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Book Review-“The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel” by Mark Frost

Secret History of Twin PeaksOne of the great things about David Lynch and Mark Frost’s “Twin Peaks” is that it’s a mystery that gives you enough clues to formulate your own ideas about what’s going on, but it never definitively answers the main seemingly supernatural enigmas plaguing the fictional town they’ve created. So when you watch the series there’s this fun and fantastic feeling of mysterious dread; like something sinister is out there waiting in the woods of Ghost Wood Forest and you can almost make it out. I’m happy to report that feeling was a big part of Frost’s novel “The Secret History of Twin Peaks.” It provides plenty of new and fun ways of looking at things that can serve as clues and context for watching old episodes of “Twin Peaks” or Showtime’s current “Twin Peaks: The Return,” but it also raises just as many questions as it answers.

“The Secret of History of Twin Peaks” may not be for every fan. If you’re not looking for clues or have no interest in a novel that’s just as much about the strange real history of America and the world as it is about the events in Twin Peaks this probably isn’t for you. Also if you’re looking specifically for a book that is only about the central characters of Twin Peaks (many of them are here and play a large part) or fills in the 25 year gap between the original series and the current Showtime revival (I believe that comes later this year in the form of Frost’s “Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier”) this isn’t for you. If you though are looking to see how things like the Black Lodge and Owl Cave rings impact real world historical figures or have your memory refreshed on important details relevant to the current series this is definitely a book you’ll have fun with. You’ll smile as connection are made and context is given to current events in the Showtime series.

In “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” Frost weaves together connections between the titular town and its residents and weird and very real moments in American and world history. The end result is a novel that feels like Twin Peaks meets Robert Anton Wilson’s “Illuminatus” trilogy or the historical fantasy novels of Tim Powers. I want to get more specific and talk about what’s in there, but I really don’t want to spoil any surprises. Let’s just say if you’re familiar with some of the strange events of American history or conspiracy theories you’ll come across some recognizable faces in the book. If you’re not up on those details google some of the names. You’ll discover some very real and fascinating characters and events.

Those wide historical details will certainly appeal to fans of weird history like myself.Mark-Frost Some passages may feel like they belong in an “X-Files” book, and if that bothers you or feels long I’d advise just be patient and enjoy the ride. Frost takes you to an interesting destination. Also I think it’s safe to say there’s a huge crossover between “Twin Peaks” and “X-Files” fans. Both are weird mysteries where charismatic and eccentric FBI agents play central roles.

The citizens of Twin Peaks aren’t short shifted in Frost’s book either. Some characters play central roles throughout the entire novel. Plus there’s several chapters that deal with the often sordid dealings and machinations of the town’s central figures and families.

Another fun aspect of the “The Secret History” is Frost’s use of the Epistolary method to tell his story. The book is a collection of files, essays, journal entries, and other documents from a variety of authors. There are two central narrators. Agent Tamara Pierce (who is a minor character in the Showtime series) provides fun annotations on the documents presented in the book. It’s especially cool to see her thoughts when weird events are discussed. Much of the narration and documents though come from a mysterious figure named the Archivist. Deducing his identity was a central goal of Pierce and will be the reader’s goal as well. It’s a mystery that’s answered and as a long time “Twin Peaks” fan I thought the answer was highly satisfying.

So if you’re looking for a book that deepens an enriches the mysteries of Twin Peaks by weaving them into the mysteries of America history “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” is definitely a novel you need to pick up. It’s a fun and highly satisfying read that has only increased my excitement and enthusiasm for the new Showtime series. I’m also very excited to read Frost’s follow up book “Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier,” which is currently scheduled to hit on Halloween of this year.

