Why Twin Peaks Still Rules - IGN (2022)


Twin Peaks

As Twin Peaks returns, here's a look back at the wonderfully twisted landmark TV series from David Lynch.

"She's dead...

...Wrapped in plastic."

It's been 27 years since Pete Martell nervously spoke those words into his phone to Sherriff Harry S. Truman. And America was hooked. It all started with a serene opening credit sequence accompanied by an enchantingly tranquil score from Angelo Badalamenti. The pilot for David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks scored a freakin' 22 rating. It was truly a phenomenon. One third of all TV viewers that night watched the tragic unveiling, and unwrapping, of a beautiful, blue-ish corpse belonging to seemingly squeaky-clean small town Homecoming Queen, Laura Palmer. And now, amazingly, Twin Peaks is returning with new episodes May 21st on Showtime.

"Who killed Laura Palmer?" became the biggest TV mystery of the early '90s. But America was about to get tricked. Fooled. They were about to become obsessed with a TV series that was filled with oddities, horrors and unconventional characters that one might normally find firmly lodged inside the world of experimental film. They were about to get hooked on uncomfortable, static long camera shots, head-scratching dream sequences and bizarre riddles. Early episodes of this captivatingly original series had scenes featuring misspoken lines and broken props – all kept in the show because Lynch enjoyed their lunacy and naturalness.

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-Ray Review

Hell, even the main villain of the piece was created because they accidentally filmed the set dresser, Frank Silva, in a mirror in one of the scenes. The entire country was about to have a fast and furious love affair with a picturesque town filled with quirky characters engulfed in salacious mystery that was filled with an extreme and beautiful sadness.Why Twin Peaks Still Rules - IGN (1)


Eventually Twin Peaks' rampant weirdness turned off most of its viewers and, under pressure from ABC, the showrunners revealed Laura's killer and brought abrupt closure to that storyline in the middle of Season 2 – which pretty much killed most people's remaining interest in the show. But not ours. Never ours. Peaks might have indeed started focusing more on the day-to-day insanity of its quirky inhabitants and less on the investigation of Laura's murder, but it still contained some brilliantly harrowing material that was almost too "ahead of its time" or "out of its mind" to have belonged on TV. In fact, Twin Peaks is the only series to snag two spots on IGN's Top 20 Creepiest Moments on TV (yes, we should update that list sometime!).

Without Twin Peaks there would have been no X-Files. Without it there would have been no Lost. If you loved the series then feel free to bask in the retro-love with us. If you haven't seen it then here's why you should check it out.

In short, here's why Twin Peaks rules!

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Sleep tight, America.

Fact: Agent Dale Cooper was the single most ingenious and phenomenal investigator in the universe.

The fact that he might have had a smattering of ADHD and OCD, mixed with a touch of Asperger's, only served to make him more endearing. Whenever Cooper hit the scene we felt safe. And as puzzling as all the precarious pieces of Laura Palmer's murder mystery felt at times, we were confident that Cooper's unconventional methods – an astounding eye for detail swirled together with a Tibetan philosophy of dream interpretation – would lead him to victory over the ultimate evil that lay at the heart of the town. So what if he was named after that parachuting 727 hijacker who never got found? Agent Cooper had an infectious "joie de vivre" that made him a joy to watch(re).

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Cooper was all business, but he never missed a moment to appreciate the surrounding Douglas Firs, the clean mountain air and the damn fine cups of coffee at the Great Northern hotel. He loved donuts, cherry pie, super-crispy bacon and throwing rocks at glass bottles. Brilliant, eccentric investigators became all the rage when Sherlock Holmes hit the literature scene back in the 1880s and we've seen those types of "know it all" sleuths for decades on TV in shows like Perry Mason and Colombo. But Agent Cooper re-tabled the notion that the acumen involved in being a top notch investigator might also accompany a certain peculiarity and strangeness. Sometimes off-putting, sometimes endearing; Agent Cooper's seductive idiosyncrasies brought back the idea that the genius people who solve ungodly crimes might have a certain "independence of mind." Look, Cooper wasn't a lunatic or anything, but he did pave the way for guys like Agent Fox Mulder, Adrian Monk and Dr. Gregory House. Even Fringe's Walter Bishop, with his interjectory insanity and love of food, owes a tip of the hat to Dale (and Fringe would even insinuate Walter knew Twin Peaks' Dr. Jacoby at one point!).Why Twin Peaks Still Rules - IGN (4)

Before Walter White's blue meth empire...

Agent Cooper was also rarely without his handy mini-cassette recorder, which he would use to formulate his thoughts out loud and speak to an unknown woman named "Diane." It's been said that Diane was merely Cooper's "never-seen assistant" back at the Bureau, but we'd like to think she's some sort of other-worldly spirit guide; a tragic ghost perhaps. A touchstone for Cooper's true unconventional nature.

Dat Pin-Up Vibe

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Nobody had a way of making the populous obsess over ravishing, pale brunettes the way David Lynch did. Amidst the surreal soap opera craziness of the town itself lived a bevy of beauties who were, quite literally, to die for.

Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey, Madchen Amick's Shelly and Lara Flynn Boyle's Donna were beautiful, sure -- but they also helped add to Peaks' almost-fetishistic 1950's vibe. One of Lynch's cinematic M.O.s is the darkness that lies underneath a seemingly wholesome society. And these torridly dark elements are usually accompanied by pinup-style sirens.

