Twin Peaks – The Return: Hours Three and Four

NOTE TO READERSThese weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories.  Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR THREE:

“Do chocolate bunnies have anything to do with your heritage?”

Andy (Harry Goaz) asks Hawk (Michael Horse) this amongst the spread of old Laura Palmer files, donuts and coffee as he and Lucy try to help the Deputy Chief figure out what the Log Lady meant and what exactly is…missing? “It’s not about the bunny,” Hawk stoically muses, “Or is it is about the bunny?”

Earlier the third hour opened with more Red Room / Black Lodge / Limbo / WhateverAndWhereverTheHellItIs, which every nook and cranny could be described and it would still be as incomprehensible as the craziest dream with Lynch having evolved (or is it devolved?) these manipulated digital photography sequences into moving modern art installations…or, as my wife pointedly pondered, is that vast ocean Cooper looks out over in the opening moments where Lynch goes when he does Transcendental Meditation? Cooper does find his way out…and voila! he’s taken the place of some awwshucks schmuck named Dougie Jones in Las Vegas. Simultaneously the Evil Cooper vomits creamed corn and black poison while overturning his Lincoln outside of Buckhorn, South Dakota. The dazed Cooper in Las Vegas is then dropped off at a casino by his hooker-with-a-heart-of-oh-brother where he proceeds to light-up slot jackpots guided by images of that zig-zag floor topped with a flame over the machines.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia (YES!), Special Agent Tamara “Tammy” Preston (a chic and slinky Chrysta Bell) is giving Gordon Cole (old Lynch himself) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) the rundown on that nasty piece of business in New York City (where those two poor kids were indeed mauled to death by whatever came out of that glass box) only to be whisked away by a phone call from someone claiming to have in custody none other than the long lost…Agent Cooper!

Cue the closing Bang!Bang! Roadhouse song and credits.

HOUR FOUR:

“Holy Jumping George!”

And Gordon Cole is right. Hour Four is where this new Twin Peaks finds its groove. What was disjointed and weird in the first three hours congeals into a jazzy-funny-scary tour de force, most of the action this hour bouncing back and forth and forth from our continued re-entry into our hometown through Hawk, Lucy and Andy; Gordon, Albert, and Tammy’s trip to Blue Rose territory and the increasingly bizarre Buckhorn, South Dakota case (where the bad Coop is itching to be debriefed by Cole); and good Coop’s entry into Dougie Jones’ family life. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Two Hour Premiere

NOTE TO READERSThese weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories.  Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

“The Stars Turn and a Time Presents Itself”

The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) states this rather matter-of-factly to Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse), part of message for him to go find out in the woods that which has been missing…

Most of the premiere had a tense, occasionally obtuse, and brooding vibe – somewhere between the madness of Fire Walk with Me and the tone of Mulholland Drive. Three main story-lines (along with plenty other tangled threads) were set up for some vast cosmic and physical convergence: Agent Cooper being trapped in the Red Room (for 25 years!); an evil doppelgänger Cooper running amuck in the real-world whose days are numbered and is wanted back at the Black Lodge; and some key players in our beloved hometown gearing up for something.

The two hours both inch along and somehow fly by thanks to Lynch’s uncanny knack to make you feel as uncomfortable as hell knowing that at any moment a long, static shot with stilted actors doing not much of anything could turn into an absurd experimental horror show (witness the truly ghastly special-effects that harken back to Lynch’s art school days in Philadelphia and Eraserhead). I wanted some scenes to end so badly, while at the same time I didn’t want the experience to end. Continue reading

Life is very very Complicated and we’re ready for our Mirror, Mr. Lynch

Bob Cooper Mirror

Life is very, very complicated, and so films should be allowed to be, too. – David Lynch

David Lynch has been saying that the new “season” of Twin Peaks is really just an 18 hour film. And, Jeeze Louise, ain’t the world all kinds of fantastic complicated right now? What better time then for a complicated, complicated film that will last all summer long?

I can’t help but muse upon the context with which we are about to consume this 18 hours, where Bob-willing we’ll get lost in a place both wonderful and strange.

