Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: 'Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks'


Shows as cinematic, daring, and genuinely artistic as “Twin Peaks” come along rarely even in television’s new “golden age” (and with shows like “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, and “Game of Thrones”, I truly do believe TV is enjoying a renaissance). Back in 1990, there simply wasn’t anything else to compare to it even with a crop of excellent series like “China Beach” and “Northern Exposure”, so it’s understandable that all these decades later its cast and crew are still so eager to speak of “Twin Peaks” in DVD and blu-ray bonus documentaries and onstage in last year’s series of panel discussions at the University of Southern California. Big stars like Piper Laurie and David Duchovny will still make time to chat about a 25-year old series that lasted a mere season and a half.

As a crazed Peaks Freak, I make time to watch every one of these recollections I can find, so as excited as I was to read Brad Dukes’s new book, Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, I was skeptical I’d learn much. I was totally wrong to be skeptical. Reflections is the best book I’ve picked up all year. Dukes scores by digging into the aspects of the show that have not been discussed to death already. Yes, he covers the oft-told origin of the series that began life as “Northwest Passage” and the origin of Killer BOB, the media frenzy that met the show and the early demise that followed the forced resolution of the core “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” mystery, and everything else obligatory. But Reflections really shines when getting into less-traveled zones and giving them surprisingly serious attention. Full sections are devoted to Duchovny’s Agent Bryson (though Dukes did not interview that particular actor), Josie Packard ending up in the pull knob, Diane Keaton and Uli Edel’s turns as director, and most welcome of all, the sweetness of Frank Silva, the set decorator who ended up playing television’s most heinous creature. Mysteries are solved. We finally get some specific details about Stanley Kubrick’s mythic screening of Eraserhead, and Kubrick was not the only legendary director in attendance. Kimmy Robertson reveals her very personal role in getting Duchovny cast. We learn why Windom Earle appears in demonic makeup in the penultimate episode. We get some juicy tidbits about the much-loathed James and Evelyn Marsh mini-noir that will make me look differently at a subplot I sometimes skip through. And though no one holds back their personal opinions (Sherilyn Fenn is as forthcoming as ever about how she thinks Lara Flynn Boyle screwed up the series), you really get a sense that the cast and crew loved working together and loved “Twin Peaks” as a job and a show. If they didn’t, Dukes probably would not have been able to gather nearly 100 of its former denizens (including long-time holdout Michael Ontkean!) to reflect on it two and a half decades down the road.

Get Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks on Amazon.com here:





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