“Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks.” (Book Review)

“Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks.” (Book Review)

The day that Laura Palmer was found dead on the beach in the small Washington town of Twin Peaks, a cult-classic was unleashed.

Even though the series only lasted for a total of 30 episodes spread across two uneven seasons, Twin Peaks has remained a phenomenon, and consistently viewed as a show that was able to change the face of network television. 30 episodes have created a ton of fan websites, a yearly festival, magazines, books, and even after much desire from the public, who was both fans of the show when it initially aired, and those who have discovered it in the quarter-century since, there will be a new run of episode of Twin Peaks starting in 2016.

plastic2I have written a few items on the show on this blog, as well as more on my often-neglected Twin Peaks blog. If you want to read a review of another book related to the show, please check out https://gatsbyfuneral.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/reflections-an-oral-history-of-twin-peaks-book-review/.

Wrapped in Plastic. Twin Peaks provides us with another view on the series, and one that is incredibly well done in a very short amount of space. As a part of the Pop Classics collection (which also includes books on Showgirls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), this story of Twin Peaks is done in a great way that provides more information for the Peak Freak out there, as well as the casual viewer, or one just getting into the show. There is much repeated information in here, if you are a die-hard fan and follower of the show, but it still provides enough insight to keep it interesting, over its very brief 101 pages.

Something I especially enjoyed about the book was the nods to the humour in the show. So many things that are written about Twin Peaks focus on the darkness, on the strangeness, and on the the murder of Laura Palmer, and then the following decent of the show from the heights of pop culture after the murdered was revealed. But so many people forget that there were so many moments in the series that were very humorous, and they no longer deserve to be neglected. Author Andy Burns does a great job of reminding us of those funny moments, and how it added so much to the show, as well as giving us a break from the messy lives of the people that inhabited the small town.

plastic3Wrapped in Plastic also does a strong job of citing the influence that Twin Peaks has had on modern television. We often hear about how influential it was, but Burns goes to the point where he describes the impact that this show had on other major dramas of our time, from The Sopranos to The X-FilesNorthern Exposure to Psych. It really brings everything all together, and after reading the book, it gave me a new appreciation of how important this series really was in changing the way that networks viewed the shows they were airing, and how people were watching them, and what they were willing to deal with.

Burns takes us quickly through the development of the series, the casting, and the magic of David Lynch and Mark Frost in creating the show, along with notes on several of the episodes in the series. He writes like he truly loves the show, which is great, because let’s be honest…the vast majority of the readers of this book are also going to be fans of the show, and want to read about it by someone who loved it too. He also focuses a fair amount of his time on the development of the themes in the series, such as the duality of the characters, demonstrated primarily by the role of the Black Lodge, and the dopplegangers that are found within. I found this quite interesting, especially when many more connections were made to the prequel film, Fire Walk With Me, as it offered me some views that I had not thought of before.

While Wrapped in Plastic is not as in-depth and intensive as something like Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, it still manages to get to quite a bit. With the book being so short, I had no trouble reading it in one sitting, in a little over an hour. This speaks not only to the brevity of this work, but to the readability of it. It is very interesting, and it is always great to be taken back into the town of Twin Peaks, and into the lives of the characters in it. And Burns does a great job of doing that, exploring the relationships between the characters, pointing out his observations, along with generally maintained theories about the show.

For those die-hard fans of Twin Peaks, who are clamoring for something to keep them occupied until the much anticipated Mark Frost novel, The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks comes out at the end of the year, and then the 2016 episodes, Wrapped in Plastic is a fantastic place to get back into the world of our favorite town. It does well to be nostalgic, so fans can remember the lofty heights of the show, even remembering its demise with some affection, and it does well to look forward, to see how the fingerprints of Twin Peaks are all over our current television landscape.

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“Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks” (Book Review)

“Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks” (Book Review)

Author Brad Dukes has put together an amazing compilation of interviews that took place over the span of a few years, and has managed to piece it together into a compelling narrative that describes to fans the creation and execution of one of the greatest cult TV shows of all-time, Twin Peaks.

In his novel, Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, he managed to gather most of the important people that made this seminal 1990’s drama possible, and charts its rise to the peak of popular culture, and its quick fall from grace, and the legacy that the show has maintained 25 years later.

reflections2One major strength of this book is that Dukes himself rarely interjects into the story that is being told by the cast, crew, directors, and writers of the series that he interviewed. He allows them to tell the story, from their first person experiences, and this really allows us, obviously the fans of Twin Peaks, to enter into the universe of the small Washington town, where everybody has secrets. The only notable absence from Dukes’ impressive list of interviews is David Lynch, who served as one of the creators of the show, and directed many of its most famous episodes, with his weird style and twists that can only be described as Lynchian. Everybody else was gathered, from the central actors (such as Kyle MacLachlan and Sherilyn Fenn), to the other creator, Mark Frost, and what they have provided is an insightful and honest look at the series.

It is interesting to see how everything was conceived, and surprisingly sold to the network, before it went on its magical first season run that took the TV viewing nation by storm. Twin Peaks, and the central questions of finding out “Who killed Laura Palmer?” became front page gossip and the ultimate water cooler talk. People hosted Twin Peaks parties every week, and the actors (and more specifically, actresses) of the show gained instant fame- including the rare (at the time) non-musician cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

The show was a massive hit, but the network stepped in a little too much during the second season, changing Twin Peaks from a Thursday night hit, to a show buried on Saturday nights. Numerous of the interviewees state that the network was never really on board with the show, and they didn’t really know what they had. The time slot change was a huge blow for the show, but not as bad as them desperately wanting the writers and producers to reveal Laura’s killer as soon as possible. While the series was absolutely incredible through the reveal of the murderer, the rest of the second season began to lose its way, veering into the territory of slapstick comedy at times, and introducing many new characters and story lines that were never able to grab the audience in the same way as the Laura Palmer murder did.

reflections3It is extremely interesting to hear everyone involved in the show, and their dismay with the way the second season went. Some of the actors hated what was happening to their characters, and hearing them not believing in their stories is a little sad, regardless of the honesty. There were should have been storylines that were quashed for one reason or another (to which Fenn is pretty honest…the lack of Lara Flynn Boyle being interviewed for the book was notable, as there is not a second side of that story for her to explain), and a growing rift and disconnect between the original creators, Frost and Lynch. The show was more frequently left in the hands of other producers, and a new batch of writers, who were trying to recreate the genius of the first season, and often failing miserably.

Eventually, Twin Peaks was able to save parts of its second season with the introduction of the Windom Earle story, as he served as a nemesis from Agent Cooper’s past that brought tension, murder, and mayhem back into the sleepy town. But we were still never as captured as we had been with Laura, and the characters that were created, written, and acted so beautifully in the first season of the show. Ratings declined, and despite an avant-garde and shocking finale to the second season, the show was cancelled.

And now it lives on as a cult classic (that will be returning to the air in 2016 with new episodes). Reflections is not the only book that has been written about this show, but it is one of the better ones, if only because it really does tell us the oral story of how everything happened on the show, and how it changed the lives of the people involved. Brad Dukes did an excellent job of conducting the interviews, and piecing them together in a way that makes us feel like we are reading a story. There are great details and tidbits about most of the episodes, and for true Peak Freaks, this book is an absolute must-read. There is the retelling of the stories we have heard before, and the revelation of stories that had not come out previously. All of it is in this book, and it is very insightful.

For now, while we anxiously await the new season in 2016, and the upcoming Mark Frost novel, The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks, in 2015, Reflections allows us to go back in time, and view the creation of an amazing show, through the eyes of those who lived and created it.

A great read.