Skip to main content

A wrong has been made right, and the Sun is shining bright.

Twin Peaks
3.13: What is the story, Charlie?

(SPOILERS) After the relative wheel-spinning of the previous episode, What is the story, Charlie? makes up for it and then some, with hugely satisfying Evil Coop and Dougie Coop plotlines and several really nice little moments back in Peaks itself. Damn it, they’re making me care about characters I always found tiresome in the original!


Anthony Sinclair: Dougie saved my life. Thank you, Dougie.
Dougie-Coop: Thank Dougie.

I’m betting Tom Sizemore loves playing Anthony Sinclair. It’s so entirely against his type – “a weak fucking coward” as John Savage’s bent cop puts it – there’s an added enjoyment factor to seeing Sinclair break down and confess upon having Dougie-Coop massage his dandruff-coated shoulders. Dougie-Coop’s idiot savant ability to unknowingly bring about exactly the most positive solution is verging on the Clouseau-like (“I tried to poison Dougie, he saw right through me”), such that now even the crooked cops are implicated (while the incompetent ones, the Fusco brothers, manage to discard the evidence of who Coop is, in a mischievous Lynch dismissal of what he surely knows is the audience’s paramount desire to get our Coop back). And there are two helpings of cherry pie: Dougie’s and, prospectively, Becky’s.


I have to admit, I’m not so sure about Janey-E, since almost everything we see about her affection for Dougie-Coop suggests the shallowest of characters. She has an entirely oblivious husband with great abs who gives her wild orgasms and elicits confessions of “Oh Dougie, I love you so much” when she sets eyes on the amazing new sports car that’s been delivered courtesy of the Mitchum brothers. Who knows, maybe Lynch is making a wry commentary on the ideal husband, but Janey-E comes across as entirely materialistic (entirely likably so, though, thanks to Watts’ fantastic performance). But more to the point, which is better: Sunny Jim’s insanely-lit-up-like-the-Vegas-Strip gym set or Ray’s gang’s insanely-oversized monitor screen?


Bushnell Mullins: Dougie, you might want to call your wife?
Dougie-Coop: Wife?

So just when did that ball-tossing scene in the back garden take place last episode? Not between the Mitchums taking Dougie out to celebrate and his arriving at the office the next day – Robert Knepper doing the conga is priceless, whereas Belushi looks like he does it all time – that’s for sure (Lynch likely just doesn’t care with some of this stuff, like the auto incident of the previous episode involving Bobby not occurring on the same day as his finding his dad’s message and later relating that to Ed in the diner in this one).


Muddy: No one can beat him at arm wrestling. If you lose, Ranzo’s your boss.
Evil Coop: What’s this, kindergarten? Nursery school? What do I get if I win?
Muddy: You be our boss.
Evil Coop: I don’t want to be your boss. But if I win, I want him (points to Ray).

The hands-down sequence of the episode is Evil Coop’s visit to Ranzo (Derek Mears) and his gang, with the aim of settling a score with Ray. It pulls one of my favourite devices of putting you suddenly on the side of the bad guy, as Coop, outnumbered and roundly mocked over his chances of winning at arm-wrestling, and whacked on the back of the head (it was probably this act that sealed the boss’s fate), proceeds to entirely take the piss out of Ranzo’s macho bullshit.


Evil Coop: Starting position’s more comfortable.

Evil Coop’s succinct delivery here has a touch of the Dougie about it, and both have a stillness that contrasts effectively with those they come into contact with. I half expected Coop to pull a Jeff Goldblum in The Fly and bloodily snap Ranzo’s arm, but instead he merely breaks it and puts his nose through his skull.


Ray: He said that you’ve got something inside that they want.

It’s interesting how much this series is revolving around characters who can no longer make an live appearance. Bob, Major Briggs, and now Phillip Jeffries. I’m wondering if they’ll end up recasting Bowie, but give an unreal explanation for it. So Jeffries’ idea was to put the ring on Evil Coop and have him transported back to the Black Lodge… And isn’t it going to be a major let-down for Evil Coop when he learns the coordinates lead him back to Twin Peaks, somewhere he’s studiously avoided for a quarter of a century?


Other things to note of this scene: we get to connect the dots between Richard Horne and the bad crowd he’s in with (there seems to be online expectation of Richard being revealed as Evil Coop’s son, which I guess is possible, but even crueller of Lynch towards Audrey if so): the man in the corner (“Do you need any money?”): Jeffries is at the Dutchman’s (presumably flying, so in some place of limbo, outside of time?)


Big Ed: Good to see you, Walter.
Walter: What’s his name again?

Aw. I never much cared for Big Ed in the original Peaks, dismissing him in much the same way Albert did, but seeing the poor sap still forlorn, never catching a break, bereft without the love of his life, ending the episode nursing a cup-a-soup at Big Ed’s Gas Farm (the site of the convenience store with the smelly demon tramps?) is terribly sad.


The uber-soapy plot of Norma’s Double-R franchise is also a sign that Lynch and Frost are very much prepared to take the show on to another season should there be a greenlight – there are only five episodes left! – and it seems Showtime will be happy to wave them through if they’re willing. Walter (Grant Goodeve) is surely a new contender for most hissable tool, trying to undermine Norma’s natural, organic, made with love service with a smile. How dare he, and then have the audacity of asking her to dinner!


Nadine: Can I call you Dr Amp?

And is this romance between Dr Jacoby and Nadine? Or what approximates the stirrings of it, as he recalls seeing her seven years previously, looking for a potato on the floor of the supermarket. There was a big storm that day, apparently. Anyway, this one may not go anywhere, much like Dr Amp’s circular broadcasts (“Thanks to you, I’m starting to shovel myself out of the shit”)…


… and the TV show Sarah Palmer is watching on a seriously deranged alcoholic loop (“And now it’s a boxing match again”). Is this a very obvious comment on the perma-inebriated state, or is there something else going on, complete with signature Lynch electrical sound effects? Probably both. I kept expecting some really weird shit to transpire, the scene dripping with pregnant menace, but instead with get teased some more.


