Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (1990-1992, David Lynch) – Back in the ancient days of 1990 some unbelievably brave network executives at ABC took one of the most insane risks in television history: they gave filmmaker David Lynch a TV show. These days, that doesn’t seem incredibly odd. Television has become an arena for ambitious storytelling for adults. Back then, that was far from the case, especially in the realm of the one hour drama. To say the risk paid off is an understatement. Simply put, Twin Peaks changed television forever. Shot in cinematic style and filled with complex themes and moral ambiguity, watching Twin Peaks was like seeing an art film broken up into series format and no one had seen anything like it before. The show was so far ahead of its time that it took almost a decade for the rest of television drama to catch up. When it premiered, it was a full on pop culture phenomenon that everyone discussed and debated with fervor. A year later, the ratings bottomed out and it was cancelled.
Lynch tried to keep the franchise alive with a feature film prequel that arguably topped the series, but by then the Twin Peaks backlash was so severe that the film was reviled and it unjustly bombed. Yet, the cult of Twin Peaks has endured for 20 years unlike any other show. That’s because even though almost every popular drama on television now owes a significant debt to Twin Peaks, in many ways none have managed to be quite as daring and downright odd.
That’s the magic of David Lynch and Twin Peaks is his masterpiece. As transcendent and flawed as anything he ever made on the big screen, it’s somehow both of its time and utterly timeless. The Twin Peaks faithful have been counting the days until the show’s debut on Blu-Ray since the dawn of the format. Well, it’s finally here and the set will not disappoint. From the gorgeously unique box (make sure to look under the hidden panel at the bottom) to the unbelievable transfers, the bottomless bit of special features, the unexpected inclusion of the film Fire Walk with Me, or the decades in the making debut of that film’s 90 minutes of deleted scenes, this box set is perfect. The only way to improve it would be for each Blu-Ray set to come with a coupon for a free coffee date with David Lynch. There’s simply no way to imagine a better Twin Peaks Blu-Ray than the one that Paramount/CBS have gifted to the masses. Fork over the cash, take a week of work, bake an apple pie, brew a damn fine pot of coffee, and dig in. You will not be disappointed.
What to say about the series that hasn’t been said? Well, there’s nothing, so I’ll try to cover the consensus as amusingly and quickly as possible. It’s a mystery. It’s a quirky comedy. It’s a soap opera. It’s a horror series. It’s a FBI procedural. It’s a dream. It’s a nightmare. It’s high drama. It’s low camp. It’s art. It’s trash. It’s unique.
Set in a small town rocked by the murder of the prom queen, co-creaters Lynch and Mark Frost follow the investigation of the crime before gradually spiraling out to explore the lives of the bizarre citizens that live in the titular community. Lynch directed the pilot and treats it like a 90-minute movie with an open ending. Neither he nor Frost thought it would be picked up for series, but it happened. A 7-episode series was commissioned. Lynch directed an episode that introduced a red room with a backwards-talking dwarf and turned the series into one of his dreamscape mood pieces. Frost supervised the series arc to make it a gripping murder mystery wrapped up in a quirky/campy small town soap opera. It killed viewers.
Lynch came back for another feature length premiere to the second season and somehow turned Twin Peaks into a darker and stranger nightmare. It continued and only got odder. Then ABC got wary of dipping ratings and demanded that Laura Palmer’s death be solved. Lynch and Frost reluctantly complied and revealed a supernatural tinged and unbelievably dark tale of rape and incest. Halfway through the second season, that plot thread closed for sweeps season ratings. It was terrifying, beautiful, and should have been the end.
Unfortunately, the production team had to fill just as many hours of television as it took to get there to finish off the second season and they had already given away all their secrets. They started spinning their wheels and the quality of the show took a nosedive. By the second season finale, enough interesting new plots emerged that the show could have continued, but it was cancelled anyways. That makes the overall series flawed and Exhibit A of the dangers of studio interference. However, it’s still all worth watching and if you consider the series over by episode 16 and then skip the last few episodes as a bonus appendix, it remains a masterpiece. Thankfully, the Twin Peaks story wasn’t over.
Had this box set only included the 30 episodes of the Twin Peaks series, it would still demand a place on any collector’s shelf. What elevates this set even further is the inclusion of the follow up film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Unwilling to let his baby die after cancellation, David Lynch decided to make a prequel while the cast was still available and interested. What he delivered just might be the finest film of his career. It could be watched in isolation, but is best watched after completing the series to save the secrets.