Lynch is a proud Eagle Scout, and his re-entry into the social consciousness couldn’t be more eerily timed as two other Boy Scouts (Comey and Mueller) play detective in an attempt to unearth just what in Sam Hell is going on in the White House these days. Is there a world in more need of Boy Scouts than the world of today?

Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be True. And most importantly…Be Prepared!

Lynch has historically had an uncanny mastery of tapping into…”something”…that may have been unbeknownst to him at the start of the project. What will he accidentally tap into here (what big fish has he caught)? What was it that was so special…so great…about the context in which Twin Peaks enthralled a nation and world over 25 years ago? What is different…or the same… about the context today in which Twin Peaks returns?

What was the original Twin Peaks if not the tale of a Patriarch (Leland Palmer – possessed by Bob) run amok – and a Boy Scout (Cooper) who solved the mystery about what made that mad man tick (but alas, did we ever learn how to make Bob stop)? Weren’t we all Laura Palmer – living under Killer Bob’s tyrannical reign and longing for a way out?

And don’t we all love a good mystery? Don’t we all desire to get lost in those woods again? Can’t you just smell those Douglas Firs? How cathartic does this return to Twin Peaks have the potential to be? What will it say about our shared fears…about the American soul…about aging…about dying…about life?

We all have our hopes up so high…but even if it fails to tap into some sense of what Makes America Great Again…at the very least, I hope this new mystery provides a most pleasant diversion to the turmoil we’ll be roiling in all summer long (and perhaps beyond).

As I immerse myself in this world again, I will try to only report – hour by hour – on what is seen, what is felt. I’ll try to keep politics out of it. But all great art is made greater in equal parts by the baggage both the maker and the viewer bring to it. And, oh brother, we have a lot of baggage to unpack. So Be Prepared!

Don’t let us down, Davy boy…we couldn’t be more ready for complicated if we tried.

And Don’t Forget to Follow the Hour by Hour Spin, Brave Boys and Girls!

The Mother of All Others and The Secret History of Twin Peaks

NOTE:  The Secret History of Twin Peaks is presented by the publisher in old-fashioned collector’s edition format. It truly is a beautifully rendered book from a purely physical standpoint. I took a picture below of the book and its dust jacket on the “David Lynch” floors of the house we purchased in June…purchased mainly because we instantly fell in love with those floors!

the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks

Content-wise, the book is built for fans. If you are a novice to Twin Peaks, this is not where you should start. Watch the original series, then read this for some twisted back-story that will shade the colors of your perspective on what you just watched.

And now for the review…

Late in the game of Mark Frost’s fevered construction, Doug Milford (a retired Man in Black?) reveals to his protegé (the author of the dossier being reviewed by an unidentified FBI agent who has presented this “book” to us) that all that spooky weird stuff going on up there in the woods had revealed to him the mother of all others. In a way, Twin Peaks was always about “the others” – the lost souls, the tormented demons both internal and external, the abused, the forgotten, the forlorn, the troubled teens, the Log Ladies…all those spirits whispering in the wind blowing through the sycamore trees and whose sad tales found equal release in the hoots of owls as they did in the sad-sack songs of dreary-eyed chanteuses at The Road House.

In demented fashion, Mark Frost, the co-creator of Twin Peaks (along with the more shamanistically revered David Lynch) has taken a comical character, Doug Milford – the supposedly dumb, rich brother of the town’s eternal mayor who falls victim to a comely little gold-digger played by Robyn Lively – from the marginalia of the series and puts him at center stage (or is it off-stage?) of human kind’s grandest conspiracy.   Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, Season Two of True Detective was Better than Season One

…but there is no Santa Claus.  If I’m gonna be controversial, might as well go whole hog.

Umm…obviously there are spoilers here, so if you didn’t watch all of Season Two yet, go watch it, and then come back and read and share your thoughts with The Spin.

