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Flashback Friday: Twin Peaks On Kid’s Shows

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Damn fine coffee! The owls are not what they seem! That gum you like is going to come back in style!

We’re going to do things a little differently this week in honor of the return of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to television. Being across the pond, I haven’t seen the new episodes yet but the reviews are giving me confidence that Lynch is still Lynch after all these years.

Some of you may have memories of watching Twin Peaks when it was on television when it aired from 1990-91. I did not, and neither did the adults in my immediate family, so I discovered the show as an adult with a completely blank slate. Somehow I had missed all the references to the show that popped up in all the entertainment marketed to kids in the 90’s. Which apparently, there was a lot of.

Sesame Street, “Twin Beaks” (1991)

In 1991, Cookie Monster travels to a small town in the North West to discover the mystery of why the town is called Twin Beaks. He meets David Finch, Laura, Log Bird, and eats a darn fine cherry pie.

Darkwing Duck, “Twin Beaks” (1991)

In this animated Disney cartoon, a gang of crime fighting ducks travels to Twin Beaks (yes, again). Someone gets tossed into the river wrapped in plastic and Launchpad talks to a log that tells him where to get pie and coffee.

The Simpsons (1995 + 1997)

The writer’s on the Simpsons actually parodied Twin Peaks twice. Once in their two-part mystery “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”…

And again with the episode “Lisa’s Sax”, where we flashback to a 1990 Homer.

For more background on how these references came to be worked in to the show, check out this recent Esquire article.

Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated, “Stand and Deliver” (2013)

This one aired well after I stopped watching children’s shows, and a few years before the reboot was announced. But it shows that the creators behind kid’s shows were still mining Twin Peaks for ideas well after the 90’s. The dancing man is even voiced by the original Twin Peaks actor, Michael J. Anderson.

Surprise!, 2013

If you’re an adult who managed to make it all the way to the end of this post, here’s a special music flashback just for you. Kyle McLachlan doing a Twin Peaks “Harlem Shake” video.

 

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  • vic rattlehead

    Oh man I forgot about this! I only have scattered thoughts.

    Shame Michael Ontkean isn’t returning.

    I wonder if the actor who played James has learned some facial expressions and vocal inflections in the past quarter century?

    I love Coop’s hand raise when he drinks his DAMN FINE COFFEE.

    I hope Coop and Audrey finally get together.

  • The children’s animated series Gravity Falls owes a lot to Twin Peaks. It’s less consciously strange – as a children’s series it needs to be more straightforward in its storytelling, not to mention actually coming to a coherent conclusion – but the core idea of a weird Northwestern town with lots of secrets and the supernatural lurking just beneath the surface is clearly Lynch-inspired, and towards the end of the show there are instances of Lovecraftian horror that are simply amazing given the target audience.

  • LeeEsq

    The Simpsons wasn’t strictly speaking a kids show by the time they put in the Twins Peak references.

    • I was wondering when someone would “WELL ACTUALLY” me on this one. No, not strictly a kids show but had to stay in that PG area to be palatable to all ages to watch together.

      • Hogan

        “You know, Fox turned into a hardcore sex channel so gradually, I didn’t even notice.”

  • kg

    Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated is an incredible show.

    • deptfordx

      The Annunaki. Wow, that is a different show from the 70’s era Hannah Barbera animation I remember.

      • LeeEsq

        Kid’s cartoons are a lot better than they were when I was growing up in the 1980s. I think anime had a great impact because it shows kids can handle things like continuity and deep issues or even more serious amounts of violence than traditionally allowed on kid’s television.

      • q-tip

        It was significantly smarter than the original, not that that was a high bar to clear.

  • Ramon A. Clef

    I thought I was the only one who remembered that Darkwing Ducj episode–no one else ever knows it when I mention it. It was particularly memorable for me for its additional subreference to Gary Larson’s “The Far Side,” which my roommates at the time did not get.

