That surreal serial television show you like is going to come back into style.
April 8, 2010 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Still Wrapped In Plastic: 'Twin Peaks' Turns 20 Back in the summer of 1989, I was invited to a sneak preview of a TV pilot. I didn't know anything about it, but the moment I heard its opening theme music, I got shivers that didn't go away. This was TV the way I dreamed it could be — funny, menacing, mysterious. In fact, it was so weird and wonderful that, as I walked from the theater, I remember saying, "Too bad no network will ever put it on the air."

We've previously seen Twin Peaks on the Blue with some damn fine web content...
Recently, the game "Heavy Rain" which is heavily 'Peaks' influenced, Here.

There was the shot-by-shot comparison of the actual town that they shot Twin Peaks in, here.

CBS has every episode online (streaming and for free) here

Garland Briggs, AKA Don S. Davis passed recently, and was remembered here

Onset Photos (my favorite!) taken by Benny Horne: here.

And a spoiler-heavy guide to the show featured here

Despite some of these links being more than 4 years old the links there-in work, testifying to the staying power of such an original and wonderful show. Happy birthday, Agent Cooper!
posted by codacorolla (89 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Minor clarification: the video game heavily influenced by Twin Peaks is, rather, Deadly Premonition.
posted by cortex at 1:12 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

This is probably my all-time favorite Twin Peaks Metafilter post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've often suggested to friends that the huge success of Lost is a sign it's finally time for Twin Peaks' long awaited return.

The opening scene is obviously Agent Cooper emerging after 20 years trapped in the Black Lodge, during which his doppelganger has been working his way up in the FBI, with a secret sideline of murder and mayhem.
posted by ecurtz at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2010 [8 favorites]

The Giant: I will tell you three things. If I tell them to you and they come true then will you believe me?
Agent Cooper: Who's that?
The Giant: Think of me as a friend.
Agent Cooper: Where do you come from?
The Giant: The question is where have you gone?
The first thing I will tell you is - there's a man in a smiling bag.
Second thing is - the owls are not what they seem.
Third thing is - without chemicals he points.
Agent Cooper: What do these things mean?
The Giant: This is all I'm permitted to say. Give me your ring. I will return it to you when you find these things to be true. We want to help you. One last thing, Leo locked inside a hungry horse - there's a clue at Leo's house. You will require medical attention.
posted by adamvasco at 1:26 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Damn you, CBS, what do you have against my "geographic region"? *grabs axe* Leo needs a new streaming provider!
posted by Iosephus at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

David Lynch music and video mashups. Which I probably would have made a post out of once upon a time, if I hadn't been too lazy to search to see if it had been posted already.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:33 PM on April 8, 2010

Front page of that link above maybe NSFW, I think it rotates in a picture with a breast.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:34 PM on April 8, 2010

There's a fish in the percolator . . .
posted by Think_Long at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like Phil Elverum's idea that being a fan of Twin Peaks is "a form of patriotism." Behind the many layers and quirkiness, the show seems to be contemplating and exploring a sort of dark, uniquely American (Pacific Northwestern?) mysticism. He even wrote a song about it.

I've seen moss covered stumps in dying light, taking on shapes.
Black wooden mythologies, I know a place.

Layer after layer of comprehension,
Welling up in the morning light between two mysteries.

The town rests in the valley beneath twin peaks, buried in space.
What goes on up there in the night, in that dark, blurry place?

posted by naju at 1:39 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

The only thing I have ever wanted to be in my whole life is a member of the Bookhouse Boys.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:40 PM on April 8, 2010 [12 favorites]

David Foster Wallace's essay "David Lynch Keeps His Head" (in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is worth seeking out for one take on early Lynch in general. While mainly focused on Lost Highway's production and Blue Velvet, bits do turn to Twin Peaks, and the near-180 on public reception to it over the course of its run.

Also in lines with the already-made correction, Deadly Premonition is probably the most terrible videogame I've ever so thoroughly enjoyed in spite of nearly its entire self. (Heavy Rain isn't Lynchian in any way, shape, or form.)
posted by Drastic at 1:40 PM on April 8, 2010

For today only, my sister's restaurant is offering the "Laura Palmer," freshly squeezed limeade and iced tea. Sadly it does not come wrapped in plastic.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:42 PM on April 8, 2010

I loved Twin Peaks when it came out. I tried watching it again recently. The first season, not the god-awful second season. But even the first season was terrible. Ham-fisted, lots of winky winky at the camera, really pretentious and precious.

