Pod People: Bickering Peaks

Podcasts made up a huge part of many fans’ experiences of Twin Peaks: The Return last summer. In our latest feature, Pod People, we talk to the people behind the microphones of our favourite podcasts to find out what they’ve been up to and where they’re going next.

In preparation for Season 3 I rewatched the original series once again, but this time accompanied by three trusty podcasts as my stalwart companions. The journey was made that much richer and rewarding, and, even after 25 years of watching, Aidan and Lindsay of Bickering Peaks always managed to make me think, to see things in a slightly different light, and to spark my imagination all over again. There was nowhere near enough bickering though. 

25YL: What were your earliest introductions to Twin Peaks?

Lindsay: My introduction was way back in the summer of 1990 when the show was in hiatus but was being replayed on one of the national channels here in Canada — CBC or CTV or something. I remember it was a weekend night, and it was hot out and I couldn’t sleep because the sun was still up, so I snuck out of my bedroom and went into the living room to watch what my parents were watching on TV. And they were watching Twin Peaks. It was the episode with the dream sequence. I was behind the couch, on my belly, resting my head on the hardwood floor as I watched this bizarre and terrifying sequence. And my parents had no idea I was there. I had some sense of “I’ll get in trouble if I run back to bed right now or scream” because I was really scared. I just internalised it I guess, to the point where I couldn’t handle films with Kyle MacLachlan for years and years because he was in that scene I’d watched. Looking back it was really probably inappropriate, but I can’t blame my parents for it — I think more than anything it says something about me that I was scared witless and still went back for more.

Aidan: Mine came directly from Lindsay. I walked into her parents’ living room one day while we were visiting, and there was this bizarre scene of a man who’d clearly just been shot talking to an old waiter about milk getting cold. I had no idea what it was, and frankly I wasn’t that interested. It wasn’t until Lindsay had watched the entire Gold Box DVD set in a week —

Lindsay: It was Spring Break 2010. It’s not like I was slacking off from work…

Aidan: It was after that not-slacking time that I thought maybe this was something worth watching. Shortly thereafter we watched the Pilot together, and I was hooked.

25YL: What originally made you want to start a podcast, and was Twin Peaks the only option?

Aidan: As I remember, we were just sitting there listening to someone else’s podcast – perhaps Diane, perhaps Counter Esperanto, can’t recall – and Lindsay was complaining about how excited she was for The Return and how she needed some way to channel it. So I said, “Wanna record a podcast of our own?” and her eyes lit up and that was it.

Lindsay: No, it wasn’t like that at all. I was the one who brought it up…

Aidan: Nope. 100% wrong. But I can see why you’d want to take credit. You do all the work for the podcast after all. Why don’t you share your 100% wrong interpretation of historical facts.

Lindsay: Thanks, I will — I had never wanted to do a podcast ever about anything before, but after The Secret History of Twin Peaks came out I wanted to know what other people were thinking about it. So I sought out podcasts. Aidan is partly right though — the very first one I ever listened to was The Red Room Podcast, and from there it was a quick step to Counter Esperanto, and then to Diane. Pretty soon I was texting Aidan like “We should do a podcast.” Literally it was because all of these other pods we were listening to sounded like they were having so much fun, and Aidan and I were already doing this about TV shows and movies we liked, so we thought why not?

Aidan: Did we want to do any other shows? I can’t remember any.

Lindsay: I don’t think we’d have considering podcasts for any other show, but now that we’ve done Twin Peaks of course our minds are running — we’d love to do a podcast about all our favourite shows that were cancelled too soon, like Freaks and Geeks and Firefly, maybe exploit the local connection and get Nathan Fillion to do a guest appearance the next time he’s in town. But honestly it was just spur-of-the-moment, and I don’t think we’ve considered doing a non-Twin Peaks podcast since – it’s probably the only thing (book, series, movie, etc.) that we could agree on watching all the time. Well, maybe West Wing one day, but that show’s a little too smart for the two of us I think.

