" She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway. "
— Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon

MRQE Top Critic

Almost Famous

Director Cameron Crowe extends his autobiographical homage to 70s rock —Risë Keller (DVD review...)

Patrick Fugit is Almost Famous

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In David Lynch’s world of Twin Peaks, coffee is the characters’ personal engine oil. It enhances performance, warms the body, and above all, keeps the person from breaking down. But sometimes, when drinking a low-quality cup of joe, this can result in the shakes, jitters, and rattles.

For one to fully accept and understand the bizarre, surreal nature of this television show, they must acknowledge the small details, from someone ordering a cup of coffee to the changing colors of a traffic light; these things must be taken into account as a progression of the story, development of a character, or clue to the giant puzzle that is consistently being explored.

Although some fragments of the series may seem insignificant and random, they all apply to the cosmic-style conflict that we, as an audience, must read into and decipher. To watch Twin Peaks without attempting a proper analysis would be a frustrating and maddening experience. On the other hand, to view it all with wide-open eyes goes beyond any act of masochism I’ve undergone with television.

And my God, did I love it.

Five Miles South of Canada...

Agent Cooper can't stop raving about the coffee and pie at the local diner
Agent Cooper can’t stop raving about the coffee and pie at the local diner

Picking up where Lynch’s Blue Velvet left off, Twin Peaks digs deeper into the twisted core of middle-America, uncovering dark mysteries that are hidden behind all the white picket fences and colorful rosebushes. Although there are many sinister characters and plots disguised in this dreamlike place, sometimes the sheer level of normality transports us into a terrifying nightmare.

Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet, Sex in the City) stars as Agent Dale Cooper, an FBI agent sent to a small town in Washington named Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a popular high school girl named Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Agent Cooper is a strangely optimistic, chipper guy who uses Zen-like techniques and deductive intuition. Besides constantly musing to his tape recorder, Diane, he also can’t stop raving about the quality of coffee and apple pie at the local diner.

But his peculiar antics fit right in with the rest of the characters, who seem stereotypical and harmless on the surface, but are filled with cryptic secrets that are revealed as the murder mystery slowly unravels. Everyone is a suspect; from her parents, to her boyfriend(s), her drug dealers and family friends — they are all tied together in one large knot, making each one a prime suspect.

Season two picks up exactly where the last episode left off, with Cooper lying on the ground, covered in his own blood. From there we are bombarded with more clues, characters, and supernatural elements, making the abstract case more than just a simple obsession; solving the mystery becomes a fixation that mercilessly keeps us at the edge of our seat.

When the identity of the killer is finally revealed, things are far from over for Cooper as he faces an even greater evil. Although some critics discard the later part of the series as weird and unnecessary, the setup for finale is one of the most brilliant moves I’ve seen on any television show. And if the final episode doesn’t make you scream out loud, nothing will.

The Sensational Experiment

Created by writer Mark Frost (Fantastic Four) and American surrealist filmmaker Lynch (Mulholland Dr, Lost Highway), the collaboration originally was meant to be a film based on the book by Anthony Summer called Goddess. The story revolved around the last few months of Marilyn Monroe’s life, and although they changed her name for legal reasons, the producers dropped the project upon hearing the film would claim Bobby Kennedy as the one who committed the murder.

Refusing to abandon his concept, the story was rewritten into a dark, satirical soap-opera about a murder in a small mountain town. The unforgettable two hour pilot episode Lynch filmed for ABC aired April 8th 1990 to huge ratings. The prime-time show was touted as the birth of experimental TV and quickly developed a massive cult following.

The first season, which included 8 hour-long episodes, quickly grabbed the attention of many viewers with its originality and unique style, then left them begging for more with a historical cliff hanger that positively demanded further episodes.

As the second season began, even more people were swept up in the mysterious frenzy of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” 22 episodes later, the story was over, but the popularity had only grown. In 1991, the series won three Golden Globes, including Best TV Series, Best Performance by an Actress (Piper Laurie) and Best Performance by an Actor (Kyle MacLachlan).

With such a hungry fan base, Lynch had no other choice but to write and direct a prequel film to the series entitled Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Despite being overwhelmingly ingenious in relation to the show, the movie was a box-office failure due to poor marketing and distribution.

It’s finally here! Or is it...

When the first season was released to DVD by Artisan Home Entertainment four years ago, many of the fans were disappointed to find that the pilot episode was missing due to rights issues (originally owned by Warner Bros., it is now owned by Paramount). Within a rather short amount of time, the season went out of print, leaving only the prequel film available for purchase.

As Lynch was busy filming his epic Inland Empire, hope that he would soon revisit the series and work on an approved DVD set was nearly lost. Putting together a director-approved edition is something he has done for almost all of his other work, save for Lost Highway. Thankfully, after completion of his latest film, the second season of Twin Peaks became next on his ‘things-to-do list’, and the episodes were re-mastered with the help of Paramount.

Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of people (like myself) who have been waiting years for its availability, a larger box set is waiting for release at the end of this year, putting together both seasons, including the pilot episode. So fans, consider this before coughing up money for the individual sets. Since every episode is as important as the last, owning the entire set would be a complete experience of what Lynch has accomplished with his venture into television as a medium.

DVD Extras

The interactive grid menus makes for an easy way to navigate through the episodes, special features and different setups.

The “Log Lady Intros”, which can be turned on or off at the start of each episode, feature actress Catherine E. Coulson as the Log Lady character, sitting in front of a fireplace holding her precious log. She talks in riddles and poetry, giving the audience insight on an obscure piece of information that somehow pertains to the episode in question. These were filmed by Lynch when Twin Peaks re-aired on Bravo. This will be a fun feature for people who are into the series, otherwise it may just be nonsense to others.

The rest of the features are interviews with various cast members and crew, including Jennifer Lynch, Todd Holland, Caleb Deschanel, Duwayne Dunham, Stephen Gyllenhaal and Tim Hunter. Although their insights don’t clear up some of the unanswered questions, nor reveal further information about their characters, there are some interesting stories that are worth hearing at least once.

Picture and Sound

The full screen video is nearly flawless, while the six channel sound track is wonderfully provided in Dolby 5.1.

How to Use this DVD

Above all, do not attempt to watch this with anyone who doesn’t already have a heads-up on the first season. Otherwise, chaos and confusion will only result from a newcomer trying to catch up on the web of characters and subplots.

If you can, try to watch the entire season in the shortest amount of time possible; go on a binge one Saturday and take down 12 episodes. This will make things easier to follow, plus you’ll be able to catch smaller clues while the previous episodes are still fresh in your head.

Make sure to turn on the log lady intros at least the first time around. The more the series goes on, the more we want to get confused by her.

Keeping in mind that a better volume is nearing release, which will no doubt include more extensive extras and the lost pilot episode, I can only recommend buying this version of season two to those who simply can’t wait for them all.