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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 17, 2001

First 7 episodes of TV's 'Twin Peaks' on DVD

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer

Call up the Log Lady and sit down for a cup of coffee and some cherry pie.

The first seven hour-long episodes of David Lynch's brilliant, surreally twisted cult-fave soap opera "Twin Peaks" arrives on DVD tomorrow as an extras-heavy four-disc set, "Twin Peaks: The First Season Special Edition."

Arguably one of the most consistently bizarre television series ever on prime time, "Twin Peaks"—which detailed, in no order of importance, the altogether kooky, at times violent, day-to-day dramas of a handful of residents of the tiny Washington-Canadian border logging town of Twin Peaks; the town's cryptic supernatural history; and the mysterious murder of local homecoming queen Laura Palmer— aired on ABC from 1990 to 1991.

Its pilot episode was buoyed by rapturous critical praise and more buzz than a cup of Double RR Diner coffee, and the darkly comedic drama made its debut on April 8, 1990, to impressive first-season ratings. A cult-like viewership eagerly wrapped itself around square-jawed, coffee-and-pastry-loving FBI Agent Dale Cooper's wickedly unorthodox search for Palmer's killer among the town's deliciously weird resident populace.

Among the series' sizable collection of eccentrics: An eye-patched housewife obsessed with creating a silent drape runner. A grieving mother given to patience-testing wails and drug-induced visions of white horses. A murderous supernatural demon named Bob. A log-toting widow who would ramble at length about her big hunk 'o wood's noteworthy intelligence. Even a DEA agent prone to dressing up in drag — played by a pre-"X-Files" David Duchovny.

The ensuing hype created something of a mini-cottage industry for "Twin Peaks" creators Lynch and producing partner Mark Frost. "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer" became a bestselling book, and a soundtrack album featured the series' haunting Angelo Badalamenti score. There were character trading cards, even audiocassettes featuring the tape-recorded crime- and non-crime related ramblings of Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to his never-seen FBI headquarters-based assistant, known only as "Diane."

"Twin Peaks" earned an astounding 14 Emmy nominations in its first season, including nods for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor (MacLachlan) and Actress (Piper Laurie). It would win two for costume design and editing.

Ratings and buzz eventually sank when the series dragged its popular "Who killed Laura Palmer?" plotline unanswered deep into the second season, amid a not-ready-for-prime-time miasma of dancing, backward-talking dwarves, giants, and an increasingly confusing supernatural story arc. ABC canceled the series in June 1991 after only 29 episodes.

A Lynch-directed big screen prequel to the series, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," was released in 1992, though by that time, interest—even from the series' diehard fans—was long gone. The film managed a tepid $4 million in its brief theatrical run.

More than a decade after its debut, what's left of the cult of "Peaks" remains defiant of being declared — in that most "Peaks"-ian of descriptions— as "dead ... wrapped in plastic." A mid-1990s Bravo Network rebroadcast of the series garnered respectable ratings. A recent Yahoo! search found 17 "Twin Peaks" Web sites still slavishly belabored over by fans, while an eBay search turned up more than 350 items (mostly videotapes, laserdiscs, and books) still being traded.

Which brings us back to the DVD set.

Priced at $59.98 by distributor Artisan Entertainment, the set's seven episodes boast remastered high definition video transfers, booming Dolby 5.1 and DTS digital surround sound and extras like directors' commentaries, interviews with cast and crew, script notes and archival materials from the "Peaks" official fanzine, "Wrapped In Plastic."

Sadly though, not all is copacetic at The Great Northern Hotel. Unforgivably missing from the DVD set is the brilliant, Lynch-directed two-hour pilot episode — for which Artisan does not own DVD rights — or any apparent involvement or final word from the director himself.

Nevertheless, this is a document of a risky, oft-times unsettling reimagining of the one-hour television drama, and it should be applauded as a landmark achievement.

In a turn-of-the-millennium television landscape where ABC's idea of groundbreaking television is piffle like "What About Jim," and viewers are forced to cough up a monthly HBO fee to see singular television achievements like "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," "Peaks" is sorely missed.

Reach Derek Paiva at 525-8005 or dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.