Twin Peaks

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This article is about the television series. For alternative meanings, see: Twin Peaks (disambiguation).

Twin Peaks was an American television series created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. The show is set in the fictional town of Twin Peaks in northeast Washington, while the filming took place in northwest Washington.

It aired on the ABC network in the United States from April 8, 1990 until June 10, 1991. Some episodes were written/directed by Lynch and Frost, but most were directed by guests. The show was co-produced by Aaron Spelling's production company and ran for 30 episodes over two seasons.

Contents

Overview

Missing image
Lynch-twin-peaks-plan.gif
Map of Twin Peaks, drawn by David Lynch

Twin Peaks tells the story of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and his investigation into the murder of a popular young local girl Laura Palmer. The programme portrays small-town America via an imaginary tight-knit community of unsophisticates. The pilot was filmed in the real-life town of Snoqualmie, Washington, not far from Seattle, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The gradual unraveling of the tale necessarily exposes each Twin Peaks inhabitant to unwelcome scrutiny from Agent Cooper and men from the Sheriff's Department. As with much of Lynch's other work (such as Blue Velvet), Twin Peaks explores the relationship between the veneer of respectability and the seedier layer of life beneath it. The programme borrowed generously from American soap operas in its melodramatic presentation of its characters' morally dubious activities. However, like all Lynch's previous and subsequent work, there exists a strong moral seriousness that informs the totality of the production.

Twin Peaks is particularly memorable for Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Special Agent Dale Cooper, who had the most famous line in the series (which became a catch phrase): "This is a damn fine cup of coffee."

The series was said to be set in 1989 with each episode representing a single day in the chronology (with occassional exceptions).

Surprise Hit

Twin Peaks started life as an off-beat quirky project for David Lynch and Mark Frost. They filmed the pilot with an agreement with ABC that they would shoot an additional "ending" to it so it could be sold directly to video in Europe as a feature if the TV show wasn't picked up, such was the inauspicious beginnings of Twin Peaks.

During the first season it was the search for Laura Palmer's killer that drove the show and caught the public's imagination, although the creators admitted this was a macguffin designed to keep the audience coming back for more, as each episode was really about the townsfolk and the sinister underbelly of the seemingly idylic town.

The first season contained only seven episodes and was considered technically and artistically revolutionary for television at the time, working hard as it did to reach the standards set by film. It has been said that Twin Peaks started the accomplished cinematography now common place in todays TV's drama shows.

The quirky elements, charming style and intelligent writing made Twin Peaks a huge and suprising hit. Soon after the cliff-hanger ending of the first season, the shows popularity reached a fever pitch, and "Peaks-mania" was born. Suddenly everybody knew about Twin Peaks and it began to seep into mainstream popular culture (such as Saturday Night Live) and its cast and creators were seen reguarly on talkshows and in interviews. ABC began to take a lot more notice of its quirky new show. Twin Peaks was hotly tipped to sweep the Emmys in 1990, being nominated for no less than eight non-technical awards, but to the shock of most (especially the show's creators), it didn't win a single one.

The Second Season

Soon after this success (both critical and financial) of the first season, ABC ordered a second season, this time expanding the number of episodes dramatically to 22. It was during this time that ABC put pressure on the writers to reveal the killer of Laura Palmer in the new season. This was at odds with David Lynch's sensibility who wished it to remain a secret forever, but he was over-ruled by the network executives and his fellow creator Mark Frost, with them fearing the audience would get bored with the mystery if it was not resolved soon.

For the longer second season new writers were hired, along with new directors, and David Lynch began to drift away from the show. During the second season's production he decided to make the film Wild at Heart.

With the second season finally revealing the killer, many fans of the show felt let down with its resolution, as the show's previously hinted at etheral and "weird" side came fully to the forefront. Also around this time a major storyline involving a romance between Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) was vetoed by Kyle MacLachlan (some said with pressure from then girlfriend and co-star Lara Flynn Boyle) as he felt his character, who was known for his strong morals, would never become involved with a high school student. As no agreement could be made, the writers unhappily had to take evasive action and bring minor subplots (which were never intended to dominate the show) into the foreground to cover the missing story.

Ratings Fall

With the unpopular resolution of the show's main drawing point (Laura Palmer's murder) and with the storylines becoming more drawn out and farcical, public interest finally began to wane and "Peaksmania" seemed officially over. Many believed the show's new overt quirkiness had made it a parody of itself and was far removed from the first season's charm and intelligence. This malcontent, coupled with ABC changing its timeslot over a number of occassions led to a huge drop in ratings and, on February 15 1991, ABC announced that the show had been put in "indefinite hiatus" (a move which usually leads to cancellation).

