Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The Score: 10 out of 10

Many considered David Lynch incapable of working within the constraints of network television. They cited his unorthodox style, his time-consuming attention to detail, and his habit of filming extreme content. Lynch's eloquent response was broadcast in the form of Twin Peaks (1990-91), the most popular work of his career. Twin Peaks would make him a household name and introduced the adjective Lynchian to the mainstream vernacular to describe his unique style of film making. Twin Peaks is the best program aired on network television and its influence on the current generation of TV creators is without equal.
35 Years of David Lynch Trailer

"What's special about it to me is that it's a bit of a dream--it's a warm and tender
dream, a place you can go to."--David Lynch Describing Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks (1990-91) changed the face of television forever, successfully raising the bar for every drama and comedy released thereafter. The creators of the following TV programs all acknowledge the strong influence Twin Peaks had on the development of their series:
Joshua Brand and John Falsey Set their Dramedy Northern Exposure (1990-95)
in a Quirky Small Town in Alaska
David E. Kelley's Picket Fences (1992-96) Centers Around an Aging Sheriff
Keeping Peace in a Small Town Plagued by Bizarre and Violent Crimes
J. Michael Straczynski Shows the Epic Struggle Between Good and Evil on a Galactic
Scale, Seen Through the Lens of a Quirky Ensemble Cast of Military Officers,  Doctors,
and Ambassadors Aboard a Space Station in Neutral Space: Babylon 5 (1993-98)
Chris Carter Transforms Twin Peaks' FBI Special Agent Dennis/Denise Bryson (David Duchovny)
into FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, Partnered with Skeptical Dr. Scully in the Investigation of
Paranormal and Extra-Terrestrial Activity in the Ultra-Popular Horror/Science Fiction/
Police Procedural The X-Files (1993-2002)
After David E. Kelley's Lynchian Picket Fences (1992-96), He Followed Up with a
Series Combining Quirky Flourishes with His Background in the Legal Profession in
Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Influenced by Twin Peaks' Mix of Humor, Horror, Teen Drama, and Tight Continuity,
Joss Whedon When He Developed His Original Screenplay into the Full-Blown Epic
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Aaron Sorkin's First TV Series Deals with the Quirks and Drama of a Cast and
Crew on a "Sports Center"-Like Show Called Sports Night (1998-2000)
Sex and the City (1998-2004) Even Hired Twin Peaks Star Kyle MacLachlan as a
Recurring Love Interest as a Nod to the Show that Helped Inspire Them
Joss Whedon's Buffy Spin-Off Series Angel (1999-2004) Takes the Epic
Struggle Against Evil Away from High School, and into the World of Big
Business, Law Firms, and Ghettos of Los Angeles. Note: The stories and
Characters of Buffy and Angel Frequently Cross Over, So Watch Both
Aaron Sorkin's Second TV Series The West Wing (1999-2006) Fared Much Better
Than Sports Night and Cemented His Reputation as a Successful Screenwriter
The Sopranos (1999-2007) Helped Put HBO's Original Programming on the Map
and the Creators Acknowledge Strong Inspiration from Twin Peaks
CBS Attempted to Capture the Magic of Twin Peaks with this Short-Lived, Beloved
Paranormal-Thriller Series Set in the Pacific Northwest: Wolf Lake (2001)
J.J. Abrams Mimics Twin Peaks' Structure of a Character Drama Framed Around a
Central Unfolding Mystery in His Entertaining Spy Thriller: Alias (2001-06)
Joss Whedon's Popular Science Fiction Series is Heavily Influenced by
Cowboy Bebop (1999), Twin Peaks, and the American Western
Sophisticated Remake of the Classic 70's TV Series, Battlestar Galactica (2004-09)
 Broke Ground on TV with its Blend of Action and Unexpected Humor
Few Shows Capture an Audience's Imagination Like J.J. Abrams's Groundbreaking LOST (2004-10),
Which Springboards Off Twin Peaks' Successful Mixture of Action-Packed Character Drama with
Philosophy, Spiritualism, and Science Fiction. Our Review: LOST - THE COMPLETE SERIES
Kyle MacLachlan is Even a Principal Cast Member: Desperate Housewives (2006-Present)
Psych (2006-Present) Creator Steve Franks and Star James Roday are Avid Fans
of Twin Peaks and in Their Fifth Season They Even Made a Special Tribute Episode:
"Dual Spires" with Guest Appearances by Many of Twin Peaks' Original Cast
Series Creator Matthew Weiner Grew His Wings on The Sopranos But Really Began to Soar
on His Pet Project: Mad Men (2007-Present), Arguably the Best Drama Currently on TV.
Twin Peaks Directors Lesli Linka Glatter and Tim Hunter Now Direct for Mad Men
Ronald D. Moore Created the Tech-Savvy, Family Drama Caprica (2009-10)
as a Prequel to His More Action Oriented Battlestar Galactica
Joss Whedon Returns to TV Once Again for this Unique Series About Shifting
Identities in this Underrated Science Fiction-Thriller: Dollhouse (2009-10)
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of David Lynch's impact on the television industry over the last two decades. For your convenience, here is a text summary of the shows listed above:
Northern Exposure (1990-95), Picket Fences (1992-96), Babylon 5 (1993-98), The X-Files (1993-2002), Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Sports Night (1998-2000), Sex and the City (1998-2004), Angel (1999-2004), The West Wing (1999-2006), The Sopranos (1999-2007), Wolf Lake (2001), Alias (2001-06), Firefly (2002), Battlestar Galactica (2003-09), LOST (2004-10), Desperate Housewives (2004-Present), Psych (2006-Present), Mad Men (2007-Present), Caprica (2009-10), and Dollhouse (2009-10).
Kyle MacLachlan Retrospective
Twin Peaks Influenced Every Facet of Pop Culture
Our modern popular culture has been heavily influenced by Twin Peaks, not only in television but also in books and movies as demonstrated by the recent success of the Twilight series. Twilight (2008) and its sequels focus on a teen romance in upstate Washington, which develops at the center of a larger paranormal battle between the forces of good and evil. This plot should sound familiar to Twin Peaks fans. Twin Peaks has impacted the entertainment industry like few shows ever have. For this reason, we will center ten weeks of our analysis on David Lynch's most phenomenally successful work of art, focusing solely on the episodes he wrote and/or directed.
A Vintage April 08, 1990 Magazine Advertisement for the Pilot Episode
By the End of the First Season, ABC Realized They Stumbled into a Cultural Phenomenon
Regarding plot spoilers in this series of articles: One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching Twin Peaks for the first time is the air of mystery permeating each episode. We recommend you avoid reading our analysis of a particular episode until after you catch up and finish watching it on your own first. While we might give away vague details about future events in the series to draw a comparison or make a point, we will not reveal major plot spoilers ahead of the episode's broadcast order. You can safely read along with these articles while watching the series for the first time without having the answers to the central mysteries ruined for you ahead of time. Otherwise, expect spoilers to each episode within that episode's analysis.