Twin Peaks was groundbreaking, really interestnig episodic television with some character depth and plenty of strangeness. It came before X Files, before Alias, before Lost. I think it deserves a lot of credit for showing that network TV could be interesting. But whereas the interesting parts used to outshine the hammy stuff, these days it just looks dated.
posted by Nelson at 1:44 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh sweet Christ, I had no idea CBS was streaming this. Sitting around folding laundry just because the most awesome part of my day.
posted by padraigin at 1:47 PM on April 8, 2010

Twin Peaks was no Northern Exposure!
posted by GuyZero at 1:47 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

My take on the 2nd season here.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:48 PM on April 8, 2010

I was a teenager when Twin Peaks came out, and I really enjoyed the show, though I knew it was a little too clever or complicated to last -- too many layers so to speak. It was ahead of its time -- these days, it would have thrived on a Bravo or HBO and gone on for a nice long run and it would have had the advantage the Internet to get people used to its quirkiness with viral campaigns and forum discussions as well as summaries to help people pick up the nuances and back stories a lot faster...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:49 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I listen to Biosphere's Substrata so often that Twin Peaks never quite leaves. The Major's wonderful monologue ("This was a vision...") is used on the track Hyperborea, and the scene with the Giant in Cooper's hotel room ("Sorry to wake you...") on The Things I Tell You. Hmm, maybe it's time to buy that box and watch the thing. It's been a while.
posted by The Mouthchew at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

"No one else is more qualified to explain the first season of Twin Peaks than Alan Thicke..."
posted by dhammond at 1:57 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The local indie theater is doing a TP marathon later this month as a benefit for a local organization to benefit victims of sexual assault. Free coffee and cherry pie. tag-line is "The coffee is on us but the METH is not."
posted by edgeways at 1:58 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay, I see only two episodes available at CBS' site. ?
posted by stevil at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2010

Crime & Investigation, one of those cable tv stations that seems more like someone's extra credit project than a real channel, is currently airing Twin Peaks in HD and it has never been more beautiful.
posted by dirk gently at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2010

The only thing I have ever wanted to be in my whole life is a member of the Bookhouse Boys.

Don't dream it, be it.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:08 PM on April 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

and it would have had the advantage the Internet to get people used to its quirkiness with viral campaigns and forum discussions as well as summaries to help people pick up the nuances and back stories a lot faster...

Speaking of viral campaigns and Twin Peaks and weird stuff -- if you have the gold box set, they've got (stuffed into the last disc, along with the Agent Cooper [real!] Japanese coffee-in-a-can commercials) the recordings of Lucy that you were able to call into for $1.99 or whatever and find out more about what was happening in Twin Peaks that week.
posted by at 2:09 PM on April 8, 2010

If you're in LA, the New Beverly is showing FWWM today and tomorrow.

Damn That Television: I'll see your Fantômas and raise you a Wedding Present...
posted by equalpants at 2:14 PM on April 8, 2010

Nelson: TP was always in part a (meta)soap opera; thus the prevalence of "ham-fisted" acting -- I mean, come on, James Hurley is TERRIBLE in every scene. The brilliance of the show was the way it used soap opera tropes & style. Characters in soap operas always have hidden secrets and dark pasts; it's a cheap way to add characterization: "Oh, that handsome, classy doctor whom everyone loves? He used to be... IN PRISON!" TP went beyond that, exploring the darkness and uncanny underneath existence. The show lost its way when people who couldn't walk the fine line between the show's camp and between its metaphysical explorations took over from Lynch, which, if I remember correctly something I read a couple years ago, had partly to do with Lynch losing his passion for the show when the networks pressured him to reveal Laura Palmer's killer while at the same time bouncing the show around between crappy timeslots.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:17 PM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

For Twin Peaks was the first time I hooked a decent stereo, (yes it was is Stereo!,) up to my TV, and watched in a darkened room. It did seem like something new was happening.

Wasn't Gary Shandling or some other decent show on, on the same night making an evening of it?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2010

His work always feels dreamily timeless, and watching the series now you're struck by how much has come out of it — for instance, Stephenie Meyer's use of the Pacific Northwest in Twilight. It blazed a trail that led not just to The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but to HBO series like Deadwood and Six Feet Under.

