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Paramount Home Video presents
Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition (1990-91)

"The owls are not what they seem."
- The Giant (Carel Struycken)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: November 06, 2007

Stars: Kyle Maclachlan, Michael Ontkean
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, Billy Zane, Heather Graham, Chris Mulkey, Dan O'Herlihy, Carel Strucken, Frank Silva, Lenny von Dohlen, David Duchovny, Kenneth Welsh, Hank Worden, Royal Dano, Julee Cruise
Director: David Lynch, Duwayne Dunham, Tina Rathborne, Tim Hunter, Lesli Linka Glatter, Caleb Deschanel, Mark Frost, Todd Holland, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Diane Keaton, Graeme Clifford, Uli Edel, Jonathan Sanger, James Foley

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, drugs, sensuality, underage prostitution)
Run Time: 25h:09m:51s
Release Date: October 30, 2007
UPC: 097361309040
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A-A- B+

DVD Review

Okay, Twin Peaks, David Lynch's bizarre murder mystery series, is television's finest moment (at least when it comes to drama). Of that I am firmly convinced. When I started taping the program with the pilot on Easter 1990, I knew instantly that this was truly something very special. Now you and I can start discarding those tapes and the oft-pricey and poor-quality import DVD of the pilot, because the entire series, at long last, is here in one ultimate box set (missing only Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the elusive deleted scenes from that, which remain in limbo for the time being).

Pilot Episode (Disc 1)
Original Airdate: April 8, 1990
Time frame: February 24th

"Diane, 11:30 AM, February 24th, entering Twin Peaks. Five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line. I've never seen so many trees in my life." - Special Agent Dale Cooper

The body of beautiful homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is found washed up on the shore of a lake near the Washington town of Twin Peaks, pop. 51,201. Since Palmer was beloved by everyone, her murder shatters the entire town. When another young girl is found wandering back across the state line, local sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) gets the assistance of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). A disturbing discovery on Laura's body causes Cooper to realize that he's again dealing with a serial killer who he has been pursuing for some time. The discovery of Laura's diary, indicating she was meeting someone referred to as "J," and a mysterious videotape lead Cooper to start digging into the town and the sordid secrets that it holds. Suspects are plenty, however, since a multitude of characters have a "J" initial.

For the first time ever in North America, the pilot episode is finally reunited on home video with the rest of the series, and it includes both the seldom-seen on-air version and the "international version" released to theaters that provided a resolution of sorts to the story. As is to be expected, the pilot episode is setting up the situations and introducing us to many of the characters in the large ensemble cast. David Lynch's style is evident here, with long, static shots and often excruciatingly slow pacing. When vital information is being imparted, lights begin flashing with static energy, as if some outside force is controlling events and their disclosure. The characters are quirky, and their interplay is beautifully set up. Part of what makes the program still work so well is not that it is a murder mystery, but that it is a world of well-realized characters, who have layer upon layer upon layer of meaning and secrets. The pie, cherry, is offscreen, but is emphasized heavily. Acres of donuts do make it onscreen however. The running time stated on the case is 15 minutes longer than the actual time.

Stylish, humorous, surreal and chilling, this gets a solid five cups of java out of five.

We're off to a great start, so let's continue with Season One. That cherry pie sure goes down good with a cuppa joe or five.

Season One (Discs 2-4)

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.

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. 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. 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. 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 fivee.

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.

Season Two (Discs 4-9)

Although the first season of Twin Peaks was an enormous success, the expectations for the second season worked to help do the series in. There was a certain impatience with the slowness that the series pursued the murder of Laura Palmer, causing many viewers to tune out in frustration. When the killer was revealed about halfway through the second season, then the loss of the energy that storyline provided was felt quite seriously. As the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) says in her introduction to the episode where the identity of the murderer is revealed, "There is a depression after an answer is given. It was almost fun not knowing." The story tries to continue with a storyline about Cooper being under suspension for his actions, and then facing off against his mad former partner, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) in a complex cat and mouse game. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled before the latter could really develop, resulting in a great many loose ends (such as a chess game that figures prominently in a few episodes, but ultimately goes nowhere).

Despite the limitations forced upon the show by its sudden cancellation, the second season is nonetheless still very strong. The writing is impeccable, supported by marvelous characterizations that form a vast panorama of the grim underbelly of life in a picture-perfect small town, a theme previously explored by Lynch in Blue Velvet. There is a little too much dependence on people going insane, which occasionally feels like a crutch, or an opportunity to add some gratuitous quirkiness to the story. But the comedy relief weirdness is absolutely necessary; without it the grim aspects of the series would be too much to take. That's particularly true in the episode in which the murderer of Laura is revealed, which remains one of the most shocking moments ever aired on network television. That's true not just for the identity of the killer, but for the incredibly brutal and visceral manner in which the reveal is accomplished.

As the story wheels towards its conclusion, there's an ever-deepening interest in mysticism, centering on a darkness lurking in the primeval forests, with pagan elements of esotericism, loosely based on such writers as Dion Fortune. The concluding segments featuring the mystery of the Black Lodge, which seems to intersect with the lair of the Man from Another Place (Michael J. Anderson), as well as being decorated in a manner not unlike the mysterious casino/brothel One-Eyed Jacks owned by Ben Horne. Lynch is if nothing else a master of evoking the subconscious and appealing to surreal elements. Nightmarish and impossible things happen, but in the bizarre atmosphere so lovingly created here they seem not only possible but natural. Some matters are left as total mysteries, such as the connection between Josie Packard and a strange drawer pull, or the cryptic finale that still offers plenty of puzzles. The nature of the terrifying "Bob" (Frank Silva) is never quite explained, but certain dialogue exchanges suggest that he may be a manifestation of psychic pain after a decades-before molestation, wreaking havoc through supernatural means.

