The story starts with the killing of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a teenaged girl who lived in the small town of Twin Peaks, near the American-Canadian borders. Everyone seems shocked and devastated by the girl’s murder, and the local police department’s sheriff encourages the help of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), who comes in to help work the case. As Cooper begins his case, the town’s skeletons are gradually forced out of the closet. This is certainly not your text-book quiet town, it seems that not everyone is as innocent as they claim to be. At night, Cooper sees strange visions of Laura and others, These are visions that hint that something important is happening, something far more sinister than a single homicide.
It doesn’t get any weirder than David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cultural phenomenon and nineties hit series Twin Peaks. It’s a surreal, quirky and very psychotic crime drama. It makes the most trippy of shows seem normal. In this age of technology and smartphones, anything with a enough follows on Twitter, likes on Facebook or hits on YouTube, has claimed the “cultural phenomenon” status. But Twin Peaks was a two season hit that released in 1990 and 1991, when social media wasn’t a thing. And it truly was a cultural phenomenon. I suppose the equivalent reaction to it now, would be when Game Of Thrones hit, and it “broke the internet”. Twin Peaks showed that casual American audiences can get behind something weird and surreal, rather than your familiar “playing it safe” television series. Twin Peaks is one of many hits that paved the way for our current golden age of television.
Set on the backdrop of fictional town Twin Peaks in Washington State, the show starts with Laura’s corpse wrapped in plastic. She was homecoming queen and she had it all on a plate; riches, intelligence and natural good-looks. A clean-shaven FBI investigator named Agent Dale Cooper (MacLachlan) is called in. He’s by no means an experienced agent, but he’s highly competent and he’s a very resourceful with a love for people. He knows how to deal with people, and has a knack for the mystical and spiritual. Not to forget his unwavering love for a “damn fine” cup of coffee and pie. He often acts on gut instincts and intuition rather than outright evidence. He’s an agent that always follows his nose. And his nose normally leads him to the evidence.
The Twin Peaks investigation of Laura’s death exposes her as a girl with secrets. She wasn’t the saint that everyone thought her to be. She lived a life full of: affairs, drugs, abuse, prostitution and many other misdemeanors connected to the criminal underworld beneath the town. From the get go, we meet a number of great characters. Such characters like the: town sheriff, corrupt businessman with shady business ventures and females escorts, in addition to the Log Lady who selectively gives out information on the say-so of her log. We also have a transvestite DEA agent and an emotional police deputy. And that’s just the tip of iceberg.
It’s clear that Lynch and Frost had a great time concocting this series, as did the cast. It takes a few episodes to get used to the quirks of this unique crime drama, but mostly Cooper’s illogical methods to getting leads. He even developed leads from things he saw in a dream. Many begin to think he’s a bit cuckoo…until he starts getting results. Also, the way he gets enthusiastic every day from the taste of “damn fine” cup of coffee. His personality is quite flirtatious and charming, that catches the attention of eighteen year old Shelley (Mädchen Amick) which only complicates things, until she starts an investigation of her own. This show is quite lighthearted with the quirks of Cooper but it goes to the other side of the spectrum with scenes where clues are dug from fingernails and the revelation of torture dens in the woods.
I believe season two wasn’t as good as season one, purely because of its length. They should have ended the season when Laura’s killer was caught instead of extending it for the twenty-something episode season which it had. It wasn’t necessary to go past the arrest of the killer. To create a series as well-written and well-directed as Twin Peaks is a monumental achievement. It’s a series that can be rewatched to death and it’s now a timeless classic. It paved the way for the likes of Stranger Things, Fargo (TV and Film), X-Files and True Detective to name a few. I even saw similarities between Sandford in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz and the quaint town of Twin Peaks. When an outsider comes in and starts looking into things people don’t want him to, people begin to get cagey.
Twin Peaks went against the conventional. And it suffered for it during the second season when it got axed. That being said, just because a show gets cancelled doesn’t make it bad. Star Trek: The Original Series was stopped after three seasons. And Kirk, Sulu, Spock and company are some of the most iconic characters in the history of television. Filled with great performances and an excellent narrative for the most part, Twin Peaks is a must watch for those who love the crime genre but also those who’ve developed the Netflix bug in recent years. It’s certainly bingeworthy and you have to watch it before 2017, where I hear we’ll be getting a third season, from Lynch and Frost in addition to the original cast returning for round three.