TV Dungeon: Twin Peaks

(1990 – 1991, USA)

Creators: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, James Marshall

2 Seasons (30 Episodes)


‘A town where everyone knows everyone and nothing is what it seems’

David Lynch, in collaboration with writer/producer Mark Frost, captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with one of the most legendary television series to emerge in the nineties: Twin Peaks. What starts as a slightly offbeat whodunit, evolves into a complex and superbly intriguing mystery thriller.

‘Who murdered the high school beauty queen Laura Palmer?’, is the original premise. But with all sorts of supernatural stuff going on, new and bigger questions arise. The mystery of the Black Lodge is one of the most fascinating ideas of the show, and though not all questions are answered in the end, the unexpected climax is still fulfilling in a strange Lynchian sort of way.

Every whodunit needs a mystery solver. In Twin Peaks, this is special FBI agent Dale Cooper, played with verve by Lynch’s favourite boy Kyle MacLachlan. This strange, donut loving detective employs quite unorthodox methods to crack the case. He has dreams and visions about dwarves and Tibet. He also knows stuff he cannot know and he is always one step ahead of the rest.

Besides McLaughlin’s strong central role, there are many supporting characters that are as real as they are fantastical. The cast is perfect and features many (television)stars to be. All the strange inhabitants of mountain town Twin Peaks lead a complex double life. It is up to Cooper and local sheriff Harry Truman (Ontkean) to unravel their many mysteries.

The plot in Twin Peaks often takes a backseat to just let the many bizarre characters interact with each other. The show often feels like a platform for all the crazy ideas that Lynch, Frost and other collaborators who have worked on the show could come up with.

What makes the final result so great is the seamless integration of genres. With delicious black humor and countless fantasy elements, such as dwarves, giants, aliens and demons, the viewer will get hooked in no time. It is constantly absorbing, even during long stretches in which basically nothing significant happens. Twin Peaks is an endlessly fascinating show that took dramatic television into an entirely new realm.

Followed two years later by a prequel/sequel movie called; Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and a new season of the show in 2017.

The Sopranos: 10 Favorite Episodes

Part of: The Sopranos Features

By Jeppe Kleijngeld

 

10. Whitecaps
Season 4, episode 13
The one in which: Tony and Carmela separate.

At the end of season 4 there aren’t any major enemies to get rid off. Ralphie already died in episode 9. But the real shocker this time is the disintegration of the Soprano marriage and it is total dynamite. James Gandolfini and Edie Falco do some of the finest acting ever filmed. Their fights are just so realistic and raw, it’s mind blowing. Both superb actors won well deserved Emmy Awards for their work in this episode.

09. I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano
Season 1, episode 13
The one in which: Tony and his crew deal with Uncle Junior and his cronies for trying to have him whacked. Tony also discovers his own mother was in on the murder plot!

The season 1 finale is totally satisfying. Rat Jimmy Altieri gets whacked. Villain Michael Palmice also gets whacked in a memorable scene in the woods (“I got poison ivy all over me!”). And Junior is arrested by the feds. Carmela discovers what father Phil is really about and tells him the truth. Evil Livia makes one final move against Tony by telling Artie what really happened to his restaurant. It all ends in the perfect finale during a stormy night in Vesuvio. Tony is the new boss and he’s enjoying time with his other family in the here and now. Bruce Springsteen provides the perfect ending tune with Mr. State Trooper. This is television reinvented.

08. Whoever Did This
Episode 4, episode 9
The one in which: A stoned Christopher and Tony have to dispose of Ralphie’s corpse whom Tony has killed in a rage over a dead horse.

A wonder of an episode. These damn writers make us feel enormous sympathy for a character who did something so evil in the previous season. Like the girl he killed would never come home to her son, the same thing now happens to Ralphie. His son Justin will never know what happened to his dad. It is just so sad and horrible. Tony did this to Justin like Ralphie did it to Tracy’s kid. Before this episode, we would have loved to see Tony whack this guy. We would have cheered him on. But now… Jesus christ. Ralphie was just on the path of doing what needed to be done. Sure, he was still a mobster. He would still have regularly kicked the shit out of a guy to bring Tony a fat envelope – and sometimes worse – but he was improving. And then Tony savagely kills him. Like some fucking animal….

07. Kennedy and Heidi
Season 7, episode 6
The one in which: After a car crash Tony suffocates Christopher. Then he treats himself to a leisurely trip to Vegas.

