When it comes to celebrities selling out and hawking products in TV commercials, it’s long been accepted that it doesn’t count if the commercials only air in Japan, as Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, or Woody Allen will happily confirm for you.
Aside from the obvious financial incentive, it’s also possible that there’s the additional enticement that Japanese ads have a tendency to be more creative—and occasionally just batshit crazy—which doubtlessly makes the experience far more entertaining to film than your typical TV spot in the States.
For instance, Tommy Lee Jones might find his Ameriprise commercials lucrative, but there’s no way he didn’t get more of a kick out of making his Boss Coffee spots… insofar as Tommy Lee Jones can get a kick out of anything.
One of the more memorable combinations of unexpected celebrity pitchmen and utter weirdness arrived on Japanese television in 1991, when Georgia, a Coca-Cola-owned brand of iced coffee drinks, hired David Lynch to direct a series of four commercials for the product. The spots were set in the town of Twin Peaks and featured FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), along with a number of local citizens, including Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz), Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Shelly Johnson (Mädchen E. Amick), Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse), and the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson).
A mystery runs through the four commercials, with Agent Cooper—presumably fed up with trying to figure out who killed Laura Palmer and just taking a breather—helping a Japanese man named Ken attempt to find his wife, Asami. Over the course of the ads, which start off in the sheriff’s office, Cooper makes his way to a few notable Twin Peaks landmarks, including Big Ed’s Gas Farm and the Double R Diner, with the grand finale taking place in the woods and necessitating a visit to the Red Room of the Black Lodge. You have to admit, that’s a pretty epic span of events for a series of four commercials.
Depressingly, the website Lynch.net reveals that “originally a second series of four were planned, but the coffee company, unhappy with the first series, canceled them.” Were they really unhappy with them? Or did they consider how much better season one of Twin Peaks was than season two and just decide to quit while they were ahead? Whatever the case, the ads—no matter what the powers that be at Georgia might have thought—perfectly capture the spirit of the series while also adding a tiny wink at the silliness of it all by having The Log Lady pop up after each of Cooper’s first three coffee testimonials to dramatically intone, “It’s true.”
That said, we’re pretty sure that the commercials aren’t considered canon, so you probably shouldn’t expect to see Asami returning to the Black Lodge when new episodes of Twin Peaks arrive on Showtime in 2017.
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