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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Twin Peaks—The First Season: SE (1990)

"She's filled with secrets."
- The Man from Another Place (Michael Anderson)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: December 17, 2001

Stars: Kyle Maclachlan, Michael Ontkean, Ray Wise, Piper Laurie
Other Stars: Joan Chen, Madchen Amick, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilynn Fenn, Warren Frost, Peggy Lipton, James Marshall, Everett McGill, Jack Nance, Ray Wise, Russ Tamblyn, Eric Da Re, Mary Jo Deschanel, Harry Goaz, Michael Horse, Grace Zabriskie, Kimmy Robertson, Don Davis, Catherine Coulson, Sheryl Lee, David Lynch, Al Strobel, Michael Anderson, David Patrick Kelly, Miguel Ferrer
Director: Duwayne Dunham, David Lynch, Tina Rathborne, Tim Hunter, Lesli Linka Glattel, Caleb Deschanel, Mark Frost

Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, drugs, sensuality, underage prostitution)
Run Time: 05h:34m:58s
Release Date: December 18, 2001
UPC: 017153100891
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
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A+ A+AA A

DVD Review

Here we are, surrounded by pie, coffee and donuts, deep into the mysteries of Twin Peaks, Washington. We've gotten through the pilot episode and are going to marathon through the rest of the first season, if I don't pass out in a diabetic coma first.

Episode 1
Original Airdate: April 12, 1990
Time frame: February 25th

"I'm beginning to feel a bit like Dr. Watson." - Sheriff Truman

We get to know some of the denizens of town a bit better on the second day. Most prominent is brutal trucker Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re), who abuses his unfaithful wife, Shelly (Madchen Amick). Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn), daughter of prominent businessman Ben Horne (Richard Beymer), meets and completely falls for special agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Ben plots with Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie), sister-in-law of Josie Packard (Joan Chen), to burn down the Packard sawmill, and possible suspects for Laura's death abound. In the middle of this, Laura's mother (Grace Zabriskie) has a vision in which we get our first glimpse of the evil Bob (Frank Silva), who will eventually become an enormous plot point in the second season.

Even though David Lynch surrenders the helm to others here, the slightly whacked sensibilities of the pilot continue nicely. The dreamlike state carries on, while the violence and brutality of real life intrudes. We also learn why it's not prudent to drink coffee at the house of Pete Martell (Jack Nance, Henry in Lynch's Eraserhead). Notably, amidst the weirdness, plotting, unfaithfulness, violence and anger, love can still blossom. It's never quite easy, however, as many of the most innocent relationships are shrouded in shadow. The featured pie here is huckleberry.

Still going strong after several pieces of pie, several donuts and two cups of coffee. So let's give this one four jolts of joe out of five and head on to episode 2.





Episode 2
Original Airdate: April 19, 1990
Time Frame: February 26th

"By way of explaining what we're about to do, I am first going to tell you a little bit about the country called Tibet." - Agent Dale Cooper

Lynch returns as director for this single episode of Season One, giving us, in the last ten minutes, the most bizarre material that has ever been shown on network television, and probably the most bizarre that will ever be broadcast on network television. Amid the horror, love continues to blossom. Offsetting the action, we also catch our first glimpse of "Invitation to Love," the fictional soap opera that seems to run 24 hours a day in Twin Peaks. We also meet the incredibly obnoxious and absolutely hilarious FBI agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer). Laura's father (Ray Wise) begins to slide into madness, dancing to Pennsylvania 6-5000 in a way that will change the way you hear that tune forever. We also begin to learn about the sinister casino/brothel, One Eyed Jacks, just across the Canadian border. But everything comes to a complete halt for utter astonishment as Cooper has a dream that concludes the episode. When I watched this back in 1990, my jaw dropped to the floor. I was certainly glad that I had taped it, and immediately watched the last ten minutes half a dozen times, unable to believe what I'd just seen.

Lynch's use of humor is prominent here, and the intensity of the sequences involving the murder mystery thread demands the use of the comic characters—Pete Martell; Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), who is obsessed with inventing a silent drape runner; chirpy and utterly ditzy receptionist Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), and Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly), brother of tycoon Ben Horne (Richard Beymer). The humor also comes out nicely in MacLachlan's completely deadpan use of weird and mystical detecting techniques, quite in opposition to what one might expect from an FBI agent. Cooper is already warming to the town, having lost much of the hard edge he had in the pilot.