In the second half of the sixth season, Tony becomes the worst version of himself. Sure, he was always capable of these evil deeds. And occasionally he shocked us with his wickedness. But now he goes all the way. He doesn’t hesitate a second to choke the life out of his nephew when the opportunity presents itself. He may have had reasons for doing this, but this is just a horrible goddamn mess. Afterwards, he doesn’t seem to feel any regret and flies to Vegas to have sex with Christopher’s goomar and take a peyote trip with her in the desert. It’s a very dark hour, and once again sublimely written, acted and directed.

06. Members Only
Season 6, episode 1
The one in which: Eugene inherits money and wants out, but finds out he can’t. Tony tries to take care of Uncle Junior and gets shot.

Season 6 starts with a bang. A big one. The atmosphere of the new season is totally different than the previous seasons, but there is no doubt this is The Sopranos. The ‘Seven Souls’ montage that opens it is as great as the ‘It’s a Very Good Year’ montage that started the second season. And focussing heavily on a previously unimportant character (Eugene) works very well. We see what happens when a made member wants out and it ends in the most disturbing suicide scene ever. It also surprises us a number of times. Rather than becoming the big rat like everybody thought, Raymond Curto dies of a stroke. And Junior shooting Tony is a terrible scene and one of the few times the show ends with a cliffhanger.

05. The Blue Comet
Season 7, episode 8
The one in which: A full-on war erupts between New Jersey and New York.

‘The Blue Comet’ is a real nail biter. Who will live and who will die? All bets are off. By playing with the audience’s expectations and fears, this episode feels as if Alfred Hitchcock could have directed it. The final bodycount is five, and that doesn’t include Silvio who’s in a coma at the end. Apart from the many resolutions in the Family, Tony’s therapy gets terminated too. Melfi, after realizing Tony is never going to change, kicks him out. Unlike Diane Keaton’s final image in The Godfather, who is blocked out by a door being shut for her, Melfi is the one who slams this door shut. ‘End times huh’, Agent Harris remarks early in the episode. That’s for sure. But ‘The Blue Comet’ leaves enough threats open to be resolved in the finale.

04. Pine Barrens
Season 3, episode 11
The one in which: Paulie and Christopher get lost in the woods.

A fan favorite directed by one of Chase’s favorite directors Steve Buscemi. There are Fargo references, but the snow was merely a coincidence according to the episode’s writer Terence Winter. The plot is about setting boundaries and what happens when one crosses them. This leads to a hilarious episode with some of the funniest dialogues and performances of the show. The Sopranos was often way more funny than the funniest comedies, and this episode is the comedic highlight of the series. Paulie: “You’re not gonna believe this. He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. The guy was an interior decorator.” Christopher: “His house looked like shit.” It doesn’t get better than this.

03. College
Season 1, Episode 5
The one in which: Tony takes Meadow looking for colleges, while Carmela hangs out with the local priest.

This is the episode that really took the show to the next level. For some of the best writing, acting and directing of the series, look no further than ‘College’. The two stories mirror each other in a brilliant way. Carmella’s confession: “I think he has committed horrible acts”. To Tony confessing to Meadow that he is in organised crime: “Some of my money comes from illegal gambling and whatnot”. And then he brutally murders a man for breaking the omerta. Chase is an extremely smart guy. There are more confessions. Meadow tells Tony she took speed. And Carmela tells Tony Father Intintola has spent the night at the Soprano house while Tony was away. And then: “Your therapist called… Jennifer?” Tony confesses: “It’s just therapy. We just talk. That’s all.” Like Carmela and Father. No sex, just talking.

02. Long Term Parking
Season 5, episode 12
The one in which: Adriana gets killed for ratting out the Family.

A gut wrenching episode in which we have to say goodbye to another show regular. The final images in which Tony and Carmela inspect the ground of their new spec house, have a Godfather-like quality. The fallen leaves indicate it’s a place similar to where Adriana was killed moments earlier. Another sacrifice to pay for their decadent lifestyle. Their whole world is built on blood. “You’re alright?” Carmela asks Tony. “Me?” Tony replies. “Yeah. Absolutely”. Wow.

01. Funhouse
Season 2, episode 13
The one in which: Tony discovers through a series of fever dreams that his longtime friend and associate Big Pussy is a rat.

