used to be a Bookhouse Boy with Harry before he turned to a life of crime.
Lucy:  Man, what is a person to think!
Andy:  Lucy, there's a smelt fry down at the VFW Friday. Do you want to go?
Lucy:  You mean those little fish that look like something you'd feed your cat?
Andy:  You get a whole basket.
Lucy:  How romantic! No thank you! Well, thanks for calling. I'll be here next Sunday with more information. This is Lucy signing off.

Length of recording:  2 minutes, 36 seconds
Comments:  This recording followed episode 9 by Harley Peyton (writer) and David Lynch (director).  It sets the pattern that would be followed for all but one message: banter between Lucy and Andy (and, later, Dr. Hayward), then static as a mysterious voice interrupts the call to give a fairly straightforward plot synopsis (with occasional personal opinions), then finally a return to Andy and Lucy.

Hotline callers expected to receive new information and clues about events on upcoming shows. The only new information in this first recording is the bit about Donna's visit to Harold Smith--all in all a fairly undramatic revelation.

One notable scene from the episode not mentioned in the recording is Maddy's vision of Bob at the Hayward home.

Episode 10:

Lucy:  Hello, Twin Peaks Sheriff's station, Lucy speaking. Oh, hi. I'm kind of depressed at the moment. Well, see, there's this other man I've been seeing, once, Dick Tremayne--he's in men's wear up at Horne's.
Andy:  Hello?
Lucy:  Excuse me, but you picked up the wrong line again, Deputy Brennan!
Andy:  Oh. I thought you might be talking about what's been happening.
Lucy:  No! We were talking about--Austria!
Andy:  I've been to Austria.
Lucy:  Oh, well then please continue since you're such an expert.
Andy:  Um, they have good, really good chocolate, and I bought a pair of these leather shorts, latter-hoses, that the trolls wear, and they gave me a rash, so I--
Lucy:  I think we pretty much covered this area. Thank you for your assistance, Deputy Brennan. I have Doctor Hayward on the other line. He will fill you in on what's been going on over at the hospital.  Doc Hayward, are you there?
Hayward:  I'm here, Lucy. Well, Ronette Pulaski was visited by the killer in her room. He placed a small, typed letter "B" under her fingernail and a blue liquid in her IV. Other than that, Ronette was unhurt. Nadine Hurley, with the help of her husband Ed's singing voice, has come out of her coma with no permanent damage. She does, however, believe she is a cheerleader back in high school and that the nurses are pom-pom girls.  As soon as Doctor Jacoby is recovered enough himself, we expect he'll be of great help in bringing Nadine back to the present.
Lucy:  Thanks Doc! Hello?  [Static]
Voice:  Hello. The doctor doesn't know what kind of games his daughter is up to.  She visited Harold Smith, Laura's mysterious friend. He gave her a flower to put on her grave. Affairs of the heart. I believe this Mr. Smith has taken a liking to Donna--as he did to Laura, whose diary he has secretly kept. Oh, and do keep an eye on the last of the Renault brothers, Jean. He plans to kill Agent Cooper, and dear Audrey is caught right in the middle. I think they're on to me!  [Static]
Lucy:  Doctor Hayward?  Are you there?
Hayward:  I'm here.
Lucy:  There's something strange going on around here.
Andy:  Hi, Doctor Hayward!
Lucy:  Andy, are you listening again?
Hayward:  I have to get to a patient.
Andy:  Bye, doc!
Lucy:  Deputy Brennan, has anyone seen that one-armed man around here since he had that fit and injected himself with something?
Andy:  No.
Lucy:  Boy, what a day! And to top it all off, Leland Palmer was arrested for the murder of Jacques Renault! Well, thanks for calling. I'll be back next Sunday with more news. This is Lucy. Good-bye!

Length of recording:  2 minutes, 33 seconds
Comments:  This recording followed episode 10 by Robert Engels (writer) and Lesli Linka Glatter (director).

Lucy's depression results from her lunch date with Tremayne in which she tells him she's pregnant, and his response is far from encouraging.

"The Voice" provides no new plot information; Renault's plan to kill Cooper is alluded to in the episode.  (The word "kill" isn't specifically used, but the context is clear enough.)

This is the only Hotline recording that includes Dr. Hay­ward.

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