It’s about the last days of Laura Palmer’s life and it’s an absolutely horrifyingly surreal and deeply emotional vision of literal evil infecting a small town and leading to a teenage girl’s downfall through self-abuse, rape, and murder. Unlike the consistently funny and quirky TV series, Fire Walk with Me is a pitch black nightmare that’s not easy to watch. It’s also less accessible given that Lynch let his dream conscious imagination favor narrative clarity. However, if you give yourself over to the deeply upsetting film you’ll be floored by its open wound emotional punch and undeniable technical beauty. It’s a film that demands to be seen more than once for a full understanding, but it’ll haunt your mind and sting your heart each time. Learn to love it and you’ll find a perfect capper to the series. It might not clear up all the mysteries in terms of conventional narrative closure, but it certainly crystallizes the dark core of the series and combines everything that makes Twin Peaks and David Lynch special into one place.
Now, if you love Twin Peaks, you’ll know all that, but you should also know that this set is worth every cent in every way. It’s a well known fact that David Lynch is an perfectionist who personally supervises the audio/visual transfer of his work to home video with an anal retentive attention to detail. The reason this set took so long to reach shelves is because he went over pretty much every frame of the show and film. To say the results are stunning is an understatement. Details never before visible pop in every frame while colors glow like film rather than television. Even the audio has been remixed to support surround sound that was never possible for television 1990, and not only does it work, it would be hard to watch the series now without it. Given that Twin Peaks was always one of the most beautiful shows ever made for television, the HD facelift only makes the series stronger. Somehow, Fire Walk with Me looks even better with the increased budget and longer shooting schedule of a film shoot paying off big time. The film has received shoddy home video treatments in the past given its troubled reputation, so it’s an absolute revelation on Blu-Ray. The movie explodes off to the screen and into your nightmares while the deeply unsettling sound mix manages to make the most disturbing film of David Lynch’s career even harsher. Quite frankly, it’s impossible to imagine watching any of Twin Peaks on DVD or Netflix again after sampling this Blu-Ray set and everyone involved should be commended for their efforts.
Everything from the previously comprehensive Gold Box edition box set has been carried over. You’ll get episode previews/recaps, the delightfully odd Log Lady intros, deleted scenes, a comprehensive documentary about the Twin Peaks production/legacy, a wonderful doc about Twin Peaks fest, the weird and candid reflection documentary from the old Fire Walk With Me DVD, and a deeply odd David Lynch featurette in which he has visions of cast members and chats with them over coffee. Just compiling all of those old features and spiffing up the series and feature would be enough to make this set a must own, but the folks behind this reissue went so much further.
First up is a conversation between David Lynch and the Palmer family both in character (just as wacko as it sounds) and out (just as sweet as it sounds). A surprisingly candid doc about the tough Fire Walk with Me shoot and its harsh reception/cult redemption also delivers some never-before heard insights that are well worth watching.
All of that material is fantastic, but by far the greatest addition is the almost 90 minutes of deleted scenes from Fire Walk with Me. The humor and side characters missing from the feature all appear here (you even almost see Cooper’s beloved confidant Diane, but I won’t spoil any more). David Bowie’s cameo is expanded into a full role. Agent Cooper gets more screen time. The Palmer family gets one absolutely hilarious moment of happiness before their tragedy. There are even a few scenes that take place after the infamously opened ended series finale (don’t expect any clarification). Like all deleted scene collections, most of the material is surperfluous, but it’s still a treasure trove of Twin Peaks treats. Since Lynch movies are often episodic and he took such care to clean, reedit, and score these extra scenes, it almost plays like a forgotten Twin Peaks feature. If you’re a fan of the series, the long rumored missing scenes are everything you hoped for.
As you may have gathered by that flurry of well-deserved praise, I was absolutely blown away by Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery. From the moment I opened the gorgeously designed box until the last disc spun, I was drunk on Twin Peaks for days with this set. The magical new technical presentation makes it feel like you’ve never seen the show before even if you’ve got it memorized. The new features deliver material that never seemed possible. This isn’t just the ultimate Twin Peaks box set, it feels like a final farewell for a television masterpiece. Like all David Lynch movies, there is no real answer to “the mystery” that was ever going to be revealed. However, with the long lost deleted scenes finally released, this does at least provide viewers with every possible scrap of Twin Peaks content. It’s a stunning Blu-ray, possibly the greatest ever produced for a TV series. Thankfully, no show deserves it more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few dozen more hours of my life to dedicate to Twin Peaks. Very soon, you’ll be saying the same.