‘Twin Peaks,’ Twenty Years Later: Revisit A Cult Sensation

by | April 25, 2010 at 11:21 AM | TV News

'Twin Peaks' (Photo: ABC)

'Twin Peaks' (Photo: ABC)

Quick! Name a ground-breaking network drama that incorporates dream symbolism and a practically incomprehensible mythology.

Before you say ‘Lost‘ or ‘FlashForward,’ let’s throw in some demons and satire for good measure. ‘Buffy,’ you say? Nope. I’m talking further back. Twenty years back. “But television didn’t even exist back then!” I can hear the young whippersnappers protesting. Ah, but it did exist, and it was capable of being brilliant, in a manner both creepy and an unprecedented big-screen-worthy mega-cool. If you’ve guessed ‘The X-Files,’ you’re now just a few years shy of the correct answer.

Indeed, before the Truth Was Out There, it was hanging out with a dancing dwarf and a bunch of other colorful characters in a small fictional town called ‘Twin Peaks.’

Lest you think ‘Jersey Shore’ has cornered the market on the whole ‘geographically focused gaggle of freaks’ thing, ‘Twin Peaks‘ was already rolling that way decades ago. Where else can you find a snappy 1950’s-throwback gumshoe investigating the death of a picture-perfect homecoming queen who actually lived a double life as a coke-sniffing prostitute amidst fellow citizens in dire need of limbs, eyes, morals, platform shoes, a dream decoder ring, and in some cases, exorcism?

Believe it or not, it was 20 years ago this month that ABC had boldly gone where no network had gone before at that time–into the twisted realm of a high concept, serialized murder mystery series. Were you an obsessed fan, or did you miss the boat entirely? Fancast can help you revisit this classic TV show, because we have free full episodes of the entire series right here.


WATCH ALL EPISODES OF ‘TWIN PEAKS’ HERE

J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon might be modern day maestros of trippy and gloriously cinematic network television, but rest assured, a man named David Lynch did it bigger, weirder, and first. Lynch’s accomplishment is all the more impressive when you consider that ‘Twin Peaks‘ – a shocking gem of surrealism – sprang up amidst contemporaries like ‘Baywatch,’ ‘L.A. Law,’ ‘Roseanne,’ and yes, even ‘Alf.’

BONUS: Watch Full Episodes of ‘Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’ Here

What made this show so phenomenal? Here are five great things about ‘Twin Peaks,’ and five truly great ground-breaking moments that help to illustrate them:

5: THAT OPENING SEQUENCE

OK, so it’s a “moment” that happened in every episode. Still, Angelo Badalamenti’s ethereal score raised the bar for iconic theme songs. To this day, you just have to cue up the first few notes, and most of us who remember it will still get goosebumps.

4: THAT SEX APPEAL

Twin Peaks had it all – and “all” included both sordid kink and a more old-fashioned sex appeal. Sheryl Lee, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, Madchen Amick, and Peggy Lipton are just a few of the reasons why. Remember that smoking hot Rolling Stone cover? Exhibit B: “Realization Time.” Sure, you’ve seen plenty of starlets perform the “Look ma! No hands!” cherry-stem-tying maneuver since then. But Sherilyn Fenn’s infamous tongue tango was still pretty shocking at the time, and many would argue that she did it best.

3: IT SERVED UP A DAMN GOOD CUP OF COFFEE! (AND THE SEASON ONE CLIFFHANGER WASN’T BAD, EITHER……)

The Last Evening” was a cliffhanger done right. It’s generally effective when a life is left hanging in the balance – but particularly so when it’s the life of the one guy who kinda (barely) makes sense in this place.

2: SMILING BAGS, OWLS, AND CHEMICALS (THE LATTER? MOST LIKELY HALLUCINOGENS.)

Admittedly, many things in this damn show didn’t make sense. Case in point: take “May the Giant Be With You” – please.

A Giant (yes, really) shows up to help a bleeding-out Agent Cooper make sense of all the strangeness afoot. The Giant offers up some advice in the guise of three clues. The first? “There’s a man in a smiling bag.” SO helpful. Next? “The owls are not what they seem.” Still confused? “Without chemicals, he points.”

Ahead of its time? The show probably wouldn’t even fly today – because it dared to confound viewers, rather than coddle them.

1: OK, SO WHO DID KILL LAURA PALMER (OR WAS THAT BESIDE THE POINT)???

If you’re the type who likes to read the last page of a book first, and you can’t stand the suspense a moment longer, go ahead and check out the ‘Arbitrary Law‘ episode already.

And yes, who killed Laura Palmer was definitely beside the point – as evidenced by the fact that once her killer was revealed, the show fell tits over teakettle down a slippery slope of esoteric inanity. Plot points – which were already a bit glassy eyed to begin with – just kind of wandered off and got lost in the woods, never to be seen again. It’s probably no coincidence that David Lynch himself had largely jumped ship not long after the Big Reveal (ceasing to write or direct much after that point), and would only make another appearance to direct Season Two’s finale.

Still, we had nearly two seasons’ worth of hot steaming coffee, pie and damn good television. And it was awesome.

To savor the rest of ‘Twin Peaks’ hidden valleys of brilliance, watch all two seasons right here on Fancast. And let us know what YOUR favorite moments or episodes were.

WATCH THE VERY FIRST EPISODE OF ‘TWIN PEAKS’ NOW: