The two-season show Twin Peaks first launched in 1990. And—thanks to its compelling weirdness, some ace acting from Kyle MacLachlan, characters like the Log Lady, and its appeal to our prurient interest in small-town life—fans have gone on loving it, and wanting more, for nearly 30 years.
As of Sunday night, thanks to Showtime, they’ve gotten their wish: A new Twin Peaks is here, MacLachlan and all, even if the Log Lady is no longer with us.
While celebrating this TV land coup, we came across a bizarre ad campaign David Lynch developed for the Japanese market in 1993.
As the story goes, the Japanese discovered Twin Peaks through shared VHS tapes and Wowow, a satellite-TV channel. Fans there became just as rabid for the show, if not more so: While the 1992 prequel film, Fire Walk With Me, fared poorly in the U.S., it did really well in Japan—where it was released first.
To build on that momentum, Lynch and some cast members gathered ’round to create a series of ads for Georgia Coffee, a Coca-Cola-owned canned coffee brand, just for the Japanese market.
Like the series, the ads are quirky as all hell and feature their own mystery—the disappearance of one man’s Japanese wife. Four spots lead up to the story’s conclusion, but there’s a lot to appreciate here for Western fans, too.
I came to Twin Peaks late in life (thanks, Netflix). One of the scenes that won me over was in the pilot, when Agent Cooper (MacLachlan) and Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) visit a bank to examine a safety deposit box. When he and the sheriff are ushered into a room, a massive deer head lying on a conference table takes up the whole bottom half of the shot.
“Oh, it fell down,” the bank employee says by way of explanation. The head is never mentioned again and everyone moves on. But it’s random moments like this that mark both the whimsical improvisational quality of Lynch’s work … and may have inspired the theme of creepy antlers in later shows, like True Detective and Hannibal.
That moment sets the scene that kicks off the weird 1993 campaign. This first ad is titled “Lost” and features MacLachlan as Cooper with a new Japanese partner.
In the second ad, “Cherry Pie,” we’re led to Big Ed’s Gas Farm, where the mysterious presence of snooker balls in the backseat of a rare car inspires Agent Cooper to take one of his infamous pie breaks, accompanied by some Georgia Coffee—straight out of his giant trenchcoat pocket.
“A Mystery of G” is the unlikely tale of how a mysteriously sent red paper crane yields its secret—the clue that reveals where the woman can be found. The Log Lady also makes another appearance, not to validate anyone’s detective work but to confirm that Georgia is “damn fine coffee.”
“The Rescue” brings us back to the Red Room, where our lost woman, speaking that disorienting Red Room language, proves far easier to save than Laura or Annie ever did. Agent Cooper doesn’t even have to trade souls this time.
Georgia apparently hoped to release a second ad campaign. But in the end, the ads didn’t prove their merits selling canned coffee. Even so, they make for a wonderful off-route jaunt on the road back to Twin Peaks, as full of mystery and strange magic as it ever was.
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