Definitive Gold Box Edition
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Reviewed by Will Harris
n April 2007, we reviewed “Twin Peaks: The Second Season,” ending our write-up by posing the question, “How long will it take CBS / Paramount to release ‘Twin Peaks: The Complete Series’ as one big package?” As it turns out, the answer was “right about six months.”
What’s there to say about “Twin Peaks” that hasn’t already been said in previous reviews? It redefined the standards for just how weird a broadcast network show could be and still be successful, then showed just how quickly that success could disappear. But the cult following surrounding the series remains strong more than a decade and a half after it first graced the airwaves.
When “Twin Peaks” began, it had an immediate hook: the prom queen of a small Washington town has been murdered, and in the process of determining her killer, it becomes evident that nothing in the town is as normal as it seems. Enter the ubiquitous outsider, FBI Agent Dale Cooper, who arrived to tackle the case. His gradual indoctrination into the population of Twin Peaks – for all their weirdness, they couldn’t compete with our man Coop – proved for enthralling viewing. If David Lynch had had his way, the show would’ve continued for years without resolving the mystery surrounding Laura Palmer’s death. In his eyes, the show was less about her death and more about the repercussions that had emerged as a result. Unfortunately, ABC didn’t agree with his assessment, and the series was pushed to provide resolution, which set things traipsing down a path its writers and producers were unprepared to travel. With Laura’s story told, there occurred a desperate flurry of new storylines that were intended to capture the attention of the viewers in the same way Miss Palmer’s demise had done. They did not, of course, though Cooper’s ongoing battle with his former partner, Windom Earle, over the mysterious secret of The Black Lodge was certainly worth following. Unfortunately, it was far too often surrounded by profound weirdness for weirdness’ sake. (Two words: pine weasel.)
Countless series have attempted to take the same general premise of “Twin Peaks” and explore the eccentricities of small-town life – “Northern Exposure,” “Picket Fences,” et al – but none can match Lynch’s vision of the dark underbelly of such towns. Yes, Season two was a comparative disappointment to Season One, but every episode provides at least a few new reasons to keep exploring, so if you’ve never taken the plunge on purchasing “Twin Peaks,” you might as well invest in the series as a whole.
Special Features: Despite the very reasonable presumption that most “Twin Peaks” freaks will have already purchased every single DVD connected to the show, Paramount has still managed to put together a collection that will inspire them to buy it yet again, and it’s mostly thanks to the special features.
The feature-length documentary, “Secrets from Another Place,” is a kick-ass look at the entire history of the series, with new interviews with most of the major players. (Notable holdouts: Michael Ontkean and Lara Flynn Boyle.) Lynch doesn’t appear in the doc, but he does participate in “A Slice of Lynch,” where he, McLachlan, Amick, and one of the show’s post-production coordinators, John Wentworth, sit around, eat pie, and talk about the series. It’s in no way as illuminating a look at the show as the doc, but the conversation is pure Lynch, which makes it a must-see. Also on the featurette front is “Return to Twin Peaks,” which provides a look at the annual “Twin Peaks” festival that takes place in Washington, while reminding you just how obsessed some fans can be. There aren’t many deleted scenes from the series that are available, but the few that exist have been added to the set, along with several of the original ABC promos for the show and, most entertaining, a series of coffee commercials that the cast filmed for airing in Japan. It’s also a nice treat to see Julee Cruise’s original video for “Falling.” But the biggest kick occurs via the inclusion of McLachlan’s “Peaks”-related sketches from his hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live.” Alas, the audio commentaries that appeared on the original Season One set are now lost to the ages, as are some of the special features from the Season Two box, so the real diehards won’t want to part with their original releases even after plunking down the bucks for this new set.
Beyond the features, the picture and sound for all 29 episodes have been re-mastered from the original negatives and upgraded to 5.1 Audio (while still keeping the original 2.0 Audio as well), and in addition to the episodes themselves, this is the first time that the original pilot – both the U.S. network and international versions – has been made available on DVD within the States.