Red Oaks Is A Salve For The Soul In Three Short Seasons

By JB MInton (@joshuaminton)

A few years ago, before anyone really took Amazon seriously as a television powerhouse, I thought it was cute that they were doing a Caddyshack show. Looking at the show’s icon on the website, I didn’t really know any of the actors, had never heard of either of the producers (Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs)  and Richard Kind’s wonderfully huge smiling face was really the only one that resonated. But I saw Paul Reiser’s name and I loved when those two worked together way back in Mad About You, when as a teenager I fell deeply into Hollywood love with Helen Hunt. And all of those emotions mixed together and ended up with a click to play. I haven’t looked back since.

David and Skye open each other's hearts and discover what loves means to artists.

David and Skye open each other's hearts and discover what loves means to artists.

One part Caddyshack. One part Everwood. And one part A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man. Red Oaks tells the story of a long gone age of the 1980s, where a young man named David (played by the incredible Craig Roberts) who comes from a working class family, and seeks a higher spiritual life as a videographer for hire but settles to be an Assistant Tennis Pro in a New Jersey country club. His father (Richard Kind) and mother (Jennifer Grey) are falling apart together, their marriage dissolving in front of their eyes and 18 year old David is struggling to find his place as an artist in a word where he is surrounded by bankers and doctors and being called down what Joseph Campbell refers to as, “The Right Hand Path.” To complicate matters, his beautiful high school girlfriend is an aerobics instructor at the same country club and that is all about to get upset when David meet Skye, the free spirited and distant daughter (played the extremely talented Alexandra Socha) of the club President, Getty, played by Paul Reiser. Getty is a Wall Street Bonds trader and Overlord of Finance who seeks David’s help to win the seasonal Tennis competition against his arch-rival Dr. Feinberg. And when you add in the warm and joyous supporting cast, including Wheeler the Stoner Genius (played by the wonderful Oliver Cooper) and his gorgeous girlfriend Misty (played by the supremely talented Alexandra Turshen), Nash the Dreaming Lover and Head Tennis Pro (played by Ennis Esmer), and the ridiculous but utterly lovable goof of a club photographer named Barry, played by the stunningly funny Josh Meyers, and you have a very tight first season that sets the stage for David’s ascension to finding his bliss down the Left Hand Path of the artist. The season closes on new found love between many of the characters, love that could set them all free if it doesn’t drive them mad and make us die laughing first.

David's father struggles with his divorce and his mother struggles with her emerging new sexual life. 

David's father struggles with his divorce and his mother struggles with her emerging new sexual life. 

The second season tells the story about what happens after love opens these characters up, makes them vulnerable, and tries to destroy them in the process. David and Skye deliver each other into a new world of adulthood as both flail away from their homes and their parents, who are left to pick up the pieces of what it means to be a parent without constant fretting and fawning over their children. Wheeler and his girlfriend Misty, who is way out of his league but who ultimately is drawn to him because of his deep love and warmth, edge slowly into adulthood and peek over the wall at what those next steps might mean. Barry and Karen take the plunge into marriage, one of them right onto the Jersey highway, and not in the romantic Springsteen Born To Run way. And David and Skye launch each other into opposite directions, each walking away on the path their hearts take them, which, unfortunately ends up being away from each other by the end of the season. Season 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of this show, where disillusionment cloaks most of the hope that Season 1 ended with, but nonetheless hope still remains.

David stops waiting for someone to discover him and instead finds himself. 

David stops waiting for someone to discover him and instead finds himself. 

And finally, Season 3 is far too short but it does resolve into what I will call a satisfying ending, a tale well told about characters I have grown to love in a very short 26 episodes told in 13 hours over 3 years. Closing the book on Red Oaks was cathartic in the same way that I have to go through every time I think of the 1980s, a flood of emotions and memories of clattering spoons in empty cereal bowls in front of the television during Saturday Morning Cartoons, an institution as sacred in my memory as the Tennis Club Pro Championship was to Getty in Season 1. And like these characters, we grow as people in our early 20s, trying to clutch to the good things of the past, while looking forward with hope to the good things to come. And those bad things that happen, well those are just speed bumps on the way to success.