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Categories: Book Review, TV Thoughts

My Top 5 Ass -Kicking and Awesome Television Old Guys

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

I don’t write about TV as much as I would like to. I just don’t have the time, but today I find myself with a few free moments and thinking about an interesting character type, the Awesome/Ass Kicking Old Guy. Plus if blog my stats are any indication people seem to love lists. So here is a list and thoughts on some of my favorite,  older, awesome, male television characters who kick ass both literally and figuratively. Qualifying notes: obviously this is my opinion and I drew from current shows

Bobby Singer Bobby Singer

Show: “Supernatural”

Played by Jim Beaver

 

At the end of first season of “Supernatural” I met a character who would become one of my favorite characters on the show, mechanic, salvage yard owner, and hunter Bobby Singer. Over the course of several seasons you got to know him better and he got even cooler.  Bobby was like a Blue Collar American version of everything that was awesome about Rupert Giles from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: the knowledge of the occult, the bad ass streak, and the genuine fatherly affection for the main characters. Those traits as brought to life by actor Jim Beaver made every episode with Bobby Singer, awesome as Dean Winchester would say

   UnserWayne Unser

  Show: “Sons of Anarchy”

  Played by Dayton Callie

 

Over the course of five seasons Wayne Unser’s role on “Sons of Anarchy” has changed but his moral code has not. He started off as the Sheriff of Charming California and a staunch ally of the show’s titular motorcycle club. Since then he’s retired but still remains an ally of the Sons, and a formidable and very intriguing character. For me that’s because of two things. First is his moral code, which is very grey but still leans on the side of righteousness and justice. The second is his resourcefulness. Wayne may be older, but he’s still a highly resourceful and cunning guy able to gather information quickly and solve mysteries other might not want solved. And Dayton Callie gives the character a sense of likability and nobility So I doubt it will happen but if Unser survives to the end of “Sons of Anarchy” I would love to see an “Unser P.I.” show

 

MullenArt Mullen

Show: Justified

Played by: Nick Searcy

 

Chief Deputy Art Mullen has the interesting and difficult job of managing three of the most dysfunctional bad-asses on television the Marshalls of the Lexington, Kentucky field office. It’s a role that could easily be reduced to the disapproving police captain stereotype, but thanks to Nick Searcy’s acting and the show’s smart writing Art is so much more. Sure he’s a stern authority figure, but like the other characters on this list he has a genuine affection for the people he looks after. Plus Art is also kind of a bad ass himself. We’ve seen that in several episodes where he stared down and took on armed fugitives. Plus he gets to deliver some of the show’s best lines

 

Berenson Saul Berenson

Show: Homeland

Played by: Mandy Patinken

 

Saul Berenson is the superior and mentor to brilliant CIA agent Carrie Mathison, but Saul is just as brilliant. From time to time “Homeland” will follow Saul into the field as he works his magic. And the reason Saul is successful is not because he’s good with a gun, or super intimidating. It’s because he’s a genuinely decent human being. Saul has cracked people and gotten valuable information simply by being good natured and talking with them like they’re people. Plus he’s got a fiery streak in him that’s amazing to behold. You don’t want to f*** with the “Bear!”  Mandy Patinken gives Saul a gravitas and nobility that makes him one of Homeland’s best characters

 

SelmyBarristan Selmy

Show: Game of Thrones

Played by Ian McElhinney

 

Some might wonder at the inclusion of Barristan on this list because he didn’t appear much in the first season of “Game of Thrones” and didn’t appear at all in the second, but when he did appear he was awesome.  Barristan is the commander of the King’s Guard with I believe over 40 years of combat experience. So the character requires some gravitas and McElhinney give the character that in spades. The scene where he’s dismissed from King Joffrey’s service was awesome. McElhinney’s performance originally made me a fan of the character before I read the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books that “A Game of Thrones” was based on. So I hope we see Barristan again in season three of “Game of Thrones”

Categories: TV Thoughts

The Problem With ABC’s V

So I just finished watching the second season finale of ABC’s “V” and I think I now know what teachers feel like when they have a talented student that only applies themselves occasionally. Last season, the pilot episode of “V” was strong and very compelling. It got me excited. Subsequent episodes though were incredibly frustrating. Focus was placed on characters who were more annoying than interesting and the most frustrating aspect of all was that the show never seemed to go anywhere. Sure there were plenty of shocking revelations but the Visitors invasion of Earth was painfully slow and the main cast of characters never seemed to accomplish anything.

