TV Dungeon: Twin Peaks

(1990 – 1991, USA)

Creators: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, James Marshall

2 Seasons (30 Episodes)


‘A town where everyone knows everyone and nothing is what it seems’

David Lynch, in collaboration with writer/producer Mark Frost, captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with one of the most legendary television series to emerge in the nineties: Twin Peaks. What starts as a slightly offbeat whodunit, evolves into a complex and superbly intriguing mystery thriller.

‘Who murdered the high school beauty queen Laura Palmer?’, is the original premise. But with all sorts of supernatural stuff going on, new and bigger questions arise. The mystery of the Black Lodge is one of the most fascinating ideas of the show, and though not all questions are answered in the end, the unexpected climax is still fulfilling in a strange Lynchian sort of way.

Every whodunit needs a mystery solver. In Twin Peaks, this is special FBI agent Dale Cooper, played with verve by Lynch’s favourite boy Kyle MacLachlan. This strange, donut loving detective employs quite unorthodox methods to crack the case. He has dreams and visions about dwarves and Tibet. He also knows stuff he cannot know and he is always one step ahead of the rest.

Besides McLaughlin’s strong central role, there are many supporting characters that are as real as they are fantastical. The cast is perfect and features many (television)stars to be. All the strange inhabitants of mountain town Twin Peaks lead a complex double life. It is up to Cooper and local sheriff Harry Truman (Ontkean) to unravel their many mysteries.

The plot in Twin Peaks often takes a backseat to just let the many bizarre characters interact with each other. The show often feels like a platform for all the crazy ideas that Lynch, Frost and other collaborators who have worked on the show could come up with.

What makes the final result so great is the seamless integration of genres. With delicious black humor and countless fantasy elements, such as dwarves, giants, aliens and demons, the viewer will get hooked in no time. It is constantly absorbing, even during long stretches in which basically nothing significant happens. Twin Peaks is an endlessly fascinating show that took dramatic television into an entirely new realm.

Followed two years later by a prequel/sequel movie called; Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and a new season of the show in 2017.

5 Unforgettable Twin Peaks 2017 Moments

The famous film critic J. Kleijngeld named Twin Peaksone of the 5 must see TV-shows before you die’. One of its many feats is predicting its return after 25 years. This highly anticipated moment happened last year (actually 26 years later, but let’s not nitpick). I finally saw the show on DVD and I’m very impressed. It captures the strange atmosphere of the original, while simultaneously creating something uniquely new.

The show was produced by Showtime who gave creators David Lynch and Mark Frost complete freedom, or so it seems. A wise decision. In 1991, we left the beloved main character Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) behind in Twin Peaks after learning he was possessed by demon Bob. So what comes next? Twin Peaks was never about the plot, but about the unsettling and darkly humorous experience. But the main driver of the story is this: there are now two Coopers. Bad Coop and Good Coop. Only one gets to live…

What were the defining moments of the new show for me? Here are five that I thought were brilliant:

1. Departing the Black Lodge (Episode 3)

After spending 25, or 26 years in the Black Lodge – where time has no meaning anyway – Good Coop can leave using no normals means of travel. It is hard to describe everything he goes through, but the highlight is his arrival on a cosmic tin box where a mysterious woman tells him: “When you get there, you will already be there.” This weirdness was too much for Loesje, so I watched the rest of the 18 one hour episodes by myself.

2. GOD (episode 6)
One of the most hard-hitting scenes I ever saw on television; the shocking death of a boy who is brutally hit by the car of typical Lynch villain Richard Horne. Witness is Harry Dean Stanton who sees the boy’s soul ascent to the heavens after which he exclaims: “God”. Then he comforts the devastated mother. Blessed is he.

Reminds me, Stanton recently departed himself, like quite a few other actors from the original Twin Peaks crew: Catherine E. Coulson (Margaret Lanterman aka The Log Lady), Miguel Ferrer (FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield) and Frank Silva (Bob). And off course David Bowie, whose character Phillip Jeffries makes a return as water boiler of some sort. Let’s hope Lynch and MacLachlan live for at least another 120 years, so there can be a few more sequels.

3. Weirdness Galore (Episode 8)

There are probably uncountable modes of consciousness and Lynch captures many of them in the episode Gotta Light? which has to be the most unconventional episode ever produced for mainstream television. It is without a doubt my favorite episode of the season, and even one of the greatest thing Lynch ever did. There is incredible camerawork in this episode, like the long floating shot over the ocean. Then there is the dreamlike atmosphere, the eerie sound design by Lynch himself, and plenty of deep dark mystery to uncover for the fans. Outstanding.

4. Gun Control (Episode 16)

Not sure if this is satire on America’s gun control issues, but it surely seems that way. Even Eastern European accountants carry around the most advanced semi-automatic weapons in the USA. This leads to this hilarious suburban shootout in which Tim Roth’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s assassins both get blown to pulp. “People are under a lot of stress, Bradley”, comments Mitchum brother Rodney. One of the funniest and most outrageous scenes of violence in recent memory.

5. Coop’s Back! (Episode 16)

It is well known that Lynch can hook you in while letting essentially nothing happen for long time spans. He takes this to the next level here by leaving his main character practically a vegetable till episode 16! When our favorite doughnut eating detective finally returns, we know it’s been worth the wait instantly. Bravo!