Lost in the Movies: Tim Pinkle (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #14)

Tim Pinkle (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #14)

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys one hundred ten characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91 on ABC and 2017 on Showtime as The Return), the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), and The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. The series will be rebooted in 2023 to reflect the third season (and patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public), but this entry will remain intact. There will be spoilers.

Pinkle is a disaster of all trades, master of none, equipped with the belief that if he talks fast and frequently enough, he can bluff his way through.

Tuesday, March 7, 1989
Equipment salesman Mr. Pinkle attempts to install a “Port-O-Patient” lift/pulley, which will carry the comatose Leo Johnson around his room. It’s a ridiculous device and Pinkle can’t even figure out how to use it, to the annoyance of Bobby Briggs and Shelly Johnson, Leo’s caretakers. Finally Pinkle gets it working – only for the machine to swing him back and forth into the wall. He calls for help, but his potential customers are either out of earshot or uninterested in rescuing the poor sap.

Wednesday, March 22, 1989
Three weeks later, Pinkle arrives at the Great Northern in a new guise, as an environmental spokesman. Arriving with a stuffed pine weasel under his arm, Pinkle intends to argue on behalf of the endangered animal at an upcoming fashion show. He's discouraged when the MC, Dick Tremayne, argues that using a dead (and presumably hunted) animal to advocate for its preservation “represents the supreme incongruity.” That night, Pinkle appears with a live pine weasel – and the “helpless” beast proceeds to bite Dick’s nose and run amok through the room, destroying the entire setup and terrifying the audience while Pinkle flails uselessly onstage.

Sunday, March 26, 1989
The following weekend, Pinkle is at the Road House with yet another role to play. This time he is the choreographer for the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. Pinkle leers at the dancers, interspersing his incantations to “show a little more leg!” with ridiculous claims of artistic intention (“It’s a dance of nature, my friend, a celebration! Alright, girls, now turn around and bend forward, like a sapling…a sapling in the wind…”). That evening he watches the performance enthusiastically from the bar near the stage, prancing up and down and then randomly groping Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman. At one point he grasps for her and discovers she’s vanished, seemingly into thin air.

Characters Pinkle interacts with onscreen…

Bobby Briggs

Shelly Johnson

Audrey Horne

Dick Tremayne

Nadine Hurley

Lucy Moran

The Log Lady

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Pinkle
Pinkle gets around, offering a view not only of the Johnson domestic drama but two big public events: the Stop Ghostwood Fashion Show and the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. He’s very much a community gadfly (although that description may be too generous). Sleazy and chintzy, he reminds us that the economies of idyllic small towns are as likely as any big city's to be populated by con artists and tiresome self-promoters. His wacky tone also keys us into a broadly comical aspect of Twin Peaks. Indeed, Pinkle feels the most like a sitcom figure of anyone we’ve met so far in this character series.

Pinkle’s journey
During this month Pinkle holds three occupations (a fourth was cut from the series). This doesn’t seem like a character on a path – he’s leaping from lily pad to lily pad, intent on accomplishing the mission at hand (he rarely does). His only real line of development is the slow unveiling of a grotesque misogynist streak, first hinted when he mumbles in front of Shelly (herself a battered wife) “sometimes you gotta hit it hard – a machine is like a woman, we always say at the machine shop,” carrying through to his angry, horny tirade as a choreographer, and climaxing with his debased pawing of the horrified Log Lady, who literally has to shove him out of frame and then disappear to get away from his assault. He isn’t suited for any other job in town; maybe he should run for president?

Actor: David L. Lander
A prolific comedic, voice, and character actor, Lander is most famous for his role as “Squiggy” in one hundred fifty-six episodes and seven years of Laverne & Shirley. Neighbor of the title characters, roommate of Lenny Kosnowski (with whom he shared an outdated fifties greaser look), Squiggy’s trademark was the most iconic sitcom entrance this side of Kramer: barging into every room with an oblivious, nasally “Hello” (see how long you can make it through this supercut). The comic duo “Lenny and Squiggy” actually preceded Laverne and Shirley by about a decade – invented by Lander and Michael McKean when they were college students. They released a mock rock album with Christopher Guest as “Lenny and the Squigtones” in 1979 (a project that may have led to This is Spinal Tap) and teamed up for Steven Spielberg’s first big-screen flop 1941 the same year (as well as Used Cars in 1980). As late as 2004, they were still a duo, voicing two penguin cousins in the cartoon series Oswald. Lander also voiced the Chief Weasel in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and appeared in numerous films and TV shows, with over a hundred credits to his name. He is also, of all things, a baseball talent scout for Major League teams. A neighbor of David Lynch in the early nineties, he was recruited by the director himself to appear on Twin Peaks.

*Episode 12 (German title: “The Orchid’s Curse” - best episode)

Episode 24 (German title: “Wounds and Scars”)

Episode 28 (fan title: “Miss Twin Peaks”)

Coincidentally, all of Pinkle’s appearances were written by one writer: Barry Pullman (Harley Peyton and Robert Engels wrote a deleted scene from episode 27). Though recruited by Lynch, Lander was never directed by him (at least not until the short-lived Lynch/Frost sitcom On the Air, where he plays an incomprehensible Eastern European TV director). On Twin Peaks, Graeme Clifford, James Foley, and Tim Hunter were his directors.

Pinkle (or his voice) is onscreen for roughly seven minutes. He is in five scenes and three episodes, taking place in three days over the course of a month. He’s featured the most in episode 24, the fashion show. His primary location is the Great Northern and he probably shares the most screentime with Dick.

Best Scene
Episode 12: Lander’s way with throwaway lines and gestures sells the comedy much better than Pinkle sells his product!

Best Line
“Don’t EVER question the vision of your choreographer! You are but a – petal on my rose.”

Additional Observations

• Doesn't it look like Pinkle is kind of hoping that weasel will attack Dick? (The Diane podcast speculated as much and, freezing the frame here, I think they have a point.)

• In his deleted scene (a photo of which may appear in the Access Guide to Twin Peaks spin-off book), Pinkle holds his goofiest occupation yet. Apparently he runs a cab company with his brother Tom and oddly enough, Tom – who is blind! – is the driver. Dubbed “Tim & Tom’s Taxidermy” they are not only taxi drivers, they are taxidermists, explaining the stuffed pine weasel Pinkle brings to the Great Northern. The characters, part of the town’s eccentric mythology yet somehow never making it onscreen, were to appear in episode 27, driving John Justice Wheeler to the airfield. This would almost certainly have been Pinkle’s best scene had it been kept – and it could have provided welcome relief from the strained romance of Jack and Audrey. In the scene, the brothers pull onto the strip with antlers on their taxi (double advertisement), while Pinkle gingerly directs his brother behind the wheel. “He loves to stuff, and he loves to drive,” Pinkle explains. “Otherwise he sleeps.” His brother, confused, shouts out as Jack prepares to leave for South America: “Welcome to Twin Peaks!” Indeed.

Update 2018: This entry was written in 2017, before the third season, and did not need to be revised as Pinkle did not re-appear. Only the description/intro at the top and the ranking were updated. Since the criteria for inclusion was changed (originally three scenes with dialogue, now ten minutes of screentime), he retroactively became a "bonus entry" rather than part of the full rankings. In the original character series, Pinkle was ranked #64, between Eckhardt and Teresa.

SHOWTIME: No, Lander is not on the cast list for 2017. “Tim & Tom’s Taxidermy” will forever remain on the cutting room floor.

Previous: Thomas Eckhardt

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(When the series resumes publicly, all new or revised entries will be published at least a month in advance for patrons.)

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