I've been saying this for years.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2010

Years ago my then girlfriend and another friend got together the entire boxed set of Twin Peaks. Over a very long weekend we watched every episode from the pilot to the end of season two followed by the prequel Fire Walk With Me. We had nothing but homemade cherry pie and coffee and watched one episode after another. There was no particular reason to do this except we thought of it and decided to follow through.

We finally finished Fire Walk With Me and then we were discussing continuity between the tv series and the movie. We referred to a copy of Laura Palmer's Diary to check on one detail. At that moment we realized that without any intent or planning we had watched Laura Palmer's death on February 24. The exact date of her death in the series. Dun Dun DUN!
posted by Babblesort at 2:24 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I mean, come on, James Hurley is TERRIBLE in every scene.

This is slightly overdone juvenilia as well as a self-link, but I once wrote an essay called "James Hurley: Biggest Tool in the Universe." I guess 2005 was just before the word "douchebag" repopularized or I probably would have used that word instead.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

James Hurley could be transported to The Room and he'd fit in there just fine. "Laura, you're tearing me apart!"
posted by Babblesort at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The A to Z of Twin Peaks.

Four unreleased songs from the soundtrack.

This is filling me with nostalgia for
posted by crossoverman at 2:33 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Laura's house is for sale!!!!
posted by cherryflute at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2010

Also indispensable for the Twin Peaks music fan: Julee Cruise's Floating Into the Night, which is a mix of stuff that appeared on the show (including the main theme) and stuff that might as well have. Perfect moody, doomy space-out stuff.
posted by cortex at 2:39 PM on April 8, 2010

Back when I had all of Twin Peaks on VHS (long play — that middling format which nobody loved) and also had my tonsils, I would get sick every year during the spring as that first blast of pollen began to coat my mucous membranes. I would spend about three days in a dark room, lest I begin sneezing uncontrollably. I would watch all of Twin Peaks, then finish with Fire Walk With Me, taking time off to read Laura's diary or Diane's faithful transcriptions of Coop's tapes. Filled with antihistamines and delirium-inducing de-snotting agents of all sorts, Plato's cave took on a very new meaning for me.

I am now re-watching the series in its Gold Box form with some friends who know nothing of it. I can hardly wait for them to see David Duchovny in a dress, pre-X-Files. Ha!

Twin Peaks changed television, not because it showed what was possible but because it proved that people will watch non-formula television. Yes, you can get away with "The owls are not what they seem." You can play off of soaps and viewers will stick around. Hang out in the Waiting Room? Americans actually could handle that. Who would have thought?
posted by adipocere at 2:57 PM on April 8, 2010

I only see two episodes being streamed on the CBS site. Good thing I've still got my Gold Box DVD set handy. This show originally aired shortly after my 13th birthday, right at the moment that I started to really question my surroundings and wonder if maybe there was something dark and unwholesome behind it all.

(As an example: That same year, a small scandal erupted in my town when our then-mayor was discovered in a hotel room with a woman (not his wife) handcuffed to the bed, while he himself wore only the upper part of a Batman Halloween costume. His wife at the time was the nice, pretty policewoman who ran my elementary school's DARE program, and who I also had a small prepubescent crush on. I remember being unsettled by this news in a way that I couldn't quite explain for a long time.)

I haven't heard much from Lynch (aside from TM advocacy and that music project he did with Dangermouse and Sparklehorse) since the release of Inland Empire, so I can't help but wonder if he plans on continuing Twin Peaks after all. I think after spending the last several years slumming it in b-movies and nighttime soaps (Remember how people thought Desperate Housewives was going to be the next Peaks early in its first season?), Kyle MacLachlan would no doubt love to play Dale Cooper (both the good and bad versions) again.

I'm already thinking of all sorts of fan-fictional possibilities for the other cast members too: Maybe twenty years later, Deputy Hawk has been promoted to Sheriff; Harry Truman has gone off the deep end, carrying around a wooden doorknob that he claims is his dead girlfriend Josie; James Hurley now owns the gas station and the diner, and takes care of his crazy old Aunt Nadine, who's still convinced that she's only 17 years old. Donna Hayward, after discovering that she's actually the daughter of the late Ben Horne, successfully took over the Great Northern Hotel; Audrey Horne miraculously survived the bank vault explosion totally unharmed, and was so moved by the experience that she became a nun for a apparently mainline Christian order that is actually devoted to the mysterious spirits of the woods; speaking of nuns, we could also find out that Annie Blackburn died of being a freaking horrible actress. Okay, I'm out of ideas. Who's next?
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Twin Peaks is one of my favorite shows of all time, and all of the modern cinematic serials owe it an tremendous debt of gratitude.

