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on July 13, 2003
In the spring of 1990, the ABC network treated it's viewers to a most unusual viewing experience; the David Lynch and Mark Frost creation "Twin Peaks". A hybrid murder/mystery, primetime soap opera, darkly funny comedy and super- natural thriller...Twin Peaks was all of these and yet at the same time none. It would use what on other shows would be clichés to create a richly woven tapestry so original, thought provoking and emotionally truthful that it re- defined what television at it's best could truly be. At times it was hilarious and absurd, other times it was heart-wrenching in it's honesty of human emotion and suffering, and still other times it was deeply chilling and disturbing with images you can't easily shake off days after...and sometimes it was all these things at once. There had never been anything even remotely like it on TV before and (so far) nothing like it since. It's influence can be seen in countless other programs...but only elements, no one has achieved the true artistry that "Twin Peaks" had. Being a mid-season replacement series, the whole of it's first season was only 7 episodes and had much of America asking the question "Who killed Laura Palmer?".
The series' was set in the fictional, northwestern town of Twin Peaks, where the murdered body of local homecoming queen, Laura Palmer is found on a beach wrapped in plastic. This event sets the stage for the arrival of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and the subsequent investigation as to the identity of her killer. It is this investigation that will uncover the quiet trappings of this small mountain town to reveal dark secrets hidden within and and even darker things lurking without. He will encounter a remarkable cast of characters, all with their own personal agendas.
"Twin Peaks" was and still remains groundbreaking television of the first order. It was stylistically cinematic, each episode looks very much like an hour long feature film with an equally impressive soundtrack presentation. It was incredibly well written (with so many quotable lines the mind boggles at them all) with fabulous characters, a wonderful sense of humor and a shadowy (and sometimes very scary) sense of mystery. The large ensemble cast of MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Piper Laurie, Sherylynn Fenn, Laura Flynn Boyle, Peggy Lipton, Miquel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Joan Chen and far too many more to list here are all uniformly excellent in their respective rolls.
For "Twin Peaks"' debut on DVD, Artisan Home Entertainment has put together a very nice set featuring episodes 1 thru 7 (unfortunately the 2 hr. pilot is missing due to rights issues, originally owned by Warner Bros. it is now owned by Paramount). The packaging is a slick fold-out design with transparent slip case, much like the design of Fox's X-Files box sets. 4 discs are included.
With only 2 episodes per disc, these transfers are mastered at a very high bit rate and the results are stunning. Having been used to the soft, grainy picture afforded by the previous video versions of the series, I was quite unprepared for the unbelievable picture quality delivered on this release. These new high definition, re-mastered transfers are breathtaking, with colors rendered perfectly (the green opening titles nearly leap off the screen). Blacks are solid with excellent shadow detail, flesh tones are accurately reproduced and the show's red color schemes have never looked better (without a trace of bleeding). No digital artifacts are present and I never noticed any signs of edge enhancement, all in all an incredible job.
The same can be said for the sound presentation here, you can choose between Dolby digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 surround or (in a first for any television DVD product) DTS digital surround. These are very good mixes, the DTS surround being the best. The surround elements are reserved mostly to ambient sounds and Angelo Badalamenti's brilliant music, dialogue is placed mostly in the center and is clear and intelligible. This is television and not a Hollywood action spectacular so don't expect reference quality surround use, but a detailed sound mix perfectly suited to the show. Badalamenti's score is especially well presented here.
I would suggest to first time viewers to try and get hold of the pilot episode. Although it has an alternate ending filmed as a possible "closed" ending for European markets, it is actually an uncut version of Cooper's dream in episode 2. You can also purchase an import DVD of the pilot from which is the original broadcast version, the video and audio is not as pleasing as on the set reviewed here but still it is acceptably good. Artisan has included a booklet with the season 1 set explaining the events of the pilot but I would suggest viewing it if possible before viewing ep.1 thru 7. With each show being a day in the investigation, viewers will likely be lost without the events of the pilot to start from.
Overall a very impressive set from Artisan. If you missed this extraordinary show before, don't miss it this time. And please hurry up with Season 2.