25YL: Lindsay, you were a long-time fan so your original podcast run was just another rewatch for you. How did having a mostly first-time viewer in Aidan change your experience and perceptions of the original series?

Lindsay: Okay, so, the thing about Aidan is that being married to him is like the Argument Clinic sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus but in a good way. I always always approach any debate with him as if I already know all the answers and that I’m right (obviously!) but that he’s going to push back just to be contrary…

Aidan: This is a complete lie and you are wrong.

Lindsay: …so I steel myself to be contradicted. But he does it in the best possible way, because he wants to challenge me and make me think and he wants me to do the same for him, I think. So, he’d seen the entire series maybe once before all the way through and here I was, this hotshot superfan who’d watched everything a dozen times or whatever it was and of course I knew everything, so I thought I knew what the dynamic would be once we switched the mic on. But now I often find myself listening to him, expecting to disagree with him, and then he turns a corner and says something profoundly inspiring that I’d never considered before, and it’s like “Oh, of course that’s why that happened! It makes so much sense!”

Aidan: This is completely true.

Lindsay: We hadn’t really talked about Twin Peaks before in any kind of depth so it was really the first time I’d heard his thoughts about some of the things we were talking about. But that’s Aidan — he’s this brilliant guy and even after 15 years together he still manages to surprise me.

Aidan: This is mostly a lie. A fact you remind me of every time I recommend Die Hard as our first Christmas movie.

Lindsay: *groan*

25YL: Aidan, how did watching and podcasting about the original series contrast with your expectations and previous opinion on Twin Peaks?

Aidan: It definitely illuminated a few things, but more often brought the things I’d already found and believed into tighter focus. Was James distinctly un-cool? Yes. Was the ending the best cliffhanger I can imagine? Yes. Was Audrey-Cooper the dream couple one-true-pairing for all time? No. I think more importantly, it drove me to do a bit more of the hardcore fan thing Lindsay had already been doing for seven or eight years. I read the books. I read up on the production history. I watched for the little clues that helped tell the story or perhaps explain some of the mythos. It was far more rewarding on this second (or maybe third, I can’t remember) rewatch, and of course sharing that with Lindsay was a big part of the joy.

25YL: Did you notice a marked increase in listeners and listener interaction in the run-up to, and during The Return?

Aidan: Oh yeah.

Lindsay: Big time.

Aidan: Our numbers grew every week we got closer to The Return, and then they went through the roof of our expectations as The Return actually aired.

Lindsay: I don’t recall exact numbers or anything but our listenership skyrocketed by like a factor of 20 or something. I remember thinking it was a glitch in the website. We had done this run up to the premiere with ‘Fire Week With Us’ in which we broke down Fire Walk With Me and had an intense five episodes released the week before the premiere, and we’d had solid returns in terms of listeners. But our Parts 1 & 2 episode was like an order of magnitude greater in terms of pure number of listens. Like, people were actually listening to us? Really?

Aidan: I remember seeing the response to some portions, like Part 8, where people were just desperate for an interpretation, any interpretation, and we saw a ton of engagement and theory-sharing, it was great.

Lindsay: Our social media was also blowing up. It was bananas. We went from starting our Twitter presence in early January to having 1000 followers by the premiere 5 months later. It took me 9 years on Twitter to get 1000 followers on my personal account. Mind-blowing stuff.

25YL: How did you find the experience of podcasting after each episode during The Return in comparison to rewatching the original series?

Aidan: Definitely more stressful, but also exhilarating–

Lindsay: Exhilarating and exhausting.

Aidan: –because the reactions were raw and real and they captured that sense of not having any idea what was coming. I’ve listened to a few episodes we recorded over that period, and some of the tangents and wild theories we came up with sound stupid as heck now, but it’s great that we captured that and will always be able to, in some way, return to that feeling and those emotions.

