The Box Set is I’m With Geek’s attempt to encourage more people to watch a TV series that they may have missed the first time round, then discuss how it made them feel. Happy? Sad? Filled with impotent rage? Who knows…
Twin Peaks is a fantastically dark, convoluted story by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Following the discovery of a dead body, FBI Agent Dale Cooper arrives at the town of Twin Peaks to solve the case and try their coffee.
The series follows the lives of the residents of tutular town in the aftermath of the murder of Laura Palmer. It features some very quirky characters such as the aforementioned Agent Cooper, who has a love of coffee and believes in using mystical and spiritual techniques to solve his investigations, and the Log Lady, who carries a log around with her at all times (and converses with it!).
One of the best things about Twin Peaks is how much mystery Lynch and Frost cast over the town. It appears that everyone in the town has something to hide, be it an extra-marital affair, shady dealings with businessmen or even faking their own death. The first series only ran to eight episodes, and managed to keep the writing tight, whilst the second series ran longer, and became more sloppy as the network producers pushed for a more definitive ending to the murder storyline. As a result, the second part of series two saw a lot of fans losing interest before the show was put on indefinite hiatus. The series remained popular enough that a prequel movie (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me) was made, detailing the final days leading up to the murder, and the beginning of the series proper.
Twin Peaks manages to be engaging, funny, sad and, at times, a little frightening. It is the perfect series to start this feature. Read on to find out what our other writers thought about it…
I honestly don't know what to say about Twin Peaks, and I'm not often speechless. I'll admit, when I first picked up the series I was very skeptical, and the pilot episode really didn't help. I found the acting of much of the cast to be over-the-top and uninspiring, and the story a little un-engaging, kept alive only by Kyle MacLachlan's eccentric FBI agent.
As the series progressed, however, I found myself coming to enjoy this unique murder mystery series with it's weird characters, funky blues music and surreal situations. A personal highlight (or at least moment of sheer WTF-ery) as to be Cooper's dream, where he's given sage advice by a dancing dwarf. Yeah, this is David Lynch after all.
So you know what? The acting may be dire in places (I'm looking at you, dead girl's Mum!), the quality may (rightly so) be dated and the Log Lady may be fucking nuts, but what you get is a multi-faceted story that struggles to contain itself, but somehow manages to deliver against all odds.
I am a massive David Lynch fan. I always have been. He bombards his movies with striking off kilter images that represent theme that run deeper than the bugs in the grass of suburban towns. Eraserhead proked and perturbed. Mulholland Drive was evocate and stunning. Blue Velvet, though disturbing, is one that offers and turns Dennis Hopper into more of a monster than you could ever imagine. Taking his star, Kyle MacLachlan and using him in his equally haunting television series Twin Peaks, that mirrors the small town mysteries that Blue Velvet offered and to great effect. So thrilled, I was allowed to adventure into the town again, revealing in the madness of it.
I am sure by this point, we’ve been over the plot, so let’s cut right to the chase. Lynch proves that yet again his directions and creations transcend the norm to a tantalising piece of television. In short, it is phenomenal. Fleshing it out a bit, Lynch’s use of weird images and far out narrative only add to the building tension and mystery around Lara Palmers death. Though it is easy to dismiss it as, well, fucking insanity, the universe of Twin Peaks is so intriguing that it is impossible not to want to continue watching. Combining both art-house cinema, the scenarios of a cult classic and the stellar drama of thrillers and crime mysteries. Lynch enthuses all these elements incredible, needing the audience to dig deeper; an act they have been doing for years after. Kyle MacLachlan is a strong leader as Special Agent Dale Cooper, playing us as we bound our way through the madness.
Lynch is an incredible director and this is no exception. Twin Peaks is must see viewing.
I really wanted to like Twin Peaks. I really, honestly did. after all, Everyone says it’s a classic. But from the very opening of the pilot episode, over two minutes of slow-moving landscape shots and machinery, I knew it wasn’t for me. Making something slow moving doesn't automatically imbue it with a sense of dignified drama. There's no sense of tension when it comes to Laura Palmer's death. The news is instead greeted by bad acting (there are more convincing tears on X-Factor than on Andy’s face), a mishmash of a soundtrack (it can’t seem to decide if it’s accompanying a sentimental tearjerker or a film noir) and some truly terrible dialogue (“I'm going to transfer it to the phone on the table by the red chair. The red chair against the wall. The little table with the lamp on it.”).
There's no life in Twin Peaks until Kyle MacLachlan, as Agent Cooper, appears. He's the highlight of each of his scenes, looking like he's acting in something else entirely. Amidst all the dreary industrial intrigue and melodramatic reaction shots, he stands as a lone bastion of wryly realistic humour. The problem is that he's not enough. On paper, Twin Peaks should be brilliant, with an engaging lead and crammed full of mysteries (what is the Red Room? Who really did kill Laura Palmer? Who shot Cooper?). It feels like Twin Peaks is remembered so fondly because David Lynch is so revered, and because it was attempting to do something new. But personally, it just feels like a soap with supernatural aspirations.
I have seen Twin Peaks a number of times in my life.
My first dalliance with David Lynch came when I was at sixth form college, when I was introduced to his work via the recently-released Inland Empire, and a friend who was a passionate fan. Over the next few weeks, I devoured Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and eventually Twin Peaks.
The second time was during university, where I made the unwise decision to marathon the show on very little sleep and substantial alcohol. It was a, frankly terrifying experience, but a rewarding one, because you can take so much from Lynch’s work with every new viewing (regardless of your state of insomnia and drunkenness.) When Twin Peaks was chosen for The Box Set, I was excited to return to this show once again, now a responsible working adult.
It loses none of its quality, despite the age of the show or the number of viewings. Lynch is a true auteur making challenging, unique television and cinema, and Twin Peaks is, for me, the pinnacle of that career. Or at least the first season. While Season Two is still good television, it never reaches the dizzying heights of those first, wholly original episodes.
Of course, one of the biggest selling points of the show is the performance of frequent Lynch collaborator Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. Like Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man, Cooper is our relatable, point of view character, leading us through and gradually losing himself in this surreal world. But that is not to ignore the supporting cast, including Sheryl Lee as the murdered Laura Palmer, Russ Tamblyn, and Lara Flynn Boyle amongst others.
Twin Peaks is so away from the norm that the show probably would have been a difficult sell, if not for the sterling work of that assembled cast.