The music of Angelo Badalamenti also features prominently, with an ethereal and groundless feel. Bass, snapping fingers and a jazzy feel are set to the counterpoint of Audrey's classic rhythmless dance in the diner.

The last ten minutes alone merits five cups black as midnight on a moonless night.





Episode 3
Original Airdate: April 26, 1990
Time Frame: February 27th

"Well, I've had enough of morons and halfwits, dolts, dunces, dullards and dumbbells, and you, you chowder-headed yokel, you blithering hayseed, you've had enough of me??" - Special Agent Albert Rosenfield

Albert attempts to begin his autopsy of Laura Palmer, but runs up against the desire of the town to bury their homecoming queen. We have probably the wackiest funeral on record as Laura's father completely loses it, and her two boyfriends, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and James Hurley (James Marshall) come to blows. Meanwhile, Laura's identical cousin, Madeleine Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), comes to town in a strange riff on Vertigo and The Patty Duke Show. The pie is huckleberry, a la mode, served with a healthy helping of Jungian analysis. We also get our first impression of some unspeakable evil in the Pacific Northwoods.

Well, it's nearly 5:00 PM and the bladder finally gives out. More coffee and more pie is called for, as long as I'm up. In the meantime, a friend has shown up unexpectedly at the door, asks what's showing and is immediately sucked into the well-realized world of Twin Peaks. Time to put another pot of coffee on. Yes, I'm wired. Hoo hah! Four more mugs of mountain grown out of five.





Episode 4
Original Airdate: May 3, 1990
Time Frame: February 28th

"We're gonna need some more coffee." - Special Agent Dale Cooper

Cooper continues his investigation, focusing on Laura's psychiatrist, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn). Hapless deputy Andy (Harry Goaz) demonstrates why, like Barney Fife, he shouldn't be allowed bullets. The mysterious one-armed man, Mike Gerard (Al Strobel) is also interrogated. Audrey Horne begins an investigation of her own. Most importantly, interrelationships between characters who at first seemed to have nothing to do with each other begin to make themselves known. Oddly enough, there's no pie. However, there are plenty of donuts, so pastry fiends need not worry.

Interpersonal relationships also begin to become more complex, as Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton), owner of the local diner and lover of Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill), who is husband to Nadine, is confronted with the parole hearing of her own husband. Audrey's affections for Agent Cooper blossom into a concrete effort to assist him, which involves both deceiving and betraying her own father. Fenn pulls this off nicely, uniting the spoiled brat with the lovesick young woman and a sense of determination. The amusing television and movie homages continue, as The Fugitive fans will recognize the humor in a one-armed man named Gerard.

Over one pie devoured, and half the donuts are gone. Working on the second pot of coffee, and I'm starting to twitch little and sweat a lot. Three and a half cups of coffee as the mystery develops.





Episode 5
Original Airdate: May 10, 1990
Time Frame: March 1

"It's the secrets people keep that destroy any chance they have of happiness." - James Hurley

Ben Horne has cornered a bunch of rowdy Icelanders to invest in his real estate development, while Cooper finds a connection between Laura and the injured girl and a magazine called "Flesh World." Bobby Briggs and his parents go to Dr. Jacoby for family therapy, and the doctor delves deep into Laura's tortured psyche and gives us a very different view of Bobby than we've seen thus far. Cooper has tea with The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson), a recluse who carries a log around and speaks to it (and it speaks back). Meanwhile, Shelly Johnson takes her safety into her own hands and Audrey Horne blackmails her way into a sinister position at a department store perfume counter.

More than any other episode in season one, even though a great many clues to the mystery are discovered, this one feels like it's marking time. In addition, even more plots are revealed, but the pace is exceedingly relaxed. That's okay, though, because this world is so perfectly realized that we don't resent just spending time with these characters. Massive quantities of donuts, consumed while wearing latex gloves. Urk!

Three and a half cups, straight up, out of five. But that's only in comparison to the rest of the series; it's still way beyond the quality of anything else on television.





