Lost in the Movies: Dick Tremayne (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #38)

Dick Tremayne (TWIN PEAKS Character Series #38)

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.

Dick aspires toward the role of small-town sophisticate, but his absurdity keeps his pretension in check.

Sunday, March 5, 1989
Dick Tremayne, of Horne's Department Store designer menswear, arrives at the Twin Peaks sheriff's station looking dapper - if a cravat beneath a flannel shirt, blue blazer, and overcoat draped over his shoulders counts as dapper. He checks his reflection in a glass partition, blithely ignoring the "No Smoking" sign right in front of him as he places a cigarette in his elegant holder. It is immediately broken by the nonplussed Deputy Hawk Hill but Dick rolls with the punches. Lucy Moran, the sheriff's receptionist, invited him over and he agrees to a lunch date at the RR - "let's go Dutch," he smiles with his Cheshire grin, feeling generous today. At the diner Dick enlightens Lucy with the various alphabetical organizations he applies to his stock in menswear, but her concerns lie elsewhere. Lucy reminds Dick that they dated for several months (dates which would usually begin with a promise of dinner at the Space Needle in Seattle and end instead with family night at Pancake Plantation and a romp on a display bed at the department store). Yet he hasn't called in six weeks - why? Dick has just the idea to patch things over: he will let her use his 20% discount at Horne's! That does it. A peeved Lucy cuts to the chase: she's pregnant.

Monday, March 6, 1989
Dick gallantly strides into the sheriff's station the next evening, ducking out of a thunderstorm to declare how ashamed he is, how determined to do the right thing. Lucy is impressed by his willingness to take care of her - until she realizes his noble monologue is prelude to handing her an envelope full of money that she can use to "take care of the little problem." Lucy very firmly and specifically explains to Dick how he can leave the station and never speak to her again. He complies.

Saturday, March 11, 1989
By the following weekend, however, Lucy has changed her mind. Dick returns to the station and sits in the conference room with Lucy and Deputy Andy Brennan, with whom Lucy has also been conducing a romance. She isn't sure which beau is the father, and won't be able to tell until a post-birth test. For now, she expects the two to act as prospective fathers since it could be either one. The two men comply, with Dick practically yawning, "After all, it is your baby." The smoke from his cigarette holder drifts up near a smoke alarm on the ceiling.

Wednesday, March 15, 1989
Dick is feeling whimsically gentlemanly again and he wants Lucy to know he's had a change of heart. The pregnant woman is teetering at the top of a ladder, attempting to insert a large light fixture, almost falling several times as Dick acknowledges how he has been too self-absorbed and wants to be of assistance to someone. He explains that, as a sort of fatherhood training, he has signed up for the Happy Helping Hands agency to be big brother to a little orphan. Andy joins the conversation to tell Dick that he wants them all to get along so that things will be easier for Lucy. She is impressed by this statement and almost kisses him, but Andy shakes Dick's hand instead.

Thursday, March 16, 1989
Dick walks into the station at lunchtime, arm around Little Nicky Needleman from the agency. The boy is excited to be having ice cream at the diner and crushed when Dick tells him they'll have to wait for another day - the woman he was hoping to impress has the day off and Andy is manning reception. Andy intervenes to say he'll pay for lunch, and if Nicky is delighted, Dick looks less so. At the diner, Nicky blows the whipped cream from his sundae in Dick's face, and spins Andy's seat at the counter, sending the deputy flying to the floor. Each mentor thinks the other's mishap is hilarious; less so, their own.

Friday, March 17, 1989
Lucy, Dick, and Andy meet with a representative from Happy Helping Hands at the station. She tells them that Nicky has suffered all his life from a persistent random misfortune - namely his real parents and then his foster parents died. Dick looks concerned. That afternoon, with Andy elsewhere, Dick takes Nicky on an excursion in the countryside and is forced to change a tire while Nicky sits in the driver's seat and loudly beeps the horn. When the car nearly collapses on top of Dick, Nicky - standing nearby - rushes in to embrace him, pleading, "Please don't die!" A thought crosses Dick's face. He rushes into the sheriff's station that evening, ignoring Lucy completely and offering Andy a horrifying suggestion: "I believe that Little Nicky, incredible as it may seem, may in fact be the devil!" From devil to angel: within minutes, Dick's attention is absorbed by Lana Milford, the recent widow of Dougie Milford, whom the sheriff is comforting in his office. Dick, Doc Will Hayward, Andy, Hawk, and Sheriff Harry Truman moon over Lana as she tells corny stories. None of them notice Lucy when she wanders into the room and then angrily exits, slamming the door behind her.