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on October 1, 2001
Twin Peaks rates as one of the most singularly innovative additions to network telelvision. David Lynch's obsession with making the everyday middle-american world beautifully strange (the word "awe" with its horrific element intact is useful here) and Mark Frost 's (St Elsewhere) quirky writing meld seamlessly in this soap opera that exposes to much beneath its surface. The episodic nature of television often strains to create new episodes that maintain sturdy characters while repeatedly playing the same scenario over and over. In this case the characters are superficial, common and quirky. But rather than falling into the dull routine of love triangles and deceit (although TP has these in abundance) Lynch and Frost immediately disrupt quiet american life with a murder--a dead prom queen, Laura Palmer, floats up to Pete Marshall shattering his early morning fishing routine. The town is cast into chaos. FBI agent Dale Cooper, played perfectly by Kyle MacLachlan, enters the town wide-eyed and appreciative of its tranquil simplicity. Using holistic methods, Cooper unravels the black underbelly that provides the illusion of innocence. Playing between superficial soap opera moments and some of the most horrific and surreal moment ever shown on TV, Lynch and Frost use the weekly format to delve deeply into the dark forces and evils which exists within beauty. And the show is ultimately beautiful in its raw exploration that reveals fear is always obliterated by love--not justice or truth. The show's inteligence survived its first season by hiding behind the murder mysery of Laura Palmer. Lynch and Frost planned to leave this mystery unsolved indefinitely in order to explore all corners of Twin Peaks. Unfortunately, the network forced the team to rush towards a solution in the second season fearing that ratings were dropping because viewers needed closure (actually Twin Peaks was losing the soap opera element as they realized the world of Twin Peaks was more complex and real than most prime time viewers were prepared to patiently stomach). Without its central nexus and Lynch leaving to complete Wild at Heart, the show floundered until Lynch's return. However, the show snapped back into brilliance following Lynch's return. But it was too late. The show met the same fate of all brilliant American network shows that shined too brightly before its time--it was cancelled. The team put together a final TV movie that "ended" the show in the manner it began. Lynch followed it with a dreamlike prequel in the theaters called Fire Walk With Me (a creepy mantra pulled from Laura's phantom killer). All of this if assembled adds up to a work of visual art that was way ahead of its time and dismissed as quirky and silly--but its rough end was probably caused by people expecting to be entertained by quirkines, but kept safe from the show's more awesome yet brutal spectacles. Still the entire work (if one can find it all and watch it in order) stands as a challenge to network programming need for dumbed-down product. First time viewers and skeptical fans should bravely revisit this fragmented masterpiece.
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on December 14, 1999
Twin Peaks, mega mega tops. Probably one of the best series ever. Downside is that the VHS quality is very very poor. I have received an e-mail from Artisa (the production people) and they say they WILL be releasing it on DVD in Summer 2000 (earlier in the States). If you only buy one thing next year, make sure it's Twin Peaks.
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VINE VOICEon November 13, 2001
"Twin Peaks" enthusiasts should know that a decent international/all-region DVD of the "Twin Peaks" pilot is easily obtainable from several venues, principally E-Bay and many specialty DVD retail sites. For a very reasonable price, I purchased a new, sealed copy from a vendor on E-bay. Though it may possibly be trimmed a few minutes from the edition that originally ran on network TV (as the running time is ninety minutes exactly, instead of the 100 minutes or so that most TV movies run without commercials), this international edition flows nicely, has great image quality, and DOES NOT have the cheap tacked-on ending "resolving" the mystery that other foreign editions reportedly do. It has the same creepy cliff-hanger fans remember (Mrs. Palmer screaming and the mysterious gloved hand digging up the hidden necklace). Just make sure you get the edition I'm talking about; the cover of the DVD I purchased shows photos of five or six of the main characters suspended above a black-and-white tiled floor. So, those who are hesitating to get the season one box set from Amazon or another source because the pilot is missing shouldn't worry. Just grab the pilot from one of the places I mentioned and you'll be all set for season one!
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on June 5, 2000
Have just been informed that Artisan Entertainment ( will be releasing the entire Twin Peaks series on DVD in November 2000. Mysticism... Humor... David Duchovny in drag. David Warner on TV. David Lynch with a hearing aid! And Harry S. Truman! Peggy Lipton! Diners!
The owls are not what they seem!