David Lynch and Television Writer Mark Frost Teamed Up to Create, Write, Direct, and Showrun Twin Peaks
Shortly after completing Blue Velvet (1986), David Lynch became involved with a film based on the life of Marilyn Monroe titled: Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Lynch's agent Tony Krantz suggested a screenwriting collaboration with friend and client Mark Frost. Frost earned industry respect for his writing on the gritty crime drama Hill Street Blues (1981-87).
She is Filled with Secrets...
In this quote, David Lynch describes what happened with his Marilyn Monroe project: "I always, like ten trillion other people, liked Marilyn Monroe and was fascinated by her life. So when this came along, I was interested, but you know the drill. I got into it carefully... We met with Anthony Summers, who wrote the book. The more we went along, the more it was sort of like UFOs. You're fascinated by them, but you can't really prove if they exist.
A Rare Image of Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy
Found in this Article at CNN Entertainment
"Even if you see pictures, or stories, or people are hypnotized, you never really know. Same thing with Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys, and all this. I can't figure out even now what's real and what's a story. It got into the realm of a bio pic, and the Kennedys thing, and away from this movie actress that was falling. I got cold on it. And when we put in the script who we thought did her in, the studio bailed out real quick."
Mark Frost and David Lynch's Bio-Pic of Marilyn Monroe Lost Steam
and was Deemed Too Controversial for the Time
After Goddess petered out, Mark Frost and David Lynch collaborated on a comedic screenplay titled One Saliva Bubble with Steve Martin attached to star. That project also fell through the cracks. Undeterred by these obstacles, Tony Krantz told Lynch, "You should do a show about real life in America – your vision of America – the same way you demonstrated it in Blue Velvet." 
David Lynch's Vision of America Features Many Popular American Foods and Dishes
Although the idea of the great American novel for television was not immediately loved by Frost and Lynch, recurring talks with ABC Studios, Inc. helped convince the two artists to give Krantz the benefit of the doubt. The three men rented a screening room where they watched the American melodrama Peyton Place (1957) as a source of inspiration in their creative process and to help them grasp the tropes of the genre. As they began laying out the story for Twin Peaks, Frost and Lynch realized much of their Marilyn Monroe film could be salvaged and adapted into the Laura Palmer storyline of their new TV series.
Marilyn Monroe Becomes...
... Laura Palmer, the Ideal American Beauty Who Leads a Double Life
Excited by this new direction, Mark Frost and David Lynch set to work integrating elements from Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe into the setting of a small-town soap opera. Frost explains, "We drew a map. We started with the image of a body washing up on a lake. We knew the town had a lumber mill..." Lynch adds, "We knew where everything was, and it helped us decide what mood each place had, and what could happen there. Then the characters just introduced themselves to us and walked into the story."
David Lynch Often Repeats the Same Theme Within His Art to Reinforce a Point
So Audrey Horne's Storyline Echoes Many of the "Marilyn" Themes of Laura Palmer's Storyline
Mark Frost's experience structuring stories for television coupled with David Lynch's unique artistic vision proved a potent combination. They sat down together and finished the feature-length pilot's screenplay for Twin Peaks in only nine days. ABC Entertainment's President, Brandon Stoddard, ordered the pilot to go into production. Many doubted whether or not this pilot could ever air with network television's myriad constraints. So ABC hedged their bets and told Frost and Lynch to film a "closed ending" to the pilot. ABC hoped to sell Twin Peaks direct to video in Europe to help recoup any possible losses on the $4 million investment in case the pilot never reached the airwaves in the United States.
Born Norma Jean Mortenson, She Underwent a Transformation to Become...
... Marilyn Monroe, the All-American Blonde Bombshell
As David Lynch began filming the pilot, a regime change took place at ABC Studios and Brandon Stoddard was no longer the company's president. And later, after some conflicting test screenings of the pilot, Robert Iger eventually became the show's new advocate at the network. He fought for the show to be picked up and turned into a series. Because of the show's unconventional nature, Iger could only secure seven hour-long episodes in addition to the two hour pilot. These nine hours of programming would form the first season if the show was successful, or become a limited run mini-series if the show proved less successful.
Later in the Series, Maddy Ferguson, Laura Palmer's Homespun Identical Cousin from Missoula, Montana
(David Lynch's Hometown), Undergoes a Similar Transformation to Marilyn to Help Track Laura's Killer
Repetitions of the Marilyn Theme Ripples Across the Series
With only a 90 minute running time, Mark Frost and David Lynch impressively introduce all 28 main characters, the central mystery, the surrounding conflicts, and establish the tone of the series in the pilot episode. David Lynch filmed the pilot in only 23 days, but in spite of this accelerated schedule he remarked, "I didn't feel we compromised, and I felt good." And he later added, "We lucked out on the pilot, and everything fit just right. But any time limit is arbitrary and absurd."
The Pilot Powerfully Introduces All 28 Central Characters
Frost and Lynch wrote the next two episodes of the show together, further establishing the characters and tone of the series for the screenwriters and directors who would later follow in their footsteps. After directing the pilot, Lynch would be occupied with writing, directing, editing, and marketing his concurrently released feature film Wild at Heart (1990). Mark Frost performed many of the show-running duties on Twin Peaks while Lynch regularly returned to direct new episodes and help oversee and improve the overall quality of the narrative and production.