Saturday, March 18, 1989
Attempting the look of a trenchcoat/fedora-clad supersleuth but coming off more like Kermit the Frog in reporter mode, Dick sneaks into the station and whispers his plan to Audrey. He's already snooping around the Happy Helping Hands organization, "where several blue haired ladies were only too happy to sup from my open palm," learning that Nicky's files are located at the Dorritt Home For Boys. Dick and Andy arrive at the orphanage during the lunch hour and Dick rifles through a filing cabinet until he finds what he's looking for. At that point, a cheerful couple arrives to adopt their foster son and Dick is forced to improvise: "Little Donnie is...dead." The parents are horrified and he is forced to keep winging it: "...Dead tired, I mean!"

Sunday, March 19, 1989
Lucy and Doc Hayward shove Dick and Andy into the sheriff's office. The two men try to explain why Little Nicky killed his own parents (Dick apparently has revised his apocalyptic vision to one more earthbound if no less sinister). However, Doc cuts them off with a tearjerking story about how Nicky was conceived in a "backalley assault," his mother died in birth and was buried in Potter's Field, and his foster parents died in an accident on an icy highway, where the six-year-old managed to pull them from their burning cars but couldn't save them. Dick and Andy weep with shame and their adventures with Little Nicky end (under the assumption the poor lad is better off without their intervention, perhaps).

Wednesday, March 22, 1989
Dick prepares to host the Stop Ghostwood Fashion Show at the Great Northern Hotel; ogling models, he is interrupted by Audrey Horne, who gives him instructions, and Tim Pinkle, who will be presenting a stuffed pine weasel as the mascot for the show's ecological endeavors. Dick thinks this is a bad idea, so that evening - after he's announced and narrated several models' walks down the runway - Dick welcomes Pinkle to the stage with a live pine weasel. The creature is attracted to Dick; Pinkle, who doesn't get along with the host (earlier that day, Dick snapped at Audrey, "What's a Pinkle?") suggests it is drawn to very cheap cologne. Whatever the case may be, the weasel eventually sinks its teeth into Dick's nose, hanging on as the victim lurches up and down the runway, screaming. Dick eventually rips the wild animal loose and tosses it into the crowd. Pandemonium ensues.

Friday, March 24, 1989
Dick tenderly massages his bandaged nose while chatting with Ben Horne in the Great Northern, which Ben owns (along with the department store where Dick works). Dick is preparing a charitable wine-tasting event for the evening, but Ben is concerned with his injury, telling him that his medical bills will be covered; the eager employee presses for workman's comp too. Hours later, Dick - his swaddled nose purple from leaning too far into his glass - hosts an "oenophiliac soiree." He yells at Andy when he sips too soon, brushes off Lucy's input, and swoons over everything Lana says and does. Finally Lucy spits a stream of wine all over his face, reminding him that she's pregnant and isn't supposed to be drinking.

Sunday, March 26, 1989
As the Miss Twin Peaks pageant approaches, Dick confers at the Road House with the other two judges, Mayor Dwayne Milford and Norma Jennings. Asked for his preferred criteria, he cites "poise and, God help us, a sophistication...and breeding." Lana saunters over and practically drags Dick into a supply closet where she seduces him under pretense of looking for "a very important prop." That night, a satiated Dick enjoys a parade of beautiful young women - including both Lana and Lucy - as they dance and speechify their way across the stage. (During a break, Lucy meets with Andy and Dick to inform them that she has chosen Andy as the father; Dick couldn't care less and rushes back to his duties.) Dick is certainly impressed by Lana's dance, but he is most moved by Annie Blackburn, a young woman who delivers a sensitive oration about nature and self-care. He joins Norma to select her as the winner. The mayor is infuriated, but Dick defends his decision: "She gave a beautiful speech. Inherent in her message were words even the most craven of us can ill-afford to ignore."