    • NewishLawyer

      That’s cause we had Darkwing Duck. Darkwing Ducj sounds like some Hungarian rip-off :)

      • Ramon A. Clef

        Damn my fat fingers!

    • dsidhe

      At least once a month I spend a few seconds annoyed that Disney never put out the rest of Darkwing Duck on DVD. Also, I just got a new DWD t-shirt and keychain, because my partner was apologizing for having gone insane over some vinyl toy line.

      I was much more fond of the Gary Larson references in DWD (Remember Bushroot’s colleagues?) than the Twin Peaks stuff.

  • John F

    I watched the first two episodes of the new Twin Peaks… and, let me get this out of the way:

    I wonder if the actor who played James has learned some facial expressions and vocal inflections in the past quarter century?

    No, no he hasn’t. Of course he’s far from the only one in the show with no facial expressions and vocal inflections- it’s so randomly pervasive I think it’s a result of Lynch’s direction/editing.

    Anyway, it’s full bore Eraserhead Universe weird. No generic “genre” labels fit this show, not even in combination- Police Procedural? no, Horror? not really, Science Fiction? Maybe, can’t be ruled out, Black Comedy? Not really… Fantasy? Not as commonly applied… Magical Realism? Hell no, Supernatural/Paranormal? By default, maybe….

    Lynchian?
    Lovecraftian by way of Lynch?
    Psychotic Episodic?

    • q-tip

      Did James have any lines in Season 3 (yet)? I thought he just stood there looking sad for 90 seconds. He may surprise us yet. (Yeah, unlikely.)

      He’s actually an example of something I’m diggin about the new episodes: highlighting the ravages of time. James looks pretty wrecked — apparently the actor who plays him has had a hard time recently, too. See also: Log Lady, Laura, Andy. Hawk is a silver fox, of course. They’re doing something weird with Cooper’s face, but I imagine that 25 years in an extra dimensional space is easy on the skin.

      • John F

        he just stood there looking sad

        Is that what that expression was supposed to be? I was thinking “vacant”…

        • Hogan

          You never go full Keanu.

  • Moravagine

    I am prepared to watch Twin Peaks, and maybe even like it, but…David Lynch is just not a very good or interesting filmmaker. I knew frat boys who adored his work which may explain my inability to be interested by his movies. But I just can’t.
    *hunches as the fruit begins to fly*

    • q-tip

      Curious: Do you find them uninteresting as in boring? Or as in cliched, derivative, uninspired, and so on?

      The first I can grok completely. I fell asleep during Inland Empire. I don’t get the second, but I’m sure there are ______ enthusiasts who think he’s basically as crassly commercial as Michael Bay. (Some true cinemaphile needs to fill in the blank there with some director I’ve never heard of.) Or maybe pretentious but empty like, say, Matthew Barney (not my take on Barney).

      From the episodes aired so far, I think Lynch is using really interesting visual and sound techniques in this series, and using them in what seems to be a very intentional way. It doesn’t feel lazy in its weirdness. For me, that makes it much more fun — and easier — to watch than some of his other post-Peaks stuff.

      • John F

        Or as in cliched, derivative, uninspired, and so on?

        At times… it seems he’s either evoking himself or… I dunno, those scenes with the glass box was making me think of American Horror story: Hotel for some reason.

        there were some bits that seemed like they could be from a Coen Brothers movie, and some that, well could only be from a David Lynch movie (or a mid-90s Tool video)

      • Moravagine

        More the latter, I guess. Going through the motions of being avant-garde but without anything at the center to justify. I sat through Blue Velvet twice, its funny and weird, but with a kind of deliberate ha ha look how affectless that doesn’t pay off with any kind of deeper purpose. I couldn’t get through the videotape one. Was that inland empire? Same problem. I made through old guy on a tractor and could see that he has some actual knowledge of how to make a film (I know that was not a typical lynch film which is probably why it was not painful), but even though I’m fine with most of the genres he lifts from I don’t find anything interesting about the movies that I’ve seen that he makes.
        I mean I’m not against weird for weirdness’ sake; I’ve deliberately watched Jon moritsugu films and tetsuo the iron man. Lynch just leaves me cold.