The characters find the same love together in their new lives together by the conclusion, a satisfying ending to a wonderful show.

The characters find the same love together in their new lives together by the conclusion, a satisfying ending to a wonderful show.

When a show ends, I try to look into the future and see where my mind’s eye places the characters I love and I love them all in this show, every single one of them, for all their flaws and all their joys and all their pain. Here’s what I see for Red Oaks - three seasons and a movie. I would love to see David in the year 2000, just before 9/11 takes our world from us, when America is at the peak of its power and influence. I need to see Getty and Wheeler and Misty and Nash and Barry and Karen and Skip and I definitely need to see Skye come back from whatever mountain she ends up on. Her complications drove David down the path that made him into the man he becomes and when they meet again, he just might be the one to save her, like we are sometimes called to do as people come in and out of our lives like mice in need scuttling through tunnels in time. I hope Amazon allows us to revisit this world and these wonderful people soon. 

Josh’s Red Room Score = A (Highly Rewatchable)

CLICK HERE to watch Red Oaks on Amazon Prime

On the Ending of Twin Peaks The Return: "How Do You Say Goodbye to Art That Never Leaves You?"
Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash

Many people feel this about Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars. These are grand works of art that combine dramatic storytelling with swashbuckling adventure, fueled by mind-blowing cinematography and special effects. Twin Peaks only has two of those four elements and, after watching The Return, I would argue that it pierces deeper than any of those mega-series. Hardly swashbuckling, Dale Cooper as Dougie Jones, our protagonist hero, remains completely silent over four-fifths of his on screen time and his arch-nemesis doesn’t speak much more than that either. The war in Twin Peaks is a quiet one but is also the most dangerous conflict the human species has ever engaged in, because it is a war for our souls. This war is much like the one we fight together, separately every day, foolishly believing we are alone, swinging our swords in the darkness, when in reality we whiff the quiet dark together with our blades and if we were to swing in unison against the common enemy?

Well things would change in a instant, wouldn’t they? 

This insight is the legacy of Twin Peaks The Return. We watched the goodness of simplicity and silence broil into a liquid gold benevolence that poured from our silent hero, Dale Cooper, into the hearts and minds and spirits of those around him, while his arch-nemesis doppleganger, in quest for the deep black, created empty thought forms, filled them with deadly poison, set them in place on the board of life, and yet still watched them fall to the gold.

In Oliver Stone’s film Nixon, there is a point where E. Howard Hunt tells John Dean, “Nixon is the darkness reaching out for the darkness and eventually it’s either you or him.” No truer thing could be said of Dale Cooper’s evil double, Mr C. While on the other side of the mirror, Dougie Cooper carries the simple goodness of a baby Buddha, frustrating, foiling and foaming his spiritual light all over their lives, turning their screaming mouths into soft smiles. 

This is a show for poet warriors of light who seek to illuminate the darkness and walk away from pain. 

Welcome to Twin Peaks. May you never leave. 

JB Minton

Sunday, September 3, 2017 (before the airing of the final two Parts)

Twin Peaks Returns And I Want It All To Myself...
"Wonder" by JB Minton

Twin Peaks has returned and I don’t want to share it with you but I have to. I am a lot more possessive of this Twin Peaks than I was the original two seasons and a movie. 
Let me explain myself. I didn’t watch Twin Peaks until my friend, podcast co-creator and brother-in-law (in that order) Scott Ryan made me watch it, in what he called, “The Right Way.” 

Now, I was not accustomed to anyone telling me how to watch a television show, but I trusted Scott’s passion and let him be our guide into the world of Frost & Lynch as they put a frame around human suffering and showed us beauty and terror with amazing music, dialogue, and photographs that moved at 30 frames per second.

