A book containing 1001 TV shows is likely to contain shows that have been on the ‘to watch’ list for many years. For me, there are fewer shows that have been on this list longer than Twin Peaks (Buffy the Vampire Slayer predates it by a few years). I cannot count how many people have recommended this show to me over the years, especially since my screen name comes from Dynch’s later film Mulholland Drive – so here goes.
Twin Peaks is one of those shows where it felt like I would really do it a disservice if I did my write up at episode 20, like I do with other shows. Thanks to other people helping to manage my expectations, I was aware of the dip in quality part way through season two. So I watched the entire original run of Twin Peaks and was left with so many questions and a newfound respect who can learn how to speak backwards.
So many books and articles have been written about Twin Peaks, more than the average TV show. For a show that only had an original run of 30 episodes it really has been a constant source of inspiration and interpretations.
At its peak Twin Peaks is some of the best TV I have ever seen. There are many stand outs, but there really was something truly magical Episode 14 (also known as ‘Lonely Souls’) where we find out the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer and the reveal is far more satisfying than I could ever have hoped for
Anyway, let’s back up a bit. For the uninitiated, Twin Peaks is a mystery series from the early 1990s that has a incredibly strong supernatural presence. It all begins when the body of Twin Peaks resident Laura Palmer is found murder… but this is not a procedural. In fact, this is as far away from a murder procedural that you can get, whilst also being a show that solves the mystery of someone’s murder.
Like it’s contemporary Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks is set in a remote town in the northern U.S. that contains a large number of eccentrics (including the weird and wonderful Log Lady). Usually in shows like this there is an audience surrogate who arrives into town in order to remark on the weirdness (like Joel in Northern Exposure) we get Agent Cooper. This is someone who not only delights in the weirdness of the town, but brings his own relentless optimism and his leanings towards Eastern mysticism.
It’s hard to overstate just how exceptionally good Kyle MacLachlan is as Agent Cooper. To think that he came into this off of Blue Velvet and Dune and was able to give such a different role must have been a huge surprise to Lynchian fans of the time. You can see shades of Agent Cooper in MacLachlan’s later recurring role as the Mayor of Portland in Portlandia, but it’s nothing compared to this excellent performance.
In fact, with a few notable exceptions, there are so many outstanding people in Twin Peaks in both major and minor roles. Like the seeming majority of the internet, I absolutely adored Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne – the complex daughter of local business magnate Ben Horne. Truly, every scene was made better with her inclusion. I also want to highlight deputy Andy Brennan, whose character could have been exhausting but ending up being an utter delight.
The storylines and settings too, one the whole, are well executed and a source of surprise and many a satisfying twist. Sure one or two of these around the middle of season two didn’t quite live up to what came before (which was nearly any plotline involving the increasingly wet James) but I never felt the urge to stop watching. Now that I have finished season two, I wish I had paced myself a bit more.
So, that’s another one of the big series crossed off – plus there’s still the revived third season, a movie and a whole bunch of other assorted extras to keep me occupied for a while. I was going to say that they’d help me get some answers after that complete mindscrew of a second season finale… but this is David Lynch and he’s never been one for offering closure.