Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition

Well it’s about damn time! The First Season of Twin Peaks was released to the delight of fans way back in 2001, though infuriatingly sans the superlative pilot, which was for years only available in grainy VHS or international-region DVD versions. (Complete with bonus features like Chinese lettering on the packaging!) For years, fans despaired Season Two’s nonappearance (I believe it was the #1 requested DVD on Amazon for years) until it was, finally, released early this year. Still, the pilot wasn’t available, until now; in what can’t help but seem like an irritating marketing move intent on making fans shell out more dough, the Twin Peaks series has been brought together on DVD at last, pilot and both seasons included. As such, this shouldn’t be a time for fans to be griping about their Season One & Two boxsets’ worthless resale value; the “Definitive Gold Box Edition” is a sensational final product for Peaks fans and as such should be welcomed with relief rather than bitterness.

As a whole, from Jack Nance’s “goin’ fishing” line in the pilot’s opening moments to Kyle Maclachlan’s bloodied “how’s Annie?” finale, Twin Peaks is probably the most rewarding visual narrative experience a person could have. (That’s more notable than it might sound.) Despite a notable dip in quality in the middle of season two, I would venture to say that the combined effect of all twenty-nine episodes, plus the two hour pilot, is more profound than that to be had from any other film or television series.

Delving into why that is is a project I don’t exactly have the time or space for here, but I could at least get it started. Twin Peaks, magically and ineffably, balances all the best narrative styles and techniques the Western world has conceived, all of the varying strains coming together at the point of its essential mystery: who killed Laura Palmer? On the way to find out, the series mixes in equal parts melodrama (approaching the exaggerations of soap opera as only David Lynch can pull it off) hilarity, absurdity, the surreal and pathos, while dabbling in the cool (is there anything more stylish than a black suit and black tie, such as is Machlachlan’s FBI agent’s uniform?), the supernatural and the spiritual. It’s also got a refreshingly simple view of good and evil, and the alluring Star Wars-style struggle between them, while managing to avoid ever being simplistic in its execution.

If Twin Peaks is anything it’s complex, as is apparent from the copious websites, which have been around since about the dawn of the Internet, devoted to futiley decoding its mythos. Wading through its layered mysteries, which build on and ultimately transcend the death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) to tackle the nature and origin of evil itself, is a trial and it’s draining, both physically and emotionally, but with all the talk of damn good coffee (“black as midnight on a moonless night” is how Mr. Machlachlan’s character takes it) it’s impossible not to put on a pot and stay awake for days getting mired in them. (In the old days you had to wait for a Bravo marathon, but now with the DVDs it’s much easier to do at one’s convenience.)

It’s true, as it’s often said, that the second season disappoints a bit, although these claims are largely exaggerated. After Palmer’s killer is identified—if co-creator David Lynch had gotten his way, this would never have happened—the show starts to fall apart. Without a central unifying factor—Palmer—tying the characters together, they are sent off in different directions to varying degrees of success; some of the notable failures include James (James Marshall) leaving (!?!) the eponymous town to become involved in a silly pseudonoir tale, and the relationship between Nadine (Wendy Robie) and Mike (Gary Hershberger) that develops following Nadine’s retrograde amnesia. When Machlachlan is suspended from the FBI in the middle of Season Two, entering the so-called “Earth Tones” period in which he surrenders his suit for flannels and khakis, the series really starts to noticeably drag as a whole.

But Twin Peaks gets back on track once Maclachlan is reinstated and his former partner, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh), is introduced. It may never reach the heights of its early goings, but it comes damn close once Machlachlan redons his black suit. One of the series’ most beautiful moments, in fact, comes in a later second season episode in which Maclachlan, dancing with his new love interest Heather Graham, has a vision of The Giant (I guess you’d have to watch it for this to make sense) flailing his arms, warning him not to do what he’s about to do—fall in love.

The Gold Box is worth the bang for your buck; 10 discs house all the episodes—including the American version of the pilot and the international version that features an alternate ending, meant to make it a stand-alone film of sorts—and many extras, including deleted scenes, plentiful documentaries and even the SNL spoof starring Machlachlan (and Phil Hartman doing a killer Ray Wise impression). A sealed envelope includes 10 keepsake, collectable postcards. (The only thing missing, conspicuously, is a booklet with guides to the episodes and discs!) Suckers for packaging, completists and simple fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more, except perhaps that the set had come sooner.

Grade: A+

Twin Peaks Release Date: October 30, 2007
Rated: Not Rated
Number of Discs: 10
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn
Director: David Lynch
Studio: Paramount Home Video
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