Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

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tmurry
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Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby tmurry » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:55 pm

I wanted to know if anyone remembers the Twin Peaks Holiday Special with the little man from another place, because it was common knowledge on the newsgroup and boards in the early 90s, but no one seems to recall it when I mention it now. I had a VHS dupe of this show, with a badly printed jacket, that I had obtained at DragonCon 93’ or so (I met Al Simmons, the real life namesake of Spawn and Jim Lee if that helps). While I was cleaning house, I had accidentally given it with the rest of my VHS tapes to a courier named Roland who worked for us (who was later fired for popping positive for THC and I didn’t know his last name, so I couldn’t get it back). It was so bad so I wasn’t really upset. I just finished talking to my friend Gaines who I watched this with a bunch of times to just laugh and drink beer, so he managed to corroborate my memories and remind me of some other stuff. Note that all of this is just his and my memory and may be off, and the stuff about the actors and background info is pure hearsay from whatever groups and boards I was on in that era. Here is what I remember, if you guys can fill in the details or correct inaccuracies that would be fantastic.

ABC decided to exercise a clause in the Twin Peaks contract calling for their ability to produce up to 3 Twin Peaks related specials. In the rush of awards show wins and high profile media exposure, they decided to greenlight a Holiday Special in hopes that they could capitalize on the buzz and the small town spirit of the show to maybe wind up with a perennial favorite. It was to be shot on hiatus, but Lynch and Frost were not interested in working on it. The execs focused on getting a cast to lure another writer and director associated with the show.

The cast were mostly uninterested in the blind pitch, except for Kimmie Robertson, who thought it would be fun as long as she could “do hair” and Joshua Harris who had just been cast to play Nicky Needleman in the next season and happened to be around when they were looking. They felt they needed a bigger name to anchor the project and were surprised that Kyle MacLachlan said yes as long as he had final creative approval and a guarantee that the show would air. MacLachlan had a well known issue with excessive use of human pineal gland extract around this time and the executives simply thought he needed the money (the fad for “organic” drugs was in full swing and HPGE was the priciest drug on the market at that time – Kyle was said to have an 80 donor equivalents per week habit, the highest ever recorded).

They were able to get one of the incoming writing staff (not sure which one) to agree to write it but it was apparently a “Stan Lee” job where the instruction to the story editor (a pre TNG Ronald Moore) was “that dwarf guy goes home for some reason.” Moore, fresh off of a committed method writing exercise of 6 months living full emersion as a Klingon, decided on a “Pon Farr” scenario of the Little Man returning to his home planet to mate. Gains remembers that Alan Smithee, who IMDB tells me has had quite a career (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000647/), was named as director and they were ready to go.

MacLachlan got heavily involved in the writing. He and Lara Flynn Boyle had been living in a small shanty in the Salton Sea, and communications with them had become erratic. Kyle said he had a “vision” as to how this might change the world, and fought Moore the entire time. When the executives saw some of the pages and, realizing they could not cancel, gave the minimal budget contractually allowed and planned to bury the project. Instead of at Christmas, it aired at 3 AM, Tuesday October 16th, 1991 with no promotion under a title that did not contain Twin Peaks (I thought it was something like “Trial of Bark,” but Gains swears it was “Our Emancipation.”). No one saw this thing, but somehow I had that tape in all its cable acess-level production glory.

The story was basically a Christmas Carol. There are no opening credits and the special starts with LMAP in the red room, when a large head (poorly superimposed with a blurring effect, weird computer imposed black hole for a mouth) tells him he must come back to “the planet Garmanbozia” (Lynch hated everything about this special and disavows it except for this name which he liked and kept for the movie) for the Tantaculus festival (MacLachlan’s suggestion, named after the “world system” he and Boyle were devising in the California desert) in order to mate. The little man with resignation walks into the mouth and emerges in his house. This is the only special effects and the only appearance of any of the normal settings of the actual show (all the summoned guests simply “walk on” from the side).

There are birds on the soundtrack constantly and no music outside of musical numbers. The house is like a modern Flintstones house (fake chrome everywhere, rust colored Formica table [no idea if this was an idea germ too], but uneven plaster painted ochre. He sees his wife Brigite (Priscilla Barnes, who acts in a 3 foot cutout in the stage, and just disappears when she is not in a scene – you never see her leave or come back). She is excited to mate, but he is clearly not and she disappears in a huff. He says hi to his kids (Bob and Mike, no relation – played by sock puppets worked by a guy dressed in black), who are arguing over what seems to be a beef jerky. He talks away from them about how he loves them but he doesn’t know if he can handle more. Behind him appears an unnamed thin giant (Meadowlark Lemon in a part presumably written for Carel Struycken) who says he will show him the value of “whoople” with “three gifts” as the show cuts to commercial.