This wasn't quite the end though, as there was still large enough interest in the show for fans to begin their own letter-writing campaign, dubbed C.O.O.P (Coalition Opposed to Offing Peaks). The campaign was a huge success and ABC agreed to another six episodes (to finish the season).

With the creators knowing this was possibly the end for the show, they made a last ditch effort to revitalise it. Agent Cooper was given a love interest, the 18 year-old Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) (with no objections from Kyle MacLachlan this time around). With the season finale they hoped to spark more interest in the show with a dramatic cliff-hanger ending (the same way the previous season had). Unfortunately it did not boost interest sufficiently enough and the show was not renewed for a third season leaving fans with a completely unresolved storyline that would continue to be debated on fan websites to this day.

Later, David Lynch, having been long unhappy with ABC's "meddling" during the second season, sold the whole show to Bravo for a small sum, finally taking it from their hands. Bravo began airing the show from scratch again, but even with David Lynch shooting special 'Log Lady introductions' for each episode, it never caught the public interest the way it did the first time around.

Twin Peaks left TV with a slew "quirky" TV shows in its wake such as Wild Palms, Eerie, Indiana and Picket Fences.

Summary

The body of Laura Palmer, homecoming Queen and a popular girl, is discovered wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell. The news is relayed to the town's residents who react in various ways. Meanwhile across the state line a second girl, Ronette Pulaski, is found walking in a catatonic state along some rail road tracks. Since the crime crosses state lines, the FBI is alerted and Special Agent Dale Cooper arrives to investigate. Cooper's initial examination of Laura's body reveals the typed letter 'R' inserted under her fingernail. He recognises this as the "calling card" of a killer who took the life of Teresa Banks a year earlier in the town of Deer Meadow.

Cooper quickly establishes that Laura's character and relationships are not as they first appear, and that she's far from the innocent homecoming Queen that the town knew her as. Laura had been two-timing her boyfriend Bobby Briggs with the biker James Hurley, a situation known to Laura's best friend Donna Hayward. Cooper also finds traces of cocaine in Laura's diary, a habit she shared with Bobby.

Cooper is staying at the Hotel owned by the Horne family. Audrey Horne develops a crush on Cooper and when he traces Laura's cocaine usage to a club called 'One-Eyed Jacks' she infiltrates it for him. It is revealed that Laura had also been working as a prostitute sometimes based at the club. Cooper has a dream in which he visits the Red Room where he meets the Man from Another Place and the trapped spirit of Laura Palmer who whispers into his ear the name of her killer. However when he awakes, Cooper is unable to remember the name.

The information that Cooper has gained from psychic and observed means leads him to a number of suspects but he knows that finding Laura's secret diary holds the key. This diary is held by Harold Smith who was one of Laura's confidants. The secret diary reveals that from a young age Laura was abused by a character called Bob and that her use of drugs and sex are the means she has utilized to escape from Bob.

Maddie Ferguson, who is Laura's cousin and her spitting image, arrives to stay with Laura's parents. Both of them at times confuse Maddie with Laura. Maddie also becomes obsessed with finding Laura's killer and discovers that this is Leland Palmer, Laura's father. Leland kills Maddie but is captured by Dale Cooper who realises he has been possessed by the malevolent spirit of Bob. Leland smashes his own head against the wall of his cell and in his dying moment his soul is restored.

Cooper stays in Twin Peaks for a while longer. Before long he is playing a deadly game of chess with his old mentor Windom Earle; Earle has gone mad and wants to play with Cooper's mind, not least because Cooper had an affair with his wife. Cooper gets involved in a drugs bust gone wrong (with David Duchovny as a transvestite DEA agent) and temporarily is suspended from the FBI. He continues to try to track down the origins of Bob and the mysteries of the woods surrounding Twin Peaks. And he falls in love with a new girl in town, Annie Blackburn.

When Annie wins the Miss Twin Peaks contest, Windom Earle kidnaps her and takes her to the Black Lodge, a mystical other-dimension in the woods of which the Red Room is a part. Cooper follows, and has a series of bizarre encounters. As the series closes, it seems Cooper, unknown to those around him, has also become possessed by Bob.

Soundtrack

Composer Angelo Badalamenti, a frequent contributor to Lynch projects, scored the series and provides the leitmotif "Laura's Theme", the famous title theme and other evocative pieces to the soundtrack. Julee Cruise added ethereal vocals that complimented the otherworldliness that typified Twin Peaks during its run.

Variant versions

The pilot episode, first screened on TV in the US, was also released theatrically in Europe as a stand-alone story. The European version is 20 minutes longer than the TV pilot with a different ending added to bring closure to the story (see below the spoiler warning).

After the TV series had ended, Lynch made a prequel movie, Fire Walk With Me, co-written with Robert Engels (a writer from the series).

