September 7th, 2019

Cooper and Bowie

French Trees for Peaks

Somewhere in France, beyond the reach of cell phone reception, is a Black Spot. Or "white spot", the 2017 television series original French title being "Zone Blanche", a term that refers to a place without cellphone coverage. This is the fictional town of Villefranche, which is basically the French version of Twin Peaks. I've watched the first two episodes and have found them entertaining though not extraordinary in the crowded field of Twin Peaks inspired series. So far.

The show centres on a Gendarme named Laurene Weiss (Suliane Brahim). She's missing some of the fingers on her left hand, the result of a kidnapping she escaped as a teenager, the details of which her memory has suppressed. In the second episode, she starts having visions of a wolf who leads her to important clues, similar to Agent Cooper's dreams on Twin Peaks. But Laurene's connexion to a dark, mystical force in the woods reminds me more of Sheriff Truman and the Bookhouse Boys. She is a local, after all, with a deep and strange history with the forest.

Closer to Agent Cooper may be the eccentric prosecutor Frank Siriani (Laurent Capelluto) who comes to town because of a murder investigation. Though, while Agent Cooper was astonished at how the populace of Twin Peaks could react so profoundly to a single murder, Laura Palmer's, Siriani is interested in Villefranche because the town has an abnormally high murder rate. Considering the town's small population, I wonder who long it could possibly survive.

The similarities to Twin Peaks are in greater abundance than even most other unabashedly Twin Peaks-inspired series. There's a rowdy inn where people hang out that's essentially a cross between the roadhouse and the Great Northern. Laurene's teenage daughter is introduced having chained herself to logging equipment as part of a protest against deforestation, not unlike Audrey Horne near the end of Twin Peaks' second season.

Among the significant differences is the 2010s standard blue and orange colour grading and, if anyone wondered what the third season of Twin Peaks might have looked like were it shot in a more conventional manner, Black Spot might give a pretty accurate idea.

A lot of the story is a little too plot driven, the characters forced in directions to meet the ideas of an outline, but I do like the main character. She's an interesting synthesis of Cooper, Truman, and Laura Palmer so I am curious to see where the story goes. A hint at the end of the second episode makes it seem like Herne the Hunter is involved which I'm certainly down for. Black Spot is available on NetFlix in the U.S.