Show Review: Twin Peaks

 

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Though an older and widely known show, I’m still going to write a little review on the early 90s show Twin Peaks as I’ve just finished watching the last episode the other night. If you’re aware of David Lynch’s movies, you’ll somewhat know that his work tends to be very, for a lack of a polite word, weird. That’s definitely a big plus in my books though and not offsetting.Compared to some of his movies though, the bizarre aspect has been toned down. In that department, it is definitely not on par of something like Eraserhead. If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, quirky characters, seemingly unexplained paranormal events, and even cheesy soap opera dialogue then Twin Peaks is right up your alley.

In the sleepy mountain town of Twin Peaks, the community is rattled by the murder of home coming queen Laura Palmer. Suspecting a serial killer linked to another murder, FBI agent Dale Cooper rolls into town. After quickly concluding there is indeed a serial killer afoot, Dale works with the local sheriff and they begin an investigation by interviewing possible suspects linked to the murdered beauty. Little time passes before Dale realizes just how many peculiar characters inhabit this quiet little town. As if the quirky population in town isn’t enough, Dale begins to have bizarre dreams and visions that seem to give hints towards the killer’s identity.

Though the initial intrigue is the mystery of the original murder, Twin Peaks core focus seems to be on the characters and their individual tales. Even our protagonist Dale is a likeable eccentric with a tragic past. As more of the cast is introduced, it becomes clear that this seemingly uninteresting town has more than its share of secrets. Furthermore we learn how many of these colourful characters are connected to each other, unfortunately most of the time it’s due to an illicit reason. Drugs, affairs, shady business deals, prostitution, murder, coffee, and damn fine cherry pie are a few of the things that seem to keep Twin Peaks together. One thing almost everyone in town seems to have in common is that they all connected to the deceased Laura. A population where everyone has something to hide and knows the victim means Dale has his work cut out for him, and it also means the viewer will likely be guessing until the end.

Besides the wide array of odd characters, Twin Peaks does a wonderful job of setting both an eerie and uniquely odd tone. There are a few factors that contribute to the feeling the show conveys to the viewer. There are many paranormal events that happen throughout the show. A few characters have seemingly random visions from early on, Dale himself has bizarre dreams and visions throughout the entire show too. Sometimes a character’s dialogue (both actual and in paranormal events) seem to be fairly cryptic and don’t make much sense at times. Most of it gets explained near the finale of the show, but it will involve potentially another dimension, a demon or two, and more coffee and cherry pie. The show does use these things lightly though and sprinkles them throughout the episodes so it does not go all haywire for the viewer.

Another key piece to the overall atmosphere of Twin Peaks is the music. This kicks off right away with the recognizable introduction song. The song itself is used not only for the introduction, but in the show as well. This is usually around when some characters have some satirical soap opera style dialogue. The show also utilizes a lot of other synth music and atmospheric hums, but a fan favourite is definitely the cool jazz that plays from time to time. If the music isn’t enough to remind you that you’re watching a show from 1990 the videography will. Though I’m sure the cameras weren’t anything bad, the filming of the show does seem to reflect its age. However, this contributes to the overall feel of the show so it is definitely not a bad thing.

As the old organic theory goes, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This is the case with Twin Peaks. Many murder mystery shows are out there, plenty of paranormal activity shows too. A boat load of soap operas and even more shows from the 90s with synth music. Oddball characters and cryptic messages are nothing new to TV either. Granted it’s not for everyone, Twin peaks does a wonderful job of putting all these aspects together to build an extremely unique experience.

In addition to the two seasons, there is a movie called Fire Walk With Me. Though this should be watched only after the TV show as it contains major spoilers. The movie tends to be more bizarre than the show, but it is great background information to the original story. Just don’t go in expecting a longer than usual episode of Twin Peaks, but rather a David Lynch movie. In May 2017, 26 years after the cancelation of the show, Twin Peaks will be back on the air for a third (and last) season. So if you’re interested, get caught up and tune in!

 

Book Review: Ready Player One

If I ever were to dabble in reviewing novels or literature, you’d better believe it would most likely be related to comics or video games. While I admit I don’t read novels as often as I should, I did get a recommendation from a friend for this book and had a lot of time to kill on flights to Europe and back so I decided to pick up and copy and take it with me. Published in 2011, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a must read for those with the love of all things 80s, video games, virtual reality, and a story reminiscent of classic childhood adventure movies.

Set not too far into the future, most of the world has become a filthy place both in a literal and metaphorical sense. An energy crisis coupled with the decay of the environment has spurred a new era of poverty and near collapse of society. Most of the common populace live in stacks of old trailers that offer little refuge from the acres of garbage below. In terms of wealth, few are comfortable and even less are considered wealthy except a few. For many, the only escape is into the OASIS, a virtual reality and MMORPG which almost the whole world plays. The OASIS is not simply a game though, it’s an entire virtual world. The OASIS credits are valued more than real money, school systems have moved entirely into cyberspace, and many people spend 100% of their waking time in the OASIS. Upon his death, the creator of the OASIS let the world know that if anyone were to find a hidden Easter egg he placed within the virtual world, they would be heir to his vast fortune. And so, the greatest scavenger hunt the world has ever known began, and five years later there was no progress. That is until Wade Watts stumbled upon the very first clue and the adventure took flight.

This book is a fun read all together, especially if you’re old enough to remember growing up in the 80s. From beginning to end, this book packs a thrill ride loaded with nostalgia that would make even a bored reader think “Hey I remember that!” It’s jam packed with references and throwbacks to some of the best of 80s culture such as old school arcade and video games and classic TV and movies.

Cline also does a great job of creating the virtual world of the OASIS as well. Aspects of all sorts of video games are lumped into the digital world that most of the book takes place in. Just like today’s MMORPGs, our group of characters grow stronger and level up, upgrade their weapons and spaceships, travel across galaxies, send in-game video messages, and post to forums about the OASIS. He also does not shy away from detailing the VR experience from the outside. Cline creates tiers of VR systems to log in and experience the OASIS. From a basic VR headset with some simple haptic gloves for feedback, to the full blown upscale apartments dedicated to life in the OASIS complete with full haptic body suits and ceiling apparatuses that mimic all motions experienced in cyberspace.

The book itself is not an overly difficult read and does not try to be too vague or complex. Great for younger readers who are at the height of their fondness of video games but not too simple to bore more mature readers. The story isn’t overly prolific, and sometimes even slightly predictable or clichéd, yet still manages to be satisfying and keep readers wanting to flip the page. The adventure itself seems to be a throwback on its own as it heavily reminded me of child adventure movies like E.T., Stand by Me, The Goonies, or the more modern Stranger Things (which was set in the 80s of course). Though I wouldn’t say Ready Player One is a ground breaking prolific novel that can rival Shakespeare, I will still give the book great praise for its entertainment factor that many millennials (or even younger) will enjoy.

As a side note, Ready Player One is in production to become a movie in the near future and I’m more than excited to see Simon Pegg as a major character (though I don’t think he really fits the particular role). If you’re a fan of reading a book and comparing the on screen adaptation then get on this!