Welcome back to Twin Peaks: Las Vegas, my “reviews” of the imaginary Twin Peaks spin-off sitcom!
This week in the Twin Peaks: Las Vegas Christmas Special, Janey-E feels guilty about a “free” gift, and since Phillip Gerard is real, Sonny Jim wonders if the same is true for spirits like Krampus.
The episode begins in a standard issue department store, where Janey-E is checking out at a register and chatting happily with an overly pleasant clerk. Everything is going well right up until a missed scan on a box labeled “The Everything Pad,” which is a most excellent name for a maguffin if I ever heard one. What’s more excellent is the freeze frame and jail cell door slam sound effect as that un-scanned Pad goes from the clerk’s hand to a shopping bag.
Next we see Janey-E dropping money in a charity worker’s can, then driving home humming along with Christmas music, then another scene where she’s at home putting everything away. Then she checks the receipt. And checks it again. She goes to the closet, verifies the Everything Pad is in the closet where she hid it, checks the receipt again very confused, then says this with a twinkle dawning in her eye:
She then begins to imagine, complete with a harp strings transition, that she’s controlling her oven from her new tablet, then a contraption that feeds Hairy, then all the lights in the house (for mood, and Al Green played low), then a bubble bath generating bubbles all on its own. Then it comes back to Janey-E in the kitchen, where all she says is:
A Christmas miracle!
The clerk pops in with an in-set thought balloon and winks at her. As if it’s meant to be!
Then the camera moves down the hall, where Sonny Jim is watching what is absolutely the Venture Brothers holiday special with two male friends. They’re laughing as one of the Ventures starts spouting the spell from Excalibur though they obviously missed the reference because one of them starts saying “Azarath Metrion Zinthos” over and over again. Sonny Jim didn’t mind, but by the time Dr. Venture was being whipped by Krampus he had an expression on his face that read “Hey, wait a minute.” The show’s background music at that point had Christmas jingles in it but it went from major key to minor as the scene faded.
Later on, Janey-E is wiping off her makeup and she has another thought bubble appearance from the store clerk, except this time he’s handing her the Everything Pad and then his boss scolds him and he’s immediately pulled into a jail cell. The way they filmed it I think it was supposed to feel like if Phil Bisby got fired. Janey-E mutters:
Everything is fine. Christmas miracle is all.
The in-set imaginary clerk is beckoning to her from his cell.
Meanwhile, Sonny Jim is in his bed, checking the corners of his room and windows with his eyes. After a while, he says a single word:
Gerard hears it in the Waiting Room and he fumbles over to a fire place before fading in around the curtains in Sonny Jim’s room while spotlights shine down on then swoop up from Sonny Jim. Phillip’s words are surly like a bear, and backwards as usual, but for readability I’ll type them forwards this time:
PG: You have need?
SJ: Phillip, is Krampus real?
PG: You need not know, things such as these.
SJ: Well you’re real. It’s a valid question.
SJ: Please, Phillip. For my safety. And my mom and dad’s, too.
PG: [long surly pause] Very well.
And then Phillip Gerard hams it up like a perfect British host getting ready to tell a properly spooky ghost story. I wish he had a pipe, that was all he was missing.
PG: Krampus is not. Not as you know him, but something like him is. And Krampus, is his familiar.
SJ: Whoah. There’s something worse than Krampus?
PG: We must not talk about the other. The other is unconcerned with our plane, except for most egregious transgressions, the likes unfathomable, to yours. You have nothing to fear, child. Nor your sires.
SJ: But…but why did my world name it Krampus?
PG: Is your given name Hairy? Is the mongrel Sonny Jim? Such things mean nothing.
The concept was practically laugh-out-loud that Phillip would say such a mundane comparison, but his delivery was positively chilling. Well played.
They spoke more obtusely for a little while longer and then Sonny Jim tripped into a phrase that made Phillip reveal Krampus the familiar: it looked like a featherless owl, and it was tiny, much in line with the “Actual Size” gag that finished the Buffy Season 4 Halloween episode. And this Krampus ran over to Sonny Jim, who appeared to be relieved and curious. He took out a cracker from his bedside desk and fed the Krampus.
