Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy 20 Year Anniversary To TWIN PEAKS

It was twenty years ago today that a lone fisherman walked through the Pacific Northwest fog to stumble upon the body of a beautiful young woman wrapped in plastic.  He quickly identified her as Laura Palmer, and therein started the television's most fascinating and suspenseful murder mystery since "Who Shot J.R." nearly 10 years prior.

TWIN PEAKS focused on the mysteries and secrets of the residents in a rural logging town near Seattle.  What captivated and shocked Americans at the time was how underneath this beautiful wooden serene setting lived a world of teenage prostitution, drugs, abuse, vivid nightmares, and evil spirits.  Every week a new layer of this world was revealed to the audience, which always answered some questions, and then raised even more.  We were horrified, intrigued, and involuntarily captivated as we had to learn what happened next, and attempted to figure out who killed this tragic teenager.

I recently re-watched the entire series, and couldn't believe how many details and nuances were in every scene.  From the writing, to the acting, to the beautiful cinematography, it's hard to conceive of how ABC ever allowed such a complex and slow moving tawdry tale to be told on network television.

Of course none of this could have taken place without the twisted vision of film director David Lynch.  He had a conception of this town, and was determined to tell it his way, despite pressures to make the show more "mainstream" and accessible.  According to reports, he did cave to ABC at one point, which was to reveal Laura's killer sooner than planned.  Unfortunately, that proved to be the downfall of the show, and viewers soon fled after learning the details of her death.

I wish I could write that TWIN PEAKS changed the landscape of American network television.  I honestly don't think it did.  Twenty years later, I see the prime-time landscape littered with unscripted programming (which is NOT "reality"), banal game shows, episodic mysteries, and a few serialized dramas.  But it's influence can still be detected in several cable serials, such as BIG LOVE, or MAD MEN, which utilize the continuing story format to expose deeper and more complex mysteries, while spinning intriguing new webs of story.

So for all the young 'uns out there, do yourself a big favor and buy/rent/find TWIN PEAKS and watch it.  And for all those that were there, grab a nice piece of cherry pie, a damn fine cup o' coffee, make a call to Diane, and enjoy a walk down memory lane with this indelible and haunting clip:

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at


  1. Damon; I also recently re-watched the pilot episode. I remember being mesmerized by the pilot the first time. This time I found it just as intriguing, the music was entrancing, and it was fun to see the clothes. Also seeing all of those young actors becomes a "what ever happened to" fiesta.

  2. The first season of Twin Peaks was amazing and very unusual for television at that time.