I often joke that my mind is like swiss cheese, i.e. lots of holes. I can barely remember anything from my childhood, and what I do remember is more like an incomplete photo album with half the snapshots missing. College and the rest of my 20s being only slightly better. So when I say I remember watching Twin Peaks when it first aired, what I really remember is one particular moment, and then the feelings that came with the rest.
When the pilot aired in April of 1990, I was just short of two months away from graduating the US Air Force Academy. I did watch some TV back then, I distinctly remember watching Star Trek: The Next Generation in our break room when it first aired, so I’m sure I would have watched or at least taped a show like Twin Peaks. Though maybe not. This is what it’s like to have a swiss cheese memory.
But I do know for sure that I watched season 2 in real time.
Because by Sept of 1990, I was a brand spanking new 2nd lieutenant on my first assignment, which was training for weather satellite operations in, of all places, Spokane, Washington. Right down the road from Twin Peaks. They rolled the dice and assigned me to NE Washington, can you believe it?
Now the way weather satellite ops works is you have a crew of 7 or 8 people on crew for a 12 hour shift, and the satellites pass over our antennas for about 15 minutes every one and a half hours. So there’s a lot of sitting around, playing Risk (which I got very good at) and cards (which I was already good at).
And we watched Twin Peaks.
Someone, not me, was responsible for recording the episode and bringing it in for mid shift. And as soon as the satellite “set”, we’d all run into the break room and hit play. We *obsessed* over it. Especially those little clips at the end for the next week’s episode. We’d pause the tape, play it out a bit more, pause again, just pouring over those little tidbits of what was to come and trying to decipher the clues. We’d keep talking about it the rest of the shift.
That is the feeling I remember. It was awesome. I was having the best time of my life, and Twin Peaks was a part of it. It will forever be locked in place for me as an integral part of that moment in time.
So I said there was also a moment. This would be the scene where Cooper and Harry pull over Leland, and he’s got his golf clubs and Maddy’s dead body in his trunk. Coop and Harry get distracted and Leland, standing behind them, hauls back with a gold club about to take a swing at one of the two of them. The girls, and probably even some of the guys, screamed. The scene is immediately defused and they send Leland on his way with a warning to drive safe. But oh man, we all had heart attacks. You can try to laugh it off nervously after something like that, but everyone knows you screamed, because they screamed too.
I don’t think that experience would have been the same sitting at home on the couch. Actually, I know it wouldn’t. I’ve always been a big fan of what I call “the movie experience”. It’s just not the same watching something, especially something you love, at home by yourself. When you can geek out with a bunch of people like you, all laughing, screaming and crying, together at the same moments, and then talk about it the rest of the night.. there’s just no replacement for that experience.
The closest I’ve come since then was Lost. We had season finale parties every year, a round table discussion at work the next day, and I had a really solid podcast I was listening to through most of it. That was great. For this Twin Peaks revival, as I’m told to call it, I’m hoping to bring that experience up a level. To become a more active participant in the social media aspect of it, and have that all night long discussion with a few hundred of my new closest friends.
So hey, thanks for being part of my experience..