Episode 6
Original Airdate: May 17, 1990
Time Frame: March 2nd

"Are you suggesting that there's something irregular at work here?" - Catherine Martell

Sexual tension is the order of the day here, as Audrey tries to seduce agent Cooper. The police decide to make an unofficial investigatory trip to One Eyed Jacks. Madeleine uses her likeness to Laura to lure Dr. Jacoby out of his house for further investigation, and Audrey gets herself hired at One Eyed Jacks as well—leading to the unforgettable cherry stem sequence.

Although Audrey's motivations seem a little unnatural here, the footnotes in the supplemental materials give us scenes deleted from the script that fill in a point of motivation that would have certainly helped with her credibility. This program deftly sets up the massive cliffhangers of the final episode, and it's enjoyable to see the threads coming together. Four and a half cups of automatic drip here.





Episode 7
Original Airdate: May 24, 1990
Time Frame: March 3rd

"What kind of a dangerous game have you been playing?" - Special Agent Dale Cooper

All the threads interweave here as we get the grandaddy of all cliffhangers. At least six major plotlines are left in life or death situations. Intrigues, double-crosses and scams come to fruition, and senseless violence and attempted murder are the order of the day. Gunshots, burning buildings, axe attacks and more are all prominently featured. The summer of 1990 was pretty tough to make it through, and the wait for the Season Two discs is going to be just as excruciating.

Kyle MacLachlan has one of his best scenes of the series here, masquerading as an oral surgeon at One Eyed Jacks and luring a suspect back across the line to the US. The pain visible in his eyes, fought back by dedication to his job, is superb as he listens to the tale of what happened to Laura on her last night alive. Head writer Mark Frost takes the directorial reins here, and he works surely and swiftly, intercutting the various stories masterfully to weave the climax that tantalized us for many months. A solid five cups of leaded out of five here.





This series is a total joy to revisit. The town and its denizens, as well as their interactions with outsiders like Cooper and Albert, are perfectly realized. I can't imagine the program being cast any differently, from Beymer as the sleazy Ben Horne, to Stan Laurel-like Harry Goaz, to Lara Flynn Boyle before she became the übershrew on The Practice. Ontkean has an honest stability as Sheriff Truman, playing nicely against MacLachlan's slightly spacy efficiency and nearly magical processes. The women mostly tend to be victimized by their affections for their men, other than Audrey Horne who, while motivated by her affections, at least tries to take control of her own life. The others, however, all make disastrous decisions that change their lives irrevocably. Most complex of all is Laura herself, who appears onscreen only for moments, but whose life, in her interactions and manipulations, seems to have been a cancerous corruption of the town. The contrast of the seeming innocence against the onionlike multilayering of secrets, each fouler than the last, drives the series as much as if not more than the central mystery of who killed her.

While there is romance and seething sexuality, much of the latter is implied, such as Audrey's sexy pout combined with fetishistic saddle shoes and sweater outfits. Offsetting this, and making him a perfect match, is Cooper's 1950s straight arrow attitude, tempered by a 1990s mystical/Eastern/New Age sensibility. Today it almost seems odd to see mature people having television romances and real live sexual appetites; while youth is served here as well, it doesn't dominate to the exclusion of all else, as is the case in today's TV programming.

The pacing is languid and slow, in sharp contrast to the typical MTV-style quick cuts so prevalent even then. This easygoing pace is supported by the cool, unhurried jazz of Badalamenti's score. When things do happen quickly and abruptly, such as the final sequence of the 7th episode, they are all the more startling for the contrast that they provide against the deliberate speed that the drama has been unfolding.

Best of all is the wit and dark comedy that comes from these characters who are incredibly out there. Even the relatively normal characters have their amusing quirks, making them all the more real.

In a way, it's too bad that the series took off and became the hit that it did. This phenomenon compelled Lynch and Frost to come up with a solution to the mystery that they never intended to be solved at all. Once this narrative thread was lost, there was no way that the series could maintain the fine momentum that it had garnered. It's almost sad that the program was destroyed by its own success, but it's also fitting in light of the self-destructive tendencies that many of the characters display. Later series such as The X-Files learned from this and have managed to keep the primary story arc farther in the background, while occasionally moving it along, in order to not lose the main narrative thrust prematurely.