The show then went on break for several months and when it came back for the second half of its first season it felt refreshed. Things didn’t move forward too much but certain characters were more developed. They even gave the show’s heroes a big win at the end of the first season.

So I was excited when ABC chose to renew the show for a second season. Unfortunately that excitement was quickly diminished when the second season began. Because the second season repeatedly left me feeling that once again the characters were accomplishing very little and unlikeable characters were being forced down our throats. There were occasional bright spots like the episode where the main Fifth Column Resistance cell tried to assassinate Anna. It was obvious they were going to fail, but the characters did succeed in killing Anna’s top lieutenant Marcus. Or so we thought, because the visitors managed to revive him a few episodes later.

Other accomplishments were quickly nullified to. The series protagonist , FBI agent Erica Evans, played by Elizabeth Mitchell managed to become leader of a world wide resistance group. When that happened I once again got excited. It seemed like our cast of characters were going to be proactive and accomplish something, but by the end of the season the movement ultimately ended up doing more harm than good. Not only did they accomplish nothing, their actions actually furthered the visitors’ goals!

The season finale again showed some promise. It was a carnage filled episode where the visitors struck back and many heroic characters were killed. So it felt like the visitors’ invasion was progressing. They even employed a new firghtening weapon in their invasion. And on the heroic side we got a glimpse of a promising secret organization that showed that maybe the humanity isn’t as inept at they were made out to be this season. Best of all the show finally did away with it’s most annoying character Erica Evans’ son Tyler, played by Logan Huffman.

So at the end of season two of “V” I’m feeling more frustrated than hopeful. The show has proven it has potential. It has talented writers working onit like crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz, writer of Marvel Comics’ late and under rated “Vengeance of Moon Knight” series. And Rockne S. O’Bannon, the creator of one of the best sci-fi tv shows ever, “Farscape”, joined the show’s writing staff this season. The show also has some strong actors. Elizabeth Mitchell, Scott Wolf who plays reporter Chad Decker, and Laura Vandervoort, who plays the visitor Lisa, all had strong years. Plus this year, one of the best actors from “The Shield”, Jay Karnes, joined the cast as FBI agent Chris Bolling. Even with all that talent though this season of “V” still managed to disappoint me.

ABC has yet to renew “V” for a third season. I hope they do, but if a third season happens it needs to be better than this previous one which was ultimately frustrating and disappointing. If a third season of “V” happens this is what I’d like to see as a viewer and fan of the show:

The status quo moves forward and things change. This season the producers and writing staff clung tightly to the cold war aspect of the series which has the world believing the visitors to be agents of peace and the heroes’ secret resistance cell fighting back and trying to expose them. Clinging to that status quo made the show feel like nothing really happened and like some episodes didn’t matter. Give the viewers what they want. Have the V’s conquer Earth and give us a series about valiant resistance cells of humans and visitors sympathetic to the human cause fighting back against the reptilian invaders

Death needs to matter especially with the Visitors. There have been two memorable instances on this show where a Visitor character was killed and then resurrected. In both instances it benefited the Visitors’ cause, but instead of making things feel more dire, it felt just cheap. One character that was brought back was a secret human sympathizer and resurrecting him nullified his heroic sacrifice at the end of the first season. The other character that was resurrected was Anna’s right hand man Marcus, and bringing him back robbed the good guys of their only major
win this season

Visitor High Commander Anna needs to be brought down a peg. Morena Baccarin who plays Anna has made her a villain you love to hate, but hate just a little too much. The fact that I do have a visceral reaction to the character suggests that Baccarin is doing something right, but the character is so infuriatingly smug and not in a charismatic way. The way she constantly out maneuvers characters and then gloats about it doesn’t make for an intriguing villain. It makes for an annoying one. So it’s okay to have her lose occasionally. It might maker her a multi faceted and intriguing villain.