However, having said that, it's pretty clear why the second season (post-macguffin) failed : Wyndam Earle was just not that scary. Especially compared to Bob.

God, I still get chills when I think about that flashback.

"we lived above a grocery store.... my name is Mike. His name ..... is Bob."
posted by Afroblanco at 3:14 PM on April 8, 2010

To this day, whenever I go to a dinner, I order cherry pie and black coffee in honor of Agent Cooper.
posted by liza at 3:18 PM on April 8, 2010

I watched the entire series over the second half of December (and had a near-traumatic experience watching Fire Walk With Me on New Year's Day with no sleep, having consumed only large amounts of champagne and coffee over the past 48 hours) - though I'm four months younger than the show itself, it's rapidly become my favorite. (Three months later, I'm still thinking of it constantly.) I'm delighted whenever I see it mentioned on MetaFilter. This is a wonderful post.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2010

I recently read Catching the Big Fish by Lynch, and it really goes a long way into explaining what might be seen as weird-for-the-sake-of-weird that comes into his work. He explains that one of his main purposes in film is "texture", which seems to stem from his beginnings as a painter. The flickering lights, and droning noises, and atmospheric shots are all trying to put together something that exceeds plot and goes towards like a... whole body feeling that you get while watching the show.

He also seems to operate often from instinct (part of his belief in Transcendental Meditation) where he'll do things that occur to him in a flash. Two of the biggest parts of Peak's mythology, the black lodge, and Bob, both came to him as hunches that paid off in the later plot.

I really hope he comes back to TV at some point.
posted by codacorolla at 3:32 PM on April 8, 2010

While I would love to see the story continue, there are just too many key actors who have died. Bob, Pete Martell (who died in a particularly tragic way), Major Briggs... I guess they could do something set 20 years after the show ended to explain the deaths, but without Bob? What's the point?
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2010

Good God, I loved Sherilyn Fenn.
posted by silkyd at 3:36 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

At my college we had several marathons of watching both seasons plus FWWM. We also fashioned a Twin Peaks scavenger hunt involving such delights as donuts, piles of ash, and a log.
RIP, dear Western College Program!
posted by wowbobwow at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2010

I think James Hurley, as a character, owes a lot to David Lynch's setting, or lack of it, adrift in time. Hurley is a biker in a strange fifties sense. You would not be shocked to see him sitting on porch stairs, smokes rolled up in his sleeve, maybe drinking a glass of milk. His outlaw status came from riding a motorcycle, rather than being a badass. He's a Jet, all the way, not a Hell's Angel or a Satan's Slave. You can see that same undefined time in Blue Velvet — it's like the United States, mostly the fifties, if we just skipped over the sixties, kept the small-town economic woes of seventies, then blended it in with the vices of the eighties and the open-mindedness of the early nineties. Men solve problems with their fists ... and sometimes wear dresses to work. The darling charity worker loves her cocaine. With that, I can see Hurley as the poet-biker, leather on the outside, soft on the inside.

He's still a tool, though.

I didn't mind Windom Earle. He makes a great foil to the gentle Cooper, who is humbled by coming across someone who is just as steeped in lore as he, but brighter in mind and darker in spirit. Just showing up on the scene is tough on Cooper because he has, so far, been the Guy in Charge. Cooper's quiet pride is reflected in Earle, who thinks he has got the keys to the kingdom. He's got the chess skills, he has the stuff, the inner circle black mojo, he knows the ritual and the ring of sycamore trees. Then he finds out he isn't as high up in the food chain as he thought. Earle's encounter with Bob* is fun — "You go. He can’t ask for your soul. I will take his."

*"Bob" stands for "Beware of Bob"
posted by adipocere at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

In 2007, I saw a trailer for the definitive gold box edition--it had the intro song synched to a series of increasingly absurd images (no voice over like this trailer). I can't remember if the trailer was in French, but I saw at the Parc de la Villette cinéma en plein air.