True Detective Season 2 Highways

With the finale of True Detective’s Season Two now in the books, everyone is playing Monday morning quarterback.  Some, like Vox Culture’s marginally clueless Todd VanDerWerff, have gone as far as saying the whole season (finale included) was an utter disaster.  I have to ask what the hell he was watching?  While he does make a few fair points (that he then overstates), his point #3 that, “The plot was way, way too complicated” is utter hogwash.  Complaining that a noir detective series has a plot that is too complicated is like ordering a burger topped with a fried egg and complaining that the yolk got all over the meat.  The general consensus, however, is that it paled in comparison to Season One and for the most part (despite some intriguing individual sequences, like the shoot-out cluster-f*** or the much ballyhooed orgy party) was a mess.  Well, if it was a mess (and by some measures it was, especially in the early going), then it was one helluva entertaining mess: a sprawling, dark, lurid, occasionally brilliant, always fascinating, mess that was more twisted than the LA area highways crosscutting the seedy badlands (and fictional Vinci) where our characters lived and died.  Many complained throughout the season that the most intriguing character on the show was the LA highway system.  It was one of the characters, and like, hello, it was also symbolic. And, sure, the symbolism on the show hit ya with a sledgehammer sometimes.  But at least it had the brains to be symbolic.

Though it lacked the singular cohesion that director Cary Fukunaga brought the eight episodes of Season One, this new season still brought much of the same in tone and style (from the freaky opening credits done this time to the creepy Leonard Cohen dirge “Nervermind,” to the great music both in terms of score and Lera Lynn’s haunting bar tunes, to the stunning cinematography).  Sadly, “much of the same” is seemingly all most fans wanted, and even though creator, writer and producer Nic Pizzolatto made it very clear this was an anthology series where the seasons would all be stand alone self-contained stories with a fresh cast playing all new characters each time, people lamented the absence of Rust (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty (Woody Harrelson), whose chemistry, banter, philosophizing and ultimate bromance turned them into mythic pop culture characters.

Yes, here in Season Two we had more characters with more complications and a convoluted plot involving crooked cops, secret identities, repression, sex, politics, drug lords and cover-ups that made viewers work for the payoff.  And while the season started off confusing and meandering, all those twisted highways and plot points converged in a finale that brought everything to a rousing close.  Continue reading

We’re Talking Softball from Maine to San Diego…

…softball with Mattingly and Canseco…Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw…Steve Sax’s run -in with the law…we’re talking Homer…Ozzie and The Straw.

Simpsons Softball Episode

In honor of Opening Day 2015 I thought I would take a trip down memory lane.  As much as my yearly fantasy baseball league helps me stay in tune with the crop of current stars (Kershaw and Kluber – I bow down to yee…but you will never replace in my mind Greg Maddux or John Smoltz)…they’ll never compare to the memories of watching the stars of my youth…like those who appeared on the greatest episode of The Simpsons ever where Mr. Burns attempted to build an unbeatable softball team.  Ahh, I miss those halcyon days of steroids and other recreational drug use (cough cough Doc Gooden and The Straw)…of battery throwing (I still hate you JD Drew!) and Bash Brothers.

With a looming getaway to Chicago and tickets to this year’s July 4th game at Wrigley Field secured, I’ll be able to chalk another park off my bucket list.  Here’s a run down of my fields of dreams where I have spectated over the years (complete with slightly exaggerated “memories” and vignettes to accompany them)… Continue reading

The 87th Annual Academy Awards Predictions and Drinking Game

Oscars 2015

The 87th Annual Academy Awards aired Sunday Night, February 22nd, 2015.  Below were my predictions for the winners in the major categories.  The actual winners were filled in after the Oscars are announced.

PRE-SPIN:

For some reason last year I didn’t post my annual predictions and telecast commentary, nor do I even remember who hosted or much of the ceremony apart from the fact that 12 Years a Slave rightfully won Best Picture (a rare cosmic convergence of The Davies and Oscars).  I think I may have been flying up to Canada for work that Sunday night.

At any rate, after last year’s hiatus, The Spin on the Oscars is back!  Neil Patrick Harris is hosting, leaving me feeling uninspired for the ceremony to break from the norm.  Musical numbers.  A few gay jokes.  A few empty political references.