This is series television at its finest, good to the last drop. A pie and a half, seven donuts and two pots of coffee later, my heart rate rivals that of a hummingbird, and I may never sleep again. But that's okay, because I'm going to watch the whole season all over again.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: In contrast to the picture on the pilot, this looks fabulous. Color is vivid (within the paradigm of the warm color schemes used), and is detailed and attractive. Black levels are quite good. Compression artifacts are minimal, despite the heavy use of water imagery. Minor mosquito noise is noted on the end credits, but otherwise the picture looks quite fine indeed. The source print is practically flawless.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Three different English audio tracks are provided, but they only have minor differences. All of them are quite clean and free of hiss, with good directionality. The directional aspect is more evident in the 5.1 tracks. All have significant surround activity and decent bass (though not overpowering as was the case with the import pilot episode). The DTS track is produced at a slightly higher volume, but even after adjusting for this it seems to have a slightly richer midrange and bass. Ambient sound is particularly notable in the later episodes, such as the rainstorm on Episode 6 and the sound of the casino in Episode 7, richly reproduced and highly atmospheric. The soundtracks are all quite well done and will satisfy any fan.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 66 cues and remote access
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by directors Duwayne Dunham, Tina Rathborne, Tim Hunter, Lesli Linka Glattel and Cabel Deschanel; director of photography Frank Byers; writers Robert Engels and Harley Peyton; production designer Richard Hoover
Packaging: Scanavo 4-pack gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Optional Log Lady introductions
  2. Onscreen notes
  3. Directory of relationships
  4. Sheryl Lee interview
Extras Review: This set is chockablock with fine extras. Each episode has its own commentary from the director (except Lynch, who refuses to discuss his work, and Mark Frost). On Lynch's episode, the DP does the commentary, and he does a capable job, giving an artistic and creative overview for the whole series. The commentaries are all knowledgeable and hold the viewer's interest quite well. None of them resort to describing the action onscreen, except in the context of pointing out camera moves or easily missed tidbits.

One of the more interesting extras is the option to have an icon appear whenever a deleted or altered scene would appear in the program. When this icon appears, you're taken to one or more screens outlining what was changed or removed. These help to resolve a number of plot points that were just left hanging in the televised version, such as James Hurley's mother, and what's actually behind the "Flesh World" magazine subplot.

A very good modern documentary featuring interviews with most of the surviving cast (with the notable exceptions of Boyle and Fenn). For those who don't know the solution to the mystery (revealed in the second season), DO NOT WATCH THE LAST FIVE MINUTES OF THIS DOCUMENTARY. Those who put it together very questionably included a huge spoiler just before the credits roll. This is inexcusable, since there are many potential new fans unfamiliar with the series who might be buying this set. Two little featurettes on the diner location (9m:45s), and how to speak backwards with The Man From Another Place, Michael Anderson, are worthwhile little tidbits as well. A telephone interview with Mark Frost (14m:35s) also provides some interesting background to the series. This interview, as well as the onscreen notes, were provided by the incredibly dedicated fans who put out Wrapped in Plastic magazine, the amazingly still-running periodical devoted to a program off the air for ten years. These are guys who know the series inside and out, and they've got plenty of information to provide. They also offer a 1995 text interview with Sheryl Lee.

The Log Lady introductions from the Bravo reruns of the program are included, and optionally can be used to flow into each episode. They're shot on video, though, and look notably worse than the programs themselves. Cryptic in nature, I'm not sure they add a great deal, but getting more glimpses at the world of Twin Peaks is always welcome. Finally, there's a directory of relationships that gives endless details about the characters and their interactions as well as actor filmographies, and it's pretty much spoiler-free. A printed synopsis helps bring things up to speed, but there's really no substitute for watching the pilot episode. How frustrating that Warner wouldn't license it to Artisan for inclusion in this set.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Television's most challenging series comes to DVD in a superb special edition. Loaded with goodies, with the participation of not only those involved but also dedicated fanboys of the show, there's practically everything you could want here (given David Lynch's refusal to discuss his work). Now, Warner, where's a nice edition of the original pilot???

 


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