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The Premise: A serial killer disturbs the peace of a quiet town on the border of the United States and Canada – except that Laura Palmer’s killer is no ordinary psychopath, and neither is Twin Peaks even a remotely ordinary town...


selected from Cult Times #57


Background: Cult film director David Lynch created the series with Mark Frost. When the first short season fared exceptionally well, Lynch reportedly stunned the network chiefs by admitting that he hadn’t a clue what to do next, or even who the murderer was.

First Run: 1989-91. A big screen prequel – subtitled Fire Walk with Me – received its theatrical release in 1992.

Number of Episodes: The excellent first season lasted eight episodes; the patchier second season had 22. There’s a lesson there somewhere...

Good Guys: Very few of the residents of Twin Peaks could be described as entirely good; even the improbably named Sheriff Harry S Truman’s trustworthy exterior concealed his long-running affair with sawmill heir Josie Packard. For unmitigated goodness one had to look to the town’s visitors, specifically FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan), noted for his helpful habit of dictating notes on his investigation to an unseen assistant, Diane, via his hand-held dictaphone.

Bad Guys: There can be few people unaware by now of who killed Laura Palmer; it may surprise those few to know that by episode three we already know he’s called Bob, but of course that’s not the whole story. When the whole business of Bob’s alter ego is out of the way mid-Season Two, a rogue FBI agent named Wyndham Earle tries vainly to fill the villain slot for a while.

And Isn’t That... David Duchovny had a minor role as transvestite Denis(e). Faded film stars Russ Tamblyn and Piper Laurie had major roles; Lynch himself has a role in the second season as a severely hard of hearing FBI agent; Heather Graham plays Cooper’s girlfriend Annie for the last few episodes, and in the movie has a brief dream-cameo with her throat ripped out.

Overdone Clichés: A pretty original series on the whole, Twin Peaks could be credited with the creation of a cliché (later popularized by The X-Files) of deliberately, stylishly and maddeningly introducing clues and plot strands that took a long time to go absolutely nowhere. The second season introduced a new, less impressive cliché of having its characters watch a Soap Opera (‘An Invitation to Love’) whose storylines echoed their own lives..

Fashion Statements: Cooper’s immaculate suits contrasted with the casual look of the rest of the town. The young female population of Twin Peaks (notably Audrey Horne, played by Sherilyn Fenn) were obligingly fond of wearing particularly tight sweaters.


Most of the first season is very good, if a little slow. The two episodes (in the first half of the second season) in which Killer Bob is revealed and captured are by far the best, as well as the most horrific: the Broadcasting Standards Commission upheld a complaint against the BBC for showing it.


After Laura’s murder is solved, the series visibly flounders for a while before picking up new storylines, of which only Wyndham Earle’s vendetta against Cooper has much merit. The final episode feels particularly rushed and misjudged, particularly killing off Audrey.

Broadcast details (UK)

Twin Peaks
Sci-Fi (UK) - Wednesdays, 20.00 & Sunday, 00.00


Photo © Sci-Fi
Feature © Visual Imagination 2000.
Not for reproduction.

John Binns

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