Lindsay: But it was different too. For the original series we were watching and recording willy nilly; we’d always have like three or four episodes in the queue, so there was no rush to edit or anything. We had so much time. It was ridiculous, compared to The Return. We would typically watch the Part on Sunday night and we wouldn’t take notes or anything. It was on early enough in our time zone that we could watch it and then have time to really wrap ourselves in the post-show breakdown on Twitter and revel in the mystery with other fans. I’d always seek out Joel Bocko’s hot take on his site, and maybe take a peek at what some of the big TV writers were saying about it. Then we’d go to work on Monday and come home to watch it one more time before locking ourselves in our office to record the episode. Then one of us would spend the rest of the night editing, and we’d release the episode on Tuesday morning. It was bonkers. Then we also spent five weeks in Paris through July and part of August, so in between sightseeing we were also getting up at 2am to stream Twin Peaks and then struggling to fall back to sleep and then rewatching it Monday morning and recording and editing it to have it up for listeners on Tuesday in our normal timezone.

Aidan: Yeah. Exhausting.

25YL: Were you satisfied with The Return both from the perception of having waited many years for it in Lindsay’s case, and having just watched the original series for the first time in Aidan’s?

Aidan: I was definitely satisfied.

Lindsay: I absolutely was. Of course the ending was gut-wrenching. We staggered to a pub down the road, just absolutely gutted, looking at all the normal, happy people around us and wondering if we’d ever feel anything like that ever again, because the pain of that ending was too much to bear. But with distance I know I’ve come to a place where I can see that this is exactly the story that needed to be told. And I think the beauty of it is that, in my view, the story has been expanded and complicated in a really beautiful way and that’s a place where I can live for the next 25 years if I need to. I would have hated to have a closed ending. That’s the only expectation I had for the new season. And it delivered. I’m brilliantly happy with The Return.

Aidan: I think re-watching the series helped build that momentum a lot, but honestly The Return stands on its own. It’s not my favourite part of Twin Peaks – that’s still Fire Walk With Me – but it is an amazing piece of art that really pushed a lot of boundaries.

25YL: Do you find fans are still very much engaging with you a year out from the premiere of The Return?

Aidan: I’ll let Lindsay answer that, since she’s the one who does all the engagement stuff on our behalf.

Lindsay: Yeah, if you’re a follower on social media, 90% of the time it’s me doing that. You can tell it’s Aidan when he says smart stuff.

Aidan: I’m also a serial “liker” without ever actually replying to anyone, FYI.

Lindsay: But yeah, there’s a core group of people who are still engaging and seeking answers to their questions, and that’s a fun thing to be a part of. I saw someone quoting something that we’d said in one of our podcast episodes once, and it floored me to imagine that something we’d said had had an impact, that people listened to us and absorbed it and then told someone else. Very unexpected. I think it was Mr. Podcast himself, John Bernardy, who told me that our podcast is going to be a part of a lot of fans’ memories of the summer of 2017 and the return of Twin Peaks, and that really struck home for me. We started the podcast to have a conversation that we were already going to be having but to put ourselves in front of a microphone while we had it, and to include others in it, and we had no expectations for what would happen next. It’s been a beautiful dream.

25YL: Do you have differing opinions on your favourite season of Twin Peaks?

Aidan: Yup. I think The Return surpasses Season 1, and Season 2 doesn’t really count. As I mentioned FWWM is still my favourite piece of the world of Twin Peaks, but The Return did a long-form story better than the original series, in my opinion, the ending is the great payoff for that.

Lindsay: I love Season 1. I think it’s this perfect, succinct little package and everything gels and it’s just a perfect season in my opinion.

25YL: One mainly for you Lindsay: What did you enjoy the most, digging into the original series and talking through all the theories and scenes you’ve been mulling over for 25 years, or reacting to The Return on a weekly basis?

Lindsay: Oh man…well, they’re so different that it’s hard to compare. I think the singular experience of responding to and distilling our thoughts on The Return in real time is going to stick with me.

25YL: Given your respective positions as an old-timer and a newbie, do you think people new to Twin Peaks were more receptive to The Return and maybe enjoyed it more than fans who’ve been watching and rewatching the original series for up to 25 years?

