Twin Peaks : The Entire Mystery


David Lynch and Mark Frost’s short-lived but feverishly-loved ‘90s sensation arrives on Blu-ray in superlative Great Northern style.

The 10-disc set includes both seasons of “Twin Peaks”, as well as the ill-fated feature film “Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me” – not to mention a damn fine assortment of extras. Damn fine.

The television of today owes us a lot to “Twin Peaks”.

Undoubtedly made before it’s time, and so unique and ‘different’ it ultimately scared the sitcoms away and paved the way for HBO as we know it,  this intensely exciting collaboration between the king of eccentricity David Lynch and “Hill Street Blues” alum Mark Frost has gone down in history as one of the tube’s best.

And looking at shows like “The Sopranos”, “Game of Thrones”, “Lost” and “True Blood”, it’s clear that many of today’s televisual envelope-pushers have been greatly influenced by “Peaks”.

At the time though, “Peaks”, with its rebellious nature and flirtation with the supernatural, divided audiences – resulting in a show that, though loved by critics and the loyal audience that welcomed its originality, wasn’t a hit. Not at all. In fact, by the time the second season rolled around, it was clear that it was no longer working for a broad audience. America just wasn’t ready for something this special.

A mesh of soapie, murder mystery, and horror, “Twin Peaks” – as those that haven’t even watched the series know – revolves around the murder of a hometown prom queen (Laura Palmer, played by Sheryl Lee) and the visiting FBI Agent (Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan) who is assigned the case.

When the buttoned-up, slick Cooper arrives in the logging town of Twin Peaks he encounters not only a populace of rather peculiar sorts (yes, that is a lady communicating with her pet log) but ends up with more questions than he does answers.

After the first couple of episodes of the series, Lynch and Frost flipped the switch – suddenly we were no longer in a traditional murder mystery series, but an unexplainable and somewhat scary underworld of dwarves, giants, and demonic rapists, all with ties to the murder of Ms Palmer.

This was the moment that many jumped ship.  The braver – I’ll include myself among them – would be rewarded for their openness to experiencing something different and, I have to admit (I still remember being spooked out by the show. It was definitely a ‘lights on!’ series) the show’s somewhat unsettling themes and imagery.

The scripts were the gold here, but the performances of the stout ensemble offered them weighty support. MacLachlan, a regular staple of Lynch’s movies (like many of the cast), is terrific as the straight-laced fed – the actor has never been blessed with a role quite as great since; Ray Wise, simply entrancing, and god-damn magnificent as the loopy Leland Palmer, distraught and dancing father of the victim; and Michael Ontkean, both warm and fixating as local Sheriff, Harry Truman.

The second season of the show is a ‘fans’ season – in other words, if you weren’t a die-hard devotee of the series, you’d be lost. Maybe even bored.

The ‘Laura Palmer’ mystery was solved by about episode 15 (too soon? Maybe), and then the show opened a new chapter – largely, it started fixing on the many rogues of Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) past, like the dastardly Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh).

With David Lynch absent for much of the second season (he was off making “Wild at Heart”), and MacLachlan starting to look a bit bored, the second batch of episodes just weren’t as tasty.

And as for the series finale? Damn you cliff-hanger!

It wasn’t the end though, Lynch soon put clapperboard to hand on a film – a prequel.

“Fire Walk With Me” is austere, dim, disquieting, and surreal … hey it’s David Lynch and we expect nothing less, right?

Like an acid-tongued take on the TV series he and Mark Frost originated in the early 1990s, director Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” is an even more perplexing freak show encircling a small town’s consignment of oddities and inhabitants, and as equally visually transcendent and thematically stunning.

The movie is a solo Lynch returning to the anomalous folk he captured at the Mar-T Café, Ed’s Roadhouse and Blackie’s several years before – whilst turning the kook notch up to 11.

Tracing the events before the series pilot, “Fire Walk With Me” jets back to the last seven days of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the murdered prom queen of the series.

Out of control, hornier than ever and just begging for affliction, Palmer’s got herself mixed up in an interchanging reality where men find her alluring, she finds sex overpowering, and soul-sucking demon fiends possess those close to her, preparing for her looming death. Yep, Laura Palmer’s on a one-way trip to hell.

Following the inexplicable disappearance of colleague, Agent Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak), pro snooper Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is called into action to head up an investigation to pick up where his predecessor left off. Seems a body floating in the water, belonging to a woman named Theresa Banks, leaves a path of clues and insight into revealing the man responsible for such gruesome acts. Thing is, he’s a demonic spirit. Uh-oh.

Ultimately confusing and nauseatingly opaque, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” has earned its share of criticism. What people forget though is that this is a movie Lynch was forcibly made to edit several times over (see extras below).  But yes, I see the issues too.

As it stands, there’s no denying the joys of Lynch and this trip into darkness and WeirdoVille is still, even without comprehension, a captivating experience to say the least.

Blu-ray : Most people are grabbing this set for one reason – though, really, there’s plenty of reasons – and that’s the 90 minutes or so of deleted scenes from “Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me” that have never been released. For years, fans have hankered to see the many moments from the movie that didn’t make the finished cut, and considering how long it took, I don’t think anyone really expected to ever see them. Many involved in “Twin Peaks” even questioned whether or not these deleted scenes ever existed, believing they were probably destroyed years ago. But miracles do happen, it seems, and Lynch not only located the cut bits but he polished, perfected and produced them for us.

