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Summer Viewing Guide: 'Twin Peaks'

Back in high school, most of you had a summer reading list. I know I did. Summer break is about playing baseball, chasing your first love interest or hanging out at the mall. Chances are it was not about reading some old, boring novel that was required by the New York State Department of Education. You never read the book — you prayed that it was made into a movie in the 1970s starring Robert Redford.

I want to present to you some suggested viewing for the summer. You have plenty of free time since you won't have new episodes of The Big Bang Theory to watch until September and The Office ended its series run. Actually, if you watch The Big Bang Theory, you have bigger problems, 'cause that show is just one joke used over again. It's an awful show, but you idiots keep watching it. (Editor's note: We would like to apologize for Seth's rant against another one of CBS's fine programming. Remember CBS is the place to watch stale American situational comedies.)* 

Twin Peaks 
The ABC cult classic ran from the spring of 1990 to June 1991. The brainchild of David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks gave serial dramas an unusual twist. The show began with a murder investigation and quickly became a study of the dirty little secrets held by a fictional small Washington town.

The show, which won the Golden Globe for Best Drama in 1990, lost its casual viewers going into Season 2, which forced the show'ss creators to solve the murder of Laura Palmer. As the show took on every genre imaginable — comedy, horror, drama, police procedural and even parodying soap operas — its direction and writing established a small devoted following. Fans of the show were drawn to the diverse cast of characters, their peculiar but honest dialogue and the show's constant twist and turns.

Noted Cast
Sheriff Harry S. Truman: Michael Ontkean (Slap Shot, The Rookies)
Special Agent Dale Cooper: Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Blue Velvet, Grand Theft Auto III)
Leland Palmer: Ray Wise (24, RoboCop, Mad Men)
Ben Horne: Richard Beymer (West Side Story)
Donna Hayward: Laura Flynn Boyle (Wayne's World, The Practice, Men in Black II)
Dennis/Denise Bryson: David Duchovny (The X-Files, Californication)
Big Ed Hurley: Everett McGill (Dune, License to Kill, Heartbreak Ridge)
Norma Jennings: Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)
Annie Blackburn: Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me)
Jean Renault: Michael Parks (From Dusk Til Dawn, Kill Bill, Then Came Bronson)
Jerry Horne: David Patrick Kelly (Commando, 48 Hrs., The Warriors)
Sam Stanley: Kiefer Sutherland (24, The Lost Boys, Phone Booth)
Albert Rosenfield: Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop, Crossing Jordan, Mulan, Iron Man 3)
Chester Diamond: Chris Isaak (The Chris Isaak Show, That Thing You Do!)

Key Episodes or Themes
As you can see, this show featured a loaded ensemble cast, many of whom had worked on past Lynch projects like Dune and Blue Velvet, and it reflects in so much of his style of storytelling. Twin Peaks relies much on the characters going about their daily lives as they look to solve the Laura Palmer murder. There are some strong storylines and natural chemistry between the cast that made this show a cult classic.

Episode 1: Northwest Passage
The pilot episode that introduces you to the wonderful and intriguing town of Twin Peaks, Washington.

The Home Family
Inspired by Horne's Department store based in Pittsburgh (where Mark Frost went to college), the Home family is one of the power families of the town. They own many key places in Twin Peaks including the Great Northern hotel and Horne's Department Store. The beauty of the family is that Ben (Richard Beymer) operates as the head of the family, with his brother Ben (David Patrick Kelly) acting as his right hand man. Their relationship as brothers tends to humanize the devious plans they have, especially in the second season, when Ben is charged with killing Laura Palmer.

Harry Truman and Dale Cooper
Despite coming from different professional backgrounds (local municipality and federal agent), they are more or less the same. Both regard their work with great integrity, despite having their own fault of professional ethics. Dale Cooper comes in and quickly meshes with Harry Truman, who acts as a guide to understanding Twin Peaks. Their chemistry on-screen works well with the dialogue devised by Lynch that was often improvised.

The Supernatural
In Twin Peaks, it seems almost anything can happen. Even as they play on the  government coverup using the character Major Garland Briggs, the show's themes play on its main plot. The idea of dream sequences work to help Cooper solve the case, then to have him try to convince the very down-to-earth Truman along with Cooper's colleague Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), who is rather blunt in his approach to his work.

Gordon Cole
What Lynch project wouldn't be complete without a cameo? Cole, Cooper's superior, is hard of hearing, essentially shouting all of his dialogue. That's all I have to say.

Twin Peaks may have lasted only 30 episodes, but it is a truly riveting series. If you can suspend your disbelief for the two seasons, you will find a truly enjoyable experience with colorful but believable characters. There is comedy, action, drama and even some chilling material. Unlike when you were reading The House of the Seven Gables, you won't be disappointed.

*Real editor's note: Popculturology will never apologize for mocking The Big Bang Theory. Watch smarter TV, people.
Summer Viewing Guide: 'Twin Peaks' Reviewed by Seth Pohorence on 6/10/2013 Rating: 5

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