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This review is from: Twin Peaks - Complete Season 1 [DVD]  (DVD)
What can we say about Twin Peaks? Well, to my mind, it is unquestionably the greatest television series to have come from the U.S. A deliciously subversive black-comic masterpiece steeped in misery, it is all at once mystical, surreal, hilarious, grim, romantic, and thought-provoking. Today, with the benefit of 18 years of hindsight, we can see the titanic influence the series has had upon subsequent television.
Twin Peaks revolves around the tragic story of Laura Palmer, the badly disturbed Homecoming Queen from small town Twin Peaks in Washington State. Suffice to say that owing to the discovery of her body, washed up on the shore of the lake, and wrappen in plastic, and the appearance of another girl (alive), the F.B.I is called in, and Kyle MacLachlan, as Special Agent Dale Cooper takes centre-stage as the main character. With the result that almost every major character in the idillic Twin Peaks who isn't a law-officer has some form of other life, secret, or personal trouble.
Characters in the series play very much on deliberate cliche, or the subversion of such -the black off-the-rack suit and oiled hair for Cooper, the typical earth-tones for the County Sherrif and many town members; the expensive shirts and ties for the businessmen etc. The writing plays on these, sometimes following 'type', sometimes inverting expectations in a cunning twist to keep the viewer thinking.
Direction is above reproach. Twin Peaks is sensibly paced, never rushing into anything, but slowly allowing the story to expand (rather than unraval) and introducing new twists at every turn. It is beautifully filmed, with glorious locations, both inside and out, carefully judged lighting and sound, with some of the best-written dialogue I've ever come across in a television show.
Likewise, the acting is superb. Kyle MacLachlan puts in the performance of his life as Cooper, and all the rest of the cast similarly pull out all the stops. The series marks a high-point in the careers of almost all who took part in it, and you can see why within a few seconds. The chemestry between all the actors is palpable, and they all clearly took great pride in their work. Before moving on however, I have to give a special tribute to Sherilyn Fenn, as Audrey Horne. The materially spoiled, but emotionally neglected eighteeen-year-old daughter of shady local businessman Benjamin Horne, Audrey: high-school-vixen, trouble-maker (but only to her father & his business dealings) and arguably Cooper's love interest, is one of the most interesting characters in the series. And Sherilyn works wonders on her. Her performance is seductive, yet vulnerable, and she gives a deeply sympathetic view of her lonely poor-little-rich-girl character with a desire to get away from Twin Peaks, and deperate crush on Cooper (who with considerable difficulty supresses his own attraction for her out of a gloriously misguided sense of propriety). A wonderful, stand-out performance, for which Sherilyn deserves far more credit than she has ever recieved.
The DVD set is excellent. The print has been cleaned up beautifully, and the picture is crystal-sharp. The audio similarly has been scrubbed to perfection, and remixed into surround for those who have surround rigs. The latter mix is subtle, and adds a certain haunting feel to the proceedings (as if they weren't already). The disks are nicely presented in their digi-pak (though the plastic cover on mine is a little tight, and catches the edge of the carboard), and are stuffed with extras, though some, such are the script-notes are a little tricky to access in the menu-system, which seems to have been set-up to be as surreal as some of the elements of the series. The fourth disk, with more extras, is well worth exploring too.
If you have the slightest interest in intelligent story-telling, beautifully shot and performed, you have to buy this. The box claims it to have been one of the most acclaimed events in television history. For once, the advertising blurb is quite correct. Twin Peaks was, and remains, an artistic masterpiece and an example to follow. An unlikely hit, and subsequently canned after the longer second season (finally coming to DVD after a 5-year wait) for a variety of unfortunate reasons, its place in history and the hearts of those who watch it, is secure.