The Return of the Robins at the End of Blue Velvet (1986) Connects Visually to...
...the Opening Shot of Twin Peaks (1990-91)
The opening sequence for Twin Peaks is designed as a portal to help the audience depart the hectic cares and concerns of everyday life and enter a warm and tender dreamworld. The peaceful visuals and comforting soundtrack form a cushion to ease audiences into this world with its own set of rules, a place where you will confront the best and worst faces of humanity. And whether we visit a dark or light place in Twin Peaks, we can expect to be excited and entertained every step of the way.
Twin Peaks Intro Sequence
Twin Peaks Contrasts the Man-Made World with the Natural World
This Provides David Lynch with a Canvas to Explore All His Artistic Passions,
From Small-Town American Living to Industrial Machinery
The Audience Will Need to Sharpen their Senses to Keep Up with the Complex Storyline
Watch Carefully as You Begin to Decipher the Show's Symbolism
A Similar Log is Used in Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) to Represent Man's Brief Lifespan
Frost and Lynch Originally Intended the Sign to Read "Population 5,120" But TV Execs Demanded a Larger Population to Help the Show Appeal Better to Urban Markets that Might Not Empathize with Small-Town America. Frost and Lynch Added a "1" to the Sign and Joked the Town's Sign Maker Made a Typo and that 5,120 is the True Population
Water is a Recurring Motif in Twin Peaks, Often Representing the Power of Good Over Evil
Mark Frost and David Lynch Form a Perfect Collaboration When Writing the First Four Hours of the Series Together
The series opening sequence quickly establishes many of the show's central themes, including man's pursuit of harmony with the natural world even when the natural world can seem strange and frightening. Although opinions may differ, it seems that rather than man's presence in Twin Peaks being ominous and obtrusive, we see man-made structures seamlessly blend in with the surroundings in a naturalistic and even complementary way. Man's progress and development is not destructive here, but is a beautiful extension of the natural environment. The storyline revolving around the planned development of the Ghostwood Estates hints at an ominous shift in this equilibrium, but the direction of that shift might surprise us.
Lynch Loves the Aesthetics of Ducks, Which Appear Throughout the Series
The Town's Central Economic Power is the Saw Mill, Owned by the Packard
 Family, Who Live Together in the Blue Pine Lodge, Analogous to the Ewing
Compound on the Contemporary Nighttime Soap Opera Dallas (1978-1991)
Andrew Packard's Death Opens the Way for His Chinese Immigrant Widow Josie
 to Gain Power Over the Town's Sawmill. The First Human Image in the Show
 Takes on Greater Meaning When the Series Ends on an Eerily Similar Shot
Catherine Coulson, who plays the Log Lady on Twin Peaks, mentioned in a recent interview: "Mark [Frost] really is an unsung hero in that he did a lot of storytelling and then allowed David's imagination to take off on the set." And with Mark Frost often running interference with the network and censors, the two men achieved success and artistic freedom for their ambitious new show. So while Frost's contributions to the series were clearly important, for the purpose of these articles we will focus our attention on David Lynch.
Mark Frost: Screenwriter, Producer, and Collaborator
David Lynch and Mark Frost's Collaboration on Twin Peaks Earned Both
 Artists the Greatest Praise and Success of their Careers