The deleted scenes – billed as ‘The Missing Pieces’ – are tastier than a great big bowl of cream corn. Yes, it’d have been even better had Lynch weaved them back into the film itself, rather than stitch them together to craft a separate visual entity, but still, it’s good to see these lost bits after all this time [and all those years of petitioning].

The deleted scenes largely fix on the many weird and wonderful residents of the town, who were chopped from the theatrical release. No, the film probably wouldn’t have made significantly more sense if these moments had been included, but with “Fire Walk With Me” so heavy on the spooky and serious, these lighter, quirkier moments would’ve offered a nice balance. In many respects, the film’s tone could’ve been more on par with the TV show.

Amongst the deleted scenes, some amazingly kooky stuff that only Lynch could get away with : an elongated bare-knuckle fight scene between Chris Isaak’s Agent Chester Desmond and the unhelpful and smarmy Sherriff Cable (Gary Bullock); Leland Palmer teaching Laura and Sarah how to speak Norwegian around the dinner table,  a gem of a scene between Deputy Andy and Lucy Moran at the sheriff’s station that involves the latter’s inability to register how a speaker works;  one of Pete (Jack Nance) and Josie (Joan Chen) trying to explain to an older gentlemen why the piece of wood he ordered hasn’t come out as he expected it to; we get to see Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) do a magic trick, and there’s some sweet stuff between doomed lovers Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma (Peggy Lipton).

It’s not all chuckles and head shakes though; some of the moments here offer a better explanation into some of the movie’s ‘so what the fuck is going on here?’ subplots.  For instance, we learn more about where Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) went and why he came back to the bureau all nuttso; we get a greater understanding of the significance of ‘the ring’, and what it actually means to be the beholder of it (we also discover who ends up with it after Laura); there’s a whole chunk of stuff involving the drug-deal-gone-wrong that resulted in Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) killing a guy; and Laura has some bonus encounters with ol’ Bob.

There’s also more insight – though not much – into what happened to both Annie (Heather Graham) and Cooper after his doppelgänger gets loose in the world, leaving the real Cooper to suffer a life inside the red-curtained Red Room.

But seriously, there’s much more here than just an hour-and-a-half of tangled loss.

The 10-disc set, as I said, encompasses the entire series – and that includes both the U.S pilot, and the international pilot (which encompasses somewhat of a conclusion, so that it could be issued as a stand-alone release) – as well as the aforesaid film.

The set also comes complete with a Hank’s domino of bonus features : there’s the log lady introductions to each episode, there’s a bunch of deleted scenes from the TV show, there’s some archival interviews with the cast, there’s episode previews and recaps, some ‘Twin Peaks’ promos, the ‘Slice of Lynch’ featurette in which Lynch sits down with Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick and post-production supervisor John Wentworth to talk about the series, a whole bunch of photos (even some new ones from “Fire Walk With Me”),  the ‘Return to Twin Peaks’ featurette which fixes on the annual Twin Peaks festival, Outtakes from the series, some newly-cut interviews with cast and crew, and a host of vintage bits and pieces – like Mark Frost’s interview with Wrapped in Plastic magazine, ‘Learning to Speak in the Red Room’ and a featurette on shooting at the Mar-T Diner.

“Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks” is a terrific four-part documentary that chronicles everything from the show’s development, scripting, music, tone and casting. This one, running at 106 minutes, is a real goodie – talking about episodes one through thirty or the whole shebang.

One of the weirdest but most compelling of the extra features is ‘Between Two Worlds’ in which Lynch interviews Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee and Grace Zabriskie as actors, as well as has a conversation with them in character. So, yes, Lynch is asking Leland Palmer – who has been dead for a couple of decades now – questions. It’s all rather… well, Lynch.

There’s some other bits and pieces scattered across the discs too, but by-and-large they’re the must-see spots to stop along the way to “Twin Peaks”.

Presentation-wise, “Twin Peaks” has never looked better. In fact, if you didn’t know Kyle MacLachlan sported silver hair, and that Jack Nance and Frank Silva have been dead for a number of years, you’d swear it was a new show.  The colours are rich and warm, and though there’s some slightly noticeable wear-and-tear (and it differs from episode to episode), the common eye won’t notice it. On the whole, the 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is simply beautiful, they’ve done a remarkable job of cleaning this up.

Sound-wise, it’s also a treat. If you’ve a good home theatre system, you’ll want to crank this up – that DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is something to behold.

“Fire Walk With Me” looks lovely too – with its 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer – but strangely enough, it mightn’t be quite as striking as the series. Still, there’s only a hint of noise and a bit of over processing here – again, mostly, it looks terrific (much better than that original DVD issue).

Like the series, the movie has an amazing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, so you’ll want to totally take advantage of that and make sure your eight-track home theatre system is cranked on and up.

And finally, I think the beautiful ‘box’ that the set is encased in deserves mention. This is a ‘keeper’ – crafted like a mystery box of sorts (how appropriate!), the discs are snug in their hard-papered sleeves throughout it, accompanied by amazing artwork and no flimsy sleeve architecture. Sure, you might want to be a bit careful with the box itself – it’ll probably dog-ear easily – but other than that, I don’t think there’ll be too many parcels delivering too many crumpled box sets.

As someone who had been waiting since 1992 for those deleted scenes from “Fire Walk With Me”, I couldn’t be happier. Good things do come to those who wait. And with the entire series in tow, and a spew bucket of extras, I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying surprise Birthday gift.