Audrey: I feel like I’m somewhere else. Have you ever had that feeling, Charlie?
Charlie: No.
Audrey: Like I’m somewhere else and I’m someone else. Have you ever felt like that?
Charlie: No, I always feel like myself. And it may not always be the best feeling.
Audrey: Well, I’m not sure who I am, but I’m not me.
Charlie: This is Existentialism 101.
Audrey: Oh, fuck you! I’m serious.


I wouldn’t say Audrey isn’t still acting the bitch this week, exactly, but she’s clearly got some screws missing which makes her a touch less unsympathetic. On the other hand, I found Clark Middleton hilariously deadpan as Charlie, and I’d like to see him interacting with more of the show’s iconic characters. Get him out and about. Audrey still wants the lowdown of his phone conversation with Tina, and she’s all conflicted about going to the Roadhouse. Most indecipherable is the end of their conversation, and the title of the episode:

Charlie: Wow, are you going to stop playing games, or do I have to end your story too?
Audrey: What story is that Charlie? Is it the story of the little girl, who lived down the lane? Is it?


Well, is it? Ed had me feeling for him, and so did old James Silk Hurley, hitting those impossibly high Smurf notes with an encore of Just You that Renee (Jessica Szohr) seems to think is just for her. At least, she’s responding that way. An episode so satisfying, Lynch even pulls off a solid toilet gag when Anthony disposes of his poisoned coffee (“That bad, huh?”). 3.13 gets five stars. It’s that good.










Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

I don't like bugs. You can't hear them, you can't see them and you can't feel them, then suddenly you're dead.

Blake's 7 2.7: Killer

Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week).
The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.

When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention.

Twin Peaks 1.5: The One-Armed Man
With the waves left in Albert’s wake subsiding (Gordon Cole, like Albert, is first encountered on the phone, and Coop apologises to Truman over the trouble the insulting forensics expert has caused; ”Harry, the last thing I want you to worry about while I’m here is some city slicker I brought into your town relieving himself upstream”), the series steps down a register for the first time. This is a less essential episode than those previously, concentrating on establishing on-going character and plot interactions at the expense of the strange and unusual. As such, it sets the tone for the rest of this short first season.

The first of 10 episodes penned by Robert Engels (who would co-script Fire Walk with Me with Lynch, and then reunite with him for On the Air), this also sees the first “star” director on the show in the form of Tim Hunter. Hunter is a director (like Michael Lehman) who hit the ground running but whose subsequent career has rather disapp…

An initiative test. How simply marvellous!

You Must Be Joking! (1965)
A time before a Michael Winner film was a de facto cinematic blot on the landscape is now scarcely conceivable. His output, post- (or thereabouts) Death Wish (“a pleasant romp”) is so roundly derided that it’s easy to forget that the once-and-only dining columnist and raconteur was once a bright (well…) young thing of the ‘60s, riding the wave of excitement (most likely highly cynically) and innovation in British cinema. His best-known efforts from this period are a series of movies with Oliver Reed – including the one with the elephant – and tend to represent the director in his pleasant romp period, before he attacked genres with all the precision and artistic integrity of a blunt penknife. You Must Be Joking! comes from that era, its director’s ninth feature, straddling the gap between Ealing and the Swinging ‘60s; coarser, cruder comedies would soon become the order of the day, the mild ribaldry of Carry On pitching into bawdy flesh-fests. You Must Be Joki…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Ain't nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There's nothing here to like.

Body of Lies (2008)
(SPOILERS) Sir Ridders stubs out his cigar in the CIA-assisted War on Terror, with predictably gormless results. Body of Lies' one saving grace is that it wasn't a hit, although that more reflects its membership of a burgeoning club where no degree of Hollywood propaganda on the "just fight" (with just a smidgeon enough doubt cast to make it seem balanced at a sideways glance) was persuading the public that they wanted the official fiction further fictionalised.

Well, who’s going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?

Enemy of the State (1998)
Enemy of the State is something of an anomaly; a quality conspiracy thriller borne not from any distinct political sensibility on the part of its makers but simple commercial instincts. Of course, the genre has proved highly successful over the years so it's easy to see why big name producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would have chased that particular gravy boat. Yet they did so for some time without success; by the time the movie was made, Simpson had passed away and Bruckheimer was flying solo. It might be the only major film in the latter's career that, despite the prerequisite gloss and stylish packaging, has something to say. More significant still, 15 years too late, the film's warnings are finally receiving recognition in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations.

In a piece for The Guardian earlier this year, John Patterson levelled the charge that Enemy was one of a number of Hollywood movies that have “been softening us up f…

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.

This is no time for puns! Even good ones.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)
Perhaps I've done DreamWorks Animation (SKG, Inc., etc.) a slight injustice. The studio has been content to run an assembly line of pop culture raiding, broad-brush properties and so-so sequels almost since its inception, but the cracks in their method have begun to show more overtly in recent years. They’ve been looking tired, and too many of their movies haven’t done the business they would have liked. Yet both their 2014 deliveries, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Mr. Peabody & Sherman, take their standard approach but manage to add something more. Dragon 2 has a lot of heart, which one couldn’t really say about Peabody (it’s more sincere elements feel grafted on, and largely unnecessary). Peabody, however, is witty, inventive and pacey, abounding with sight gags and clever asides while offering a time travel plotline that doesn’t talk down to its family audience.

I haven’t seen the The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, from which Mr. Peabody & Sh…