Judge Brett Cullum visits Twin Peaks, where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and...No, wait. Wrong small town.
Donna Hayward: Mom, it's so strange. I know I should be sad, and I am, part of me is. But it's like…it's like I'm having the most beautiful dream…and the most terrible nightmare, all at once.
It is happening again.
Twin Peaks debuted in Spring 1990, and shocked network executives by instantly becoming a national obsession. The strange, quirky David Lynch production did something new. It was dark, beautiful, intelligent, and completely twisted. Twin Peaks elevated dramatic television to new highs, and it is a legend of the broadcast medium that networks have been trying to replicate ever since. What it brought to the table was a group of educated and bright viewers that advertisers could never capture with run-of-the-mill programming. It was too good to last long, and, after a problematic second season which abandoned the core mystery, it disappeared. You can blame the network, the co-creators, or the American public, but the show would never really die. Its faithful followers have rallied around the series, written fictional third seasons, held fan conventions, and begged for a complete DVD release.
After separate releases of the two seasons of Twin Peaks from two companies—long after fans scoured the Internet for inferior Asian copies of the pilot episode—the series finally gets a complete re-release with everything intact. Nothing was truly wrong with previous copies of the series, but rights issues prevented the pilot from being included with the set Artisan unleashed to fans in 2001 which gathered together Season One's seven broadcast episodes. People who had not seen the essential first two hours were lost in a mystery that had no start, and the set was only accessible for fans and those lucky enough to find the pilot by other means (usually resorting to a poorly converted NTSC Korean edition which ran at the wrong tape speed). Back in April 2007 Paramount released a multi-disc set covering Season Two with a smattering of extras (mainly quick interviews with the cast and crew). Still, many collections were painfully incomplete without the pilot. After a lengthy legal process and with Paramount holding the rights to distribute the entire series, work was begun on Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition. The studio enlisted the help of co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost to supervise a comprehensive release that would finally include everything in one package. Typical to the eccentric nature of Lynch, he spent years poring over the negatives, supervising color corrections, and twisting the original stereo track to a full-blown surround experience. And so now we finally have the entire series, packed with new extras, and sporting a new transfer supervised by the twisted mind that dreamt up the most daring show ever conceived for broadcast television. Let the coffee pour, summon the cherry pie, and let the backwards-talking midget dance to atonal jazz. We're heading back to Twin Peaks, a town where everyone knows everyone and nothing is what it seems.
Facts of the Case
A prom queen, her body wrapped in plastic, washes up on the shore of a river. She's been horribly murdered, and this act reverberates through every person in a small idyllic town in the Northwest. An outsider, an FBI agent who follows his intuition to unearth clues, arrives to help. Suddenly the perfect veneer of small-town America cracks open to reveal mythical dark forces at war with goodness.
Somewhere in the second season the prom queen's murderer is revealed. Then the story shifts to a power struggle between the FBI agent and his former partner who has gone to the dark side. It is revealed the small Northwest town holds ancient secrets to the struggle of darkness and light, and darkness seems to be winning.
The most amazing work found in Twin Peaks—The Definitive Gold Box Edition revolves around the transfers which David Lynch personally supervised. Twin Peaks is a frightfully hard image to master for the DVD format, because Lynch established the use of red filters in his pilot episode. These were used throughout the run of the series, and that makes balancing flesh tones while maintaining correct saturation problematic. The reds have to pop out of the picture, and the black levels have to be spot on to translate all of the night sequences. The Artisan release of Season One was widely criticized for being too orange, while the Paramount release of Season Two looked solid. I suspect Paramount's April 2007 release of Season Two used the Lynch-approved transfers he was working on for this set, because everything now looks uniform from start to end in line with that release. That's no small feat when you consider the differences in filming the pilot and the series proper. The first two hours were filmed on location using cinematic techniques, and the rest of the episodes were shot more traditionally in and around California almost a year later. This is the first time everything looks uniform, even considering the original broadcast. Lynch also helped construct a new five-channel surround mix, and it is diabolically clever. Dialogue is sometimes purposefully buried under a music cue or sound effect, and the whole thing contributes greatly to this improved experience. The series has never looked or sounded better, and that's the main reason to get this set. The transfers don't stand alone though. There is an amazing amount of supplemental material to dive into as well.
The first extra is found on Disc One, where we find the pilot along with the Log Lady introduction. You can choose either the broadcast version or the international "movie" cut, which tacks on a rushed ending to the mystery. There is not much difference until the final few minutes, and truly the movie version is just a curiosity completists will want to round out the collection. It is not as satisfying as watching the series, and the rushed ending and conclusion were never intended as a viable alternate wrap-up but rather a contractual obligation. The pilot has never been officially released in the United States, and it's amazing to see it here. It's cleaned up, and the transfer and sound mix really help when you compare it to the inferior copies that have kept importers and eBay sellers afloat for years. Log Lady introductions are available for all the episodes. Even though the video quality on these is of the worst VHS quality, they are fun additions.
