Podcast 84: Top 15 TV Writers

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We count down the Top TV Writers on our literary episode. We discuss Mark Frost’s New Twin Peaks Novel, as well as announce the new Scott Luck Stories Book. We discuss writers like Ronald D Moore, David Chase, Larry David, Susan Harris, Vince Gilligan, Darin Morgan, Aaron Sorkin and more.  Television is a writer’s medium and we discuss why and who is the cream of the crop.

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Questions In A World Of Blue

David Lynch loves questions and hates answers.  In all his movies or shows, the first part of his story, all the questions, is the fun part.  Once answers start to come, if they come at all, it can get shaky.  So with that thought in mind, I ask some questions of my own about all things Twin Peaks going on now.

1. Was Ben Horne really Donna’s father?  Does this mean that when we see Donna (played by Moira Kelly of course) she will have lived the past 25 years as Audrey’s sister?  So who is running the business?  Donna? Audrey?  Jerry?  Ben?  JOHNNY????

2. Will the welcome sign of Twin Peaks still read 51,201?  Or will it have fallen down to around 10,000 folks.  I find it hard to believe that Ghostwood golf course could possibly have employed as many people as the Mill.

3. Will Laura be the one to save Agent Cooper now that 25 years have passed.  I have always viewed the end of Fire Walk With Me, as a happy ending.  Cooper is there to usher Laura (as he was for her father) to the next world.  I would like to see Laura return the favor.

4. Did Ed and Norma finally get that divorce from their spouses?  Remember in the series Ed and Norma split up 20 years before.  If you add 25 to that you get a 45 year unrequited love affair.  Not even Ross and Rachel waited that long.  No woman, no matter how great her Cherry Pie tastes is worth a 45 year wait.  Hmmm, was that the dirtiest sentence I have ever blogged?

5. Did Ben Horne’s goodness go the way of the Pine Wiesel?  When we last left Ben he was on a goodness kick.  But we all have tried to go on a health kick in our lives.  A couple of weeks later you are back to sticking your head in a bag of potato chips.  (This of course assumes that Doc Hayward didn’t kill him.)

6. Will the questions in Fire Walk With Me be answered here?  The Blue Rose played a big part in the box cover of the Blue Ray Release.  Now we know that when this box was created Lynch knew TP was coming back.  Will the 2016 season be a Blue Rose case?

7. Who is gonna play BOB?  I have heard Ray Wise. (I like it) I have heard it will be a digital BOB. (It could be cool) I have heard it will be Lara Flynn Boyle since she looks so scary (that might have been me who suggested that)

8. Is Agent Bryson still dressing in drag?  I know he was only in 4 episodes of the series, but when you add the Cooper Diaries into it, Dennis/Denise was an interesting character.  I want to see what new way of dress he is into.

9. Is Josie still stuck in the door handle?  As much as we feel bad for Cooper having to listen to everyone talk backwards for 25 years, how would you like to be Josie?  She has been tugged on by every guest opening a drawer to find the TV guide to know what channel HBO, errr Showtime, is on at the Great Northern.

10. Was the downfall of Twin Peaks really the absence of the creators?  This is one answer we will learn for sure.  For years, the folk lore has become fact.  The reason Twin Peaks failed was because David and Mark went off to make movies.  Well now they say all 9 hours will come from them.  There will be no other writer or director to blame. The pressure is on.  I have faith, but in 2016 we will have fact.

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83 Twin Peaks Returns

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Scott and Josh discuss Twin Peaks Coming Back with Brad Dukes, author of “Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks.”  We also preview season 4 of our show.  We discuss upcoming topics like John Oliver’s new HBO show, The Good Wife and an upcoming interview with the editor of Wrapped In Plastic.

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Twin Peaks Returns in 2016

David Lynch and Mark Frost have done it.  They are coming back in 2016 with a 9 episode stint on Showtime.  Watch the announcement right here.  We will have a podcast post tonight with Brad Dukes about this announcement.  You must also read this interview with Mark Frost.

Order Brad Duke’s Book that we discuss through out this podcast.

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Twin Peaks Most Underrated Episode: 25

I am just about done with my way through the Blu Ray release of Twin Peaks.  I have watched it all.  I started with Fire Walk With Me and have continued through the series.  I know that it is really easy to stop at episode 16 and just watch the show as the story of Laura Palmer.  I never do this.  I always watch the show from start to finish.  This time, I have to admit I am not hating the second half of the second season.  Even more so, I would like to contend that episode 25 of season two is one of the best episodes of the series and contains the most “Twin Peaks” scene ever.  I call it the Happy Scene.

This seven minute scene written by Harley Peyton and Robert Engels is everything Twin Peaks had the potential to be.  It is funny, quirky, different, lovely and in the end scary.  It begins with Gordon Cole played by David Lynch seeing the beautiful waitress Shelly.  Gordon Cole who is hard of hearing can hear Shelly for some unknown reason.  This is played for full out comedy effect as he screams at her and she whispers to him.  But it has a deeper meaning that Twin Peaks is about. The fact that technology or the New World can never compete with the simple fact of Love.  Beauty and emotion wins over the battle of Cole’s Hearing Aids.  The other factor of this scene is Madchen Amick’s acting.  Her embarrassment is so real.  There is so much to watch in this scene but actually watch the little touches she adds to her interaction with Cole and Cooper.

