Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

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Mr. Reindeer
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Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:24 pm

There's been some discussion of this in the Profoundly Disappointed and the "Mean-Spirited" threads. I thought it deserved its own topic, especially since Mark's name seems to have largely dropped out of the conversation (both on these boards and the press) since the series started. It was nice that he got his moment in the sun with TSHoTP, but as soon as the actual show dropped, the talk shifted (perhaps inevitably) pretty much to "look what David Lynch is up to!" As I've mentioned a few times, I really do see Frost's fingerprints all over this thing, albeit with his ideas filtered/skewed through DKL's lens at times.

So maybe the most obvious place to start is that the ostensible driving force of the "plot," a mythology-heavy race between the heroes and villain to find/summon an ancient evil being, feels very Frost in season 2/TSHoTP mode (I haven't read his other books, but the descriptions of The List of Seven and The Paladin Prophecy seem very similar to the mythology of TR). He clearly gets a kick out of this kind of thing (interesting for a guy who cut his teeth on the for-the-era hyper-realistic Hill Street Blues), whereas DKL never really has. Dune was a chore for him to direct precisely because it was so heavy on this type of stuff, and ever since then, while he certainly has dabbled in the supernatural frequently, it's generally in a much more abstract, subjective and metaphorical/psychological way. Outside of Dune, TP overall is certainly the most literal "mythology" a DKL work has ever had, but when DKL was in the director's seat in the '90s, it was never about dugpas and Lodges and Blue Book (even as Gordon ironically delivered much of that exposition in non-DKL-directed episodes!): it was about abstractions and mood, and in the moments where the mythology does become a bit more straightforward/literal in DKL-directed '90s TP, it's in the service of connecting it to the experiences of the main characters through metaphor (garmonbozia). Whereas the Mr. C/FBI plot of this season feels more like straight mythology-for-the-pure-sake-of-it, which I think is much more Frost's MO.

In fact, I think it's fair to say that Frost has a legacy few ever credit to him: he's really the grandfather of all the mythology-driven series we've gotten since TP. I really don't think we would have a Westworld or a Walking Dead without Lost, and Damon Lindelof has said that there wouldn't have been a Lost without TP. And that mythology aspect of TP was very much Frost and Peyton...DKL may have created the memorable images and moods that make the mythology iconic, but Frost/Peyton were the ones who invented the very idea of having a mythology-centered television show and set the basic format that has been used as a template ever since.

Just as the original both mocked soap opera tropes and indulged in them enthusiastically and sincerely, people (including me) have speculated that TR intentionally is winking at "Peak TV"/prestige drama of the recent past (a painting from the Sterling-Cooper offices turning up in Lucky 7, the vortex from True Detective). While I think there were definitely some allusions in this vein, the more apropos analogy to the original show's soap opera fetish is the way TR uses the mythology show/"puzzle box" language of Lost and its successors, both imitating and subverting expectations within the style of the very cottage industry which TP itself spawned. If Lost fans grew weary of John Locke trying to open the hatch for seemingly an entire season, how excruciating must it have been for those same viewers to follow the epic adventures of Mr. C traveling middle America and demanding coordinates everywhere he went, only to finally pop into the Fireman's domain for a hot second, get plopped at the sheriff's station and unceremoniously shot? Like the original, TR gleefully delights in sincerely indulging a popular genre while simultaneously pointing out how silly it all is. Again, this feels very Mark. DKL hasn't watched any recent TV except Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Detective and some car shows on the Gear channel. True Detective is the only one of those with a mythological slant...whereas Mark seems to generally keep up on recent television and explicitly said in his Reddit AMA that he really enjoys Westworld.

Of course, all of this ended up being filtered through DKL's direction. So the Mr. C stuff takes on a more Lynchian dimension through the mood and tone, with the endless nighttime driving shots and laconic dialogue delivery giving the feel of a dream where you keep going places trying to get something (coordinates!), but can never quite figure out what you need to know, or even why you need to find it ("Who is Judy?" he asks Jeffries, even though he seems to be hunting for her throughout the whole series). But the foundation/core of the mythological scenes of this show feel 70-80% Frost in my view. (I'm not including Part 18, that's its own very Lynchian beast).