Characters Dick interacts with onscreen…

Lucy Moran

Deputy Hawk

Deputy Andy

Nicky Needleman
*retroactively added in March 2024

Doc Hayward

Audrey Horne

Tim Pinkle

Ben Horne

Lana Milford

Mayor Milford & Norma Jennings

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Dick
Dick Tremayne is certainly indicative of a certain something in Twin Peaks. For some fans, he's a prime example of season two's wayward drift; how did we get from the murdered body of Laura Palmer to a posh, pompous British buffoon debating his own paternity? Indeed, Dick is one of the most sitcom-y characters on Twin Peaks, providing an indication that absurdist surrealism will not be the show's only comedic vein. And other fans love that. In recent years, Dick has risen in many fan's estimations due to his celebration on podcasts like Diane... (where his fellow UK'ers can't help but adore his floridly foolish shenanigans) and perhaps especially the original Twin Peaks Podcast, where he became a kind of cult figure thanks to one host's devotion to his caddish comic relief (a song was even composed, as I recall). If you can accept and even embrace Twin Peaks' campy side, its willingness to wallow in a very earthbound, self-aware and self-indulgent mockery of human foibles, then Dick Tremayne is an absolute delight. Few would deny that Ian Buchanan plays the part perfectly, rolling the intonations across his tongue and controlling every facial tic with the sustained sensitivity of a ventriloquist who is his own dummy. That said, many viewers are still very much in that first, hostile group, and it doesn't help that Dick is connected to an endless stream of Twin Peaks' least interesting events and subplots: the paternity question, the Little Nicky hijinks (the thought balloon he inspires in Andy may be the show's lowest point), Lana Milford's seductive witchcraft, the fashion show/pine weasel riot, the tedious Miss Twin Peaks stage show...even the relatively inoffensive wine-tasting suffers in comparison with the unforgettable Shelly/Gordon kiss, which (split into two scenes) it bookends. As someone who was very much in the first camp, but has learned to appreciate the tastes of the second (in small doses), I think it's fair to say that "Dick Tremayne" is a superb performance of a memorably irritating character in a lot of bad stories.

Dick’s journey
Dick never really grows (sorry; this one, at least, was honestly unintentional). Unless, that is, we think Annie's speech truly transforms him (me, I suspect within minutes he's trampling old ladies and children to escape the chaos Windom unleashes). Dick's charm, if that's the right word, lies in the sweet spot between slyly posh elegance and ludicrous bad taste, haughty intelligence and incredible obliviousness, a superficially gracious manner and the pettiest vanity imaginable. The character has more (small) storylines than anyone so far; each except Miss Twin Peak ends with a comeuppance. Lucy drives him from the station in a fury after he presumes she wants to abort; Doc scolds and shames him after validating Nicky's victimhood; the pine weasel, with Pinkle's enthusiastic encouragement, chomps on the snobbish M.C.'s schnozz; and Lucy spits wine in her neglectful lover's face. In this light, his final scene is a twist - Dick has finally done the right thing, and as such he avoids his routine punishment. Of course this good deed will backfire, for Annie if not for him. Indeed, Dick is central to two of Twin Peaks' most dramatic moments; not only does his deciding vote inadvertently select Annie for Windom's kidnapping, his cigarette smoke sets off the sprinkler system which precipitates BOB's escape and Leland's death.