The scene continues with Cooper and Annie.  Cooper wants to tell Annie a joke as he is ordering his meal.  To watch our straight laced agent Cooper be reduced to giggles by a woman makes it seem all right that they didn’t get him together with Audrey.  Cooper may have been Audrey’s love but she was never his.  Again, it is a side actor that makes this scene work.  I think this is Michael Ontkean’s best acting in the series.  He is just watching the two of them.  Everything we are thinking, he is thinking.  He has very few lines and he doesn’t need them.  This is another reason why Twin Peaks worked.  Truman was never a second fiddle to Cooper.  They were equals.  Cooper was there for Truman with Josie, Truman is there for Cooper with Annie.  In the real world, we call that friendship.  I have always believed that the reason we love television is because we want to spend time with friends.  If Truman wasn’t such a respectable character, we wouldn’t love Cooper as much.

Finally Annie, notices what Cooper has been doodling and says that it is the symbol at Owl’s Cave.  This brings this seven minute scene to a BOB type ending.  The music gets scarey and we realize that this was the point of the scene.  They were lulling us into happiness to bring everything back to the fact that evil is still out there.  Because we have been grinning ear to ear for the last few minutes, the drama is thicker when Cooper says he has to see Owl’s Cave.  There is no fluff, no infantile humor, just happiness.  This is what Twin Peaks is about to me.  It was creepy (Owl’s Cave.)  It was funny (“My Socks are on Fire.”)  It was about Love (Annie/Cooper. Gordon/Shelly.) It was unexplainable (Gordon hearing Shelly.)  This is the most Twin Peaks scene in the series.  Yes, I know Cooper and Leland’s scene in episode 16 is a close second, but this has every facet of the show.

The rest of the episode is also back to form.  There are no wasted scenes.  They focus on the people we care about and Windom Earle becomes a very potent villain as he interacts with our favorite heroine, Audrey Horne.  By the time this episode played, the network had made their decision.  Twin Peaks was all but gone.  I remember waiting those 6 weeks between episodes only to have them pull the show one episode after this one.  The show was as dead as Laura Palmer, we just didn’t know it yet.

So for all of you who got the box set and just watched the deleted scenes, I want to challenge you to give the entire series one more look.  I will be totally honest with you and tell you I have fast forwarded through all of the James/Evelyn story and all of the Andy/Dick/Lucy story.  In doing so, the show is still a marvel.  And while I would still say that Episode 9, 16, 8, and 14 are the best episodes of Twin Peaks.  I would most assuredly pick this Episode to round out my top 5.

 

Order Brad Duke’s Book that we discuss through out this podcast.

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Order the Box Set here.  This contains all the deleted scenes we discuss.

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THE LEFTOVERS is an Arduous Journey Worth Taking

e6828160-e9f3-0131-c05b-0eb233c768fbIt’s been something of a “rough ride” sticking with HBO’s new series THE LEFTOVERS through its ten episodes. The premise of a world (specifically a small town in New York) gone mad after 2% of the population literally disappears without explanation starts dark, and gets only darker as the show progresses. “Life goes on” they say, and so it does… or so it appears. Three years after “The Departure” is where the story begins, and we immediately see that even though the world still turns, people still go to work, and everything has the surface appearance of normality, that there is a festering wound just beneath the surface, threatening to erupt in tragedy. In each successive episode we see people sinking further into depression, lashing out in violence, deliberately provoking others, exhibiting self-destructive behavior, or just trying to pretend that nothing ever happened. At one point, I asked myself “Is wading through all of this human misery going to pay off, or is this just an exercise in pointless masochism?” Well, it DOES pay off, but probably not in a way that one might expect.

786821559921729828I will not spoil the show here for those who haven’t watched THE LEFTOVERS yet, although the word “spoiler” doesn’t really apply here in any kind of narrative sense. Summation of the show’s thematic climax in mere words would leave it sounding cheap and tawdry, and could not possibly envelop the “big picture” that can only be experienced through watching THE LEFTOVERS from beginning to end. What we get at the end of Season One (the series has been green lit for a second season), is a kind of emotional and thematic resolution that is satisfying in a way that no plot twist could possibly match. It’s one that will certainly be divisive among viewers, but one that I found to be bordering on brilliance. This episode emotionally floored me in a way that I’m not sure that I’ve ever really experienced before. While there are still many mysterious aspects of the series that have yet to be explained or illuminated at this point, the logic – such as it is – behind “The Departure” starts to reveal itself somewhere around the sixth or seventh episode, but doesn’t fully emerge until the finale. I must warn you here and now that getting to that finale will take a certain degree of perseverance and patience. I have a few friends who gave up with the show along the way, and I’m hoping to persuade them into giving it another chance.