Anyone know what I am talking about?
posted by stop sign at 3:42 PM on April 8, 2010

i want all my garmonbozia
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Um, TWIN PEAKS was the last TV show I actually made room for on my schedule... my wife and I would have a couple friends over to watch each new episode. I still have a complete run of WRAPPED IN PLASTIC magazine, and I think it's high time I watched the whole thing again. Thanks codacorolla!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:55 PM on April 8, 2010

"Wow, Bob, Wow!" - LMFAP
posted by wowbobwow at 3:59 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The problems with Windom Earle are twofold, as I see it. First, the actor was really hammy and bad. A lot of other actors on the show were hammy, but that guy was just off the charts. Also, he had the misfortune of being introduced (more or less, I'm not 100% on the timeline) during the awful, awful middle period of the second season that was so awful that I get mad just thinking about it. He's certainly not the worst thing in that section of the show, but Jesus Fuck knows what would garner that honor:

The shitty-little-kid-as-satan subplot? The middle-aged-highschooler-with-superpowers wacky hi-jinks? Civil War recreation as therapy? The beauty pageant?

Man, that part of the show is just flat-out horrible.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:22 PM on April 8, 2010

You can also watch the first seven episodes of Season 1 and all of Season 2.

I was mildly amused how Lynch ended Season 2...he really didn't want it spun off into something stupid. (although many argue that the end of Season 2 guaranteed that would never happen)

God, I loved Twin Peaks...
posted by Benway at 4:24 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

It was ahead of its time -- these days, it would have thrived on a Bravo or HBO and gone on for a nice long run and it would have had the advantage the Internet to get people used to its quirkiness with viral campaigns and forum discussions as well as summaries to help people pick up the nuances and back stories a lot faster...

True. In 1990 there were discussions on local BBSes, but mostly people were left to fend for themselves.

I watched it through early 1990 as it aired and remembered thinking, "My recently-departed roommate (who moved out in September 1989 to go to school elsewhere) would love this..." So I taped it week by week. That summer when he was back in town we went to the house of a third friend who also wanted to see this show and watched the entire first season in a single, weird sitting. Although I could not have imagined it then, twenty years later that would be the way many people would watch TV. I certainly have not watched a show week by week for many years now.

And it's important to remember the context that the show appeared in. American TV was Cheers and The Cosby Show and Roseanne and The Golden Girls and Falcon Crest and Who's the Boss and Jake and the Fatman. What passed for real high-quality tv programming was thirtysomething and China Beach. The Simpsons was a few weeks old as a half-hour program and that other emblematic 90s hsow, Seinfeld, was still six weeks away from its premiere.

David Lynch was barely David Lynch -- he had made four reasonably well-known films by that point and only two of them (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet) are what people tend to mean when they say Lynchian. The other ones -- The Elephant Man and Dune -- were relatively straitlaced. Wild at Heart was still six months away when Twin Peaks premiered... he really was a guy who had made one or two cult movies, the most recent of which was years earlier.

I don't know if anyone who has grown up in a world with HBO and boxed sets can grasp how fundamentally odd and challenging this show was in its time.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:27 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have had the Gold Box set sitting unwatched on my shelf for months now, and maybe it's time that I pull that out for a viewing.

Oh, and I figure that Mashed In Plastic (previously) should probably be mentioned in this thread. Just in case people didn't see it earlier and are interested.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on April 8, 2010

A friend emailed me a link earlier today. It was a webcam of himself lifting his finger up to his right temple, then drawing it downward in a deliberate motion, as though he was drawing a vertical line to the right of his eye. Then the video ended.

Signal received.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:44 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Four unreleased songs from the soundtrack.

thanks! i love that stripped-down laura piano theme.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:53 PM on April 8, 2010

Also, he had the misfortune of being introduced (more or less, I'm not 100% on the timeline) during the awful, awful middle period of the second season that was so awful that I get mad just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, Wyndham Earl is introduced (obliquely) before the reveal of Laura Palmer's murderer, meaning that there's really no way to designate a good cut-off for 'here's the part of the show you should watch and everything is tied up.'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:55 PM on April 8, 2010

this is the most terrifying scene I have ever seen on television.

(It still freaks me out so badly that I couldn't even watch it. I looked at the first second of the video and then closed the window.)
posted by Lucinda at 4:56 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

lucinda: i can't find a good link for it, but i always thought one of the most amazing sequences was that of maddy's death, how it intercuts with the julee cruise song and cooper's visions. it was probably the most horrifying thing i've seen on tv, but really beautifully done.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:07 PM on April 8, 2010

Oh, Twin Peaks. Really, the reason I moved from sunny SoCal to the rainy Pacific NW. I was in high school and became completely absorbed and obsessed the way you do when you're 16 and a little strange/out of place.