Do something with Project Ares. In the second season finale, a top secret joint task force made up of the military forces from many countries was introduced. They were called Project Ares and in a nice homage to the original “V” series Marc Singer plays one of their top agents. Jay Karnes’ FBI agent was also revealed to be a member. We only saw them for a couple of minutes but Project Ares seemed very capable. So if there is “V” a season three I’d like to see them prove that by being proactive and actually achieving some meaningful victories against the visitors. I obviously don’t want to see them win all the time, but when you’re watching a show you want to feel like its heroes occasionally accomplish some meaningful victories

Categories: TV Thoughts

The Coolest TV Show That You Didn’t Watch-But Still Can!

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

UPDATE 12/15/10: Terriers has been cancelled by FX, but please still watch the first season. You’ll be glad you did.  It was an amazing show and perhaps it can be brought back under a different title with a better marketing campaign.

When I first started hearing about the new shows for the Fall 2010 season I was incredibly underwhelmed. The show I had the most hope for was an FX program called “Terriers”. The fact that it was on FX, which has some of the best shows on television spoke volumes about. Plus one of the show runners was Shawn Ryan, the guy who created one of the best cop shows of all time “The Shield”. So I was very curious about “Terriers”. I started to do some research into the show and the early video ads I found were a little confusing. They concentrated mostly on a dog and not the characters or the show. So I didn’t know what to make of it.

Then one day when I went to the movies and before the film I saw what amounted to an extended commercial for theshow. It was a lot more revealing. It showed that this program really didn’t have anything to do with dogs at all. It was a private detective show that took place in a fictional Southern California town and at the center of the story was a friendship between two unlikely detectives, ex-cop Henry “Hank Dolworth” and ex-thief Britt Pollack. So my hopes were raised a little. Then I saw the pilot and and all 13 episodes of “Terriers” first season and I was blown away.

Unfortunately the ratings for the season were, to be quite frankly, terrible. It seemed like people had no idea that the show existed or what it was even about. I was able to turn some people onto it though and they loved it. It seems liek every one who does give the series a chance is glad they did. So “Terriers” needs more people to discover the show so it can get renewed for another season. The first season is now over but there’s still time to catch up on it.

First let’s start off with a clip that gives you some idea about what to expect from the show:

That clip does an especially god job hinting at some of the more comedic moments in the series and there are lots of them. “Terriers” is a really funny show. The show’s two lead actors Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are great at comedic banter and some really funny scenes arise out of the situations in the episodes. “Terriers” though is also a really dramatic and intense show. For most of the first season ex-cop Hank Dolworth is a haunted guy. He’s a recovering alcoholic, so he’s haunted by the mess he made of his life when he was drinking. He lost both his wife and his career. His ex-wife is getting remarried and Hank still isn’t quite over her. So he has to deal with that as well. Then lastly in the pilot his friend Mickey Gosny is murdered by some pretty powerful people. So it fires Hank up and it motivates him through out the season.

Gosny’s murder is part of the serial element of the show’s first season. That element pops up a number of times in Hank and Britt’s cases in the first season in the form of some very powerful, and very shady bussiness people who are looking to do some unscrupulous things to the town of Ocean Beach. As in all great P.I. fiction Hank and Britt try to fight back against these powerful enemies in anyway they can ,but they are major underdogs. In episode 13 much of this element is tied up, but in a way that leaves room for it to return if there is (and I sincerely hope there is) a second season

Terriers is also great because of the characters. The two protagonists Hank and Brit are believable and genuine friends. The chemistry between them is just awesome. The women in their lives are also pretty interesting. Gretchen, Hank’s ex-wife, genuinely cares about him and is trying to do the difficult thing of staying close with him and moving forward with her life at the same time. Several episodes into the series Hank’s sister the brilliant but mentally ill Stef shows up. She’s played by Donal Logue’s real life sister Karina and the chemistry between the actors is also remarkable. Stef’s character has some funny lines and her storyline is very poignant. Brit is dating and madly in love with Katie, a student of veterinary medicine. They live together and care about each other a great deal, but are struggling to figure out the next step in their relationship. Laura Allen, the actress who plays Katie, is especially great. She gives the character a lot of genuine emotion and best of all her emotional responses to certain things are not exactly what you expect, but they still are believable.