Angelo Badalamenti again provides the cool jazzy score, with a moody depth and an emotional content that works through its surface simplicity. The show is hardly unimaginable without Badalamenti evoking the pain, romanticism and fear lurking in the town. The series still holds up exceptionally well, and remains even in its slightly lesser second season one of the best things ever to air on television. Returning to it again on this set is not only absorbing but moving all over again.

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Obviously, the rendition of the pilot episode here is a huge upgrade from the import DVDs of dubious origin. For the first time, it's watchable with crisp detail and vivid color. Artifacting is not a problem. With respect to the balance of the series, the transfers are comparable to the previous discs, which were themselves quite respectable. The original full-frame picture is quite attractive, and a big improvement over those now aging videotapes. Color is rich (especially those deep reds that crop up throughout the series), and shadows are deep and dark. Detail is quite good and grain is not a problem. Mosquito noise is occasionally visible but not overly prominent. The Log Lady introductions appear to be taken from a videotape source and accordingly are much inferior, lacking in clarity and crispness.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanish, Portugueseyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both original 2.0 stereo and 5.1 remixesare included. The 5.1 English track benefits Badalamenti's score most of all, with the synths in the surrounds being highly evocative. Most dialogue is center-bound, though there are occasional foley effects that are a little startling in their directionality. Hiss and noise are virtually nonexistent.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
14 TV Spots/Teasers
4 Deleted Scenes
3 Documentaries
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
10 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Saturday Night Live monologue and sketch
  2. Music video
  3. Georgia Coffee commercials
  4. Image galleries and postcards
  5. 1-900 clues
Extras Review: Except for the Log Lady introductions from the airings on Bravo (which are here for all episodes, including the Pilot), none of the many extras here have previously appeared on Twin Peaks DVD sets. All of the other extras are stowed on discs 9 and 10. Disc 9 features a "Lost and Found" section that includes four short deleted scenes that unfortunately exist only in video dubs. These include Jerry chatting at One Eyed Jacks, Dr. Jacoby discussing Johnny Horne's condition, Lucy going donut shopping, and a possible explanation for Johnny's condition. A gallery of production documents features about ten call sheets, production breakdowns, continuities and the like.

Disc 10 features the meat of the extras. A Slice of Lynch (29m:57s) features Lynch, MacLachlan and Amick getting together with crew member John Wentworth to reminisce about the series over giant bowls of coffee. There are numerous charming tales told, with the centerpiece being the serendipity of Frank Silva stumbling into the role of Bob, which wasn't in the pilot script at all.

Secrets from Another Place is a massive (1h:45m:51s) documentary about the making of the pilot, seasons one and two, and the music of the show. It contains tons of interesting information and is quite well produced.

Return to Twin Peaks (19m:41s) is a documentary about the continued popularity of the show in the form of the annual Twin Peaks Festival in Snoqualmie, Washington, which has been well attended by stars and fans since 1993. Plenty of footage of the 2006 festival is included, as well as chats with various participants about what the fasination is. Along with this documentary is an interactive map that tells how to find eight different locations used in the series, such as the Twin Peaks sign, the diner, the lodge, and other points of interest.

The balance of the disc collects a number of pieces of ephemera that are definitely worth preserving. Principal among these is the Saturday Night Live episode from September 29, 1990, when Kyle MacLachlan hosted. The opening monologue and a hilarious Peaks parody are included. Julee Cruise's music video for Falling, a vocal version of the main title theme is here. In 1993 the cast was reassembled for a series of four commercials that aired only in Japan. The commercials, for a canned coffee by the name of Georgia Coffee (made by the Coca-Cola company) form a mini-mystery story.

Three more image galleries collect about 60 photos taken on set by Richard Beymer, about the same number of production stills, and the fronts and backs of the 76-card set of trading cards issued when the show was a phenomenon. Another marketing item was a 1-900 number that offered clues (none of which were actually helpful, but it was more Twin Peaks data and everyone wanted it. So the disc collects a television promo for the number, plus the eight messages offered. A set of fourteen promos and TV spots are also included, with three of the memorable spots for the first airing of the pilot here. Finally, the six bumpers from Lucy warning viewer that the show would be right back. The packaging also includes a set of Twin Peaks postcards.

The slightly disappointing down side to having all this new exclusive stuff, of course, is that the meager extras from the Season Two DVD set are missing. Sadder, the wealth of first rate extras (including the invaluable commentaries) from the Artisan Season One set. So serious collectors are going to want to have all three sets. On the positive side, the stratospheric eBay prices for that set should come down now that the Gold Box is available.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Load up on the donuts and make a couple thermoses full of coffee, because you're going to want to sit down to enjoy this ten-disc set from beginning to end, exploring the mad psyche of David Lynch and the mysteries of the Pacific Northwest. But if you're a serious fan, hang on to those previous season sets.


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