One of the first things I asked my first boyfriend before we started dating was whether he liked the show. (He did. We dated for five years.)

I watched part of it in reruns over the summer while visiting my grandparents. I think grandpa, the minister, watched an episode with me, and enjoyed it even.

When mom & I drove up to WA to move me to the dorms, sight unseen, I was blown away by the trees and kept thinking OMG they really ARE like that. Same with the stoplights on swaying wires...we stayed at a motel in Portland and it was the first time I noticed that style of light, and all I could think was, wow, it looks like Twin Peaks.

I watched some on Netflix a while back IIRC, but mr. epersonae wasn't into it. I might have to sneak some into the rotation again, or check the CBS site. :)
posted by epersonae at 5:12 PM on April 8, 2010

Jerry Stahl writes about being a writer for Twin Peaks, in his book Permanent Midnight. He makes it sound like towards the end, there was just a giant conference room full of random writers mashing together random ideas.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:33 PM on April 8, 2010

i was pretty patient through the second season, still appreciative of the fact that something different and cool was happening. i was surprised that fire walk with me was not better accepted at the time of its release; i loved it instantly. but it's nice that it has gotten more attention over time.

a few years down the line, i was really amazed by my husband's take on fire walk with me--which comes from a smarter place than i do--which was basically that if you set aside the supernatural elements of the story and center it specifically on leland and laura, it is a fascinating take on the psychological sequelae of incest and child sexual abuse. not to try to pigeonhole the story or it's layered elements and implications, but it definitely informed how i viewed movies like lost highway and mulholland dr--that there's a kind of core real story, and much of the mystery and strangeness we see around it are manifestations of the psyche of the main characters. i'm sure the idea is better expressed and well worn elsewhere, but it's kind of a cool angle for someone generally not that smart about this kinda stuff.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:42 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Like a fool, i just watched the clip Lucinda linked to... a scene which I had evidently wiped from my memory, and which features a, uh, motif that I find particularly disturbing. Shudder.

During the original run of the series, a friend of mine who didn't own a TV would come over to my isolated house to watch Twin Peaks with me. Every single week, she would then get so unnerved that she couldn't walk back through the dark alone, so I bravely escorted her home through the winding, tree-lined lanes with their looming shadows and mysterious creaks and chirps and rustles.

We would cheerily walk all the way to her apartment, laughing nervously at our involuntary fear, and I would leave her at her brightly lit doorstep... and start walking home.


Though I've watched the first season many times, and the second season a few times, that first broadcast made the deepest impression on me, and more vividly than any moment of the show itself, I remember those dazed, nervous walks through the village streets, and how perfectly my unbelieving, giggling anxiety echoed the tone of the show, where the perfectly mundane things are as threatening as the exotic, and our everyday routines become menacing.
posted by Elsa at 5:43 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I thought for sure Lucinda's link would be to this, which (at least in context) was the scariest thing I had ever seen on television to that point. Television has come a long way, and I'm sure I could think of much worse without much trouble -- the "That's My Dog" episode of Six Feet Under leaps immediately to mind, or "Home" from The X-Files, and there's quite a bit of nightmare fuel to be found in BSG, and...well, the list goes on and on, but when you consider that probably something like LA Law would have been the Mad Men of that era...yeah. Twin Peaks was a good ten years ahead of its time. I do wish Lynch would take advantage of a modern TV industry that appears to be full of his show's admirers, but he seems more interested in abstract DV compositions than anything with a narrative now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:55 PM on April 8, 2010

This was my favorite show back then. I still have the soundtrack on cassette somewhere, as well as the Julee Cruise album.

I can't believe it's been 20 years. Wow, do I feel old!
posted by SisterHavana at 6:54 PM on April 8, 2010

Someplace I have "Diane - The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper" on cassette...
posted by hippybear at 7:20 PM on April 8, 2010

The problems with Windom Earle are twofold, as I see it. First, the actor was really hammy and bad. A lot of other actors on the show were hammy, but that guy was just off the charts.

He was hammy, and perhaps too much so, but I like Kenneth Welsh and I basically like Windom Earle as a character; I do, though, wish his performance had been better -- more Heath Ledger joker than Caesar Romero Joker -- because he is a well-respected Shakespearean actor.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:06 PM on April 8, 2010

SisterHavana: I can't believe it's been 20 years. Wow, do I feel old!

