A Peak Into The Past

Some of you – say, those who’ve known me since 1990 – may already know that I’m a massive fan of Twin Peaks. And I mean MASSIVE. Twin Peaks changed my life, in more or less the same way that Buffy changed my life almost a decade later. (For the curious: I went to a Buffy convention, bumped into a few members of SFX, heard there was a job going on the magazine and the rest is history.)

If it hadn’t been for Twin Peaks, I wouldn’t have visited London for the very first time in April 1991 and fallen in love with the city, prompting me to switch universities from Swansea (much hate) to Richmond (much love). If I hadn’t switched universities I probably would have failed my course in Art & Design, a subject which came to me about as naturally as a giraffe learning to surf, only not as funny to watch. I would never have gone on to earn a degree in English & American Studies – which came in very handy for my chosen career – at a university in the very street in which I live today. In fact, if I’d spent my entire three years of university in Swansea I would most probably have topped myself because I hated the place so much (with apologies to any Swansea residents reading this).

Swansea? Wrong course, wrong people, wrong town. Richmond? Right course, right people, right city.

The Peak-y reason I was in London in April 1991 was because I wanted to meet Agent Cooper, aka Kyle MacLachlan, aka that guy I’d fallen for after watching Dune and The Hidden before I’d even set eyes on anyone named Cooper. I sat in the crowd at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch him being interviewed on Wogan. I sat in the crowd at the Greenwood Theatre to watch him being interviewed on Tonight With Jonathan Ross. I stood outside the studios of TV-am in Camden to get his autograph at a silly hour of the morning, and even managed to get a photo taken with him. It’s probably the nearest I’ve ever come to stalking a celebrity in my life, although I’m happy to say I was totally polite and respectful and didn’t hassle him in any way (unlike some of the other Peaks fans I saw hanging around the studios, but the less said about them – or the professional autograph-hunting crowd – the better).

I was simply a very young, very giggly girl with eyes as large as saucers meeting her idol in the Big City. No wonder I decided to move to London afterwards; dreams came true there.

I’ve just bought the Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Edition R1 box set. Last night I watched the show’s pilot, an episode I must have seen at least 50 times over the years; hell, I even wrote my university dissertation on the series. But watching it on DVD for the very first time… well, it was a different show. My grungy VHS tapes always made the series look soupy and muggy, as though it was shot on the kind of videotape they used in 1980s daytime soap operas. Suddenly I was noticing things I’d never seen before – the reflection of Lucy in the glass of the police station while Sheriff Truman gets the call from Pete to say he’s found a body; the image of the bike in Laura Palmer’s eye on the videotape (always a blur before now); the image of BOB reflected in the mirror above Sarah Palmer’s head as she has her vision at the end of the episode. It’s like I’m seeing the show with totally fresh eyes.

The other thing which has amazed me is that, all these years on, I can watch Agent Dale Cooper drive into the small town of Twin Peaks (“…five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line”) and feel absolutely nothing for him. My girly crush has completely evaporated. Kyle MacLachlan is nothing to me now. I still love Coop, but that burning fascination with the man who went on to unknowingly change my life is no more. He also makes me feel old: I’m 36 to MacLachlan’s 31-year-old FBI agent, who always used to be someone I looked up to. I never thought I’d be older than Coop!

Life is full of nasty surprises like this. I remember my mum telling me once that when she was younger footballers seemed like gods, but as she grew older, they turned into little boys. It’s happening to me. I hate it.

On the plus side, I think I’ve discovered a new appreciation for Michael Ontkean’s Sheriff Truman, who seemed far too old for me when I watched Twin Peaks in 1990 but, these days, is of a perfect vintage. Swings and roundabouts, as the old saying goes…

Oh, and the lady with the log? They call her the Log Lady.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “A Peak Into The Past

  1. It certainly does hold up well, after all of these years. It still amazes me how David Lynch managed to sneak such an avant garde bit of film making under the radar of the tv execs and then score a hit with it.