As far as the races, there’s actually a pretty good one for best picture – and if the Academy does their famous Picture/Director split, which way that goes (Boyhood or Birdman?) could also have downstream impact to Best Original Screenplay.

I might also try live Tweeting snarky or non-sensical remarks (most likely ten to fifteen minutes past relevance) during the telecast, so follow us on Twitter @schleicherspin or better yet follow @pattonoswalt as he’s way funnier than me at this stuff.

POST-SPIN:

  • Neil Patrick had a few good puns but was way too theater-ish for a dreadfully long broadcast begging for a comedian.
  • There were some genuine surprises amidst the predictable in major and minor categories (see below) but the Birdman flew highest showing yet again that the Academy loves to love themselves.
  • The funniest tweet of the night came from Patton Oswalt and wasn’t really about the Oscars at all but instead was a mind blowing suggestion that House of Cards might actually be Christopher Nolan’s version of Foghorn Leghorn – a thought I never dared to dream.  He later suggested that Matthew McConaughey had killed a railroad hobo for his hair (ha!)
  • I scored a subpar 15/24 in my family Oscar pool and lost out to my brother thanks to all the upsets.

And now check out The Spin on my Predictions and the Winners: Continue reading

Live from New York on Any Given Saturday Night

I’m a bit late to the game as the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special aired on NBC this past Sunday, but watching the three-hour trip down memory lane got me thinking between the laughs.  It’s amazing how much SNL has been and continues to be part of my routine.  I was still in single digits when I watched the early seasons rerun on Nick@Nite, and it was during the Farley heyday when the teen version of me became a committed live watcher.  The current season may be abysmal (only the absurdly funny “Wishin’ Boot” music video deserves repeat play), but the special reminded me how funny SNL can be and left me reminiscing about my favorite sketches over the years.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but more of an invitation for you, dear readers, to share your favorite SNL sketches.

SNL - Bag O Glass

As far as “one-and-done” stand-alone pieces, nothing in my mind tops “Consumer Report” where Dan Aykroyd plays a slimy toys salesman shucking new toys for the Christmas season, one of which is a literal bag of broken glass.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Eldorado (Series Finale)

Boardwalk Empire Blank Opening Title Card

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Eldorado

Season Five: Episode Eight (Series Finale)

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Howard Korder & Terence Winter

The Spin:

AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS:

Did anyone following the season’s arc really doubt it would end this way?  Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) may have made the claim to Nucky that “there is still graciousness in this world,” but like any great anti-hero tragedy…there is more likely justice.  And there are the damned and the damned.

And justice was served in the series finale.  Capone (Stephen Graham), who just when he was becoming a painful caricature yet again, has a heartfelt moment with his deaf son (yet again) and then laps up the limelight of his tax-evasion trial while tipping his hat in gentlemanly fashion to the fed that successfully infiltrated his gang.  Real men (even royal scumbags) know when to fight and know when they’re beat.

Meanwhile, Luciano (Vincent Piazza) is sitting comfortably atop his throne and orders a righteous hit on that vile piece of sweet talking human excrement Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), who finally gets what he deserves.  And in front of his blind blubbering followers, in public!  Oh, what sweet justice the lord hath wrought!

Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Friendless Child

Boardwalk Empire 5.7

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Friendless Child

Season Five: Episode Seven

Directed by:  Allen Coulter

Written by:  Howard Korder, Christine Chambers and Riccardo DiLoreto

The Spin:  Coulter masterminded his best Scorsese impression, harkening back to the style of the Marty helmed pilot, with montages and narration and a tick-tock-gun-shot-gavel-pounding score accentuating this written-by-committee penultimate episode.  It was a refreshing and impressive piece of workmanship coming off the jaw-dropping events of the previous episode and the scattershot nature of the season prior to this.

AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS:  The gang war between Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Nucky reaches a fever pitch that results in the nabbing of Ben Siegel (Michael Zegan) as a bargaining chip.  Luciano one-ups Nucky, however, by nabbing Eli’s eldest son (Ben Rosenfield) in return.  Continue reading