I know, me too. This morning CBC Radio featured an interview with Mark Frost, and I was absolutely floored to learn it had been two decades!

I was in high school when the series premiered, and I remember attempting to emulate Audrey Horne's lovely 1950s sweater girl style. To someone emerging from the baggy, beshoulderpadded 1980s, the fitted sweater/schoolgirl kilt look was different and intriguing.

Oh, and seconding everyone who said you should only watch the clip Lucinda linked to if you want a good freakout! Yikes.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:13 PM on April 8, 2010

Back in the summer of 1989, I was invited to a sneak preview of a TV pilot. I didn't know anything about it, but the moment I heard its opening theme music, I got shivers that didn't go away. This was TV the way I dreamed it could be — funny, menacing, mysterious. In fact, it was so weird and wonderful that, as I walked from the theater, I remember saying, "Too bad no network will ever put it on the air."

But that fall, just when it seemed all hope had faded, America's Funniest Home Videos miraculously got picked up by ABC -- and TV has never been the same since.
posted by decagon at 9:32 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

No one else is more qualified to explain the first season of Twin Peaks than Alan Thicke

I don't know what's most disturbing about this (Part 1.) Alan Thicke himself, his tie, or his promise that after explaining Twin Peaks, he will go behind the scenes of Cop Rock.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:56 PM on April 8, 2010

Okay, watching the episodes right now, and I'm struck by a few things.

1) Lynch has a way with images that is really unique. So many moments are just spent with a piece of film that simply seems there to celebrate the moving image. It's certainly light years beyond the typical establishing shot. I remember being struck by the sheer beauty of his imagery 20 years ago, but now, with a more mature perspective, there is a resonance and joy to all this which I much appreciate.

2) There are a LOT of WTF moments in any given episode. The pilot movie actually isn't all that full of weirdness. The characters are compelling and eccentric, and there are interesting moments throughout the pilot which echo and rhyme and resonate and create a sense of eerieness, but the real strangeness truly starts with the regular series. And once Lynch decides to dive into weird, he really really goes all in. That cryptic dream of Agent Cooper's with the dancing dwarf and the mystic poetry? That's in the SECOND EPISODE of the regular episodes. That's a pretty high bar of weird to set that early in the run of a show.

3) This show really put the jumper cables to a lot of careers, new and old. Kyle MacLachlan became a household name, Russ Tamblyn, Peggy Lipton, and Piper Laurie were revived, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, and Joan Chen were all shotgunned into public consciousness... Interestingly, the young men from the series didn't seem to make much of a splash at all.

This will be a fun adventure over the next day or so, going back through all these. I'm kind of glad I shelved this set, as I feel more motivated to watch it now, on this anniversary, than I did when I first got it. Thanks, MetaFilter, for prodding me into exploring this THING that I have such fond memories of from the past!
posted by hippybear at 11:10 PM on April 8, 2010

"Diane..." - The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper:
Part One
Part Two

posted by kaibutsu at 5:06 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

hippybear: There was also a European premiere with a bunch more wierd stuff than the American premiere, including the dancing dwarf scene, which was later incorporated into episodes being shot for the main series. The first time I watched Twin Peaks, we had a many-times re-recorded and re-watched copy of the European premiere, but I didn't know it was different at the time. It led to a lot of disagreements with people about the plot, though... The gunfight in the basement of the hospital was a great source of disagreement about plot continuity.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:09 AM on April 9, 2010

Yeah, my recollection is that the European "premiere" was actually so different because it was shot (re-shot?) to run as a one-off film after the idea of a series run got nixed, or something like that. So it just defiantly broke continuity with the pilot-and-series, and I don't think there was every any intention for the two to be reconciled. Two paths diverged in a wood and all that.

Also, I named my iPhone "Diane".
posted by cortex at 7:10 AM on April 9, 2010

My friends and I were way into this show in college. Weekly viewings in the dorm common area and such.

During the run of the first season I was taking a class taught by Alfred Appel Jr., editor of The Annotated "Lolita" (trust me - you do not want to read Lolita in any other edition than this - the amount of details Appel included are amazing and will change your appreciation of the book...) Anyway - the class was on mid-century American literature, and often Prof. Appel would go off on tangents relating to contemporary pop culture. Including Twin Peaks - which he hated. He thought it was all empty tropes, weird for the sake of weird, with no underlying meaning or truth. The one armed man, for example. He noted the reference to "The Fugitive" but to him, the one-armed man in The Fugitive was important symbolism, but in Twin Peaks it was "just a one-armed man."