The giant proceeds to bring in the three cameos, the first two of which have musical numbers. Lucy comes in and gives LMAP a makeover and reminds him several times that he is “still sexy” before breaking into that Sinead O’Conner song (Emperor’s New Clothes, I think). Locked camera shot, but the Lucy awkward dance stuff is fun. Commercial then Little Nicky comes in to remind him that his kids are still lovable and always a gift (more on this scene later) and he and the giant break into a Bossa nova-esque version of Blues from a Gun (the music is very dated and kind of inappropriate).

Finally, for the last act, Dale shows up. Most of his lines are gibberish (a lot about division and multiplication and, Zeno’s paradox perseverating), but he eventually gives LMAP a crushed velvet painting of a naked Log Lady (log held strategically). The little man becomes alert and approaches the painting, rubbing its surface and making a yelping noise. His wife appears and calls to him “Alf, come to me.“ He walks backwards to the rear of the house. The kids ask Coop if he wants some coffee and, in the one really interesting moment in the whole thing, Dale says “no thank you, if he makes coffee like he dances I’m likely to wind up with a mouth full of grounds.” Strange sounds emanate from the back of the house (the only good foley work) and we end on a freeze frame of Coop giving a thumbs up and really fast credits.

My main, seared-in memories are the song numbers, the bad blocking and lack of positional continuity (Barnes’ hole), and a few specific oddities. In the Nicky scene, Bob and Mike (who are always doing something competitive in the background) are bouncing a beach ball back and forth, playing the “don’t let it hit the ground” game (where someone tosses the ball so that other people will try to keep it in play by gently tapping it up – this is before I knew what meta was). Now remember, it is one guy in a black mask obviously playing with himself but you can see the ceiling fan. There is a tension that the ball is going to hit the fan, but it never does and they don’t do anything with this. Meadowlark is wearing a Star Trek-ish uniform that is made out of potholder material. MacLachlan speaks with an intensity like he needs to convince the audience that without math the world will cease to exist, or something. Lucy’s pre-Elaine funky dance is neat.

It is important to note that, in lieu of backward talking/shooting the scenes, everyone just inflects each syllable up with a tight jaw (they start to forget to do this pretty quickly except Barnes who is if anything a committed actress). There’s no way this thing is canon in any way - Lynch doesn’t even answer questions about it (he responds with non-denial stuff like "I don’t think Id’ve done that” and “sounds made up”), and it is really bad. It is tonally nothing like the show and any mythology SHOULDN’T COUNT! It is a fiasco. I can’t find references Googling, but I think there has been a lot of self editing Wiki pages and legal action trying to scrub this thing from existence.

Any information, corrections, or links to where I could get this would be appreciated.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby dronerstone » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:23 pm

WTF???

Tbh, I didn't read the whole thing you posted, but from what I gathered this sounds awesome!

Never seen ANYTHING like this, not the tiniest wee little bit.
I don't think this is on YouTube, or I would've found it already during my years of intense internet research about Peaks.

Would be truly nice to see this. Good luck!
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N. Needleman
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby N. Needleman » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:00 am

Deep cut. I approve.

For the record, I understand there were different cuts for broadcast - like the television versions of some classic '80s movies (The Thing, the Halloween films, etc), where run time and scenes shifted depending on affiliate/network issues. But the version I saw (at a totally unrelated sci-fi convention in '98, when I was like 16, off a shitty VHS dub, and it had huge Japanese kanji subtitles blotting out half the bottom of the screen) had a weird 5-minute interlude with a gum-cracking Sheryl Lee in dirty blond hair playing another lookalike who was taking tickets at a bus station which had a big neon sign above it saying "Destination: Nowhere". She also had a (frankly terrible) New Yawker accent. Yet to this day the few people who have seen it (along with Sheryl herself, I believe, and who can blame her) vehemently deny she was in the special - or at least that version.

A few years later I downloaded a torrent of that very same 5th-generation copy off eDonkey - it took approximately 8 days and 7 nights - and tried to get my friends (who I'd indoctrinated to Peaks via the old videotape set) to watch it with me one night when we'd somehow managed to brew a devil's cauldron of vodka, triplesec, rum and orange sherbet in a dormitory fire bucket. They got to the Lucy sequence and told me to burn my computer. I think my friend Silas actually tried to do so.

