When I was in kindgergarten, my mother let me stay up late on Friday nights and watch Dallas with her. When I was ten, the entire family was glued to the TV screen on Wednesday nights wondering, “Who Killed Laura Palmer?”
April 10, 2007 marked the long delayed DVD release of the second (and final) season of Twin Peaks, the ground-breaking television series that aired on ABC from 1990-1991. For my money, it was the greatest television series ever produced.
Combining classic soap opera elements with a centralized murder mystery, deadpan humor, dark mysticism, a labyrinthine mythology, and a style all its own, Twin Peaks was the co-creation of revolutionary film auteur David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive) and TV veteran Mark Frost (Hill Street Blues). This was the first series to feature production values equal to that of film and boldly set the stage for the green-lighting of such trailblazing shows like Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, and The X-Files. Its influence can still be felt today in popular programs like 24, Desperate Housewives and LOST, and in the standard practice of premium cable channels HBO and Showtime to treat original drama series with the same care of an epic, big-budget film.
When it premiered as a mid-season replacement in early 1990, Twin Peaks was an instant hit that sucked viewers in from the opening scenes of a beautiful young dead girl wrapped in plastic discovered on the banks of a river running through a majestic, small Northwestern town. The show proceeded to show the intertwining tales of the townsfolk coming to terms with their dark secrets while a quirky outsider (Kyle MacLachlan as Special Federal Agent Dale Cooper) attempted to solve the murder of their beloved Homecoming Queen, Laura Palmer.
ABC execs pressured the producers to solve the mystery in season two, feeling they were losing viewers who felt like they were being strung along, and the answer to who killed Laura Palmer can be found smack-dab in the middle of the new DVD compilation. What happens after this mind-blowing revelation is a roller coaster ride of soap opera theatrics (complete with a young David Duchovny as a cross-dressing DEA agent and a then unknown Heather Graham as an adorably mysterious waitress named Annie) and a diabolical thickening of the show’s shadowy mythology surrounding the White and Black Lodges, the Dancing Midget (aka Man from Another Place), the Red Room, the Giant, and Killer Bob. It was all just too weird for mainstream viewers, and those devout fans found it hard to find the show as ABC jumbled the time slot until its ultimate cancellation. Foreseeing the impending doom, Lynch crafted one of the all time great series finales/cliffhangers that still has cultists wondering, “How’s Annie?” The searing and unnerving last episode is haunting and shocking and unlike anything ever done on TV before or since.
The complete second season (all 22 episodes), like the first season DVD released back in 2001, is beautifully transferred and chock full of special features that will have enthusiasts squealing with delight. I especially enjoyed the “interactive grid” interviews that featured close to a dozen cast members talking about their auditions, the production, and the legacy of the show which continues to bring in new fans over fifteen years later. It’s also fun to play “six degrees of Twin Peaks” as we see how the Deschanels (Caleb was on of the directors and Mary Jo played Mrs. Haywood, and they are the parents of current stars Emily and Zooey) and Gyllenhaals (Stephen, the father of stars Jake and Maggie, also directed an episode) were intertwined with the show and how David Fincher’s sister was part of the staff.
Without further adieu…no great cult TV show is without an accompanying drinking game:
Drink every time:
Cooper orders a cup of coffee (HOT!) or a piece of pie (DAMN FINE!).
Cooper talks to “DIANE.”
People “hang out” and chat about important plot points at the Double RR Cafe.
Someone other than Cooper eats a donut, a piece of pie, or drinks coffee.
You see a shot of tree branches blowing in the wind, or the streetlight blowing in the wind.
James and Donna look all gooey-eyed, stare at each other, pine for each other, or kiss.
Mrs. Palmer cries out “Leland!” or “Laura!”
They show the Homecoming Queen picture of Laura Palmer.
Audrey does something kinky (like dance, flirt with Cooper, or tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue).
Something related to logging is showed.
The Log Lady appears.
The Log Lady tells a story about what her Log saw that night.
They show an owl.
Someone says “the owls are not what they seem” or “fire walk with me.”
It’s a social anytime someone gets shot or dies, Leo drools or says “new shoes,” Nadine does her cheerleader bit, the Giant appears, Killer Bob acts up, or the Midget dances.
Written by David H. Schleicher