I still tend to think he was missing something.
posted by dnash at 8:41 AM on April 9, 2010

And now I have Julee Cruise songs stuck in my head.
posted by dnash at 8:48 AM on April 9, 2010

Also indispensable for the Twin Peaks music fan: Julee Cruise's Floating Into the Night, which is a mix of stuff that appeared on the show (including the main theme) and stuff that might as well have. Perfect moody, doomy space-out stuff.

Lynch's Industrial Symphony No. 1: Dream of the Brokenhearted is basically Julee Cruise singing this album in a really weird stage production. It's fantastic. Nic Cage and Laura Dern appear briefly, characterizing their Wild at Heart roles, although the characters aren't specifically named, even in the credits. Michael J. Anderson shows up on stage at one point. The section with Rockin' Back Inside My Heart is one of my favorite "music videos" of all time.

There are some clips on YouTube, but I managed to track down a full video on some torrent site years ago. I should probably back it up in 4 or 5 different ways, just in case.
posted by owtytrof at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2010

Huh, apparently Industrial Symphony is available on DVD as part of the David Lynch Lime Green Box Set, released nearly 18 months ago. Pretty pricey set, but maybe worth it for the die-hard Lynch fan.
posted by owtytrof at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2010

I love Twin Peaks and its dreamy weirdness. But I do think that the show should have stopped here (crappy quality, French dubbing.. I don't know why there are no proper clips on the tubes).

Something about this just seems so good to end the story on. We know who killed Laura, and Cooper could not stop it. Plus, it's about the freakiest, scariest murder scene I know of on television. The 'heart throb' of the scratching record, the screaming.. just terrible.
posted by Harry at 9:27 AM on April 9, 2010

As someone who is currently watching the show through for the first time EVER (I was only a toddler when the show originally ran], I'm surprised [and appreciative] that this discussion is spoiler-free [i'm through season 2, episode 8 or 9 or so, where we find out more information about Leyland].

As I've watched it, I've noticed it's very dated, the clothes, the fact that there's no cell phones or computers to aide in the investigation. That it's dated is not bad, it's just something to keep in mind. The clothing and scenery is what I imagine the early 90s in a podunk town that hasn't been reached by grunge yet to be.

The batshit-insane things [Log Lady, the dwarfs, etc]
and a FBI agent's reliance on his dreams and hallucinations to guide his investigations is campy, but it somehow works for me. Lynch was able to suspend my disbelief.

Looking back, I could see how this show was pretty ground-breaking compared to the rest of the stuff that was on TV at the time.
posted by fizzix at 12:20 PM on April 9, 2010

This makes me feel so old.

I remember that my middle school art teacher would tape Twin Peaks, and we'd spend one class a week watching the show, eating pie, and drinking coffee. Spending 20% of class time having students watch a TV show might not be something a teacher could get a way with these days, but--I ask you--who better to teach kids about art than David Lynch?
posted by paulg at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

@Fizzix - you'll notice that about a LOT of Lynch's work. The all seem to take place in their own little timeline, a sort of 50s influenced anti-Ansel world. And that is one of the charms of his stuff.
posted by cerulgalactus at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2010

I'm delighted to know that Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks is still in print. The essays in it are marvelous, though as with any and all criticism, YMMV. Still, it shows how well the show can be analyzed from so many different points of view - and how well it holds up under a critical spotlight.
posted by crossoverman at 10:13 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

That it's dated is not bad, it's just something to keep in mind.

In a way, it was dated at the time. Okay, the early 90s people were still recovering from 80s fashion and 80s hair, but because Lynch was interested in upending the traditional 50s version of small town America, the characters still felt like they came from another era.

But yeah, there is an appearance of a mobile phone - but it's a giant brick. And a laptop - which is just a portable word processor! It's sort of odd how it straddles so many different eras - another way in which the show is quirky and unique.
posted by crossoverman at 10:39 PM on April 9, 2010

I'm actually kind of tickled by the idea of a youngun watching Twin Peaks and extrapolating that the world of 1990 America looked like it even a little bit. Oh, if only.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:58 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

An interesting David Lynch tidbit: He's currently voicing a minor character on the Family Guy spin-off, The Cleveland Show.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2010

"He is Bob, eager for fun.
He wears a smile.
Everybody run."
posted by Eideteker at 9:29 PM on April 22, 2010

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