Aidan: Maybe, but I think the bigger distinction is between people who instinctively like full-heroin Lynch, and those who liked Twin Peaks for its more traditional elements. To that end, I think a lot of the hardcore long-time Twin Peaks fans were maybe more likely to have spiralled out and tried the likes of Mulholland Drive or Eraserhead, or even Inland Empire. If they found something worth watching there, I think The Return would have been a welcome addition to the pantheon of Lynch works. If they recoil from anything that isn’t coffee and cherry pie, I don’t think they’re likely to enjoy The Return very much. I’m sure there are at least a few people out there who’d never seen anything by Lynch and only found out they liked his style at all by watching The Return.

Lindsay: I don’t know, honestly. I think the expectations for the stories over a quarter century ruined the experience for some, and that was detrimental, obviously. If you went in with a checklist of demands, how could you possibly have been receptive to what was given? You couldn’t have been, I don’t think. So it’s less a question of new vs old fan and more a question if temperament. Was I more receptive because of how long I waited? I doubt it. But if you generally have an open mind, you’ll be more receptive; that has little to do with how long you’ve been a fan. Having said that, there are things that would have been different depending on how long you waited for Twin Peaks to return. There’s something about the sense of excitement and fulfilment that old fans experienced that was unique to them and new fans might not have been able to tap into. I waited 8 years to find out what happened to Agent Cooper; I know a guy who waited 8 hours — he literally watched the finale that morning for the first time before diving into Season 3 that night. And then I know people who waited since 1991. Our experiences of that interregnum were all very different and almost certainly fed into our reception of The Return in different ways.

25YL: The big one… Was there bickering following The Return regarding whether to continue the podcast?

Lindsay: Never.

Aidan: Maybe a tiny bit.

Lindsay: The only bickering that happened at any point was around what we would cover next.

Aidan: I know I personally wanted to take a bit of a breather after watching, recording, and editing every Sunday-to-Tuesday stretch for the dozen or so weeks of The Return. But we did talk about what we could do next, and I think we agreed that it would make sense to go through the collected Mark Frost/David Lynch back-catalogue first. As soon as we agreed on that, I was excited again, and I think it’s been a great approach that helps illuminate a lot of Twin Peaks. But we settled into our plan fairly quickly after we realized exactly what The Return meant and how many things there were in Lynch and Frost’s previous works that could inform The Return, so it was a no-brainer to take the podcast into those areas.

25YL: What can the readers of 25 Years Later expect from the Bickering Peaks podcast in the future, and how can we help?

Aidan: Well we’re about halfway through the collected works of Lynch & Frost, and we’re going to keep that going for now.

Lindsay: I think people talk about David Lynch so much and Mark Frost gets the short shrift, which is a travesty because his work is brilliant and the deeper we go into his film and TV writing or his novels, the more we realize that no one has given him proper credit for what he brought to Twin Peaks. Very few people to our knowledge have grappled his work and looked at it as an artistic canon, so to speak, but when you do you see themes and motifs that are uniquely his and how well these things fit with Lynch’s ideas.

Aidan: After that we’ll have to do some bickering about what comes next.

Lindsay: Possibly after this we will be looking at the films that influenced them both, stuff like Laura and Sunset Boulevard and Vertigo. And eventually I’d like to do a complete series rewatch, from the Pilot right on through. That would be a hell of a lot of fun.

Aidan: We’ll see about that. It might be worth revisiting. It might be kind of boring. We’re definitely going to rewatch everything at some point, but just not sure if it’ll be worth sharing with people. In the meantime we love to keep hearing the input, feedback, and insights of the community. It’s been a great run and we’re looking forward to more of it!

Written by Matt Armitage

Director of Operations at 25YL Media. Webmaster, Editor, Chief Weasel and occasional writer. Likes: Weird psychological horror, cats, wine, and whisky. Dislikes: Most people, rain, cats.

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