There are no further extras as you run through the episodes, but then on Disc Nine, deleted scenes and production documents are found. There are only four deleted scenes, even though you can find many more with a well-thought-out YouTube search. The reason for this is Lynch only wanted scenes finished and fully conceptualized by his team to be on this set. None of these sequences would have made an impact on the plots of the series, but they're fun to see. The production documents include call sheets, script notes, and all matter of memos and papers to examine. Only the hardcore fan will want to wander inside this section, but it's nifty to check it all out.
Disc Ten is where you will find the bulk of the extras, and the depth of these supplements are amazing. The extras are produced by Charles de Lauzirika, who has set the gold standard with his treatments of The Alien Quadrilogy and the upcoming Blade Runner collector's edition. It starts with "A Slice of Lynch" where David Lynch sits in a diner about to eat cherry pie, and is joined by actress Madchen Amick, actor Kyle MacLachlan, and series post-production coordinator John Wentworth. They ramble on and on about the series. Actually Lynch rambles and chain smokes while everyone else nods and laughs. "Secrets from Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks" is an amazingly detailed feature-length making of special that is divided in four thirty-minute sections. "Northwest Passage: Creating the Pilot" covers the location shoot in Washington, when the actors were not sure the show would go to series. "Freshly Squeezed: Creating Season One" details what it was like to have to shoot seven episodes in California doubling for the Northwest. Nobody was sure if the show would ever be broadcast, and it's a testament to the artisan spirit everybody brought to the project. Really that first year was done without interference from the network, and there was an incredible sense of freedom. "Where We're from: Creating the Music" brings us half an hour with Angelo Badalamenti, who orchestrated the series. Also included in this segment is singer Julee Cruise who contributes her recollections of working on the songs. Her revelation of who she sang to in her mind is one of the set's most hilarious moments. "Into the Night: Creating Season Two" is a candid look at the challenges of carrying on the show after the incredible hype of the first year. People admit the faults, and some are critical of Lynch and Mark Frost for moving on to other projects such as Wild at Heart and Storyville. It's amazing how much of the cast and crew are included in these extras, including many that have been elusive to catch, like co-creator Mark Frost. This is the most amazing opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of what the series was like, and only seconds of it has ever been seen before. Snippets of clips are from the Season Two release, but only in cases where they could not get an actor or participant to return.
In addition to the look at the making of the series there is a ton of supplemental goodies to keep you enthralled for hours on end. The 2006 "Twin Peaks Fan Festival" is shown, and its amazing these things still happen a full fifteen years after the show aired. These people are nuts, although the Trekkies still reign supreme. Also included are shots of what the pilot locations look like now in an interactive feature which is pulled off extremely well by mixing footage from the series with the festival tour. Kyle MacLachlan's opening monologue from a 1990 Saturday Night Live episode is included as well as the skit parodying the show. The clip-heavy "Falling" video from Julee Cruise makes an appearance. Also included are promo spots, 900 number messages, and a curious run of Japanese coffee commercials featuring the cast. Even the "Lucy Bumpers" the network used to announce commercial breaks are included. Richard Beymer's photography, the trading cards, and unit photography comprise the image galleries.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you own the other releases you may want to hang on to them. None of the extras from either the Artisan release of Season One or the Paramount release of Season Two are ported over to this set. Most painful in this loss are the director commentaries from the first season, and the interviews from Paramount's second set are surprisingly omitted. To have a truly definitive edition fans will need to acquire all three of these sets. That's a tall order when you consider the investment of yet another release, and some have complained about how Paramount unleashed this set so soon after their offering of the second season. It does seem exploitative in retrospect, and I wish they had the good sense to play fair and offer them simultaneously so consumers could choose how they wanted to complete their collections.
Some fans will be irked the movie prequel Fire Walk With Me is not included as part of the set. Of course another studio owns the rights to that theatrical release, and logically it needs to be treated on its own. To date there are many mythical deleted scenes from the cinematic production still not officially out there, and we'll have to wait patiently for a definitive release.
Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition represents a television show that should be in every film lover's library. Rarely has a broadcast series been this literate and extremely well-done, and it holds up particularly well nearly two decades later. This set has amazing transfers and well-thought-out extras that are a gold mine of material. Twin Peaks redefined television, and cleared the way for an entire legacy of shows that will forever be in its debt. It burned brightly for a short time, and eventually was mired in its own excess of terrible beauty and oddness. Who killed Twin Peaks? The network changed the schedule endlessly, the creators moved on too early, the Gulf War took it off the air at a crucial time, and many of the actors lost faith too soon. Disturbing dreams aren't meant to run endlessly, I guess.
Guilty of haunting television ever since, Twin Peaks:The Definitive Gold Box Edition finally delivers everything fans could wish for. All you need now is a damn good cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
• Broadcast and International Versions of the Pilot
Review content copyright © 2007 Brett Cullum; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.