"Twin Peaks" was the cult television phenomenon that, in the spring of 1990, had much of America wondering "Who killed Laura Palmer?" Created by Blue Velvet's David Lynch and "Hill Street Blues" writer Mark Frost, the show only lasted two seasons before being cancelled, but the show's portrayal of a seedy underbelly to a seemingly innocent Pacific northwest community created a lasting impression with pop culture. The show starts with the discovery of high school student Laura Palmer's dead body, wrapped in plastic. When the FBI is brought in, Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) discovers that there might be a connection to another murder in the state. As the show progresses, the intertwining connections between pretty much everyone in the town (many of whom are considered suspects) begin to unfold, and - like most David Lynch projects - nothing is truly what it seems. While the show had a phenomenal (and short) first season, viewers started to get frustrated with the lack of any solid answer to who the murderer was. And when the show took the (somewhat expected, in hindsight) Lynchian left-turn and went into bizarroland, ratings and viewership pretty much doomed the show to cancellation.
"Twin Peaks" was originally shot as a stand-alone pilot (complete with an ending), and it's that stand-alone version which aired as a television movie in Europe. On home video, the "Twin Peaks" pilot was never on DVD - it was only available as an import, from laserdisc or VHS sources. A few years ago, Artisan Entertainment released the first season of "Twin Peaks" on DVD, but did not include the pilot (The first episode literally started with "Previously on 'Twin Peaks'....". Whatever legal issues had existed have been resolved, and now CBS Home Video has released the entire series of "Twin Peaks" in a new collectible "Definitive Gold Box Edition".
Over ten DVDs, the entire saga of "Twin Peaks" plays out. The first disc contains both the original pilot, as well as the international version with the concluding ending. The seven episodes from Season One are spread out over three discs, with the 22-episodes from Season Two spread out over five discs. The tenth disc contains numerous special features, which will be addressed later on.
The video quality on these discs is very good - David Lynch personally supervised the transfers from the original film elements (so there is a bit of film grain). It's not widescreen at all (this was back before television was done that way), but the 4x3 image is solid and sharp, with very good color depth (Lynch had used red extensively which is difficult to reproduce on video accurately). There is a bit of compression when compared to the Artisan release; they had only two episodes per disc, whereas the CBS release averages four per disc.
Like the video, the audio has been personally supervised by Lynch as well. A new English 5.1 surround sound track is the best way to enjoy the show, as there are some new mixing choices that make it a little more immersive than the standard 2.0 mix, which is also provided. (Additional languages include Spanish and Portuguese 2.0 tracks.) Missing from the previous release of Season One is the dts 5.1 audio track, but the Dolby Digital holds up pretty well.
Special features include the Bravo Channel "Log Lady Introductions" for every episode. The Log Lady was a character on the show, and her intros were done for the cable re-broadcast of the series as a gimmick. The video quality leaves much to be desired, but it's amusing enough and nice that they included all of them. Unfortunately, the script notes and commentary tracks from the previous Season One release are all missing from this release - a true shame since they provided a wealth of information. Also missing from the set are the Season Two extras, which were 40-minutes of interviews and six small featurettes.
Disc 9 contains the "Lost and Found" section. Four deleted scenes are here (apparently Lynch only wanted completed deleted scenes to be included, instead of incomplete ones), and the image quality is only okay, considering it came from workprint video sources. Production Documents are also included, featuring a slew of still images that only die-hard fans would find interesting, as they include memos, call sheets, script notes and other items - but in no clear order, and no index.
Disc 10 gives us DVD producer extraordinaire Charles de Lauzirika's spin on "Twin Peaks". "A Slice of Lynch" features David Lynch, crew member John Wentworth and actors Kyle MacLachlan and Mädchen Amick reminiscing about the show, and sharing a few stories about their experiences. It's informative and entertaining, which is saying a lot considering it's just talking heads. The centerpiece is "Secrets from Another Place", an engrossing, well produced feature-length documentary (105-minutes) that covers pretty much everything you would want to know about the making of "Twin Peaks". Of special note is the part exploring Angelo Badalamenti's landmark score for the series.
"Return to Twin Peaks" is a 20-minute long featurette about the lasting effects of the show and the popularity with the fans, and why the series still has a grip on people after nearly 17 years. An interactive map also features location footage of where the landmark images from the show were filmed. MacLachlan's opening monologue and "Twin Peaks" parody sketch from the 1990 episode of "Saturday Night Live" is included, as well as Julee Cruise's music video for "Falling". Four Japanese commercials for coffee are here as well, and it just reinforces the belief that Japan gets all the truly awesome ad campaigns. Promos and TV bumpers round out the packaging, and the box itself includes a set of postcards.
It's too bad that this isn't quite the "definitive" box set that it claims it is, with the missing extras being an obvious flaw. But the transfer and audio, as well as the show itself, make "Twin Peaks" a nice place to visit - but you wouldn't want to die there.
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