Twin Peaks Provides Jack Nance with His First Major Role in a David Lynch
Project Since Eraserhead (1976), Although He had Some Memorable Small
 Roles in Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), and Again
Later in Lost Highway (1997)
Jack Nance Plays Pete Martell, Who Married Catherine Packard, Andrew Packard's
Sister. Pete is One of the Show's Most Endearing and Sympathetic Characters
In the Pilot's Powerful Opening Scene, Pete Martell Discovers Laura Palmer's Body
She is Wrapped in Plastic
Pete Approaches for a Closer Look...
And Verifies His Grim Suspicion
"Harry, she's DEAD. Wrapped in plastic..."
--The Series Slingshots Off His Grim Pronouncement
David Lynch and Mark Frost develop a surprisingly large number of characters in the pilot episode and develop them well. The pace and structure of the show feels natural and realistic as we travel across town, catching glimpses of everyone's lives with hints at the many secrets these townspeople keep. Within 90 minutes, we learn who everyone is, what their social dynamics are, and we make serious discoveries in the central murder investigation while being entertained every step of the way.
The Sheriff Warns Lucy Moran Not to Gossip About the Body's Discovery
David Lynch describes the series: "I didn't try to make 'Twin Peaks' realistic – it's sort of a mythical town and it's a desire town. It's where you'd want to go at 10 at night to just float and see what was gonna happen. The story revolves around what happens when the most popular girl in high school is mysteriously murdered – she's found floating face down at the Packard Sawmill. We then get to know the secret lives of all the people in the town as an FBI agent attempts to unravel the crime."
At Odds Throughout the Series, in this Rare Moment Josie and Catherine
Share a Scene Together with No Enmity Toward Each Other
The Sheriff and Town Doctor Inspect What at First is an Anonymous Woman's Corpse
Deputy Andy Brennan Cannot Complete His Duties of Documenting the Crime Scene
As He Ponders the Horrible Fate this Woman Suffered. He Breaks Down in Tears
Sheriff Truman Sends Andy Away While Continuing the Investigation of the Body
Alone with Doc Hayward
The Sheriff and Doctor are Shocked to Discover Laura Palmer
The Town Homecoming Queen
Throughout the rest of the pilot, we discover how the town reacts to Laura Palmer's murder and we begin following the clues that will eventually lead to her killer. As we peek inside the homes and lives of the town's denizens, David Lynch begins meaningfully bringing down everyone's public facade to some extent to hint at the secrets everyone in town is keeping from each other.
Laura's Mother, Sarah Calls to Laura But No One Responds
Sarah Looks for Laura Throughout the House in a Growing Panic
The Recurring Visual Motif of a Fan Blowing Might Seem Random at First, But
as the Series Progresses We Discover an Ominous Reason for Lynch's Emphasis
on the Fan at this Moment and What it Suggest About Laura's Life
Charlotte Stewart's First Role in a Lynch Project Since Eraserhead (1976) is
 as Betty Briggs, the Mother of Laura's Football-Playing Boyfriend Bobby.
 Don S. Davis Plays Her Husband and Bobby's Father, Major Briggs
The Great Northern Hotel Overlooks a Scenic Waterfall
The Horne Family, the Other Prominent and Wealthy Family in the Twin Peaks
Community, Owns and Takes Up their Residence at the Great Northern Hotel
Audrey Horne is a Wealthy, Precocious, Curious Teenage Young Woman
... Who has Been Neglected by Her Inattentive, Selfish Parents
She Often Looks for Expression to Her Maturing Femininity When Her
 Parents Continue Treating Her Like a Young Girl
"Fire Walk with Me" is a phrase that shows up later in the pilot, and is repeatedly discussed throughout the rest of the series. We will save our analysis of the phrase for another time, but we advise you to take note of where fire appears throughout the series and the context with which fire is discussed in conversation. You may be surprised how helpful this clue is in directing the audience's attention toward Twin Peaks' central themes.
"Fire Walk with Me"
Office of Audrey's Father, Ben Horne, as He Meets Privately with His Attorney
and Laura's Father, Leland Palmer
Ben Horne is Obsessed with the Acquisition and Destruction of the Packard
Sawmill to Make Way for His Real Estate Development "Ghostwood Estates"
 Which He Hopes to Sell to Foreign Investors (Norwegians Pictured)
The Concierge Notifies Leland of a Phone Call from His Wife Sarah
Leland Assures Her that Laura is Likely with Her Boyfriend Bobby
Sheriff Harry S. Truman Finds Leland and Shares with Him the Bad News
Leland Tries to Block Sarah from Hearing
But Sarah Figures it Out and Breaks Down in a Heart Wrenching Scene
Ben Horne Inquires About Leland and Hears of Laura's Murder
Sarah Meanwhile Cries in Grief Alone
The Double "R" Diner is a Popular Meeting Place in Town
Laura Palmer's Boyfriend Bobby Drives a "Friend" Back to Her Place from Work
Double "R" Diner Owner Norma Jennings Knows the Score
Bobby is Cheating on Laura with Shelly Johnson, Who is Married to Trucker Leo
With Only So Many Sheriff's Deputies in Town...
Shelly Takes a Drink as the Deputy Drives Off in the Background
Bobby and Shelly's Tryst that Morning Ends Before it Begins
As they Notice Leo's Truck, an Important Image Later in the Pilot
Audrey Horne is a Little Rebellious, as Evidenced by Her Surreptitious Smoking Habit.
 But Compared to the Activities of the Other Teenagers in Town, Audrey's Behavior
 Begins to Look More and More Mild as the Series Develops