        • Moravagine

          Had forgotten Dune, which I did actually like but coming from the book not watching because of him. See below.

      • nixnutz

        The New York scenes definitely brought Barney to mind but my experience with him was that after seeing Cremaster 3 I went home and watched Stalker and after seeing the big Guggenheim show I watched Lessons of Darkness, the retrospective did win me over to him on some level but as a filmmaker he’s a pretty interesting sculptor.

        I’ve always liked Lynch but Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, and Eraserhead in a different way, are a couple tiers above everything else. The new episodes seem so far like a best-case, partly a return to form while making the style of the newer stuff more rewarding. I also expect it to be frustrating and flat-out bad in parts, but his best work is that as well.

        On thing I’ll say is I’ve liked weird art film from a young age, I think I saw Resnais’ Providence a few years before anything by Lynch, but I never really invested a lot of energy into trying to understand it. I don’t think I’m real deep or anything but that style just pleases me.

    • John F

      One of the greatest movie reviews I’ve ever read was Tarantino’s take on Fire Walk With Me:

      “After I saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me at Cannes, David Lynch had disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him. I loved him.”

      • q-tip

        Like QT doesn't know the inside of his own ass as well as he knows the layout of the jewelry store in Rififi. (I think that diving enthusiastically into their respective aesthetic caverns has served both directors well overall, actually!)

      • Fire Walk With Me is better than any movie Tarantino ever directed.

        • brad

          Yep.
          It aged so fucking well, and Fenn’s performance in that is… impossibly amazing. Especially considering she’s 30something playing someone under 18.

    • Cheap Wino

      Agreed. I loved Twin Peaks, watched it religiously when it first aired and still think it’s super television. But Lynch as a filmmaker is wildly overrated, imo. Give me quirky and weird films any day — I enjoy the gamut from Being There to Being John Malkovich, Wes Anderson to Jim Jarmusch. Yet everything from Eraserhead to more conventional work like Wild at Heart or Mulholland Drive all come across to me as tediously bizarre. Bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. Yawn.

      • John F

        Dune (aka what happens if studio give Lynch summer blockbuster money…) is actually a very interesting movie visually, but the repetitive use of voice-overs (inner thoughts) in almost every scene as a means of exposition dumping was godawful-

        I re-watched it about a year ago, and my sense was that Lynch was TRYING to convey a conventional narrative- and literally didn’t know how to do it, my guess is he was thinking, “I need to convey to the audience what the meaning of what is going on” Ordinarily Lynch doesn’t do that, he lets his audience watch and flounder- but in Dune he goes waaay too far in the opposite direction, he let’s you hear what the characters are thinking about things, so you get scenes where several characters meet and stand around awkwardly while the scene shifts from one inner monologue to another, the movie starts working when he stops that and lets the characters interact and talk with eachother…

        • Moravagine

          It’s because he cut hours of story. I’d forgotten he made Dune. As a fan of the book I find his film not at all bad and visually arresting. Even Sting is relatively unsung (or cast in a role where his smugness is narratively appropriate rather than just being a smug prick naturally)but the longer cut is much better because it has time for story to develop. And there’s a LOT of backstory to cram into Dune.

          • CP

            It’s because he cut hours of story.

            Yeah. Is there any producer who could’ve made a satisfying “Dune: The Two Hour Movie”? The book isn’t even necessarily that long, but it’s very densely packed with information and world-building.

            ETA: I actually saw the movie first and just kind of shrugged (“eh, fun for a couple of hours, but basically looks like low-budget Star Wars”). Seeing the 2000 miniseries later is what actually made me interested enough in the universe to check out the book.