The other supporting cast of characters in the first season of “Terriers” are also very cool. There’s Mark Gustafson, Hank’s ex-partner on the Ocean Beach Police Force. He does what he can to help his former partner, but you can tell he bears some emotional scars from the way their professional relationship ended. From time to time, Hank and Britt utilize the services of a group of renegade tech-savy hackers. These characters aren’t in many episodes but they’re so interesting and so funny they steal almost every scene they’re in. Then there’s Ben Zeitlin; a powerful lawyer who is the main villain of the show for much of the first season. Michael Gaston does a great job playing him. Zeitlin just oozes menace. He’s a smug character you love to hate, but he also radiates enough power that he’s genuinely scary.

If that’s still not enough. Let me appeal to certain fans of other stories. If you love these things you’ll love “Terriers”

Veronica Mars


Just like “Veronica Mars”, “Terriers” is primarily about some average people trying to find justice in a small California town where a corrupt wealthy elite can get away with many things including muder. “Terriers” also has a sort of season long mystery just like the best seasons of “Veronica Mars”

The Rockford Files


Granted I’ve never seen an episode of “The Rockford Files” but I know what people love about it. They love James Garner’s very real portrayal of a Private Eye. He gets into trouble and he gets hurt. Plus he’s a charismatic and believable guy. People who love these aspects of Ganer’s Jim Rockford will love Logue and Raymond-James’s portrayal of Hank Dolworth and Britt Pollack

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


One of the things that makes “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” work is the friendship and chemistry between the two lead actors. The other is the overwhelming situations the characters find themselves in. In “Terriers” both those crucial and enjoyable elements are present in spades

Novels by  the writer Don Winslow


Don Winslow is one of my favorite writers. His past few novels have been a perfect balance of both the humor and high drama that come from crime stories in Southern California towns like San Diego. “Terriers” is that as well.

So if any of what I said appeals to you please go back and give “Terriers” a chance! You’ll be glad you did. You can purchase the entire season via iTunes or Amazon.com’s on demand video service. You can also catch up on this season’s final few episodes via Hulu.

Categories: TV Thoughts

The Six Coolest Characters Currently on TV

April 19, 2010 6 comments

I love scripted TV. I have a ton of favorite shows. Some are currently airing and some won’t be back till later in the year  Each of these shows have an intriguing cast of characters.  Here is a list and some thoughts about the six most interesting characters on my favorite shows that are currently airing new episodes

Saul Goodman

Show: Breaking Bad

Played by: Bob Odenkirk

In the second season of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” budding drug kingpins Jesse Pinkman and Walter White needed a lawyer to defend one of their dealers who had gotten busted.  Jesse pointed out that the type of lawyer they needed didn’t just practice criminal law, he thought like one. So they sought out Saul Goodman. At first Glance Saul, seemed like a schmuck and shyster, but as you got to know him it turns out that’s one of his strengths, because that’s what Saul wants you to think. Underneath that exterior is a cunning and enterprising mind.  Bob Odenkirk is great at playing both sides. So Saul is a funny and compelling character who steals every scene he’s in

Raylan Givens

Show: Justified

Played by: Timothy Olyphant

In the opening episode of FX’s  Justified US Marshal Raylan Givens is a cool and confidant man, especially when it comes to violence. In the pilot he calmly warns two criminals that if they don’t get out of town he’ll be forced to gun them down. When they don’t Raylan shows that like the Marshal’s of the Old West he also has a lightning fast draw.  It seems like these two elements really shouldn’t go well together in a realistic character, but they do. That’s because there’s another element to Raylan’s character that his ex-wife identifies at the end of the pilot when she calls him one of the angriest men alive.  Timothy Olyphant expertly juggles all these elements to make Raylan a believable and incredibly charismatic character. I was a fan of his work on Deadwood, where he played a similar type of character and here he shows he can play that same type of character in a modern day setting