In September 2002, the first season (episodes 1-7) of Twin Peaks was released as a DVD box set. The box set was noted for being the first TV show to have its audio track redone in DTS. The set was heavily criticized for not including the key pilot episode, which could not be included due to the fact Lynch sold the rights to it to another company in order to facilitate its release theatrically. The pilot episode is included in the box set released in Europe, but as of late 2004 it is not yet known whether the televised version of the pilot (which ties in with the rest of the series) will ever be released to DVD in North America, or if the version released there will be the theatrical version.

The second season is due to be released worldwide by Paramount. It has so far been postponed three times, from September 2004, to early 2005, to September 2005, to early 2006, which is the date at present.

The European version wraps up the story by showing Mike, the one-armed man, shooting Bob who admits to the murder. Most of the supernatural aspects of the story are toned down or eliminated.

Characters

Grouping Name Description Played by
The FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper Investigates Laura's death Kyle MacLachlan
Albert Rosenfield Abrasive forensics expert Miguel Ferrer
Chief Gordon Cole Cooper's stone-deaf boss, shouts all the time David Lynch
Diane Cooper's never-seen secretary  ? (never seen or heard)
Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department Sheriff Harry S. Truman Lover of Josie Packard Michael Ontkean
Deputy Andy Brennan Dorky sidekick, lover(!) of Lucy Harry Goaz
Deputy Hawk, Tommy Hill Tracker Michael Horse
Lucy Moran Ditzy receptionist Kimmy Robertson
The Sawmill Josie Packard Widowed sawmill owner, lover of Sheriff Truman Joan Chen
Catherine Packard Martell Scheming with lover Ben Horne to burn the mill Piper Laurie
Pete Martell Long-suffering husband of Catherine Jack Nance
The Palmers Leland Palmer Laura's father Ray Wise
Sarah Palmer Laura's psychic mother Grace Zabriskie
Laura Palmer Murder victim, connected to almost everyone in town Sheryl Lee
Maddie Ferguson Laura's cousin Sheryl Lee
The Johnsons Leo Johnson Brutish trucker, drug-runner, had sexual relationships with Laura Palmer Eric Da Re
Shelly Johnson Wife of Leo, lover of Bobby Briggs Mädchen Amick
The Briggses Major Garland Briggs Air Force officer involved in Project Blue Book Don S. Davis
Betty Briggs Unassuming wife and mother Charlotte Stewart
Bobby Briggs Rebellious teenager, boyfriend of Laura Palmer, lover of Shelly Johnson Dana Ashbrook
The Hornes Benjamin Horne Wealthy businessman, owns hotel, department store Richard Beymer
Jerry Horne Ben's playboy brother David Patrick Kelly
Sylvia Horne Ben's constantly angry wife Jan D'Arcy
Audrey Horne Ben's sultry teenage daughter Sherilyn Fenn
Johnny Horne Ben's mentally handicapped son, tutored by Laura Robert Bauer III
The Haywards Doc Hayward Coroner, performs autopsy on Laura Palmer Warren Frost
Eileen Hayward His wife Mary Jo Deschanel
Donna Hayward Laura's best friend, lover of James Hurley Lara Flynn Boyle
Harriet Hayward Donna's younger sister Jessica Wallenfels
Gersten Hayward Donna's youngest sister Alicia Witt
The Hurleys Big Ed Hurley Gas stop owner, lover of Norma Jennings Everett McGill
Nadine Hurley Ed's drape-obsessed wife Wendy Robie
James Hurley Ed's nephew, secret love of Laura Palmer, lover of Donna Hayward James Marshall
The Jenningses Norma Jennings Diner owner, lover of Big Ed Hurley, organiser of meals on wheels with Laura Palmer Peggy Lipton
Hank Jennings Her husband, paroled criminal, conspirator with Josie Packard Chris Mulkey
Annie Blackburn Younger sister of Norma, an ex-nun with a troubled past Heather Graham
The Renaults Jacques Renault Canadian, croupier, drug-runner, had sexual relationship with Laura Palmer Walter Olkewicz
Jean Renault Criminal brother Michael Parks
Bernard Renault Murdered brother Clay Wilcox
Others Dr Lawrence Jacoby Psychiatrist, therapist of Laura Palmer Russ Tamblyn
Blackie O'Reilly Brothel madame Victoria Catlin
Harold Smith Agoraphobic horticulturist, Laura's friend Lenny Von Dohlen
Margaret Lanterman The Log Lady, mystic, widow who divines through her ubiquitous log Catherine E. Coulson
Denise/Denis Bryson Cross-dressing DEA Agent who investigates drug allegations against Dale Cooper David Duchovny
Dick Tremayne Pretentious employee of Men's Department at Horne's, ex-lover of Lucy. Ian Buchanan
Windom Earle Psychopathic ex-partner of Cooper, desires the powers of the Lodges, Kenneth Welsh
The People from the Lodges The Man From Another Place Enigmatic dwarf Michael J. Anderson
The Giant A giant who helps Cooper Carel Struycken
Phillip Michael Gerard AKA Mike, the one-armed man. A shoe-salesman who also acts as host for Mike, who is a good (reformed) spirit. Al Strobel
Bob malevolent presence who haunts Laura Frank Silva
Mrs. Tremond / Chalfont Messenger from Lodge with nephew - Pierre (who knows of BOB). Intentions unknown. Frances Bay

Episode List

Note that the episodes as released in the United States didn't officially have episode names. These are the names translated from the titles given to the episodes in German.

