There is an American West Coast town, all middle class and respectability. There are oddball characters, and a heady mix of perversion, murder mystery, occult, lying and cheating. There is a talented and good-looking cast, a stunning haunting and evocative soundtrack, and robins on picket fences. It can only be the dark and twisted world of Twin Peaks as imagined by David Lynch.
It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since it was first broadcast, and for those of us who were actually watching it on TV when it was first aired, it marked a massive shift in television productions.
Twin Peaks paved the way for the darker and moody shows that were produced in the following 20 years. The X-Files, Lost, The Sopranos, Homicide, Six Feet Under, among others, could never have existed without Twin Peaks.
Essentially an auteur soap opera with a murder thrown in, Twin Peaks was the brainchild of acclaimed director David Lynch, who broke conventions by going from movies to the small screen, something you did not see a lot of in those days. Likewise, not many big screen actors opted to star in TV shows, unlike nowadays, but the script was so good it gave Lynch favourite, Kyle MacLachlan, the iconic role of a lifetime, FBI special agent Dale Cooper.
When it was first aired, there was massive excitement about it. This show delivered all that it promised. It was humorous and sexy and scary at the same time. It was aired in the middle of the week and it was a talking point the next day.
Before the time of Internet forums and downloads, you had to tune in on the night to watch it, with millions of us waiting to understand Twin Peaks‘ impenetrable mysteries, which thickened and became more arcane week after week.
The story was simple enough, but deceptively so: a popular high school student, Laura Palmer, is murdered in the respectable sleepy town of Twin Peaks. She is found wrapped in plastic and the FBI sends agent Cooper to investigate.
Cooper is a wonderfully quirky creation, the fulcrum around which a crowd of quirky characters revolves. Episode after episode we watched the Twin Peaks onion being peeled, revealing sexual perversion, blackmail, drug use, sordid liaisons, supernatural forces and buried secrets. Nothing was as it appeared to be, and it was clear from the start that this murder mystery would be nearly impossible to solve.
The revealing (or confusing!) dream sequences were also a first, unsettling and terrifying in turns, and truly groundbreaking TV material using surreal imagery with its roots in psychoanalysis.
Some of the show’s oddest creations, like the backward talking dwarf, the log lady and Bob, have almost entered TV folklore and the overall eeriness evoked by Lynch in this TV show has never been bettered.
There were attempts to capitalise on Twin Peaks‘ success, the most notable being Wild Palms, an Oliver Stone executive-produced mini series, which analysed American suburbia with similarly surreal-tinted lenses, but which failed to ignite.
Twin Peaks had the perfect mix, and although by its second series it failed to hold the interest of its audience as well, it remains an outstanding piece of television.
What is on this beautifully packaged box set is the two-hour pilot plus its European counterpart, which had a self contained resolution to Laura Palmer’s murder, and the whole 29 episodes.
This luxury 10-disc edition has the two pilots on disc one, the whole television series in discs 2 to 9, and plenty of extras on discs 9 and 10.
The special features are fun and informative. Alongside well-structured documentaries and interviews with Lynch and a few cast members (“A Slice of Lynch”), you get segments from Saturday Night Live, who did a Twin Peaks spook starring MacLachlan himself.
Other documentaries include an exploration of the Twin Peaks phenomenon by interviewing fans who attended the yearly festival, taking them to visit the locations from the show and meet some of the cast members, documentaries investigating how the two series, the pilot and the soundtrack came to be, a bunch of deleted scenes, image galleries, and quirky oddities such as production notes, an interactive map of the town and a video for Julee Cruise’s Falling.
Although this collection does not include the prequel, Fire Walk With Me, and other extras included in previous releases, this is by far the most comprehensive Twin Peaks retrospective.And for existing fans or those who are yet to discover it, it is quite wonderful.
Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.