PG: A righteous offering, intelligent boy. He enjoys the pleasures.
After such goofy subversion of classic Twin Peaks scenes, Gerard says one more thing in an approving tone:
PG: Fears live in darkness.
I wonder if there was a cat on-set with Sonny Jim when they shot the scene because he was so natural with the creature. And there’s a scientific method approach to Sonny Jim’s thought process. He even talks to Krampus.
SJ: I can see why people could be scared of you, especially if you were right in front of their face…
I could see Sonny Jim building up confidence, and he asks Gerard one final question:
SJ: Who’s familiar is he right now?
Gerard delivered the line as if Sonny Jim was overstepping, and that not getting an answer was an inevitability, but it makes me curious if the “offering” made Sonny Jim Krampus’ new master and Phillip was declaring it true officially. I know, I know, it’s a trick of the grammar, but that would be pretty bad ass. Though I know Hairy wouldn’t match up with that thing as part of a pack.
But it’s just oddball enough I could see it anyway. Still, don’t count on it.
Back to the show. It moves to the next morning without any more of my own personal tangents. Sunshine just fades in with the Jones kitchen. Janey-E finishes her coffee, picks up the Everything Pad and then drives to the store. The back and forth between her and the store manager was priceless, but I’ll only include its conclusion here or this recap would double in size.
Manager: No receipt?
J: No Receipt.
M: No return. No receipt, no return.
J: I don’t want to return!
M: You can exchange it for store credit, that’s it.
[Janey storms off, leaving the box.]
M: Miss, your Pad!
Janey-E looks flustered but relieved as she drives home, but you can tell she knew she made the right decision for her.
Time passes, and we get one last scene after Sonny Jim gets home. He’s trying to wrap a medium-sized box.
J: Are you and Winnie doing something tonight?
SJ: The Gingerbread Campfire! Did you forget?
J: Of course not. [Looks at the package] Here, let me…
But then Janey-E stops short of wrapping a bow around the box and instead teaches Sonny Jim how to wrap it himself as their vocal tracks fades and the Christmas style background music takes the foreground.
Dougie comes in, dressed completely as Santa, and in the background we can hear his “ho ho hos”, Janey-E saying “Dougie, Sonny Jim is much too old for that now”, Dougie saying “No one, Janey-E, is too old to believe in Christmas spirit!”, and Janey-E cooing “Oh, Santa!”
Then the voice track fades out completely and the credits start to role. A nice touch is how every scene in the house, usually plain rooms, are decked out to the gills Janey-E style. Plus, I’m not sure if this was officially a thing, but there was a find-the-Santa-hat aspect to it that I’m not sure was a game I made up or if this was an intentional touch. Either way, my favorite was the one on top of the toaster oven (that had some kind of shaving cream or something forming a smile on its glass under the hat).
We’re not going to talk about the big bad demon, in fact we’re not going to talk about it at all. Instead I’ll ask this question: did anybody else hope like hell that Winnie is the first name of the Cooper girl?
There was nice execution of form and characters all throughout this episode, even little touches with Sonny Jim’s friends in the TV watching scene. The clerk obviously stole the show and I wish he’d made it into the scene with that manager at the end. The only reason he doesn’t get top honors is because of the CGI team that created that adorable little Lodge monster out of Krampus. If you already like hairless cats, you’ve fallen in love.
Theme-wise, I’m fairly impressed that they managed to put together a typical American consumerism-focused story with a British traditional ghost story approach to the holiday, and made it fairly seamless. It really seemed, until about 2/3rds of the way through the Gerard scenes, that Janey-E was going to be served punishment for her unintentional theft, but the whole show really turned sweet from the moment that creature ate the cracker.
The one tricky thing is only having Dougie in the final moments of the show rather than it focusing on the family as a unit, but the Thanksgiving special covered that ground fairly well anyway so I guess they were going for not being repetitive. Really, I only asked myself “where’s Dougie” one time while I was watching, so I admit it worked out fairly well how he was used as a happy exclamation point at the end.
All told? This one goes places you’d never guess, and it managed to keep me happy the whole time. Thanks for the present, Jones family.
Thanks to my wife, for when I asked which direction I should take the Christmas special, she said “Krampus.”