intense-trailer-for-hbos-new-series-the-leftoversTHE LEFTOVERS is based on a book by Tom Perrotta, which was adapted to television by the author and Damon Lindelof (of LOST fame), and it *feels* very much like a work of literature. This series will not be everyone’s “cup of tea”… If you are a person who prefers a definitive hard narrative over nuanced vagaries, you might want to sit this one out. THE LEFTOVERS is weird. There… I said it. That’s not a bad thing – not at all. “Weird” simply means that it’s different from what I am accustomed to from a television series. “Weird” means that it’s frequently unsettling and often upsetting in a deep, under-the-surface kind of way. “Weird” means that THE LEFTOVERS much of the time eschews realism for a dream logic to get its point across. Many of my favorite filmmakers – like David Lynch – create “weird” films. This is nothing like a David Lynch film… it’s not that heavily stylilzed, and falls much more into the realm of realism that most of Lynch’s oeuvre. This story is told much more by coloring with emotions, instincts, and leadfeelings that typically elude being encompassed by words, and the Season One denouement is almost ineffable in its impact. If asked to describe exactly why THE LEFTOVERS affected me so deeply, I doubt that I could find the words to do it justice, but it’s there, just out of reach, but nonetheless undeniable.

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Emmy’s Biggest Mistakes

As we prepare for the 2014 Emmy awards, I thought it was a great time to look at some of Emmy’s biggest blunders.  The reason right now is a great time to look at them is because this year they made what I consider to be the biggest blunder of all.

TOP EMMY MISTAKES

1. Not nominating Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black.

Not only is Tatiana turning in the best performance of the year, I would say she is turning in the best female performance of all time.  I hate to ever use any kind of sexism, but if a man was playing 6 different roles, he would be nominated and wining every year.  I seriously do not understand how she didn’t even get nominated?  Her performance of Helena alone should be worth two Emmy’s.  This season she took each character to a new height.  Each clone is a three dimensional character.  This has been done with superb acting.  Shame on who ever wins best actress. (unless it is Kerry Washington because I love Scandal)

2. David Lynch doesn’t win for Directing.

I can almost understand Twin Peaks getting snubbed the first year because the show was so new and Emmy is so old.  I am sure dancing midgets and silent curtain rods were above the voters in 1990, but Lynch’s directing of the pilot episode of Twin Peaks is a masterpiece.  Whenever a movie director does a pilot today, (Martin Scorsese for Boardwalk Empire, Barry Sonnenfeld for Pushing Daisies) they give out an Emmy in a moment.  Lynch earned his with the shot of Ray Wise finding out his daughter is dead.  The camera uses every spot on the screen as we see the Sheriff pull up in the background and we dread watching a parent get the worst news they can receive.  Ray Wise should have won an Emmy in season 2 no doubt, but it is Lynch’s directing Emmy that still gives me Garmonbozia.

3. Martin Sheen doesn’t win for arguing with God….in Latin

For seven season Martin Sheen led our fictional country.  For seven seasons he lost the Emmy.  Mostly to Tony Soprano who really didn’t need three wins.  In my perfect world, if you won an Emmy this year, the following year you would not be eligible for winning for the same show.  I think after losing the award, Aaron Sorkin decided to take matters into his own hands.  He wrote Martin a monologue where the president, alone in a church, argued with God.  To top it all off he did it in Latin with no subtitles.  We didn’t need to understand the words, Martin was telling us with his acting.

4. Patrick Stewart doesnt win for Star Trek.

I understand that it is easy to discount science fiction from an awards point of view.  I will never understand how Patrick Stewart didn’t win for playing Captain Piccard.  He may just be the best actor to ever work on television from a training and back ground stand point.  Year in and year out he played a captain with a level of respect that had not been displayed on television before.  In season 6,  Chain of Command part 2, he took everything to a new level.  Not only did he not win for this episode, he wasn’t even nominated.  He should have won just for his last line of, “There are four lights.”  Watching the way he played this scene is a lesson in acting.  Ask yourself would most men have screamed this with anguish instead of anger?

5. Jason Alexandar doesn’t win for Seinfeld.

A trivia question for you to use at the bar.  Which NBC Sitcom did all the cast members win an Emmy for?  Most will guess Seinfeld, but the answer is Will & Grace.  Nothing against that show but the answer should be Seinfeld.  The first three years of Seinfeld, Jason was the best actor on the show.  His performance in “The Note” when George is given a massage by a man has subtleties that none of the rest of the cast could ever have pulled off.  I will freely admit that his acting just became a series of yells in the later years but Jason deserved to reach the podium at least in those early years.

6. Joss Whedon doesn’t win for writing original music.

You could totally do a list of why Joss should have won a million Emmy’s.  Producing, directing, writing and more.  (Not to mention Sarah Michelle Gellar) But the one that baffled me is in the original song category.  When he wrote a complete musical episode of Buffy with all original music, it seemed like a great way to give him his Emmy due.  The songs were not cheap and simple like other shows sometimes do with Musical episodes.  The songs were comical, emotional and multi-layered….just like Buffy.

I could go on, but I will stop at 6.  What are your Emmy Snubs?

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