Audrey Horne seems to empathize with and understand Laura Palmer better than almost anyone else in town. This is likely because their fathers were close business associates and so they naturally grew up around each other. But more than that, like Laura, Audrey is remarkably perceptive and adept at manipulating people when the need arises. But Audrey exercises considerable restraint most of the time and presents most of her shadow desires with minimal concealment. In the final analysis of the series, Audrey is actually one of the most straightforward characters in the series in spite of her tendency to be manipulative.
Even Laura's Best Friend, Donna Hayward, Does Not Fully Understand Laura
as Audrey Does. Donna's Father is Doc Hayward from the Earlier Scene
Audrey's Shadow Desires are Essentially at the Surface. Audrey Does a Few
Things to Avoid Trouble at Home by Playing Up Her Selfish Parents'
 Perceptions of Her, But She is Willing to Be Herself Upon Arriving at School
Laura Palmer's expression of her shadow desires, on the other hand, would prove far more disturbing and extreme than Audrey's manifestations.The series focuses on the consequences of Laura impulsively using her feminine wiles with little or no restraint as she kept her shadow desires buried dangerously deep under a falsely cheery and bright layers that belied the horrible turmoil she felt inside. Laura would go to extremes in her secret life that Audrey would never dream of doing, as demonstrated by Audrey maintaining her virginity, a fact revealed later in the show.
This Brief Moment Between Donna and Audrey Helps Summarize the Dynamic Between Donna and Laura, Too
Donna and Audrey Bond for a Moment, in Spite of the Secret Strain Between Their Two Fathers
Something else dividing Audrey and Laura involved Laura's desire for popularity and positive public attention as a good girl in the town. Audrey did not respect Laura's deceptive nature, knowing Laura to be secretly wild at heart. So while Audrey may not have been close to Laura as a friend, she definitely had deeper insights into Laura's behavior than did the others in town. In spite of their many differences, the two young women share a lot in common and Laura's murder affects Audrey in a strangely personal way.
James Hurley is Secretly Dating Laura Behind Bobby Briggs's Back
Donna Helps Facilitate Discreet Meetings Between James and Laura
Audrey is an Adult But She Feels Stuck in a Child's World. She Does Her Best
to Mature into a Strong and Independent Woman without Parental Guidance
Audrey Feels Ambivalent About High School, Her Classes Simply a Waste of Time
During Attendance, We Get a Brief View of these Characters' Personalities
Audrey Declares Herself "Here" with Air Quotes, Emphasizing Her Mind is
Elsewhere, Even if She is Technically Present in Class
Deputies Search the High School for Bobby Briggs, Checking in Laura's Homeroom
A Teenage Girl Screams Across the Courtyard After Hearing Off Screen the
News of Laura's Murder
Donna Notices Laura's Absence from Her Usual Chair
James and Donna Slowly Come to a Silent Realization that Laura is Dead
As this Sinks in, Donna Begins to Weep Uncontrollably in the Back of Class
Although Audrey Avoids Showing Emotion, We See a Glimpse of Compassion
 as She Hears Donna Break into Tears in the Back of the Room
Bobby Loses Control When He is Questioned by the Sheriff and is Arrested
 and Held in Suspicion for His Girlfriend's Murder
The Principal Announces Laura's Murder and Lets Everyone Return Home
But First Requests a Minute of Silence in Laura's Memory. David Lynch Can
 Make a Shot of an Empty Hallway Feel Charged with Emotion
Others Comfort Donna After they Understand the Source of Her Tears
This Scene Ends Poignantly on the Photo of Laura Palmer's Homecoming Queen
Photo on Display in the School's Trophy Case
An Image We Will Become Well Acquainted with During the End Credits
 of Nearly Every Episode in the Series
While Aiding the Sheriff with His Investigation, Sarah Palmer Panics When She
Hears Footsteps in Her Daughter's Room, But Discerns They are Not Laura's.
The Concept of Recognizing Someone by the Sound of their Footsteps
 First Originated in David Lynch's Work in His Film Dune (1984)
The Sheriff Explains a Deputy is Searching Laura's Room with Leland
Deputy Hawk Finds Many Helpful Clues in Laura's Room, Including Her Diary
And Laura's Video Cassette Recorder
Meanwhile, Work Progresses at the Packard Sawmill
And Business is Running as Usual Until Josie Takes Charge
Josie's Sister-in-Law Insists the Factory Remain Open in Spite of the Tragedy
But Josie Insists on Closing the Mill for the Day
... Josie Hints that She Will Not Be as Passive in the Running of the Mill
Like She was in the Past
So Josie Enlists Pete's Help to Shut Down All the Equipment and Announces
the News of Laura Palmer's Murder
Josie Also Reveals the Daughter of a Fellow Factory Worker Named Janek Pulaski
has Also Gone Missing Last Night
All the Equipment Shuts Down
And the Workers Listen to the Grave News in Silence
As Work Grinds to a Halt for the Day, Josie Recommends Everyone Return
Home and Spend the Day with Their Families
Meanwhile, We Discover Ronette Pulaski Somehow Escaped the Killer
As She Walks on the Train Tracks with Major Injuries and Despondent
A Train Track Switchman Discovers Ronette After She Crosses Over the State
Line, Providing the Sheriff an Excuse to Call in Help from the FBI
An Exhausted Ronette Continues, Unable to Perceive the Switchman's Presence
The Scene Ends on a Close-Up of Ronette's Hands, Bound with Rope
Although we have not quite reached the halfway point of the pilot, this is the best place to close our summary for this week's article. Next week we will complete our analysis of the pilot episode in part II of this article. For now, we will discuss the overall style of Twin Peaks.

