Angela Cuming remembers watching Twin Peaks as a child, and the power cut that kept Laura Palmer’s killer a mystery.
I was only 10 years old when Twin Peaks – and the real world – found me.
Once a week, in the dark, I would sit on the sofa bed in Dad’s home office and, on an old television with bent rabbit ears, leave my suburban world for somewhere that I didn’t quite understand, but liked very much.
My father had died – a car crash, not his fault – and my universe was turned on its axis.
It was happenstance of David Lynch-style proportions that dad’s death came at the same time as Twin Peaks slow danced its way onto television. They say grief is just love that doesn’t have a home yet, so I poured my grief into watching Twin Peaks.
There was nothing else like it. It was light years ahead of anything else on television – or film for that matter. It had a curious mix of the violent murder of a high school beauty queen, quirky characters, sprinklings of outrageously funny dialogue, otherworldly visuals and soap-opera style subplots.
I was utterly transfixed by what I saw and heard. I remember that haunting theme song by Angelo Badalamenti (he won a Grammy for it). I fished under the couch for gold coins and caught a bus to the shops to buy the vinyl single of ‘Falling’ by Julee Cruise and would stand in the now-empty dining room, listening to it over and over again.
The sounds of the Twin Peaks universe have stayed with me too. The clicking of Audrey Horne’s high heels, the flick of a cigarette lighter, the roar of Jame Hurley’s motorbike, the midnight hooting of an owl.
I remember being mesmerised by how the show looked. I drank in the sweeping shots of pine forests, banks of autumn foliage (forever from then on my favourite season), the wood-panelling and open fires of The Great Northern Hotel, the crackling neon lights of the Bang Bang Bar. To this day when I come across a cafe that serves cherry pie, I will order a slice just to look at its golden and magenta gorgeousness.
My friend Michelle reminded me that I would go to school and talk about Twin Peaks incessantly in the playground. No one would know what the hell I was on about because no one else’s mum would let them watch it.
I was transfixed by the fashion – girls who wore plaid shirts and tweed skirts and leather brogues, boys who wore leather jackets and Levis jeans – and they all smoked and drank and listened to jazz music.
My god, what a world away from the Cold Chisel and Orange Fanta grind of my 10-year-old self. Like a clearing in the woods that offered a door to the Black and White Lodges, a television show had shown me, in the oddest of ways, that there was life out there and one day I would get to join it.
And I very nearly didn’t find out who killed Laura Palmer.
When the episode revealing the murderer aired in Australia, a thunderstorm hit my hometown and there was total blackout during the final, crucial 15 minutes of the show. Every television and VCR set to ‘record’ missed the big moment, as did I.
The next morning I literally ran down the street to the newsagent to grab copies of all the newspapers I could find, and mercifully found a review of the show that told all.
Was it weird that I was so young and so into such a ”grown up” show? Maybe. But Twin Peaks was, still is, art, and there’s no minimum age requirement for great art.
Twin Peaks showed me the great things people are capable of, things like love and friendship and honour and integrity. It taught me people can be terribly cruel, that evil really does exist, that there are some paths in life best left untrodden.
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Was Twin Peaks the greatest television show ever made? Of course it was, and there will never be anything like it ever again. Yes, there have been great shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, but forgive me when I say that I doubt they will be spoken about in hushed tones in 25 years from now the same way Twin Peaks is.
Pour yourself some damn good coffee and watch the original seasons of Twin Peaks on Lightbox
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