The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.
After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
The body of a young girl (Laura Palmer) is washed up on a beach near the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate her strange demise only to uncover a web of mystery that ultimately leads him deep into the heart of the surrounding woodland and his very own soul. Written by
Through the darkness of future past / The magician longs to see / One chants out between two worlds / Fire walk with me. I'll catch you with my death bag. You may think I've gone insane, but I promise I will kill again!
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There are some episodes that don't end with the usual Homecoming Queen photo of Laura Palmer and "Laura Palmer's Theme" in the credits: Episode 2 credits feature the Little Man from Another Place seen from above and dancing. Episode 8 features Gersten Hayward (Alicia Witt) playing the piano. Episode 14 shows Agent Cooper, the red curtains and the song "The World Spins" by Julee Cruise. Episode 18 features Ben Horne's old home movies seen in this same episode. Episode 29 features the coffee cup given to Cooper in the Red Room and Laura's face on it. See more »
Nowadays it is commonly accepted that American television is becoming better than movies, with edgier stories and more complex characters, both in mainstream (CSI, 24, Lost) and cable shows (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood). Twenty years ago, on the other hand, such a thing was unthinkable, at least until Twin Peaks aired.
Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series takes its name from a small American town where a grisly murder has been committed. The victim is local beauty Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a girl who seemed to have a perfectly normal life, only it turns out that's not the case: she had a lot of secrets, and in one of them lies the key to finding her killer. That assignment is given to Special FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan), who quickly earns the trust and friendship of Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) and the rest of Twin Peaks'inhabitants thanks to his extraordinary deductive methods and fascination for the calm and peace around him. And he is going to need all the help he can get, as Laura's murder is just one of the many odd things causing trouble in the heavenly surroundings: there's Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) and his dangerous connection with a casino/brothel known as One-Eyed Jack's; there's his daughter Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn), whose interest in Agent Cooper might put her in a worse situation than she thinks; there's the dispute over the Packard sawmill between Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) and Josie Packard (Joan Chen); and there are the bizarre creatures who populate Cooper's dreams, people like The Man From Another Place (a backwards-talking dwarf, played by Michael J. Anderson) or the terrifying Bob (Frank Silva), suggesting that most of the events in Twin Peaks may not have a rational explanation.
Back in 1990, a series like this had never been done before, so its success was a little unexpected (sadly, ratings dropped during the second season, leading to the show's premature cancellation). Now it can be seen as an anticipation of that great TV creation that is HBO: the dead interacting with the living (Six Feet Under), ambiguous characters and even more ambiguous relationships between them (Deadwood), a consistent balance between moving and funny, beautiful and shocking (The Sopranos), the seeds of all those elements can be found in Twin Peaks, a show that didn't hesitate when it came to playing with the format or crossing the line in terms of mature content (death, drug abuse, rape) or on-screen violence (the ending of Episode 8, where one of the villains is shown at the peak of his abilities, is still one of the most audacious scenes ever shown on mainstream television). More than any other series, it represents the seamless merger of big and small screen, a fact that is underlined by Lynch's decision to further explore the story in a feature film after the last episode had aired. Fans of the visionary filmmaker will find plenty of his recurring themes, some a direct reference to his previous works (the ugliness lying underneath the apparent perfection, as seen in Blue Velvet), others a hint of things to come (the duality of Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, here embodied by Lee, who plays both the deceased Laura and her cousin).
As always with the Eraserhead director, the acting is exceptional: MacLachlan and Lee are the standouts, the former playing his best role to date, a cunning combination of palpable vulnerability and impeccable wit, the latter shining with a double performance that should have been the beginning of a great career (alas, apart from a minor role in John Carpenter's Vampires, she hasn't done much since). The supporting cast (Ontkean, Laurie, Lara Flynn Boyle and Ray Wise in particular) adds depth and emotion, making some episodes the most affecting ever seen on a TV screen. As for the guest stars, not all of them are well known, but every single one brings something special to the series: the most notable cameos include a then unknown Heather Graham, a pre-X-Files David Duchovny (a quite funny and ironic contrast to Fox Mulder) and Lynch himself as a half-deaf FBI Regional Chief (one of the show's best characters).
Those interested in American TV simply have to give Twin Peaks a look: it might be too weird or unsettling for some (but then again, that's always the case with Lynch's work), but it remains a landmark in contemporary television, and played a vital role in making the US small screen what it is today.
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