Dick's social function changes sharply halfway through his screentime; at first, he's limited to what a grumbling Kimmy Robertson (not a fan of this development) called "The Lucy, Andy, and Dick Show." Most of these scenes take place in the sheriff's station and are almost entirely interactions with the other two figures in his menage a trois. After the Nicky fiasco, however, Dick branches out and becomes a much more communal figure, supervising town events and interacting with a variety of characters. His anchor setting becomes the bustling Great Northern (never leaving for many episodes, until he lands at the Road House for the pageant), and his contributions to the totality of Twin Peaks are thus cast into sharper relief. Twin Peaks the show is flawed, messy, and sometimes mundane, and Dick certainly tends to highlight this. Twin Peaks the town, however, benefits from a sprawling ensemble with wildly different personalities - including silly characters like Dick whose concerns are far from the mysterious, surreal, or supernatural. Thinking of "TWIN PEAKS" as a universe, and not just a narrative, allows his star to shine at its brightest.

Actor: Ian Buchanan
A Scotsman orphaned in adolescence (he worked as a bellhop and bartender to support his siblings), Buchanan left a gig as a restaurant manager to move to London and became a fashion model. He later moved to New York and trained as an actor in the Strasberg program and with Marcia Haufrecht (whose other students include Alec Baldwin, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, and fellow Twin Peaks alum David Duchovney). Buchanan has some films as well as comedic and dramatic prime-time series (including The Nanny, NYPD Blue, voices on several Batman cartoons and, in addition to one appearance on The Larry Sanders Show, over twenty episodes of Garry Shandling's earlier, self-titled series). However, the vast majority of Buchanan's work has been in daytime soap operas (I spotted him myself several years ago - see above - and had to tweet about it). The numbers are hard to determine exactly (thanks to the commentator "clytie" for pointing out IMDb's shortcomings) but Buchanan has clearly appeared in thousands of soap opera episodes between All My Children, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, Port Charles, and especially General Hospital - where TV.com lists at least 1620 episodes as a single character (in addition to others he has played on the show in the past thirty years). To non-soap-viewers that volume seems staggering, but don't forget some of these shows have been running every day for decades, sometimes half a century - there are actors out there with over ten thousand appearances as the same character. Buchanan's biggest role in the Lynchverse may not even be Dick Tremayne. He starred in On the Air, the short-lived Lynch/Frost ABC sitcom about live television in the fifties (please don't assume any down-to-earth realism based on that description). Buchanan played the - surprise! - pompous, hapless Lester Guy, a slick Hollywood celebrity who gets continuously upstaged on his own show. (series pictured: General Hospital, 2015/this section updated 4/24)

Episode 10 (German title: "The Man Behind Glass")

Episode 11 (German title: "Laura's Secret Diary")

Episode 16 (German title: "Arbitrary Law")

Episode 17 (German title: "Dispute Between Brothers")

Episode 18 (German title: "Masked Ball")

Episode 19 (German title: "The Black Widow")

*Episode 20 (German title: "Checkmate" - best episode)

Episode 21 (German title: "Double Play")

Episode 24 (German title: "Wounds and Scars")

Episode 26 (German title: "Variations on Relations")

Episode 28 (fan title: "Miss Twin Peaks")

Dick is introduced by Robert Engels (whose comic sensibility definitely suits this character, though Harley Peyton's verbose flourishes find a home here too). In addition to their solo scripts, Peyton and Engels collaborate three times on Dick teleplays (once with just each other, once with Mark Frost, and once with Frost and Jerry Stahl). Peyton and Frost also write a Dick episode. Dick is written three times by Barry Pullman and once each by Scott Frost and Tricia Brock; in other words, every single writer on the show has at least one crack at him - except for David Lynch. Dick is directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, Todd Holland (twice), Tim Hunter (twice), Tina Rathborne, Duwayne Dunham, Caleb Deschanel, Uli Edel, James Foley, and Jonathan Sanger. In fact (we're now reaching this point in the character series), the only directors who never work with this character are Diane Keaton, Stephen Gyllenhaal...and Mark Frost and David Lynch. No wonder Lynch brought him on to On the Air (whose pilot he directed) - he wanted a chance to work with the actor if not (quite) the character.

Dick is onscreen for roughly thirty-seven minutes. He is in twenty scenes in eleven episodes, taking place over three weeks. He's featured the most in episode 19, when he decides Little Nicky is the devil. The location he appears in the most is the sheriff's station (with the Great Northern not far behind). He shares the most screentime with Lucy. He is is one of the top ten characters in episode 10 and one of the top five characters in episodes 19 and 24.

