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Dale Cooper Just One More Thing

Twin Peaks and subscription madness
As Twin Peaks returns after 26 years under the guiding hands of creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, Slarek lreveals why he won't be watching a series he's been looking forward to seeing for some time...at least not yet.
28 May 2017
 

Last weekend saw two significant and directly connected events that a couple of years ago I'd given up on ever seeing happen – a new season of cult TV series Twin Peaks began 26 years after it was previously cancelled, and David Lynch has returned to the director's chair. Both are a big deal for me. I remain a huge fan not just of Twin Peaks but of just about everything that Lynch has laid his directorial fingers on, but all the signs were that Lynch had retired from filmmaking to concentrate instead on painting, sculpture, music and transcendental meditation. Fine though this may be to those who regard film as a lesser art or no art at all (leave the room now and never return), for film devotees, particularly those with a love for surrealist cinema, this was a glum prospect. No-one made films like David Lynch, and the idea that he would voluntarily abandon an art form in which he has a singular talent leaves you groaning for the works that might have been. So the news that Twin Peaks was returning and that Lynch would be co-writing (with Mark Frost, the series' original co-creator and its driving force) and directing every episode excited the living hell out of me. But as the broadcast date neared, I realised that I was going to be faced with a moral dilemma that was probably going to eke out the pain of waiting to see it for at least a couple of months more.

Allow me to explain. About two years ago I abandoned live television in all of its forms. I had a number of solid reasons for doing so, but the principal one was simple – there was next to nothing screening on live TV that I believed was worth watching, and what precious little there was I could source through other outlets or was prepared just to wait until the Blu-ray was released. I was also becoming aware that the wretched free-market scrabble for viewing figures was making it nigh-on impossible for anyone living on a budget to watch every talked-about new series or one-off special on its initial transmission date. I weep for the hardened movie and TV junkie who also has a passion for sports, as the combined cost of subscriptions or access to an everything-included Sky TV package, plus Amazon Prime, Netflix, BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema and who knows what else must cost more per month than I spend on food, drink, clothing and utility bills combined. And if the financial outlay wasn't dispiriting enough, I refuse on principal to give a single damned penny to any company even remotely connected to the awful Rupert Murdoch – even if you offered me a free Sky subscription my instant response would be to outline exactly how you could insert it into your anus.

Twin Peaks 2017

And therein lies my dilemma. Rarely in recent years have I looked forward to a series more than the Twin Peaks revival, but in the UK it's screening exclusively on Sky Atlantic. This leaves me with three choices:

  1. Throw my moral convictions to the wind and get a Sky subscription. That's never going to happen. Not only is that an absurd price to may – morally and economically – just to watch a single series at the same time as newspaper commentators and the single friend I have who has Sky TV, but I would still not own a copy of the show that I could watch even when I cancelled that subscription at the earliest opportunity. And I really hate Murdoch.

  2. Download a pirate copy of the show. Highly illegal, of course, as well as being prone to viral infections. And seriously, even if I had done that, would I admit to it here?

  3. Wait until the whole series becomes available for download on iTunes or, better still, is released on Blu-ray with (or probably without) a cornucopia of revealing special features. This does means that I wouldn't get to see the series until long after everybody of note has stopped talking about it, which is a bit crap for a film-related site that should by rights be actively contributing to the discussion as the series progresses.

This is increasingly becoming an issue for those of us financially unable or morally unwilling to spend an absurd amount each month for access to shows that we once would have been able to watch for free, or at least for the price of the annual licence fee (which, having abandoned live TV, I also no longer pay). But if you can stand being the only one at the metaphorical water cooler not gabbing about last night's episode of whatever series it is that you're having to wait to see, and can avoid all the spoilers that dance around the internet, there are distinct advantages to that third option. Box-set binge watching may have become a subject for snooty mockery of late, but I personally love being able to watch as much or as little of a series as I like in a single sitting, and it has the effect of transforming a multi-part series into an extended movie, particularly given the cinematic feel of many American cable drama series. Just recently, my girlfriend discovered Breaking Bad for the first time and struggles to pull herself away from it, which means I've had the pleasure of re-watching it in batches of five episodes at a time.

So it looks as though I'll have to wait to see the new series of Twin Peaks just as I've have to wait to catch season 3 of Fargo and season 4 of Silicon Valley, both of which I've been eagerly anticipating for some months now. When my love of film collides with my political convictions, then the former is always going to lose out to the latter – a film may be insulting or offensive, but the dangerous propagandist claptrap of the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Paul Dacre does genuine harm, and I'd no more put money in Murdoch's pocket to watch a work from one of my favourite filmmakers than I would buy the Daily fucking Mail to read an insightful and revealing article about him, even though the chances of finding such a piece in that tawdry rag are infinitesimally small. Ultimately, it matters not. I'll get to see it eventually, and with the likes of Eureka, Indicator, Arrow, Second Run, Curzon Artificial Eye, the BFI and others beside pumping out so many great Blu-ray and DVD releases, it's not as if I'm ever likely to be starved of something to watch.