Michael Anderson and David Lynch Take a Breather Between Takes in Twin Peaks' Red Room
Photo Taken by Actor Richard Beymer Who Plays Ben Horne in the Series
When David Lynch was questioned about working in television, a move normally considered a step down for a filmmaker, he responded: "I love the idea of a soap opera, of having the luxury of time for characters to unfold and reveal more and more about themselves. That study of human nature is fantastic to me. As an executive producer, I'm kind of like an overseer and that's how l'm going to stay with the series."
Soap Operas are Notorious for Normally Uneven Writing, Directing, and Acting
In spite David Lynch's preceding statement about why he made Twin Peaks, some may question why one of the best filmmakers in the world would "lower himself" to create a TV program. And not just any TV program, but a nighttime soap opera. Many look down on soap operas, provoking tremendous curiosity about Lynch's foray into the genre.
David Lynch and Mark Frost Play on these Negative Conceptions of the Soap
Opera Genre by Introducing A Soap within the Soap Called Invitation to Love,
 Which Often Plays in the Background of Characters' Homes
To help shed some light on David Lynch's reasoning behind making Twin Peaks, it could be helpful to take a look at a humorous conversation from the overlooked B-Movie gem Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... (1985). This scene takes place between the American protégé Remo Williams and his Korean martial arts master Chiun.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... (1985)
Chiun is on the Couch and Remo Enters the Room
Remo: "What are you watching?"
Chiun: "Your country's one and only contribution to the arts. It concerns family, love, honor, courage; all that is noblest in the human spirit."
Remo: "It's a soap opera for Christ's sake!"
Chiun: "Shhh! You'll ruin it!"
The Western is Another Original American Art Form that Became Popular with Filmmakers from Other Countries. This Image is from Italian Director Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
At the end of the day, The United States of America is a relatively young nation. While the U.S. has contributed significantly to the development of technologies that have refined and improved the world of art, there are few genres of art you can trace back specifically to America. But the Western and, funny enough, the Soap Opera are probably America's most unique contributions to the spectrum of art. So when David Lynch decided to make a show revealing his take on America, a Soap Opera was the natural choice.
"Previously on Great Expectations..." Charles Dickens' Serialized Dramas Heavily
 Influenced the Development of the American Soap Opera. Image Retrieved from Here
The concept of a serialized drama is nothing new. Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, and many other notable authors would release chapters of their novels piece meal, publishing one chapter at a time in magazines or newspapers. Readers could discuss the story as it progressed, creating a buzz for the next installment. Friends, family, and strangers would get involved with the story as a community experience. In fact, Mark Frost notes Twin Peaks (1990-91) is "a sort of Dickensian story about multiple lives in a contained area that could sort of go perpetually."
Soap Companies are Always Looking an Angle to Play
Soap Operas Would Play on Housewives' Desire for Romance
Although Americans were not the first to develop the concept of a serialized drama, they were the first to successfully translate the concept to radio and later television. Soap companies looked for ways to market their products to housewives, who did the majority of shopping in their homes. These soap companies first bought cheap radio airtime in the middle of the day when housewives would be doing housework alone at home and listen to their radios in the background. The soap companies commissioned productions of melodramas that appealed to these women and included advertisements for their products during the commercial breaks.
Housewives Transitioned from Radio Soap Operas in the 20's-40's to...
... TV Soap Operas in the 50's-Present
This competitive drive to gain female listeners resulted in the development of the Soap Opera, which soon carried over into the medium of television once the technology gained widespread use. Whichever soap company could provide the most compelling melodrama would also gain the most listeners and later viewers. This quest for ratings leaded to the development of sensational and shocking story material in an attempt to outdo what the other soap operas were doing in their stories. Some of this material was relatively lurid and provocative compared to other contemporary radio and TV programs.
Walt Disney's Zorro (1957-61) is a Good Example of a Popular TV Series that Had Little Need for Continuity
