Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, Warren Frost, Michael Horse, Harry Goaz, Madchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Peggy Lipton, Jack Nance, Everett McGill, James Marshall, Kimmy Robertson, Eric DaRe, Piper Laurie, Wendy Robie, Ray Wise, Joan Chen, Sheryl Lee, Russ Tamblyn, Don S. Davis, Grace Zabriskie, Gary Hershberger, Chris Mulkey, Frank Silva, Catherine E. Coulson, David Patrick Kelly, Miguel Ferrer, David Lynch, Heather Graham, Billy Zane, Michael J. Anderson, David Duchovny, David Warner, Ted Raimi, Julee Cruise, Royal Dano
Written by: Mark Frost, David Lynch, etc.
Directed by: David Lynch, Lesli Linka Glatter, Caleb Deschanel, Duwayne Dunham, Tim Hunter, Todd Holland
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 1500
Date: 04/08/1990

Twin Peaks (TV Series) (1990)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Damn Good

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

"She's dead... wrapped in plastic," says Jack Nance (star of Eraserhead) -- thus beginning the weirdest and second-greatest TV show of all time (after "The Simpsons"), "Twin Peaks." David Lynch and Mark Frost ostensibly based the premise of the show around solving the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), but it was just an excuse to build a bizarre collection of soap opera characters who could function on their own even without a murder mystery. Our key into Twin Peaks, was of course, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) who was just weird enough himself to fit in.

Artisan's 2001 DVD box contained only the first seven episodes (out of 29 total) and glaringly omitted Lynch's 2-hour pilot episode. The various directors, from Blue Velvet editor Duwayne Dunham to River's Edge director Tim Hunter, provide commentary tracks, but Lynch himself -- who directed episode 2 -- does not. Nevertheless, what's here is still enough to tingle our senses and make us beg for more.

In the spring of 2007, Paramount finished the job. Their six-disc set contained the final 22 episodes of one of the greatest TV shows of all time, aired between September of 1990 and June of 1991. During the first season, creators David Lynch and Mark Frost managed to pique viewer interest with their "Who Killed Laura Palmer" gimmick, but by the time Season Two arrived with no killer in sight, most viewers became impatient. Cult fans never gave up though, and kept plowing through the show's odd rhythms, meaningful (or meaningless) exchanges and soapy plot twists. Certainly by today's standards, the show no longer feels terribly unique -- except, of course, in its creepy Lynchian "Black Lodge" sequences. But without its innovations, many subsequent shows (from "Northern Exposure" all the way up to "Lost") wouldn't exist. Lynch himself directed several episodes of Season Two, including the two-hour opener.

One of the tricks accomplished in Season Two was keeping Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in town, even after Laura's killer finally surfaced, and so Lynch and Frost kept adding new layers of mystery, even bringing in a new girl, Annie (Heather Graham) to pique Cooper's interest. The rest of the familiar cast returns, including Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean), a batch of former "B" movie stars, and the famous "Twin Peaks" girls: Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle), Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn), Shelly (Madchen Amick), Maddy/Laura (Sheryl Lee) and Graham.

Of course, Lynch and Frost's magnum opus was unceremoniously shut down before it could run its cycle, and so the last episode in the box closes on what could be called a cliffhanger ("Where's Annie?"). But at the same time, it still feels like a closure -- dark and horrifying, yes, but a closure.

Finally, the "Definitive Gold Box Edition" is here and supplants the previous two releases. The new box contains a few new extras, but the real bonus is the great, elusive pilot episode, both in its original television version, and in its European theatrical release version (with a kind of "conclusion").

See also: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992).

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