            • Moravagine

              I doubt it could be done in 2 hours. The long cut (varying stories had this at 4 or 6 hours but when I saw it I think it was just 3) is significantly better and has now been released. I spent the 90s pining for it and the damn thing came on SyFy before it was called that awful name one night I was at my childhood home and just wrecked all plans. It’s still too short but much better.
              Never saw the miniseries, and not sure I would want to anymore as the 6 Herbert books were pretty great and conclusive (*cough cough Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson). Though I did spend HOURS on that mid-90s PC game.

    • Hogan

      [The Elephant Man has just started on the teevee; we’re about 45 seconds into the opening credits.]

      One-time GF: “Is this a David Lynch movie?”

      Me: “Yes.”

      OTGF: “I knew it! His movies always make me sick to my stomach.”

      • John F

        I always thought that movie was the real outlier among his films- it is a good CONVENTIONAL story.

    • brad

      Yeah, if there’s a natural fan base for David Lynch, it’s fratboys.

      People, you don’t have to enjoy him, but come on. Be adults.

      • The Great God Pan

        Yeah, that seemed…unusual. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe they liked to quote Frank Booth on Pabst Blue Ribbon?

        • brad

          Maybe. People unironically quote “greed is good” from Wall Street all the time. I could see a particularly thick fratboy thinking Blue Velvet was about tits and Hopper being a bad ass, if he was drunk enough while watching it.

      • Moravagine

        Yeah I guess you’re right. Your plausibility standards outweigh my actual experience of meeting frat boys who loved his work. My mistake, oh arbiter of the real.

        • brad

          And I came to Pavement years late because I let their fans keep me away. Which was my mistake.
          I’m not denying your tiny sample size, I’m saying you’re letting assholes decide things for you, and that’s a stupid thing to do.

          • I feel this way about the Grateful Dead, although I did see them in 95.

            • nixnutz

              Are you talking about deadheads or fratboys? Because that period around ’88 or so when fratboys started listening to the Dead and deadheads started going to Butthole Surfers shows was a real cultural head-scratcher for me.

          • Moravagine

            I also copped to having watched lynch films and finding them unsatisfying. He’s just not very smart, I think. Or at least not smart in a way I appreciate. And your obvious enthusiasm isn’t really going to change that. Pavement, though, we can agree on.

            • brad

              That dismissal is why I’m prickly and reject your position. You don’t have to like his work, that’s absolutely entirely up to you. But to dismiss what doesn’t speak to you that way is crude, wrong, and doesn’t speak well of you.
              You want everything to make some sort of sense, I would expect. For there to be a logic, a reason, a plan. But art does not depend on those things, film is not a thesis.

              • Moravagine

                Of FFS dude. Weren’t you the one requesting adulting who’s now mansplaining how art is required to work for all? You know nothing about my expectations for art and having experienced how you convince yourself you do I expect to keep it that way.
                Loomis I saw the Dead in 95 as well. I liked them, have been listening again after a long hiatus, and I still only do it in private with a palpable feeling of embarrassmemt. No doubt that speaks ill of me. Woe is me.

                • brad

                  I read what you said above about what you think of his work, and inferred from it some very common criticisms of his work. If you want to justify calling him not smart and weird for the sake of weird emptiness that appeals to frat boys, then go ahead. But that’s wrong.
                  It’s fine that it’s not for you. But you’re the one calling it worthless, you’re the one trying to define what is or isn’t art.

                • Moravagine

                  In art there are no right answers. I explained why in my critical judgment his art fails. I don’t really care whether or not there is work that falls outside the category “art” but if you do and only successful art is “art” then carry on. I am not supervising a canon in the comments thread.

                • brad

                  And if you’ve never met anyone who appreciates David Lynch whose opinion you respect then you’ve lived an odd life. I find Von Trier’s work to mostly be shallow and trite and artificial. But I’ve also seen his films make someone I love weep. So I don’t dismiss him as a filmmaker, despite my own experience of his work. Of course it doesn’t matter in the least that you’re being arrogantly categorical in how you privilege your taste, but why would that mean I can’t respond?