Most radio and TV programs relied on formulaic programming with little or no continuity between episodes. Occasionally stories would explain why an old cast member is leaving and why a new one is entering the show, but for the most part, a virtual reset button was pushed at the end of each episode. Everyone's actions and deeds would be essentially erased from significance as the story moved on to the next episode without many permanent changes to the show's story formula. Continuity was a liability since episodes would be likely aired or viewed out of order, and a confused viewer is supposedly a fickle viewer.
Lucy Has Some Splaining to Do... But Never About Last Week's Episode
On the other hand, the soap opera went against the grain and took a different strategy in telling stories. Since women were more likely to have all their weekdays free to watch new episodes, the writers developed ways to hook women viewers into their ongoing narrative as it slowly unfolds in perpetuity. Each episode would end with a little cliffhanger that would leave the viewers wanting to know what happens next. In this manner, the soap companies helped ensure loyal viewers from day to day, exposing these women to countless advertisements for their products over the years.
J.R. Ewing, the Epitome of Nighttime Soap Opera Villains
Most programming on TV continued pushing the reset button at the end of each episode, but eventually the concept of the soap opera began to migrate from cheap daytime television to prime time. Some sophisticated nighttime soap operas were made with better production values, better acting, more sophisticated writing and direction.
The Principal Cast of Ryan's Hope (1975-89)
The Ewing Family of Dallas (1978-91)
The Cast of Dynasty (1981-89)
Shows like Ryan's Hope (1975-1989), Dallas (1978-1991), and Dynasty (1981-89) helped transform the soap opera genre from a guilty pleasure of housewives to a sophisticated dramatic genre with a broader appeal to other demographics. The one trade off for these nighttime soaps was their slower production schedule, so episodes could be released only once a week during the regular TV season, rather than play every weekday year round. In this environment, Twin Peaks (1990-91) was born.
"Ah, but how will you capture us? We know the secrets of the Twin Peaks. We can live there happily for some time. So whenever you feel like dying, feel free to visit." --Westley Paraphrased from The Princess Bride (1987)
But as The Princess Bride (1987) is to fantasy films, so Twin Peaks is to the nighttime soap opera. The Princess Bride pokes fun at the tropes of the fantasy genre, while remaining perfectly sincere about how the characters would react in these romantic fantasy situations. Likewise, Twin Peaks mocks the formulaic and cheesy nature of soap operas, while remaining sincere in executing the art form and portraying the characters truthfully. As we progress through the fantastic plot developments of Twin Peaks, we always feel grounded in a bizarre kind of reality that cannot be described easily but can always be felt when watching the program. Yes, Twin Peaks is a satire on the nighttime soap, but it also shamelessly embodies what is best and most entertaining about the genre.
The Cover of Time Magazine October 01, 1990
On April 08, 1990, the pilot for Twin Peaks captured the world's attention like no other TV event has before or since. We discover a beautiful small-town American dreamworld that occasionally crosses over into a very real nightmare. As the narrative of Twin Peaks unfolds, we become intensely drawn into the lives and drama of this powerful ensemble of multi-layered characters. So far we have covered the creation and early development of Twin Peaks while only scratching the story's surface. In next week's article, we will complete our summary and analysis of the pilot episode and delve deeper into this singular TV series.
Series Composer Angelo Badalamenti
Next week we continue our analysis of the Twin Peaks pilot episode. All episodes can be found in an excellent DVD box set: Twin Peaks - The Definitive Gold Box Edition. As with Wild at Heart (1990), the high definition transfers for the Twin Peaks episodes were created with the input of David Lynch, who also participates in a new 30 minute round table discussion with cast members Kyle MacLachlan and Mädchen Amick.
Twin Peaks (1990-91) Goldbox Trailer
The box set contains other special features, including a new retrospective documentary on the making of the show, as well as video clips from contemporary Saturday Night Live skits starring Kyle MacLachlan. In one skit, Kyle plays his character Agent Cooper in a parody of Twin Peaks. The SNL episode aired after the finale for Season 1, but before the Season 2 Premiere.
Twin Peaks can also be found in 1080p/720p High Defition format at the iTunes Store and via Netflix Instant Streaming Click on the Netflix ad at the bottom of the article to try out for free their HD streaming service for a month. Many of the episodes can also be found in Standard Definition for free video streaming at CBS and FancastAnd as an interesting side note, the TV series Psych (2006-Present) aired an episode last week paying tribute to the 20th Anniversary of Twin Peaks (1990-91). The episode includes guest appearances from many in the original cast and is set in a small town similar to Twin Peaks.