And as I implied in another thread, a lot of the material people are interpreting as a "world is going to hell in a hand basket" screed strikes me as more Frost. One has only to look at his Twitter feed to see that he's unhappy with the state of the world and thinks about it A LOT. Now I think people who disliked the show are overstating how misanthropic it actually is. I've seen complaints that the town of Twin Peaks is now one big trailer park filled with drug addicts, and I don't think that's accurate. But clearly the idea of a world gone wrong is something we're supposed to be thinking about. I'll use two scenes to illustrate that this is a theme, and that at least a fair bit of it can be attributed to Frost IMO. The first is the gun/"sick girl" scene. I think it's not a tremendous logical leap to assume that Mark was the one who wanted to address the issue of kids and guns, since DKL very rarely addresses hot-button topical issues in his work (and when he does, it's so elliptical you don't even spot it, like the OJ trial inspiring Lost Highway). This scene clearly builds a mood of dread and oppressiveness, presenting Twin Peaks as a terrifying hellish place not because of "something in the woods," but because of very human concerns which Frost seems to think about a lot more than DKL. The other scene (well, scenes) are the Jacoby broadcasts, which strike me as full-on Frost, in the same half-sincere-half-mocking mode he used for much of the conspiracy theory material in TSHoTP (i.e., simultaneously mocking Jacoby's nuttiness while allowing him to express some points Frost probably sincerely agrees with).

Admittedly, the "sick girl" scene feels like a spiritual cousin to Eraserhead's existential dread, and the absurdist punchline with the sick girl herself certainly feels like a Lynch touch. But again, that's the nature of DKL being the one to actually shoot the stuff.

Anyway. Anyone else feel like doing some pointless speculating?
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Novalis » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:06 pm

I don't know enough about Mark Frost and his output to engage with this properly, but you make a very interesting post here. I think the idea of the original TP ribbing soap-opera while also using its format and some of its formulas sincerely and enthusiastically is spot on. One thing I've always felt about Twin Peaks is that it is never cynical. It might poke fun at various things like human nature but it does so from within them; it's not a cold, external view from an ivory tower and never has been. That goes for the new season as well, which is one of the reasons why I find it difficult to empathise with people who are receiving it as an insult to their continued fandom. Yet there is definitely a very clear tonal shift between TP S1 & S2 on the one hand, and S3 on the other (with FWWM representing something of a transitional zone). There's an emotional change; something over and above the switch from warm deep mint-chocolate-chip colours of film to the more exact, but less personal, look of digital. If you are familiar with Frost's work and general outlook and claim that you can see his fingerprints all over S3, I see no reason to doubt what you're saying. It may well be that Frost is slightly more 'in touch' or 'in tune' with the spirit of the age we're in and feels the weltzschmertz more keenly than Lynch -- or is more inclined to look for the social and economic causes of it than Lynch would ever be. The way you liken Dr. Amp's tirades to a self-conscious send-up on the part of Frost suggests he has quite a sense of humour and understands the way some people might take his commitment to a better world and indignation at the state of things as a kind of pseudo-bohemian theatricality or even madness. If so, I quite like the ironic maturity of it all: railing against injustices but all the time aware he's going to sound unfortunately close to being some kind of professional contrarian. Jacoby's new character took me completely by surprise in S3; he's very unlike the old Jacoby.

I've only read parts of TSHoTP. I find the constant swapping of format from page to page hard going. It's sitting by my pillow though, and I dip into it every once in a while. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I find it very interesting as a spin-off and a sidebar.

With respect to the vortexes in the new material, I hadn't considered up until now that Frost might be the hand behind them. For a while I just felt they were Lynch's oblique and mystified/abstracted take on Hitchcock's Vertigo, which I think is covered as one of his influences, with its doppelganger and paranoia theme. This new revelation that Frost may be the man behind the curtain and not Lynch in much of this season is making me rethink this somewhat.

Thanks for a great post. This has probably not been the most coherent or original of replies, mostly just processing what you wrote. Maybe I can get back to this thread in the future when I'm a bit better equipped to talk in depth about Frost's imput.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby IcedOver » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:55 pm

I'm also not familiar with Frost's novels, but for certain Freddie is his creation. Frost was one of a team of writers on the 2005 and 2007 "Fantastic Four" movies, so obviously he has at least some connection to comic book properties. Freddie's dialogue in the Great Northern scene just doesn't feel like something Lynch would have written. Too bad he didn't develop the character more for him to play such a crucial role. Then along with Jacoby's bitching which was probably his work, you have some of Hutch and Chantal's dialogue, such as "It might as well be 'Thou shalt kill, show no mercy, forgive no one, fuck 'em in the ass!'" which is along the same line. The atomic bomb thing and the idea that it might have attracted "others" is sort of out of the book as far as I recall.