Joan Chen's Josie Packard, Peggy Lipton's Norma Jennings and Sheryl Lee's Laura Palmer (and doppelganger cousin, Maddy) all added to the alluring aspects of the show, no matter how many times ABC would switch around Peaks' time slot. Though with all the jailbait flirting that Audrey did with Agent Cooper throughout the series, the honor of Cooper's true love interest fell to a fresh-faced Heather Graham, as former-nun turned waitress, Annie Blackburn.

Sci-Fi on the Down Lo

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Not if I see you first, dreamscape Laura Palmer!

On the surface, Peaks was a about a murder investigation. Sure it was offbeat, but it was a crime story. But it was so mesmerizing that pretty soon the country found itself watching a show about nightmare magicians, extra-dimensional Native American purgatories and demon possession. This was not the usual milquetoast that television viewers were used to seeing. One could even say that the ratings for the series started to decline as people began to realize that they'd been duped into watching a show about fantastical sci-fi craziness.

But Peaks was fascinating because it was, essentially, everything. It was a gritty crime saga about prostitution and drugs, an exploration of grief and loss, a doo-wop 1950s-vibe throwback teen drama, and a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy tale about dark creatures and possible alien abduction. A great example of a modern day series that started out as one show and then evolved into another show, adding genres along the way, is Lost. Lost took four seasons before it delved into time-travelling sci-fi, and some might say that, because of the time investment and story building, it definitely earned its right to switch gears. In fact, other J.J. Abrams series also kind of introduced sci-fi elements along the way, like some of the Rambaldi "immortality" aspects of Alias and the five-part time travel "was it all a dream?" conclusion to Felicity.

Nevertheless, for a brief moment back in 1990, a giant-sized TV audience was actually watching, and obsessed with, a show that prominently featured backwards talking dwarves, black magic and alien frequencies.

More reasons why Twin Peaks freakin' ruled over on Page 2

Location Location Location

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Lunch rush.

One of the key elements to Twin Peaks' appeal was the backdrop. The majestic tress of Ghostwood Forrest. The sultriness of the Roadhouse. The fine food at the Double R. A lot of the more horrific elements of the series wouldn't have worked if they'd not set it in a town where life, very graciously, slowed down to a crawl. If it weren't for the steadfastness of the Packard Lumber Mill or the banality of the Sherriff's Office, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the debauched sordidness of an across-the-border whorehouse like One-Eyed Jack's or the devilish and disturbed anguish inside The Black Lodge.Why Twin Peaks Still Rules - IGN (8)

Bingo Night is the best.

Again, Lynch loved tearing back sublime suburban veneer and exposing the dark underbelly of small town America. But in order for a TV series to really hit home, one has to make both worlds appealing in their own right.Why Twin Peaks Still Rules - IGN (9)

Pull up a dwarf...

Listen. There was a freakin' lady on the show who carried around a log that spoke to her. She was called The Log Lady. Because logs.

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You can't run a feature about the myriad masterstrokes of Twin Peaks without giving a shout out to all of the town's totally bats*** residents. There was a one-armed man, a weeping deputy, a Chinese heiress, a distressed housewife with an eye patch, an abusive pony-tailed husband who beat his wife with a bar of soap, an insane psychiatrist, an agoraphobic horticulturalist... and Billy Zane!

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And yes, that is David Duchovny. Good eye.

Garmonbozia Tho...

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You've all heard the term "Water Cooler TV," right? It refers to a show so layered with twisting drama and convoluted mystery that everyone gathers around an H2O dispensing device the next day at the office and talks about the previous night's episode. Well, this is one of the shows that started it. Pre-internet, everyone had to congregate in their work space the morning after and share their Peaks theories with one another.

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Twin Peaks had so many clues and riddles, most of them stemming from Agent Cooper's colorful and elaborate dreams, that it's a shame that bloggers didn't exist back then. Can you even imagine the manifestos that would have been written about the series back then? I mean, there are a ton of them now and it's decades after the fact. And Twitter and Tumblr would have had a field day.

The dancing "Man From Another Place."

"Sometimes my arms bends back..."

"That gum you like is going to come back in style..."

"Where we're from the birds sing a pretty song..."

"There is a man in smiling bag..."

Peaks had such a rich tapestry of intriguing gibberish that it was almost impossible not to get sucked in.

Good Old Fashioned Nightmare Fuel

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You can pretty much see Rated-R horror movie gore in network primetime now, as crime procedurals regularly feature uber-gross murder and mega-grimy autopsy scenes that would put most slasher flicks to shame. And let's face it: We're all pretty much numb to it at this point. But for a general sense of terror and fear, you have to tap into something much deeper. For Twin Peaks, tone was almost everything. It was all about the score, the surroundings, the retro-clothes and somewhat stilted dialogue. There was also an unexpected sadness to Peaks that a lot of people weren't expecting. Watching Deputy Andy unable to take pictures of the crime scene because of his crying. Hearing the screams of Laura's mother Sarah and witnessing the total spiraling grief of her father Leland.

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Peaks was filled with some really unnerving and upsetting nastiness that will pretty much haunt us all until the day we die. Images of The Black Lodge, Killer BOB, Windom Earle, a tormented scream inside a piece of wood, and -- of course -- the final cliffhanger (that we're finally getting continuation on, as the show returns) have pretty much guaranteed that none of us has had a decent night sleep in since George Bush Sr. was President.

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/Showrenity.

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