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DVD Review: Twin Peaks – The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series)

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From the minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost sprang forth one of the most original series to ever hit the airwaves. The opening credits signaled the viewer was going to see something different, very different. The beautiful nature shots juxtaposed with the moody, ethereal “Twin Peaks Theme” were an unusual contrast compared to the big hits of the time like The Cosby Show and Matlock, although fans of Lynch’s Blue Velvet would recognize the motif of something off-kilter in small town America that the credits evoke.

One morning, a beautiful high school girl, Laura Palmer, is found washed up on the shore of a lake, “dead, wrapped in plastic.” Being such a small town, the news hits everyone hard because of the connections they all have to one another, which run very deep as the series slowly reveals. When another young girl, Ronette Pulaski, is found stumbling back across state lines in a soiled undergarment, with rope still tied around her wrists, the F.B.I. are called in, namely Special Agent Dale Cooper, an oddly meticulous fellow, who uses unorthodox means in his investigations.

The murder of Laura Palmer in the town of Twin Peaks, WA, not only captivated the town, but the entire nation as the question “Who killed Laura Palmer?” became the prevalent pop-culture catch phrase of 1990 much like “Who shot J.R.?” ten years earlier. Although Lynch and Frost knew the answer, it was a question they hadn’t planned on answering but were pressured to by network brass.

The revelation was very powerful, but once the murder was solved, Twin Peaks lost steam and popularity due to a number of factors. It had succeeded as counter-programming against Cheers, the number-one show of the season; however it was moved to Saturday nights when its main demographic wasn’t home watching television. Rumor at the time was the decision was based on a network executive and his wife wanting to see the show then when they came home from dinner.

The creative team shares some of the blame as well. There was no contingency plan. Lynch and Frost were off working on other projects, Wild at Heart and Storyville respectively. The production team was left to recreate the show as opposed to creating it, becoming odd for oddness sake rather than having a reason for the oddness. The series began to pick up steam towards the end of the season when Cooper’s former partner Windom Earle comes to town to play a deadly game of chess, resulting in a climax at the mysterious Black Lodge that changes both men. Unfortunately by then, it was too late and the series was not renewed.

Put together by the talented DVD-producer Charles de Lauzirika, the Definitive Gold Box Edition is a Twin Peaks fan’s dream, although those who bought the Season Two set back in April will surely have a gripe and grumble.

With legal entanglements out of the way, this set includes the original pilot and the ending from the International Theatrical version that provides some closure, but it feels forced. The final sequence cuts 25 years into the future where Cooper is in the Red Room with The Man From Another Place and his cousin who “looks almost exactly like Laura Palmer.” It makes no sense as an epilogue; however, it was used in Episode Three where it works much better as clues to the unsolved riddle.

There are over two hours of documentaries containing new interviews with the cast and crew about the creation of the series, and an honest appraisal of its successes and failures, and composer Angelo Badalamenti’s music. However, Lynch does not take part in them. He appears in “A Slice of Lynch” covering the same material but appears to have needed some loosely structured setting. He, Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, and just to keep it odd as always, John Wentworth, a former assistant who went on to be a post-production coordinator on Twin Peaks and a producer other work by Lynch, sit in a restaurant discussing the show over coffee.

While the two related sketches from MacLachlan’s Saturday Night Live appearance in Sept 1990 are a great addition, completists will be glad to see the inclusion of very rare material ranging from Japanese coffee commercials to the audio from a 900 number that offered clues to the murder. The deleted scenes weren’t preserved well so their quality looks terrible and there’s not much to them. The episode intros by The Log Lady from the series’ run on Bravo are in the same condition. Call sheets and breakdowns from the production can be accessed, but there’s nothing to get out of them. The fans most interested in this bonus material are most likely those that attend the nigh-annual Twin Peaks Festival in North Bend, which has been running since 1993. Footage from the 2006 Festival makes an interesting travelogue, especially for those who haven't been to Star Trek conventions.

Lynch approved of the picture, which was remastered from the original negative, and the new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The picture looks good and the music has more presence. The original 2.0 Audio is available also. The package contains 12 randomly selected post cards out of a set of 61.

“I love Twin Peaks and its world” is a quote that could have come from any fan, but is from co-creator David Lynch himself when asked to sum up the series in seven words because that’s his favorite number. It’s a marvelous place to explore and is worthy of many return visits. There are new things to discover, and even when you know what’s coming, you can be caught off guard. Best watched while enjoying a slice of cherry pie, a few donuts, and some “damn good coffee.”

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS