Season 1 Twin Peaks
devotees, who have kept the mystery alive on myriad Web sites, will jump at the chance to return to the spooky town that might just be the anti-Mayberry. Rarely syndicated, the Twin Peaks
television series has lost none of its quirky and queasy power to get under your skin and haunt your dreams. So brew up a pot of some "damn fine coffee," dig into some cherry pie, and lose yourself in David Lynch and Mark Frost's murder mystery and soap opera, which unfolds, in one character's words, "like a beautiful dream and terrible nightmare all at once." Twin Peaks
was a pop culture phenomenon for one season at least, until the increasingly bizarre twists and maddening teases so confounded audiences that they lost interest in just who killed Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). This series was a career peak for most of its eclectic ensemble cast, including Kyle MacLachlan as straight-arrow FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, Michael Ontkean as local Sheriff Harry S. Truman, Sherilyn Fenn as bad girl Audrey Horne, Peggy Lipton as waitress Norma Jennings, and Catherine Coulson as the Log Lady. Alumni enjoying current success include Lara Flynn Boyle ("The Practice"), as good girl Donna Hayward, and Miguel Ferrer ("Crossing Jordan"), hilarious as forensics expert Albert Rosenfield (who has absolutely no "social niceties").--Donald Liebenson
"Don't search for all the answers at once," says a giant appearing to FBI Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in a vision. "A path is formed by laying one stone at a time." In Twin Peaks, that's easier said than done. Over the course of two seasons, that path went nowhere and everywhere. "Bureau guidelines, deductive technique, Tibetan method, and luck" don't cut it here. It also takes a little magic, which is what makes David Lynch and Mark Frost's bracingly original serial drama one of TV's ultimate trips, and still the stuff that fever dreams are made of. With the DVD release of season 2, die-hard Peakers can rekindle their obsession with this macabre, maddening, sinister, and surreal series set in the rural Pacific Northwest community whose bucolic surroundings hide "things dark and heinous." (If you're new to Twin Peaks, best to get the lay of the land by watching the brilliant feature-length pilot and the instant-cult-classic first season, which capture Twin at its peak.) Three main mysteries drive season 2. First, there's the still (!) unresolved murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Then, there's the question of who shot Cooper in the season 1 cliffhanger. And finally, ultimately: What about Bob? With its dream logic, bizarre behavior, and nightmare imagery, much of what transpires goes right by you. Some subplots (Sherilyn Fenn's sexpot Audrey held captive at the bordello, One-Eyed Jacks) are easier to latch on to than others (amnesiac Nadine believes she's an 18-year-old high schooler) And, yes, that's a pre-X-Files David Duchovny as Dennis/Denice, a transsexual DEA agent.
In Twin Peaks' second season, the truth is out there, but we are entering A Few Good Men territory. When Laura's killer is at last revealed in episode 16, no doubt many will not be able to handle the truth. The teases, red herrings, and out-and-out gonzo looniness will try the patience of viewers with a more conventional bent. But, as Cooper observes at one point, "All in all, [it's] a very interesting experience," with enough doppelgangers, allusions, pop-culture references, and in-jokes to keep bloggers buzzing. If, for example, you get any pleasure from recognizing Hank Worden, who played Mose in The Searchers, as "the world's most decrepit room service waiter," then Twin Peaks may just make you feel right at home. --Donald Liebenson
On the DVDs
Twin Peaks lived in its own bizarre, dark, amazing, fantasy world, fresh from the mind of creator David Lynch. The extra features on this Gold Box edition (which includes both seasons and the long-awaited pilot) intend to draw you into the milieu surrounding the world of the story, and offer you a glimpse into the gestation and making of the show, while gently poking fun at itself. To quote Lynch at the beginning of A Slice of David Lynch, "This is the strangest damn thing." He's referring to the act of sitting on a set in Los Angeles, drinking coffee and eating cherry pie with cast members Madchen Amick, Kyle MacLachlan, and personal assistant John Wentworth years after the show ended. But he may as well have also been referring to the show itself, and to the enormous popular phenomenon it accidentally became. As can be inferred from the title, A Slice of Lynch is a glimpse inside the creative mind of Lynch through his interactions with his old stars and assistant, and watching this, you can't help but understand that Lynch operates on a different plain from normal humanity, and his artistic process, while often befuddling, yields incredibly original results to a degree that almost boggles the mind; happy accidents seem to stem from almost every artistic decision he makes. The strength of this feature is that it makes it clear that the world of Twin Peaks really existed, it just happened to live in the minds of David Lynch and co-writer Mark Frost. Twin Peaks Festival is almost an afterthought, it doesn't fit with the rest of the features in depth or insight, but curious fans will get a kick out of seeing what happens when the most rabid, hardcore Twin Peaks gather in the Northwest--on the sights of many of the show's scenes--for a fan festival that beats the heck out of any Star Trek convention. Secrets from Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks offers a meaty, four-part look into how the show came about, the filming of both seasons, and the creation of the music by composer Angelo Badalamenti and singer Julee Cruise. Black Lodge Archive features six different items ranging from the "Falling" music video to bumpers and galleries that don't do much to offer insight into the show, but they offer an unexpected, added bonus: watching Agent Cooper hawk Georgia Coffee in ads that aired only in Japan. They are quite possibly more hilarious and bizarre than anything in the show itself. The features do a great job of reminding an old audience, and explaining to a new one, why the show had such a devoted following. To quote one actress from the show: "It was unique, it came at a time when television was boring... there was nothing else like it on television." --Daniel Vancini