I now see that my favorite three episodes all have to do with rat extermination. Obviously, this is one of the central themes that The Sopranos used to create terrific drama and suspense. ‘Funhouse’ also brilliantly uses dreams to drive the plot forward, which makes this my favorite television episode of all time. When I first watched it, I just couldn’t believe it. I was hoping for a terrific episode to wrap up the season, like season 1 did with ‘I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano’. A conventional finale that neatly ties up the remaining storylines, although The Sopranos was never conventional. ‘Funhouse’ did something else entirely. By adding twenty minutes of dreamtime I got much closer to Twin Peaks than to the mob films it originally seemed to be based on. It does resolve the main remaining story – that Big Pussy is indeed ‘singing’ for the feds and needs to get whacked – but it does so in a brilliantly surprising way. By delving into the main character’s subconscious and making him realise the ugly truth his conscious self couldn’t accept. Michael Imperioli (who plays Christopher) has a theory about the episode he explains in the Talking Sopranos podcast. He believes Tony didn’t have food poisoning at all, but that it was the knowledge that he had to kill his friend that made him so sick. And killing his friend he does. The scene on the boat, of which the interior scenes were shot in a studio, is a dramatic highlight of the show. Brilliant acting by the cast, especially James Gandolfini and Vincent Pastore as Pussy. It’s ridiculous that season 2 didn’t win the major Emmy Awards that year, but they weren’t ready for The Sopranos yet. The show has been groundbreaking from the beginning and this episode really took it to another level again. Words are not sufficient to express how amazing this episode – or the whole show – is. It’s just incredible.

My Favorite TV Episode of All Time

You know that we do take-away.
We deliver too.
Open twenty-four hours, babe.
Just waiting on a call from you.

The Sopranos
Episode 26 – Funhouse (Season 2 Final)

Directed by
John Patterson

Written by
David Chase & Todd A. Kessler

Regular Cast
James Gandolfini … Tony Soprano
Lorraine Bracco … Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Edie Falco … Carmela soprano
Michael Imperioli … Christopher Moltisanti
Dominic Chianese … Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano
Vincent Pastore … Salvatore ‘Big Pussy’ Bonpensiero
Steven Van Zandt … Silvio Dante
Tony Sirico … Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri
Robert Iler … Anthony ‘A.J.’ Soprano
Jamie-Lynn Sigler … Meadow Soprano
Nancy Marchand … Livia Soprano

Guest Players
Jerry Adler … Herman ‘Hesh’ Rapkin
Federico Castelluccio … Furio Guinta
John Ventimiglia … Artie Bucco
Dan Grimaldi … Patsy Parisi
Frank Pellegrino … Frank Cubitoso
Robert Patrick … David Scatino
Louis Lombardi, Jr. … Skip Lipari
Matt Servitto … Agent Harris
Sofia Milos … Anna Lisa
Maureen Van Zandt … Gabriella Dante
Toni Kalem … Angie Bonpensiero
David Margulies … Neil Mink
Nicole Burdette … Barbara Giglione
Tom Aldredge … Hugh DeAngelis
Suzanne Shepherd … Mary DeAngelis
John Fiore … Gigi Cestone
Robert Lupone … Bruce Cusamano
Barbara Andres … Quintina
Sig Libowitz … Hillel
David Anzuelo … Flight Attendant
Kathleen Fasolino … Meadow’s friend
Ray Garvey … Airport Guard
David Healy … Vice Principal
Ajay Mehta … Sundeep Kumar
Jay Palit … Indian Man

Wrap Up
Tony is feeling pretty good, despite his mother busting his chops after Janice left. He solves it by giving her airline tickets of the Scatino bust-out, so she can go and visit an old aunt (aunt Quinn, the other miserabile). He’s earning good enough money with a prepaid phone card scheme to buy Carmela a mink coat and he’s not so depressed anymore. Another reason for Tony’s untroubled state-of-mind is the demise of Richie, ‘All my enemies are smoked’, Tony tells his crew optimistically during a diner. But it is too good to be true, his unconsciousness tries to tell him. He gets food poisoning the day after. And in a fever dream Silvio tells him, ‘our true enemy has yet to reveal himself’, in true Al Pacino style. Silvio is even wearing the maroon vest Pacino wore in The Godfather III.

