We’re working our way through the Season 2 Twin Peaks DVD set. I’ve long maintained that Season 2 is by no means the disaster some people claim it is – if only because what a lot of people forget is that the first third of the season is the conclusion of the Laura Palmer arc.
Admittedly, after that the show hits a bit of a slog…but once the Windom Earle plot gets going in earnest, I think it regains much of its special qualities. Apparently, that slog was due in part to Kyle MacLachlan vetoing a Cooper-Audrey affair subplot, on the (correct) grounds that it would have been massively out of character for Cooper to have an affair with a high school girl. True, nearly every character in the series has a dark secret…but I think what they eventually settled on for Cooper – his past affair with a married (adult) woman, and the consequences that followed from that – was far richer plot territory.
That said, if anyone wants to edit Season 2 to get rid of the more inane subplots, here’s my list of things to cut:
Ben Horne Refights the Civil War
Dick and Nicky (including the whole Lucy/Andy terminally unfunny contretemps)
The Irresistible Widow Milford
Horrifying Teen Triangle (special demerit points for that gawdawful song James, Donna, and Maddy record…)
Even though it leads pretty much nowhere, at least the James/Evelyn/Malcolm business isn’t so utterly silly as those things above.
It certainly didn’t help that, if you’re an old fart like me who saw the shows in their original broadcast, the network’s decision to delay and move the show around meant that some of those tedious plots (the Ben Horne one in particular) seemed to drag on for months. On DVD, thankfully, they go by pretty quickly.
Some trivia: much has been noted about the doubling/pairing that shows in so many elements of the series. One way that idea plays out is in familial or quasi-familial pairs, often involving substitutions or doublings for absent or dead family members (Big Ed in lieu of James’s father; Norma in lieu of Shelley’s mother; etc.). What’s been less commented upon (according to some cursory googling) is the way that idea shows up outside the narrative, in casting. There are two father/son pairs among the cast and crew, and one set of brothers. Dan O’Herlihy plays Andrew Packard; his son Gavan O’Herlihy plays the crooked Canadian Mountie (the blond guy with the mustache). Warren Frost (Doc Hayward) is producer and writer Mark Frost’s father. And the first of Windom Earle’s victims we see – the drifter posed above the chessboard – is played by Craig MacLachlan, Kyle MacLachlan’s brother (a particularly pointed substitution…since, of course, Cooper is Earle’s ultimate target).