  2. I’m soooo with you on Swansea lady. I was unfortunate enough to live there fore five years (on and off) with a glorious break in Cardiff in between. So glad not to live there any more, and have absolutely no intention of ever returning to that shitty, shitty city… xx

  3. Lerxst

    If you think Swansea is shitty, try Newport. Or Blackpool (though I suppose it is seaside shit). Or Hull.. voted crappest town in Britain by its own residents. Though all that said, the one place that really had me looking over my shoulder, when walking home, was Lewisham. The only dreams that come true in South East London are nightmares.

    But know what you mean about age.. somehow it now feels grubby to drool over Christina Applegate in Married With Children. Oh well, at least I’ve still got Wilma Deering….

  4. Jenni

    Yeah you got Wilma, we got Buck Rogers – Spandex with a gut is sooo not a good look on a man! Thank God you came to Richmond, Jayne, otherwise I’d have had to have watched STNG alone and never would have gone to meet David McCallum after being scared witless by Sapphire and Steel. Re your agent Coop, it’s exactly how I feel now watching Dean Cain in New Adventures of Superman!

  5. jaynenelson

    Jenni – I seem to recall that we met David McCallum outside TV-am almost a year to the day after I met Kyle MacLachlan there. How funny!

    Poor Swansea – I feel as though I’ve opened a floodgate of hate. I never liked Newport either, and I’ve been to Blackpool three times and each time swore I’d never go back because it was so rubbish (each visit was for work reasons).

    How about NICE places? Torquay’s pretty cool. At least, it was about ten years ago when I still lived there. It’s gone downhill since then…

  6. Lerxst

    Not just Wilma. We also got Princess Ardala… (if only someone had dropped Tweaky in a car crusher right at the start….)

    But away from adolescent yearnings (I moved on to Scully and Dina ‘Dizzy Flores’ Meyer after all), never met David McC – shame as he’s always been a bit of a hero but probably fortunate as I’d have to remind him of The Invisible Man series. However, one of the joys of working just off the Strand is that when the Stamp Centre is holding signings, I can just nip round the corner and meet the likes of Peter Davison or Tom Baker (though I still haven’t remembered to get him to sign The Boy Who Kicked Pigs.. damn!).

    So nice places…hmm.. maybe I’m odd but I still think one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in the UK is up on the Yorkshire Moors in the middle of October.

  7. Lerxst

    Actually Jayne… I know its unlikely but if you ever get the chance to meet/interview Patrick McGoohan, please, pretty please can I tag along? I’ll carry your bags and everything….

  8. Lizwc

    Can I put in a vote for Swansea? I was at university in Carmarthen (west of Swansea) and much as I loved that tiny little market town a trip or two to Swansea to visit the multi-plex, the Crystal Maze game and Laserquest with the rest of the S-F club was the highlight of my social life.
    mind I didn’t have to live there…

  9. Richard Johnson

    After the ads on BBC at the time, I had no interest in TWIN PEAKS. My girlfriend’s soap-addicted mother wanted to watch it – believing it to be another KNOTS LANDING. After one dancing dwarf, a backwards-talking murder victim who arms sometimes bend back, an FBI detective who threw rocks at bottles for clues and an impossibly beutiful Audrey Horne later, she realised the show was not for her – and I was hooked.

    Nearly every character was beautifully realised; from Coop to Ben Horne; from Lucy the receptionist to Senór Droolcup. And the relationships with each other actually meant something: Coop’s growing friendship with Harry (and his comforting after Josie was turned into a door knob); Shelley and Norma (when Shelley tearfully had to resign from the job she loved working for a woman she loved, it was the first time TV made me cry) were two of my favourites.

    I had never seen anything on TV like this before. The perfect, quiet American town, but with so much going on below the surface. And the introduction of the supernatural, the Black Lodge, dopplegangers and evil spirits took me completely by surprise on first viewing.

    TWIN PEAKS was also filled with a great callibre of actors (barring James Hurley), and – even now – I still get excited when I see one of the actors’ names in a current show. (Whatever happened to Dana Ashbrook? Why didn’t he ever go onto to be a heartthrob of that generation? Was it because he had a girl’s name?)

    I got my wife into the first six episodes six years ago, and we’ve been waiting for a Region 2 release ever since. Fingers are crossed…

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