What happened to James Hurley?

He became a beef and chicken importer/exporter in Shreveport, Louisiana.

OK, no… he didn't do THAT, but the only answer we can say with any degree of certainty is he left Twin Peaks to "see the world." And why wouldn't he? For pete's sake, look at what happened to him: In the span of less than one month (of "real time" in the show's chronology):

His girlfriend died, he fell in love with the best friend of his dead girlfriend, he started falling for the semi-identical cousin of his dead girlfriend… a cousin who was then murdered by the same man who killed his girlfriend (who was then identified as his girlfriend's father). Oh, and after all this he gets entangled with a woman who wants to have him kill her husband and almost goes to jail over it! I know high school is a dramatic time for many, but come on!

If I was James, I'd have done exactly what he did – hop on his bike and get the hell out of that town. And I'd have done it a lot sooner than he did.

The real answer as to what happened to James Hurley? Writer/producer Mark Frost ran out of plot for his character, and he was written out of the show.

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It’s not Twin Peaks, but Storyville is a remarkable underrated film

“The past isn’t dead.”

Revisiting well-remembered films in this Neglected Cinema series is like a crapshoot. Sometimes movies I loved on first viewing I find merely likeable, and other times I discover old favorites are, with the passage of time, barely watchable.

Then there are movies like Storyville.

It’s been twenty years since Storyville’s release, and when it came out many viewers were expecting the same quirky darkness that director Mark Frost had given us on his TV series Twin Peaks (ironically, the sequel/prequel to the series, Fire Walk With Me, came out around the same time). I was one of those people, a rabid Peaks fan, and when I first saw Storyville in the fall of 1992 I thought it was good, not great.

I was wrong. It’s fantastic.

Storyville is a revelation, a solid piece of entertainment and a remarkable character study that deserves a lot more attention and praise from movie fans.

James Spader (who looks oh-so-very-young here) stars as a candidate running for Congress, a lawyer from a powerful New Orleans family who’s in politics because he “doesn’t know how to do anything else.” When he gets a note to meet a beautiful woman in a red-light district dance club named Storyville, his life and political aspirations get… complicated. VERY complicated. Spader does some great work with some challenging material here.

In Storyville, the filmmakers bring forward a remarkable supporting cast, and many of the featured players are actors Frost had previously worked with on Hill Street Blues and Twin Peaks. Michael Warren, Charles Haid, and Piper Laurie all provide canny turns and take full advantage of some of the great dialogue Frost provides. Also providing great performances are Chuck McCann, Jason Robards, and Charlotte Lewis.

I’ve never been to New Orleans (I drove through it once) and visiting there is on my “bucket list.” Watching Storyville makes me want to go there all the more, as Frost takes full advantage of shooting on location. There’s some beautiful shots here.

Also worth noting is a fantastic score by Carter Burnwell, one of the best he’s ever done (and he’s done some great ones).

I wish I could be completely glowing in my praise, but I did have some issues with the movie. As a viewer I never really felt much sympathy for Spader’s character, and his (very human) reaction when he learns he was videotaped making love doesn’t help matters. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer is billed as the co-star, and she’s absolutely beautiful (I have a thing for brunettes), but… her performance just doesn’t work for me. Finally, as the drama moves to the courtroom some of the classic tropes of that genre, unfortunately, pop up.

But that last courtroom scene… Ooh, boy. What a scene.

I now find myself in the surprising position as a Twin Peaks fan who now likes Storyville more than Fire Walk With Me. A surprising and odd position indeed.

Storyville is out of print but copies are still available from many used DVD sellers. If you like smart films with great performances, seek out a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Will there ever be a Twin Peaks reboot/sequel? My thoughts…

I think so, but it may be a while… and a new “season” of Twin Peaks would be markedly different from what has come before if it ever does happen.The DVDs have been selling consistently well since the Gold Box set was released, Fire Walk With Me has been getting some renewed attention by critics upon its 20th anniversary, and the series has been getting more and more attention (and many new fans) over the past two decades.

I know that there are some ideas being tossed about, and since Mark Frost and David Lynch own the show (and the rights to do with it as they see fit), the only thing needed to make it happen is the will to do it and the financing/studio to pay for it.

Regarding the first part, David Lynch is semi-retired and is more interested in doing small personal projects and his Lynch Foundation, and Mark Frost is busy working on his new young adult series (and future film) The Paladin Prophesy. If Twin Peaks returns, I’d wager it will be Mr. Frost doing it, with David’s blessing and a potential executive producer credit… But it all depends on that second part – financing.

Even with today’s low-cost equipment for digital filmmaking, producing a TV show costs money… Lots of it. Actors, crew, production personnel, location costs, sets… It needs the backing of a studio or someone with deep pockets. And with the economy is still very soft, and Hollywood is more risk-averse than ever. The good news is, if Lynch/Frost Productions decides to bring back Peaks, it is a “known quantity” and as we know studios love reviving those type of things…

If it does comes back, though, it’ll just not be the same. Several actors may not be interested in returning, everyone is much older, the actor who played BOB passed away several years ago, and if David Lynch is not actively involved much of the surreal aspects of the series could be missing. Will it still be good? It depends on the crew Lynch/Frost brings together… but I am fairly confident, based on Mark Frost’s creative output the past few years, that it would be very good indeed.

(HOW it would come back is another interesting to think about. A book? A miniseries? A new series? A movie? A web-only series? My guess would be a web series… That would then be sold as a set on DVD. A key test, in my opinion, will be how the new Arrested Development season does next year. If it is successful, the major backer that would pay for a new season of Twin Peaks could be Netflix…)

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Like Twin Peaks? Then buy Mark Frost’s new book, The Paladin Prophesy!

I was lucky enough to get Mark Frost’s new book The Paladin Prophecy the day before it was officially released, thanks to the magic of Amazon. I had preordered it months ago, because I’ve been a long time fan of Mr. Frost’s work, starting way back those many moons ago when he worked on a show called The Six Million Dollar Man. I was a fetus at the time, but I knew good writing when I heard it (through my mother’s belly). (Kidding.)

He also worked on another show you may have heard of… Twin Peaks, the groundbreaking series that made the incredibly provocative shows of today possible. If you are a regular reader of ‘Ye Ol’ Blog, you know I’m kind of a fan of Twin Peaks (you know, the same way most of us are “kind of fans” of breathing).

And speaking of Twin Peaks, there’s more than a touch of that show’s dark mysticism in The Paladin Prophecy. You see, there are forces that have been waging war for millennia, and we are introduced to this war through Will West, a young man who is very very talented.

This is a young adult novel the same way the works of Roald Dahl were for kids, or the books by J.K. Rowling… which is to say, it’s not. It’s a good read for all ages, 8 to eighty, and it’s a real page turner. It’s also got lots of heart, as Will works through what is happening to him with help from his Dad’s List of Rules to Live By, which Mark has conveniently enumerated at the end of the book (and these rules are very good advise, as well)

Any more details would spoil a good read, so I will stop there. Do yourself a favor, and pick up The Paladin Prophecy, which has already been optioned for a film series. And then, upon reading, wait impatiently for book two!

I know I will…

The Paladin Prophesy is available through Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. Which, these days, is mostly Amazon…