Back in 1990, I didn’t watch much television. I was in high school at the time and generally pretty busy with homework, friends, extra-curricular activities, or my part-time job. The only series I was really making a point to watch was probably Star Trek: The Next Generation. But in April of that year Twin Peaks premiered, and I was immediately hooked.
The series isn’t easily described. On its most basic level, it’s about an FBI agent who travels to a small town in the state of Washington to investigate a murder…kind of. Yes, the discovery of Laura Palmer’s body is the event that gets the series going and the narrative engine of the first season, which was only 8 episodes including the 2 hour pilot, and part of the second. Really, though, the series is about the people in this town and a whole lot of weirdness.
Twin Peaks was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Frost worked on Hill Street Blues, which is not exactly known for being surreal. Lynch, however, is the director of films like Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway. These are films that are dark, disturbing, and deeply, deeply weird. The melding of their two approaches into Twin Peaks created one of the most unique series to hit television up until that point.
For a while, Twin Peaks was a phenomenon, and millions of people wanted to know who killed Laura Palmer. The problem with a series that launches with a mystery, though, is sustaining it. Rather than drag things out, the show solved Laura’s murder about a third of the way into its second season.
From there, I imagine the show’s creators hoped that audiences were invested enough in the characters to follow them into new storylines. That wasn’t the case, though, and by the end of the second season ratings had dropped to the point that ABC canceled it. The final episode of Twin Peaks doesn’t feel like a finale. I have no idea if the producers had any inkling they would be canceled or just didn’t care.
Whatever the case, the series ends on several cliffhangers. Several BIG cliffhangers. I would go so far as to call the final episode of Twin Peaks one of the most frustrating endings to a series ever.
But fans of the series received something of a mixed blessing. There would be more Twin Peaks, but it would come in the form of a prequel film. 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me followed Laura Palmer through the last seven days of her life, showing us many of the events that were only described during the series including her murder (so it’s one hell of a spoiler to anyone who hasn’t watched the show).
David Lynch cowrote and directed the film, which is more in line with his earlier movie work than the (slightly) more grounded world of the television series. It gets seriously weird at times and has some of the oddest lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film. “I’m as blank as a fart,” is my personal favorite.
So while the movie filled in many of the blanks about Laura’s murder (or really just showed us things we already knew), the series still ended with that damn cliffhanger.
Some years later (and thanks to the Internet), I learned that I’d only seen about half of Fire Walk With Me. If the script and articles I found online were to be believed, Lynch shot a lot more footage involving many of the shows other characters, and some scenes were even set after the end of the series. It wasn’t a full resolution, but compared to what we had, it was huge!
The only problem was that the footage wasn’t available. Fire Walk With Me got a bare bones DVD release with no sign of the additional scenes, and the “Definitive Gold Box Edition” of the series that was released in 2010 didn’t include the film or any lost footage. Every so often there were rumors that Lynch was preparing the footage for release, but those would usually be quickly squashed with stories of rights squabbles and other problems.
Honestly, I’d pretty much given up. But then came word of the Blu-Ray. In the last couple of weeks, we have learned that July will see the release of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery with the complete television series, the movie, and NINETY MINUTES OF DELETED SCENES!
If I step outside of my fanboy happiness for a moment, I get that maybe it’s silly to be so happy to see new footage from a 22 year old movie. I also have to hope that the $119 price tag that Amazon currently has on the set comes down a bit. Or a hell of a lot.
For now, though, I’m thrilled that this footage is finally being released. Stay tuned for my inevitable post later this Summer in which I complain about being disappointed by what I saw.
I’m kidding. I promise.
- Alan Decker
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