Pussy’s not feeling so well. He has to give his phone card earnings straight to FBI Agent Skip Lipari. He didn’t get food poisoning though, even though he ate at the same restaurants; an Indian place and Artie Bucco’s. Tony suspects Artie’s shellfish, but when Artie calls Pussy they find out he doesn’t have any symptoms, while they had different courses at the Indian place. Tony starts dreaming again, about him at the boardwalks. First he dreams that he sets himself on fire in front of his friends because he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer (‘what if they’re wrong?’). Then he dreams that he shoots Paulie Walnuts during a card game. He discusses the meaning with Dr. Melfi in a dream therapy session, while he also talks about Pussy. ‘Pussy’ in multiple ways.

Tony knows something is not feeling right about Big Pussy. He also knows someone has to get whacked, because of the Paulie dream. In another dream sequence, a fish who looks and talks like Big Pussy tells Tony he has been working with the federal government. Tony still doesn’t want to believe it, but when he wakes up he knows what has to be done. A little later, Tony and Silvio come by Big Pussy’s house to pick him up to help them buy a boat. Tony, still sick, pretends to get another attack and goes into the upstairs bathroom. While Silvio keeps Big Pussy downstairs with Angie, drinking coffee, Tony searches the bedroom. He finds what he was looking for; wiring equipment and tapes. When Tony comes downstairs he says, ‘who’s ready to buy a boat?’

Paulie Walnuts is waiting by the boat and Pussy is getting nervous. The boat departs and when open water is reached, Pussy is taken below deck, where Tony confronts him with his betrayal. After denying it, Big Pussy has no choice but to confess. He knows his number is up. And after a last round of tequila with his friends, the inevitable happens, Tony, Paulie and Silvio shoot Pussy and he drops dead in the cabin. His body is placed in a bag with weights and entrusted to the Atlantic Ocean.

When Tony comes home, his mother calls to tell him that she is being held by airport security for the Scatino tickets. Not much later the FBI comes by with a warrant. Just when Tony is handcuffed, Meadow comes in with her friends, one day before her graduation. Luckily Tony gets off easy but he is still concerned. The season ends the way it started, with a montage of all the Soprano crew’s businesses, such as Barone Sanitation, the Jewish owned hotel, the phone card scam and David Scatino who’s divorced, broke and leaving town. The scene is scored by The Rolling Stones with ‘Thru and Thru’, an insanely great choice.

At Meadows graduation party the whole Soprano cast is present and it’s one big happy family again. Tony stands alone in the living room, smoking a cigar and reflecting on recent times. The final shot is from the ocean, where Pussy sleeps forever.

Why Great?
This final episode of the second season is extremely well written and directed. It is a powerful and surprising final episode that reminds of a Greek tragedy. Tony has to make his hardest decision yet. This is totally necessary in his leadership position, but he was also the one who loved Big Pussy most whose death is therefore a great loss for him. And for the viewer as well. Pussy’s passing and the dream sequences leading up to it are so far the most exciting and memorable moments of the Soprano saga.

When I first watched ‘Funhouse’, I just couldn’t believe it. I was hoping for a terrific episode to wrap up the season, like season 1 did with ‘I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano’. A conventional finale that neatly ties up the remaining storylines, although The Sopranos was never conventional. ‘Funhouse’ did something else entirely. By adding twenty minutes of dreamtime I got much closer to Twin Peaks than to the mob films it originally seemed to be based on. It does resolve the main remaining story – that Big Pussy is indeed ‘singing’ for the feds – but it does so in a brilliantly surprising way. By delving into the main character’s subconscious and making him realise the ugly truth his conscious self couldn’t accept.

Michael Imperioli (who plays Christopher) has a theory*1 about the episode. That Tony didn’t have food poisoning at all, but that it was the knowledge that he had to kill his friend that made him so sick. And killing his friend he does. The scene on the boat, of which the interior scenes were shot in a studio, is a dramatic highlight of the show. Brilliant acting by the cast, especially James Gandolfini and Vincent Pastore as Pussy. It’s ridiculous that season 2 didn’t win the major Emmy Awards that year, but they weren’t ready for The Sopranos yet. The show has been groundbreaking from the beginning, and this episode really took it to another level again.

