It’s 1990 and David Lynch premieres his television show Twin Peaks on CBS: TV will never be the same. With Twin Peaks Lynch brings his unique brand of Americana surrealism into the homes of everyday Americans, and warps and confuses them for life. It’s safe to say that if Twin Peaks never happened, this so-called current “golden age” of television would never have happened, because it paved the way for shows like as Breaking Bad, Mad Men and True Detective.
For anyone who is new to the world of Twin Peaks, the basic plot is a murder mystery. FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives in the town of Twin Peaks to solve the mysterious murder of teenager Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Twin Peaks is a small Pacific Northwestern US town (not unlike the one Lynch grew up in) full of idiosyncratic residents, and has a supernatural and dark underbelly.
The show become a instant success but due to many factors, such as David Lynch going off to make Wild at Heart, the first Gulf war, and CBS demanding that the murder of Laura Palmer was solved halfway though the 2nd season, the ratings started to decline. Eventually the show was cancelled, but Lynch got more heavily involved again in the second half of the 2nd season and the show went out on possibly the greatest and most daring piece of television ever aired.
Despite the show being cancelled, Lynch felt like story wasn’t finished. In 1992 he made the prequel and epilogue film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. It was considerably darker than much of the television show: it deals with drug abuse, incest and murder. It tells what happened to Laura Palmer in the last week of her life. When it premiered at the Cannes film festival it was booed, and Quentin Tarantino publically has said he fell out of love with Lynch after he saw it. However, it has aged extraordinarily well and has become a cult classic—Mark Kermode, for instance, considers it one of Lynch’s finest films.
In the 20+ years after its release, Twin Peaks is often considered one of or possibly the greatest television show ever made. It’s not hard to see why. The acting from all the cast is exceptional, the cinematography for the most part is of cinematic quality and rarely looks televisual. The film’s soundtrack is also one of the finest ever composed for film, never mind the lesser art form known as television, it was composed by Lynch’s regular composer Angelo Badalamenti and also features Julee Cruise’s beautiful shoegazing vocals on the theme song “Falling”. It’s also one of the most intelligent shows ever made, going into very daring places for a network television show. At the same time it’s surprisingly accessible and never seems too cryptic for its own good.
After years of waiting for Twin Peaks fans, it has finally debuted on Blu-Ray. It’s the first time the show and the film have been complied together after years of legal issues preventing it. The transfers for the show and film are remastered from the original negatives and look better than they ever have. The biggest new addition is the hour and half of deleted scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which (to not spoil anything) includes a new ending to the series and also clarifies some of the more confusing parts of the film. Lynch also continues the story of Twin Peaks in a featurette where he interviews the Palmer family and the actors who play them.
This seems very much like the definitive Twin Peaks package. It’s a great time to revisit the show that defined what television could do, and that exerts influence that can still be felt in much of the long-form television of today.
It’s still gobsmacking that a television network hired such a idiosyncratic director to make a show, and the result remains strange and unique. Enjoy it with a cup of damn fine coffee and Cherry Pie.
Television, Cult, Crime, Drama
Paramount Home Entertainment
BD Release Date:
29th July 2014 (UK)
Kyle MacLachlan, Dana Ashbrook, Lara Flynn Boyle, Grace Zabriskie, Sherilyn Fenn
Buy: Twin Peaks – The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray] [Region Free]