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I have to echo the other reviewers who lament the absence of the pilot in this box set. And I agree that the extras are disappointing, and that it is unfortunate that they have not yet managed to bring out the second season. I persist in giving the box five stars simply because this series signaled the possibility of a new age of American television. Although there had been some spectacularly innovative and ambitious shows undertaken in Great Britain, such as THE PRISONER and THE SINGING DETECTIVE, American television had undertaken nothing so original and experimental. TWIN PEAKS was as if an art theater had somehow gotten trapped inside one's TV. Although David Lynch had managed to break into the Hollywood mainstream, his films had remained among the most eccentric to come out of any American studio. He remained at heart an independent, America's lone box office surrealist. I believe his surrealism is part of the key to the show's success, for the surreal has not penetrated American art and culture to the degree that it has European. Placing it in small town American intensified the effect.
Before TWIN PEAKS, we had never before seen an American television show that had lavished this degree of detail to camera angles, art design, music, and special effects. There was an unprecedented attempt to create not merely entertainment, but art, and the shocking thing was that a huge number of fans reacted profoundly to something other than the pabulum that normally was to be found on TV. I wonder if other groundbreaking shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER would have been possible without the example of TWIN PEAKS.
Unlike many, I never had too much interest in the plot of the series. I never had any great curiosity about who killed Laura Palmer. For me, what happened took a backseat to how it was all happening, the look, feel, and atmosphere of each scene, along with the almost ritualistic approach to the show's many themes. I looked forward to new references to Tibet, or tables lined with hundreds of donuts, or the way you knew scenes would destined to build because you knew the musical themes so well. And the quirkiness! Dr. Jacoby's odd multi-colored glasses. Laura's cousin Maddie who was also played by Sheryl Lee. The off-the-chart weirdness of Ray Wise's manic singing. And almost everything that Special Agent Cooper did, said, or dreamed. In the end, it all seemed to make some perverse form of sense.
The cast was so good that at the time one imagined that every single individual associated with it was destined to become a superstar. I'm still amazed that many haven't. As it is, it is the best thing that most of the people in the show have ever done.
The second season didn't, unfortunately, match the manic brilliance of the first season, but I found that it nonetheless managed to hold my attention throughout. I think the first season the best thing done on American television up until that time, and the second season one of the finest things. If today there are a few shows that have managed to match TWIN PEAKS-like BUFFY and SIX FEET UNDER and DEAD LIKE ME-it is in large part thanks to its demonstrating that TV truly could be a medium for great art.
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on December 23, 2001
Twin Peaks is among my favorite TV shows of all time. It's quirky characters, slow languid pacing and mixture of innocence and sething evil are intoxicating to me. It's a true pleasure to finally have the first season on DVD.
NEW VIEWERS OF TWIN PEAKS BEWARE! Twin Peaks is a mystery and some of it's secrets are revealed in a few of the episodes directors commentaries as well as the supplemental material on disc 7. If you want a completely unspoiled Peaks experience, these sections should not be watched until the ENTIRE run of the show has been seen (this includes season 2). Not that spoilers are rampant, they're not. But every now and then a slip up reveals something that shouldn't be known to new viewers. What's revealed? Well the most egregious of all is Laura Palmer's killer. This is no problem for long time Peaks Freaks, but why they'd want to ruin the experience for new viewers is beyond me. Watch out!
The series is split into 4 discs (2 shows per disc with the fouth holding episode 7 and bonus material). The picture and sound are the best I've ever seen them for Twin Peaks. The only time the picture is lacking is for the Log Lady introductions which look terribly fuzzy and hazy. Not that it matters much to me, as I never liked those segements anyway and you have option of watching them or not. The menu system is beautiful and fairly easy to navigate. My only qualm is that the text is a bit small even on my 36" TV. There is a terrific Twin Peaks family tree type thing on disc 7 that shows you each characters relationships to others and allows you to view the actors biography, a taped interview and their other credits. It's a terrific resource!
The Twin Peaks pilot has been caught up in legal battles for many years and as such it's not included in this set. It's a damn shame, but you can find foreign copies of it (in english) on eBay. This set makes up for it's omission with a page in the booklet devoted to important characters indtrodced in the pilot as well as another page summarizing the plot. Not as good as having the pilot included, but certainly every effort to make up for it was made.
This a "must buy" set for Peaks fans and the best presentation the show has ever had. I'll be watching this many times over for many years to come. I only wish the mystery wasn't spoiled for new viewers in some of the supplemental materials. Here's hoping the second season and a US release of the original pilot are coming soon!
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on December 31, 2001
I sat down last night to watch my new DVDs and was just as horrified as everyone else to find that the pilot episode was missing, again. It was missing from the VHS boxed set as well. I had to tape it off of Bravo in order to get a decent copy.