I wonder if perhaps Frost wrote some scenes that would have fleshed out characters or plots more, only to have them either dropped by Lynch or edited out (not that I'm giving him credit as the only one of the two who could have done that). In particular I'm thinking about when Mr. C picks up Richard. I just can't believe that a scene wasn't scripted or filmed in which they talked about Mr. C's plans or at least about him being Richard's father. That would have helped tremendously in the long run of the show.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby AgentEcho » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:37 pm

This is an interesting thing to think about. I have to assume that a lot of the creative choices in TP:TR that cut so against the grain of conventional wisdom when it comes to constructing stories for television or in general came from Lynch, and I have wondered how much Frost embraced that. Some time ago when Twin Peaks seemed at its deadest point, Mark Frost gave an interview where he was not particularly complimentary about Mulholland Drive and Lynch's story telling abilities. Not to make too big a deal about that, obviously they still had enough collaborative chemistry to undergo this monumental task many years later, but it does strike me that someone who had these criticisms about MD would have similar criticisms about TP:TR. That isn't to say that Frost did not come around to these decisions somewhere in the process of collaboration.

But I agree Frost's fingerprints are everywhere here and he is often not given enough credit. It's probably safe to say Mark Frost had a far more significant creative contribution than most Lynch collaborators, like say Robert Engels or Barry Gifford with Lost Highway, and I suspect Lynch was willing to defer to him on many occasions.

When Frost does his press tours for The Final Dossier it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about TP:TR now that we've been able to see it all.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby N. Needleman » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:38 pm

I think Frost's lore is heavy throughout - especially after Part 8, with Judy, tulpas, etc. and looking at Diane/Marjorie Cameron. I need to go back through the Secret History.

I am not convinced Freddie is not all Lynch. The long shaggy dog story sounded like him to me, not Frost. I do think Frost was onboard with all this - the ending was shot very early. He had to have known.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Mystery Roach » Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:39 pm

Great post! Much of this is stuff I've been feeling and saying, although I could never articulate it as well as you have. Being familiar with Lynch's work and reading TSHOTP while watching TR, I became acutely aware of just how much of the plot seemed to be coming from Mark, while Lynch seemed content to just film that material in his own abstract way and put his spin on it (which I'm sure is a great oversimplification of their creative process). At least right up until that last episode, which is the point that I really felt Lynch's fingerprints on the storytelling as well. And even that ending was probably something they concocted together to fit within the framework that Mark had created, although I think the execution and shift of tone was pretty much all Lynch.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby baxter » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:40 pm

Great thread - I have been thinking about these things a lot as well.

To me, the ending must have been something that Frost and Lynch both worked hard on, since it is something that a writer would really care about and want to be handled properly. It has a literal interpretation (Cooper goes into an alternate reality on the next part of his mysterious quest, following the clues from the Fireman), with a lot of room for speculation which comes from Lynch playing with the presentation of the material. Lynch does this in a clever way- it doesn't look to me like any exposition has been removed to obscure the narrative, but we are shown things that don't have a clear meaning (Cooper's superimposed face, Diane seeing her double). I have no doubt that there is a plot in Frost's head that points the way to a continuation, but I suspect that both of them thought that an ambiguous finale was keeping with the spirit of the show.

Since we know that Frost kicked the process off with some "narrative threads", I'm intrigued to know what these were. I hope that Frost will be forthcoming in the coming years in discussing the show.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby DoppelBocker » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:46 pm

I sort of had the opposite impression for some reason.

*I can't remember where but wasn't there a report that David Lynch didn't read TSHoP before shooting began?

*If anything, the input Frost had in the script was for a 9 episode series that Lynch it feels decided to prolong and include a lot of additional threads to speculate over.

*Besides David being the dominant force here having directed all 18 episodes, he changes things he doesn't like even last moment. He did this on the last episode of Season 2 and he I'm guessing still does. Uncompromising in his vision. Frost may provide some background exposition to pull from but how scenes play out up to David.

If anything, if Frost had directed all 18 episodes we would've been served with a more conventional ending with an overall singular feel to the product with less loose ends and more layered exposition. David on the other hand seems to pull things the other way. S3 pretty much was all David I'm pretty sure.

I think the few ideas strewn in to give expository background on something are Frost. I think this Season could've used more of that. I mean I like things left open and not tied up conventionally but this season had few retcons it seems as well as kind of being a gigantic question mark on what the heck happened on everything.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:34 pm

N. Needleman wrote:I am not convinced Freddie is not all Lynch. The long shaggy dog story sounded like him to me, not Frost.


Yeh, I'm a huge Lynch fan who disliked the orb battle (but was ok with Freddie's origin story)..but I could also easily see all things Freddie having come from Lynch. It's tough to articulate why, but it feels like it could all be one of his more eccentric whims. I think too much is being made of the fact that Frost acted as a hired gun for hire on a superhero franchise. The fact that he took a well-paying gig doesn't mean he's super passionate about the subject matter, and I've never seen him express any interest in superheroes or comic books.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:38 pm

To be clear (because what I wrote earlier was misleading), I think Part 18 was largely scripted and just as much a collaborative effort as the rest of the show. However, I think for that portion of the story, DKL was the driving force moreso than Frost (as much as these things can be parsed out in a collaborative process), in contrast to most of the other mythology-centric scenes/moments.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:53 pm

DoppelBocker wrote:*I can't remember where but wasn't there a report that David Lynch didn't read TSHoP before shooting began?