                • Moravagine

                  Are those goalposts you’re moving heavy?

                • brad

                  It’s almost as if by being an adult I meant, in part, not dismissing something you don’t like simply because you personally don’t like it.

                • Moravagine

                  Almost. Then you kept going and adulthood as I understand it also went.
                  Nothing you have argued constitutes a critique of Lynch that offers counterpoint to mine. Instead it appears I am to pay him respect because others do and therefore I must not dismiss him. Does that hold for Michael Bay as well? Criticism by ideology isn’t always dumb but that particular instruction is.
                  I can dislike who I dislike without thereby denigrating the taste of others who do not dislike or even actively like the work I don’t. The discourse about those disagreements is pretty much why more art happens.
                  Please, though, tell me more about the arrogant privileging I am doing by saying so. I’m not going to continue responding because I and you have other real life things to do, but feel free to explain.

                • brad

                  I don’t need to defend Lynch, or argue the superiority of one set of tastes over another, which is kinda my point. To summon up Michael Bay only reinforces that you want to dismiss Lynch as a hack, which means you’re snidely dismissing those who take genuine enjoyment in his work. If you want reason to take him seriously, look at the impact he has had on popular culture despite his willful inaccessibility. When you wave your hands and say “fratboys wanna think they’re smart”, expect a little pushback.
                  Enjoy the sunshine, I will too.

  • PohranicniStraze

    Before my kids started watching it, I had forgotten how awesome Sesame Street is. Some of the Cookie Monster movie parodies are hilarious.

    • John Revolta

      “Welcome to Monsterpiece Theater. I am your host- Alistair Cookie.”

  • Harkov311

    There’s also a possible oblique reference in the computer game Day of the Tentacle:

    (Spoilers ahead for the game, obviously)

    When you wake up the extremely asleep Dr Fred using the coffee, he literally bounces around the room, before calming down and simply stating “Damn good coffee!”

    • Moravagine

      Day of the tentacle is a damn. Good. Game. Maybe the best game. Splorp! Splorp!

    • I just replayed that recently (via the remastered edition that came out some time ago). Great game, and it was updated very nicely. Some of those puzzles are ridiculous though. The car-washing puzzle in particular deserves a place in the rankings of bullshit adventure game solutions. But if you’re willing to keep a walkthrough on hand and resort to it when you’re totally stuck it’s a very fun experience.

      • Moravagine

        Back in those days of no Internet, I actually on occasion called the 1-900 tip line to get past a few puzzles that were cruelly, illogically, convoluted. I’m not proud, but I did. Once even for that Virgin Games Bond.
        *hangs head in shame*

  • Moravagine

    OT but has anyone on the thread ever read AA Attanasio’s Radix Tetralogy? Been thinking about it lately, and it has some similarities of scale to Dune and now I’m just curious if anyone else recalls it, or if I dreamt it

  • brad

    I never thought I’d see people complaining about an artist being too weird here. Bit disappointing, really.

    The new Twin Peaks are fucking mindblowing. I love it too much, nothing that’s a return is supposed to be this good. But it is. And there’s 14 more fucking hours of it to go. I genuinely had a few tears of joy at the abstract freedom Lynch took. And there’s three scenes that are funnier than anything I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  • FWIW, Camper Van Beethoven has a song, “That Gum You Like Is Back In Style” on New Roman Times

  • The Temporary Name

    I saw the original pilot at a film festival, and I laughed when it became obvious that so much was being introduced that there was no way to get a handle on what would come of it. It was a pleasure overhearing people offer their theories about who done it.

  • anonymouse

    0In this animated Disney cartoon, a gang of crime fighting ducks travels to Twin Beaks

    Darkwing and Launchpad are ducks. Gosling is obviously a goose. Her friend, who’s name I’ve forgotten, lacks a bill and so obviously isn’t a duck. You should have written that they are a gang of crime-fighting birds.

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