But the missing pilot is not the only problem with this set. The cheesy home-movie "documentaries" that are provided as special features are equally disappointing. Although I am grateful to people like Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Catherine Coulson, Richard Beymer, etc for taking the time to give interviews, I think that sitting through an interview with the lady who owned the T-Mar (Double R) diner was a bit much, particularly as the interview included no actual footage of the diner as it appears today, something I might have been interested in seeing. Clearly, the features on this boxed set are put together by fans with limited resources---eg, the guys from Wrapped in Plastic and Twin Peaks Festival organizers---rather than anyone with the power to really do something wonderful, and watching them is not unlike sitting through the Blair Witch Project.
All of these negatives, however, are worth suffering through for the privilege of having the episodes on DVD. I've noticed things on these nice, clear DVD images that I hadn't noticed in years of watching the show on TV or VHS. Lynch is a master. I can only hope that he takes enough pride in his work to step up and make a better DVD for the second season, for the movie, and for the pilot. There must be reels of outtakes and behind the scenes goodies. A tour of the locations would be fun. How about an interactive diary? A lot of good things can be added to spice up the package. For the pilot, how about having both endings---the TV version that led into the series, and the European film version that ends with the Bob and Mike sequence?
Is it a good buy? If you're a fan, and if you can wait patiently for the pilot, then yes. If you've never seen the series, wait until Bravo runs the series again in full so you can see the pilot and the show itself before you spend the money.
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on December 19, 2001
Okay, after waiting the two extra weeks for the release, from what I understand it was due to high demand, I faithfully went out and bought the DVD set today(Dec 18th) and boy my import DVD of the pilot really looks shoddy now in comparison to the brilliant transfers of the original series and the DTS sound and the packaging of this box set is very sweet. It DOES look and sound better than when it origianlly aired 11 years ago and broke the ground for such shows as The X Files Northern Exposure and American Gothic. If you are a Twin Peaks fan do not deny yourself. Make it a Xmas present for yourself. The extras do leave a little to be desired, but it has been said the extras on subsequent releases (and the more the first season sells the sooner we get the second season which may be in two separate sets) the extras are going to be even phatter. I have only watched the first disc so far (eps 1 and 2)and the extras (on disc 4) and I was blown away. The deep textures and feel of the show is beautifully maintained and looks fantastic and Angelo's score really stands out revealing the genius he is in his own right. I would recommend buying the import DVD and there are many to be had on Ebay (mainly because it looks better than my 11 year old copy of the original airing or any previous VHS release) even if the sound quality is a bit distorted at times, just because we may never get the pilot on DVD. There are no deleted scenes but there are script notes in the chapter selections for each ep which describe with text altered dialogue and deleted scenes giving fans a real inside look at the development of the series. The commentary is intersting and I personally like that they added the "previously on Twin Peaks" intros to each show like when it aired on TV. The one bright spot of the extras is the "Twin Peaks Directory" that starts with Laura Palmer where fans can get lost in the different characters and their various relationships to each other including bios and filmographies and in some cases "Video Postcards" which are excerpts of interviews ranging from how they got involved with the show or glimpses of their home life etc. Like Richard Beymer's psychedelic trip down the Amazon and Al Strobel's poignant story of the accident(when he was 17) which cost him his arm. It is a true delight for fans. And the extra an "Introduction to David Lynch" gives an insightful journey through vatious interviews on what it's like to work with him and work on the show. I can't say enough about how good these shows look. I kept saying "This looks fantastic" and "There is no other show like this nor will there ever be again." It dared the television audience to use their minds and get lost in the characters and their intertwining relationships to the point where you didn't care who killed Laura Palmer because there was so much more to dive into besides the main arc of the series. Don't hesitate. Go buy it now, because I want the second season to come out ASAP. I would give five stars but I adamantly agree Artisan should have went the extra mile to get the pilot. And in closing, something I noticed. The Republic Pictures emblem is on this DVD set. Well, guess what? It's on the import DVD of the pilot as well, so what's the problem? I'm guessing it had something to do with the European release of the pilot with the alternate ending but who knows for sure I don't even thinks Artisan does. Dust off that recipe for cherry pie, put on some coffee and invite your friends over for a Twin Peaks party, especially those who haven't seen it before (costume optional).
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on December 2, 1999
artisan entertainment is releasing twin peaks ( all 29 episodes ) on dvd 2nd quarter next year.
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