First Season

  1. Pilot (w: Mark Frost & David Lynch, d: David Lynch)
  2. Traces To Nowhere (w: Mark Frost & David Lynch, d: Duwayne Dunham)
  3. Zen, Or the Skill to Catch a Killer (w: Mark Frost & David Lynch, d: David Lynch)
  4. Rest In Pain (w: Harley Peyton, d: Tina Rathborne)
  5. The One-Armed Man (w: Robert Engels, d: Tim Hunter)
  6. Cooper's Dreams (w: Mark Frost, d: Lesli Linka Glatter)
  7. Realization Time (w: Harley Peyton, d: Caleb Deschanel)
  8. The Last Evening (w: Mark Frost, d: Mark Frost)

Second Season

  1. May The Giant Be With You (s: Mark Frost & David Lynch, w: Mark Frost, d: David Lynch)
  2. Coma (w: Harley Peyton, d: David Lynch)
  3. The Man Behind The Glass (w: Robert Engels, d: Lesli Linka Glatter)
  4. Laura's Secret Diary (w: Jerry Stahl, Mark Frost, Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Todd Holland)
  5. The Orchid's Curse (w: Barry Pullman, d: Graeme Clifford)
  6. Demons (w: Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Lesli Linka Glatter)
  7. Lonely Souls (w: Mark Frost, d: David Lynch)
  8. Drive with a Dead Girl (w: Scott Frost, d: Caleb Deschanel)
  9. Arbitrary Law (w: Mark Frost, Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Tim Hunter)
  10. Dispute Between Brothers (w: Tricia Brock, d: Tina Rathborne)
  11. Masked Ball (w: Barry Pullman, d: Duwayne Dunham)
  12. The Black Widow (w: Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Caleb Deschanel)
  13. Checkmate (w: Harley Peyton, d: Todd Holland)
  14. Double Play (w: Scott Frost, d: Uli Edel)
  15. Slaves and Masters (w: Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Diane Keaton)
  16. The Condemned Women (w: Tricia Brock, d: Lesli Linka Glatter)
  17. Wounds and Scars (w: Barry Pullman, d: James Foley)
  18. On the Wings of Love (w: Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Duwayne Dunham)
  19. Variations on Relations (w: Mark Frost & Harley Peyton, d: Jonathan Sanger)
  20. The Path to the Black Lodge (w: Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: Stephen Gyllenhaal)
  21. Miss Twin Peaks (w: Barry Pullman, d: Tim Hunter)
  22. Beyond Life and Death (w: Mark Frost, Harley Peyton & Robert Engels, d: David Lynch)

Trivia

  • The musician Moby used "Laura Palmer's Theme" as the basis for his track "Go".
  • Marilyn Manson titled a song on their Portrait of an American Family album “Wrapped in Plastic”, apparently after a line of Pete Martell's in the first minutes of the pilot. The track itself appears to have a sample of Laura Palmer’s scream from episode 29
  • The series launched the careers of a number of actors, including Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn.
  • A number of actors from Twin Peaks had roles in the short lived 1992 Lynch / Frost TV series On the Air about a 1950's live television show. Seven episodes were produced while only three aired in the US.
  • A number of principal and minor actors from Twin Peaks also had small (but memorable) roles on the sitcom Seinfeld:
  • Several of the actors from Twin Peaks appeared on The X-Files:
  • One of the major influences on the Konami video game series Silent Hill was Twin Peaks. The opening theme tune to the first game on PSOne has very noticeable similarities to "Laura Palmer's Theme", and Silent Hill 2 available on PS2 and Xbox contains not only a character called Laura, but the opening theme music is listed as "Theme of Laura" on the original soundtrack. The Silent Hill series also touches on paranormal and supernatural themes, not unlike Twin Peaks.
  • Special Agent Dale Cooper's middle name is: Bartholomew.
  • The Log Lady's husband died fighting a forest fire.
  • The two mountains in Twin Peaks are called Whitetail and Blue Pine.
  • Laura Palmer's prom date was Bobby Briggs.
  • The Twin Peaks High School mascot is a Steeplejack (stated in Second Season, Episode 9).

External links

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