TSHoTP didn't exist when shooting began. Mark was writing it concurrent with filming. But yes, DKL has said he doesn't have any interest in reading the book.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby DoppelBocker » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:11 pm

TSHoTP didn't exist when shooting began. Mark was writing it concurrent with filming. But yes, DKL has said he doesn't have any interest in reading the book.


Thanks for clarifying that.

However, with this being the case (at least as far as I can ascertain) it seems to me his level of input into Season 3 was fairly minimal. Writing a book I think seems to imply not a lot of time on set where he was really involved in the process outside of perhaps consulting on initial 9 episode run well before filming even was set to start.

Frost seems to have approached TSHoP more trepeditiosuly than originally intended (lots of existing metaphysical and UFO lore had to pull from and intertwine into narrative that doesn't really seem to be acknowledged all that much in the series) as a lot of the material covered in Final Dossier wasn't included in TSHoP. A big reason for this perhaps being what Lynch was doing was so secretive and ever changing, Frost didn't want to do something not perceived as cannon or do something that Lynch felt was revealing too much.

I like both their approaches and would like Season 4 to involve Frost more perhaps for an even level of contribution from a story content standpoint. A few other minds added to the process of just idea generating scriptwise probably wouldn't hurt as well with Frost and Lynch okaying final script collaboratively I'm hoping.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby kitty666cats » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:23 pm

Mr. Reindeer wrote:
DoppelBocker wrote:*I can't remember where but wasn't there a report that David Lynch didn't read TSHoP before shooting began?


TSHoTP didn't exist when shooting began. Mark was writing it concurrent with filming. But yes, DKL has said he doesn't have any interest in reading the book.


It really gets my goat that Lynch hasn't read the book that Mark Frost put so much work into.

I wonder if Lynch is even aware of what Frost turned Dougie Milford into?
Hell, I wonder if Lynch even remembers who Dougie Milford IS in the first place! :lol:
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby kitty666cats » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:34 pm

DoppelBocker wrote:
TSHoTP didn't exist when shooting began. Mark was writing it concurrent with filming. But yes, DKL has said he doesn't have any interest in reading the book.


Thanks for clarifying that.

However, with this being the case (at least as far as I can ascertain) it seems to me his level of input into Season 3 was fairly minimal. Writing a book I think seems to imply not a lot of time on set where he was really involved in the process outside of perhaps consulting on initial 9 episode run well before filming even was set to start.

Frost seems to have approached TSHoP more trepeditiosuly than originally intended (lots of existing metaphysical and UFO lore had to pull from and intertwine into narrative that doesn't really seem to be acknowledged all that much in the series) as a lot of the material covered in Final Dossier wasn't included in TSHoP. A big reason for this perhaps being what Lynch was doing was so secretive and ever changing, Frost didn't want to do something not perceived as cannon or do something that Lynch felt was revealing too much.

I like both their approaches and would like Season 4 to involve Frost more perhaps for an even level of contribution from a story content standpoint. A few other minds added to the process of just idea generating scriptwise probably wouldn't hurt as well with Frost and Lynch okaying final script collaboratively I'm hoping.



If we get more Twin Peaks, I REALLY want Peyton and Engels involved in the writing process. Hell, as a matter of fact, I could care less if Lynch would even get involved in writing for a S4. My ideal Twin Peaks is Frost and his verbose nerds writing dialogue, and Lynch just dealing with mood/aesthetics.
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Re: Mark Frost's Contributions to TP:TR (Speculation)

Postby DoppelBocker » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:09 am

kitty666cats wrote:

If we get more Twin Peaks, I REALLY want Peyton and Engels involved in the writing process. Hell, as a matter of fact, I could care less if Lynch would even get involved in writing for a S4. My ideal Twin Peaks is Frost and his verbose nerds writing dialogue, and Lynch just dealing with mood/aesthetics.


Difficulty is, I think he kind of brought it to a place where only he's able to write it yet oxymoronically seems like there's a possibility things will spin-out further beyond comprehension. I think he needs some other people around to provide a collaborative writing/narrative anchor of sorts so the story can be followed to a certain degree. However, I wonder how much Lynch would allow in regards to this before simply not wanting to participate all together?

On a positive note, I think Lynch did seem to save the series at the end of S2. I read some of what the last episode could've been and it was definitely saved by Lynch who really counterbalanced some of the issues with S2 with both this episode and FWWM in a way I don't think Frost could've. I think short sprints where it matters were Lynch's influence on the series in the 90's; a sort of counterpunch to the narrative that really shook things up and made a good series overall.

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