The special is kind of a verboten subject for both production and fans, as I know much of the longtime fan community has formed bonds with some of the cast over the years so I think out of respect it's not discussed much in public. I remember the phrase Harry Shearer used to describe Jerry Lewis' infamous unfinished film The Day the Clown Cried - "it's like a black velvet painting of Auschwitz." That sums this up.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby laughingpinecone » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:04 am

Ah yes, now I understand what Mark Frost was referencing when he said "this is not A Very Special Twin Peaks Christmas. We hope it's something more than that."
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Soolsma
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby Soolsma » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:37 am

We should start a petition to re-release this on blu-ray.


:P

Twin Peaks without it's Holiday Special is like...
Last edited by Soolsma on Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby mtwentz » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:07 am

So when was it originally supposed to Sri? Christmas1990 or 1991?

If this is true, it finally resolved for many of us where the term Garmonbozia came from. I thought it was a term Lynch had made up himself.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby LonelySoul » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:39 am

Wait - so this is actually a real thing? This same post is on Reddit with a bunch of doubters and I have no idea what to think.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby mtwentz » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:23 am

LonelySoul wrote:Wait - so this is actually a real thing? This same post is on Reddit with a bunch of doubters and I have no idea what to think.


I am an original viewer and remember nothing about a special nor Kyle using pineal gland extract. So until it's verified by someone with street cred, I would take it with a grain of salt
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby djerdap » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:10 am

It's a joke. A parody of the disastrous Star Wars Holiday Special.
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mtwentz
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby mtwentz » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:23 am

djerdap wrote:It's a joke. A parody of the disastrous Star Wars Holiday Special.


Most Twin Peaks fans are freaks, not geeks, so it went over our heads.
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N. Needleman
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby N. Needleman » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:40 am

Obviously some of us have forgotten the debacle with the mis-aired Season 2 episode (it doesn't even have a production code) circa 1/26/91. They pulled it from circulation due to some behind-the-scenes miscommunication; there was nearly litigation.

I believe LITM archived the whole thing from alt.tv.twin-peaks.
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dronerstone
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby dronerstone » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:44 am

A joke that I didn't get.

Cuz I don't watch me no Star Wars, never haz been. ;)
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tmurry
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby tmurry » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:02 am

Fell a beach ball.

Street cred, ouch! I'd been quarantined to Tumblr for 6 or so years because it was the closest platform to the 10 years of blogging I was diaspora from and am rooting around for a home. I've been places . Tumblr had gotten too rough - I felt like noone was interested in a discussion of the last episode's red room sequence unless it involved Marxist or feminist/queer theory critique (not that there's anything wrong with that, just not my bag in specific - I am interested in aspects of them from a historical standpoint, including in Twin Peaks where there is a solid undercurrent of society being built on ritualistic violence against women in a pagan virgin sacrifice or ritualistic defilement way, but I digress). I've been more active on Reddit (as Axxon-N - https://www.reddit.com/r/twinpeaks/comments/5z2bwj/question_does_anyone_else_remember_the_twin_peaks/ is the string corrosponding to this where people appear very interested in things like DMT homology). Do you understand I look for an opening? I like this board but have been a little intimidated by the miles of road you guys have traveled together. Consider this an icebreker.

Anyway, I am fascinated in the alternate cuts, now. I never even considered the thing being repackaged for foreign markets where they were super hungry for material, didn't care so much about standards, and things might be more "leaky." I'm going to scour the booths at Wondercon and see if one of these might be peeking out from behind the complete Power Rangers: Zeo or some such.

And Little Nicky - I remember that misaired episode all too well (you probably guessed that).
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby AXX°N N. » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:19 am

For anyone who hasn't seen the Star Wars Holiday Special, I put my life on the line saying that it's worth experiencing at least once in your life -- it truly is the most terrible thing I have ever seen. It is DENSE in how bad it is -- ripe for as much analysis as a great film, truly cerebral in how little thought was put into the turd.
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Re: Does anybody remember the Twin Peaks Holiday Special

Postby Soolsma » Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:24 pm

Oh come on people. Where would Kyle even get an 80 donors worth of human pineal gland extract? :lol: Kudos to you Tmurry, I sincerely enjoyed your post. Through the first to paragraphs you almost had me going.

Love the Star Wars special btw. It's so bad I've viewed it as surreal horror.
I believe all these phenomena that our putted-up egos and busy ant minds persist in trying to label, categorize, penetrate, and comphrehend, all spring from this same uncanny source. This is the mother of all "others".

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