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  1. I enjoyed reading your article! This is a fine blog and I look forward to more.

  2. Ive been looking for a site that delves deeper into Twin Peaks than most other sites. Yours is exactly what Im looking for! Thank you so much and keep up the good work!!

  3. Don't know if i would draw parallels between twin peaks and twilight. In TP the subject of teen "love" is used almost satirically. (come to think of it, a lot of lynches characters, especially younger ones, seem to fall in love at the drop of a hat and usually more than once within a short period of time.)

  4. Not sure why it took so long, but I'm finally diving into your archives to read your earlier coverage of Twin Peaks (hope you do a new post soon, btw; I'd love to read your thoughts on the last 1/3 of season 2). Really enjoyed reading this - the presentation is great fun, but it's also really insightful. I especially enjoyed the historical context of soap operas; though Twin Peaks was startlingly new in 1990 it also built off of many existing trends or concepts.

    I also REALLY liked your emphasis on Marilyn Monroe and the Goddess project. While it often gets brought up in discussions of Lynch/Frost and the genesis of Twin Peaks, your discussion leads me to reflect on just HOW essential it is to understanding not just how Twin Peaks was conceived, but eventually what happened to it. This strikes me as particularly relevant:

    "It got into the realm of a bio pic, and the Kennedys thing, and away from this movie actress that was falling. I got cold on it."

    Which is of course exactly what happened to Twin Peaks when the closure of the Laura Palmer mystery was forced: Lynch lost interest in the show that had excited him so much now that the mysterious, seductive yet emotionally fragile woman at its center had been removed. And then, he spends the next 23 years, from the finale through FWWM through the Log Lady intros through The Entire Mystery blu-ray, essentially ret-conning the aborted show to re-present it as a cohesive whole centered around Laura Palmer ("The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the one.").

    It's also interesting to note that, as I've read, Frost and Lynch have different memories of how the show was conceived. Frost claims they had the whole town mapped out and only then did they come up with the image of Laura washing ashore as the entry into the show. Whereas Lynch asserts that Laura's body was the image that took THEM into Twin Peaks. Whatever the truth of the matter that's an extremely telling divergence.

    Can't wait to catch up with your other Peaks pieces.