We bought and ate the donuts when they ate the donuts, drank the coffee when they drank the coffee, and we ate the pie when they ate the pie.  As instructed, I read Laura Palmer’s Diary when Cooper and Truman read Laura Palmer’s Diary, and I read Cooper’s Autobiography halfway through Season 2 so I would be prepared for what the fictional world Twin Peaks was about to suffer from as a second round of tragedy when they lost Special Agent Dale Cooper and he was replaced by a malevolent spirit, hell bent on stoking the flames of hatred and violence in the world to increase the quality of garmonbozia (human suffering in the form of creamed corn that these demons feed on as a source of energy).

Cool Story Bro, but Scott owned the experience of having watched the show and the film time and time again for twenty years. He read every Wrapped In Plastic and collected and framed all those amazing Twin Peaks playing cards. I couldn’t muster the passion to devote myself to a show that old and that far out of an immediate experience. It is similar to how I imagine my children respond when I make them put their electronic devices in a basket and sit down and watch Little House on Prairie.

But then the announcement came from Frost & Lynch on Twitter and suddenly the narrative and the imagery and the sound was taking on new meaning for me. It became a meditation on suffering. There were so many questions to think about that we needed three years to process and prepare for what just started a few weeks ago. 

As I write this, there have been four published “Parts” to the saga of Twin Peaks. Mark Frost published The Secret History of Twin Peaks, a masterpiece of deception and intrigue that put a frame around what we were about to experience with an 18 hour film, slow dripped out over a third of a year, a 33% progression in the Earth’s revolution around the Sun.

But time moves very slowly in the Red Room and in the Black Lodge and in whatever that fucking power station in space is, so we have plenty of time to allow the metaphors to wash over us and tell us secrets about why human beings are born to suffer and die, some of us so much more so than others.

Something is in our house and something is missing. We have to find it and bring it back. Like all Twin Peaks fans, this ongoing work of art has become very special to me, a touchstone of morality and humor and darkness and humility. And I’m willing to share it with you, because it’s immediate and we are experiencing it together, in our waking lives. While the world is burning around us, we walk with the fire and watch how it burns and ignites the next moment in flame. We get to experience this together and perhaps that’s the answer to the question we are asked every second of every moment in Twin Peaks and the world it exists inside, in the Red Room and Black Lodge which feeds off human energy in that world and we get to walk with each other in our "real world," which needs people who understand suffering more than ever so that we can become the change that is needed to let that suffering dissolve in our waking moments together.

JB Minton

JB MInton is the author of POETRYSEXLIFE, ..AND THE THIRD FLOOR MAGISTRATES TOOK THE RAPE and is a Technologist, Podcaster and Twitch Streamer. Follow JB on Facebook, Twitter and the Web.

Follow the Red Room Podcast on Twitter and Facebook. Review and Subscribe to the Red Room Podcast on iTunes. Subscribe to The Blue Rose Magazine and follow @BlueRoseMag1 on Twitter. Follow @ScottLuckStory on Twitter and The Web to keep up with Scott Ryan's fantastic critical and accessible books on Television as an art form.

128 "The Catch Up Episode"

Scott and Josh discuss what they are watching now #veep #siliconvalley #thirteenreasons #bettercallsaul #fargo #billions and catch listeners up on their personal projects #bluerosemagazine #poetrysexlife #thirtysomethingatthirty #thelastdaysofletterman

126 Live Twin Peaks Podcast Event

The Red Room joined forces with Gateway Film Center to host a screening of Lynch's Fire Walk With Me. We also screened A Voyage To Twin Peaks. The audience got to see the locations where FWWM was filmed before watching the film. We also talked about John Thorne's dream theory, Scott gives his Annie theory and we talk about the new Blue Rose Magazine.  We are hoping to do these for all the Lynch films playing at the Gateway all this year.

After the event, Scott and Josh talk about what it was like to watch FWWM in 35mm with a sold out audience.

Listen here to the live event:

Scott Ryan and John Thorne has started a new Magazine about Twin PeaksCheck out the Blue Rose website to place orders Click Here.

Buy or Rent A Voyage To Twin Peaks at Amazon. It is the documentary Scott screened at this event. See the actors, the set locations and interviews with the fans.