Finest Moment: Pussy on the Brain
Tony is having fever dreams while suffering from bad food poisoning. All dreams have certain elements in common; danger, cancer (destruction from inside out) and Pussy. It all leads up to this final dream; the dream in which Pussy – in fish shape, but it really looks like Pussy! – reveals to Tony that he is working for the government. It is in moments like this that The Sopranos is at its most powerful; using a dream as a method to really push the plot forward. In the first season, when his mother wanted him whacked, Tony was in denial and started fantasising about a Madonna. But he didn’t acknowledge the truth until he heard his mother speak on the FBI tapes. Now, Tony has learned to listen to his subconscious. He has been having a strange feeling about Pussy for a long time and now he is open to the ultimate truth. When he wakes up he knows. The fish is also a brilliant find. In a macho gang like the Sopranos, it is considered unmanly to betray your friends. Therefore, it is Pussy – the guy with the feminine name – who’s a rat. There is also a pussy joke in there, pussy smells like… you get the picture. The reference is also to death, as in ‘sleeps with the fishes’, and it foreshadows Pussy’s ultimate resting place, the ocean. This dream is the perfect crossover between the series’ essentials; the mob and psychiatry.

*1 Talking Sopranos Podcast, episode 26 – Funhouse.

5 Unforgettable Twin Peaks 2017 Moments

The famous film critic J. Kleijngeld named Twin Peaksone of the 5 must see TV-shows before you die’. One of its many feats is predicting its return after 25 years. This highly anticipated moment happened last year (actually 26 years later, but let’s not nitpick). I finally saw the show on DVD and I’m very impressed. It captures the strange atmosphere of the original, while simultaneously creating something uniquely new.

The show was produced by Showtime who gave creators David Lynch and Mark Frost complete freedom, or so it seems. A wise decision. In 1991, we left the beloved main character Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) behind in Twin Peaks after learning he was possessed by demon Bob. So what comes next? Twin Peaks was never about the plot, but about the unsettling and darkly humorous experience. But the main driver of the story is this: there are now two Coopers. Bad Coop and Good Coop. Only one gets to live…

What were the defining moments of the new show for me? Here are five that I thought were brilliant:

1. Departing the Black Lodge (Episode 3)

After spending 25, or 26 years in the Black Lodge – where time has no meaning anyway – Good Coop can leave using no normals means of travel. It is hard to describe everything he goes through, but the highlight is his arrival on a cosmic tin box where a mysterious woman tells him: “When you get there, you will already be there.” This weirdness was too much for Loesje, so I watched the rest of the 18 one hour episodes by myself.

2. GOD (episode 6)
One of the most hard-hitting scenes I ever saw on television; the shocking death of a boy who is brutally hit by the car of typical Lynch villain Richard Horne. Witness is Harry Dean Stanton who sees the boy’s soul ascent to the heavens after which he exclaims: “God”. Then he comforts the devastated mother. Blessed is he.

Reminds me, Stanton recently departed himself, like quite a few other actors from the original Twin Peaks crew: Catherine E. Coulson (Margaret Lanterman aka The Log Lady), Miguel Ferrer (FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield) and Frank Silva (Bob). And off course David Bowie, whose character Phillip Jeffries makes a return as water boiler of some sort. Let’s hope Lynch and MacLachlan live for at least another 120 years, so there can be a few more sequels.

3. Weirdness Galore (Episode 8)

There are probably uncountable modes of consciousness and Lynch captures many of them in the episode Gotta Light? which has to be the most unconventional episode ever produced for mainstream television. It is without a doubt my favorite episode of the season, and even one of the greatest thing Lynch ever did. There is incredible camerawork in this episode, like the long floating shot over the ocean. Then there is the dreamlike atmosphere, the eerie sound design by Lynch himself, and plenty of deep dark mystery to uncover for the fans. Outstanding.

4. Gun Control (Episode 16)

Not sure if this is satire on America’s gun control issues, but it surely seems that way. Even Eastern European accountants carry around the most advanced semi-automatic weapons in the USA. This leads to this hilarious suburban shootout in which Tim Roth’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s assassins both get blown to pulp. “People are under a lot of stress, Bradley”, comments Mitchum brother Rodney. One of the funniest and most outrageous scenes of violence in recent memory.

5. Coop’s Back! (Episode 16)

It is well known that Lynch can hook you in while letting essentially nothing happen for long time spans. He takes this to the next level here by leaving his main character practically a vegetable till episode 16! When our favorite doughnut eating detective finally returns, we know it’s been worth the wait instantly. Bravo!