"She's dead. All wrapped in plastic."
The first nine hours of Twin Peaks is simply some of the most innovative television ever produced. From the haunting theme music to the opening lines of dialog, you knew you were watching something different. Looking back now it's difficult to imagine the impact this show had. Watching it again seventeen years later I was instantly drawn back into its surreal world. A strangely compelling world of complex characters, deep mystery and dreamscapes that seem to invoke an almost compulsive need to keep watching.
The problem is that those nine hours represents the pilot and the first season of just seven episodes. There is another twenty hours to go. Bowing to network pressure, the first nine episodes of season two were spent answering the central mystery of just who killed Laura Palmer (the infamous girl wrapped in plastic).
Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost worked hard to keep that revelation process as interesting as the opening story arc, but it felt as if the show had started to lose its way and the creative vision had been compromised (something both later admitted).
Inexplicably, even with the murderer revealed and the storyline resolved, the show carried on, and with Lynch and Frost off working on movie projects, Twin Peaks quickly descending into sheer farce and the "stunt-casting guest-star" hell that is network driven programming.
Twin Peaks is the perfect example of a show that came out of nowhere, was different, intelligent and thought provoking, and became a big hit. Once it was a hit it was hijacked by the very people who initially wanted nothing to do with it and became almost a parody of itself.
While it's great to have all 29 hours collected in this DVD set, I'd recommend just watching up to episode 16 (the conclusion of the Laura Palmer storyline) on Disc 6. Then skip straight to Disc 10 to watch the special features.
This "definitive" boxed set is packed with extra features, fourteen in all. Like the show itself, they range from fascinating to embarrassingly awful. Amazingly, the one extra which is missing is any sort of commentary. Perhaps the best feature is "Secrets From Another Place," a full length documentary on the history of the series which at times is brutally honest, including one cast member declaring that "the second season sucked."
The following "Return To Twin Peaks" focuses on the fan run Twin Peaks Festival, and like anything that focuses on the fans is either cringe worthy of strangely fascinating depending on your tolerance levels. Also strangely fascinating is a series of commercials done for a Japanese coffee company that when run together play out a mystery plot using the Twin Peaks cast and locations.
The embarrassing would cover the two Twin Peaks sketches from Saturday Night Live featuring lead actor Kyle MacLachlan and the various promotional phone-in trailers. And if you really want to watch every possible variation of Twin Peaks, you can watch the international version of the pilot (which had a hastily tacked on resolution scene), or have the enigmatic log-lady introduce every single episode.
If you are "Peak Freak" this would be a great set to own, but for the casual viewer who had fond memories of the show it is somewhat overwhelming. The only way to get through it all is to make sure you have plenty of coffee and slices of cherry pie available.