Best Scene
Episode 11: Dick, under the pretense of hilariously grandiose chivalry, makes some big assumptions about what Lucy wants (or rather, is only thinking of what he wants the entire time) and gets shut down.

Best Line
“But what I'm trying to make clear is that using a stuffed animal to represent an endangered species as an ecological protest constitutes the supreme incongruity.”

Dick Offscreen

Episode 11: Lucy tells Cooper their backstory: "After watching a TV show I decided I needed some me-time during which we [Andy and her] didn't see each other, during which time I met Dick Tremayne, Horne's Department Store men's fashions. He had lots of coats and keeps himself and his car in great shape! Most of his behavior was asinine but at least he was different." Later, after Dick's disastrous offer of the abortion money, Lucy closes herself in the closet. As Andy walks past she mumbles something indistinct and then asks, "...or was it just your ascot?"

Episode 16: Andy learns that Dick might be the father, and he calls the department store and insists that Dick meet with him (this is what brings Dick to the station later on). He asks in a firm, aggressive manner, but quickly softens, much to Lucy's disappointment (she is watching excitedly).

Episode 17: Hawk asks Andy why he's being so nice to Dick, and Andy reveals it's a ploy to get on Lucy's good side - though he worries he's overdoing it.

Episode 21: Andy tells Lucy about his and Dick's suspicions of Nicky 's murderous ways. Deeply offended, she promises to get to the bottom of this - leading Doc to the station at the end of the episode.

Episode 24: Backstage at the fashion show, Lucy tells Andy she thinks Dick is getting a little too excited about some of the models.

Episode 25: Lucy thanks Andy for helping her during the weasel riot "which is more than I can say for a certain Dick we both know."

Episode 27: Lucy tells Andy that tomorrow she will decide who the baby's father is going to be. The Mayor tells Lana that Dick's going to be the third judge for the Miss Twin Peaks contest and he'll be a pushover because "he's British, or Bahamian, or something."

Additional Observations

• Dick has a bit more to say at the wine-tasting in deleted dialogue from episode 26: "When my good friend, Ben Horne, asked me how would I like to contribute to the Good Fight, I said to myself, Dick, I said, you're a former sommelier, why not try to bring a little culture to the proceedings? I replied ... but of course: a wine-tasting parry. Uplift the general level of quality of life at the same time we're putting money into the fight to save our trees. Voila!" And before Miss Twin Peaks, when Milford says Lana would make a great Miss Twin Peaks, Dick replies, "Wouldn't she just. But my vote is of course something I hold sacred and will exercise with the greatest care and consideration. As you well know, being a man who's been charged with the awesome responsibility of running this town." The Mayor grumbles, "Alright, I can give you three hundred, but not a penny more."

• Nobody better articulates Dick's isolation from other aspects of the show than Ian Buchanan himself. At a USC retrospective in 2013, Buchanan recalled that he would only receive his sections of the episodic scripts, leading to a very distorted impression of what type of show Twin Peaks was (he never watched it before accepting the role). "I'd go into the makeup room all cheery and whistling and there'd be like buckets of blood everywhere and fingernails and hair and I'd be, 'What the fuck is going on?' And they'd say, 'Oh we can't tell you.' I'd no idea there was all this mayhem and this gore and this like horrible stuff..."

SHOWTIME: No, Buchanan is not on the cast list for 2017. Much as Lynch enjoyed the actor's work, and found his use for it with On the Air, the character doesn't exactly seem like one who encapsulates Lynch's vision of Twin Peaks. So we're left to wonder: what happened to Dick in later years? Did he remain in town or re-settle elsewhere? If he stayed, did he have any interactions with the child who might very well be his? (Although if, as many suspect, the offspring is to be played by Michael Cera, the dazed, bumbling Andy seems a better bet as his dad.)

Next (active on Friday, August 4 at 8am): Bradley and Rodney Mitchum
Previous (active on Monday, July 31 at 8am): Annie Blackburn

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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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