Hugo “Hurley” Reyes

Show: Lost

Played by Jorge Garcia
Picking one of the coolest characters on Lost is tough. It’s a show with so many great and interesting characters.  Michael Emerson’s Benjamin Linus was almost my pick, but as of late Hurley has become incredibly interesting.  That’s because he seems to be changing and really coming into his own. Hurley was never one of the dashing action hero types , but he was always an important part of the story. He was sort of the soul of the group. He cared a lot about everybody and tried to make people happy. Over the course of the show he’s stayed that but he’s become so much more. He started seeing ghostly visions who would talk to only him. At first he felt like he was crazy and then he felt burdened by the knowledge that the ghosts would share with him. Now as the show is coming to an end Hurley is accepting his role as speaker for the dead. He’s still the same good natured soul, but he’s suddenly become very important to the show’s mythology and I’m glad he did. Jorge Garcia does a great job conveying Hurley’s every man qualities and both his reluctance and budding confidence in his new role

Dean Winchester

Show: Supernatural

Played by Jensen Ackles

When I first started watching Supernatural the only thing I liked about Dean Winchester was his music collection. Over the course of five seasons (the fifth is currently airing) he’s really grown on me and I’ve discovered there’s a lot to like about the character. He’s got a great sense of humor,  a resolve and strength that allows him to push through and get past horrors that would drive most poeple insane, and a doofy suaveness.  He’s also got a closetful of personal demons. He’s haunted by his childhood which he spent learning to kill demons and monsters. He  also desperately craved the approval of his emotionally distant father, and then his father died and he came to realize how crappy of a father his dad actually was.  Now he’s haunted by the fact that the biblical apocalypse is unfolding and he has a significant role to play in it. He’s like a combination of  Spider-Man and Han Solo. Jensen Ackles has a natural charisma about him that makes Dean seem  even more likable.

Gene Hunt

Show: Ashes to Ashes

Played by Philip Glenister
Gene Hunt isn’t just one of the coolest characters in the crop of TV shows currently airing. He’s easily one of the greatest police characters in the history of television. Hunt made his debut in Life in Mars a UK Cop drama about a modern day police detective mysteriously transported back to the 1970s where he met his new boss DCI Gene Hunt. Hunt was an arrogant, obnoxious, brutal, loud mouth, chavaunist, and a bit of a jack-ass. And  Thanks to Glenister’s portrayal you loved him. Part of that portrayal showed that even though  Hunt was all those negative things he was still a dedicated and caring cop.  Life on Mars only lasted two seasons but thankfully it was followed up by a spin off series called Ashes to Ashes, which is currently in it’s third and final season. Recent developments on the show seem to indicate that Gene is perhaps harboring a terrible secret and I can’t wait to find out what it is

The 11th Doctor

Show: Doctor Who

Played by: Matt Smith

As I write this I’ve only seen two episodes of the current season of Doctor Who (Three have aired in the UK and one in the US). So some of you are probably wondering, why the hell I chose this character? That’s because the two episodes I’ve seen have been really, really good. I loved David Tennant’s Doctor so I thought I would really be missing him when Matt Smith took over the role, but to Smith’s credit  I haven’t and like I said it’s only been two episodes. That’s a pretty big feat. I’m by no means a Doctor Who expert, I’ve only really seen the newer series, but to me it seems like the Doctor has two major character traits: his sense of wonder and his sense of anger and moral outrage. In the pilot episode, Smith showed he was great at the former and in the second episode we got a hint at how he would handle the later and he appeared to knock that out of the park as well. So I’m definitely eager to see what’s next for the 11th incarnation of the UK’s premier sci-fi hero.



Categories: TV Thoughts