Twin Peaks

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This article is about the television series. For alternative meanings, see: Twin Peaks (disambiguation).

Twin Peaks was an American television series created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. The show is set in the fictional town of Twin Peaks in northeast Washington, while the filming took place in northwest Washington.

It aired on the ABC network in the United States from April 8, 1990 until June 10, 1991. Some episodes were written/directed by Lynch and Frost, but most were directed by guests. The show was co-produced by Aaron Spelling's production company and ran for 30 episodes over two seasons.


Map of Twin Peaks, drawn by David Lynch

Twin Peaks tells the story of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and his investigation into the murder of a popular young local girl Laura Palmer. The programme portrays small-town America via an imaginary tight-knit community of unsophisticates. The pilot was filmed in the real-life towns of North Bend and Snoqualmie, not far from Seattle, Washington, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The gradual unraveling of the tale necessarily exposes each Twin Peaks inhabitant to unwelcome scrutiny from Agent Cooper and men from the Sheriff's Department. As with much of Lynch's other work (such as Blue Velvet), Twin Peaks explores the relationship between the veneer of respectability and the seedier layer of life beneath it. The programme borrowed generously from American soap operas in its melodramatic presentation of its characters' morally dubious activities. However, like all Lynch's previous and subsequent work, there exists a strong moral seriousness that informs the totality of the production.

Twin Peaks is particularly memorable for Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Special Agent Dale Cooper, who uttered one of the more popular lines in the series which became a catch phrase: "Damn fine cup of coffee."

Other catch phrases were: "There's a fish in the percolator," and "She's dead! Wrapped in plastic!" (which became the title of the long-running fan magazine).

The series was set in 1989, with each episode--barring occasional exceptions--representing a single day in the chronology.

Surprise hit

Twin Peaks started life as an off-beat project for David Lynch and Mark Frost. They filmed the pilot with an agreement with ABC that they would shoot an additional "ending" to it so it could be sold directly to video in Europe as a feature if the TV show wasn't picked up. Such was the inauspicious beginnings of Twin Peaks.

During the first season it was the search for Laura Palmer's killer that drove the show and caught the public's imagination, although the creators admitted this was a macguffin designed to keep the audience coming back for more, as each episode was really about the townsfolk and the sinister underbelly of the seemingly idyllic town.

David Lynch appears on the October 1, 1990 issue of Time Magazine during the height of "Peaksmania"

The first season contained only seven episodes and was considered technically and artistically revolutionary for television at the time, working hard as it did to reach the standards set by film. It has been said that Twin Peaks started the accomplished cinematography now commonplace in today's television dramas.

The interesting elements, charming style and intelligent writing made Twin Peaks a huge and surprising hit. People loved the quirky characters, not least Kyle MacLachlan's Special Agent Dale Cooper, and humor. Soon after the cliffhanger ending of the first season, the show's popularity reached a fever pitch, and "Peaksmania" was born. Suddenly everybody knew about Twin Peaks and it began to seep into mainstream popular culture (such as Saturday Night Live) and its cast and creators were seen regularly on talkshows and in interviews. ABC began to take a lot more notice of its quirky new show. Twin Peaks was hotly tipped to sweep the Emmys in 1990, being nominated for no less than eight non-technical awards, but to the shock of most (especially the show's creators), it didn't win a single one.

The second season

Soon after this success (both critical and financial) of the first season, ABC ordered a second season, this time expanding the number of episodes dramatically to 22. It was during this time that ABC put pressure on the writers to reveal the killer of Laura Palmer in the new season. This was at odds with David Lynch's sensibility who wished it to remain a secret forever, but he was overruled by the network executives and his fellow creator Mark Frost, with them fearing the audience would get bored with the mystery if it was not resolved soon.

For the longer second season new writers were hired, along with new directors, and David Lynch began to drift away from the show.

With the second season finally revealing the killer, many fans of the show felt let down with its resolution, as the show's previously hinted at ethereal and "weird" side came fully to the forefront. Also around this time a major storyline involving a romance between Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) was vetoed by Kyle MacLachlan (some said with pressure from then-girlfriend and co-star Lara Flynn Boyle), as he felt his character, who was known for his strong morals, would never become involved with a high school student. Since no agreement could be reached, the writers unhappily had to take evasive action and bring minor subplots (which were never intended to dominate the show) into the foreground to cover the missing story.

Declining ratings

With the unpopular resolution of the show's main drawing point (Laura Palmer's murder) and with the storylines becoming more drawn out and farcical, public interest finally began to wane and "Peaksmania" seemed officially over. Many believed the show's new overt oddness had made it a parody of itself and was far removed from the first season's charm and intelligence. This malcontent, coupled with ABC changing its timeslot over a number of occasions, led to a huge drop in ratings and, on February 15, 1991, ABC announced that the show had been put in "indefinite hiatus"--a move which usually leads to cancellation.

This wasn't quite the end, though, as there was still large enough interest in the show for fans to begin their own letter-writing campaign, dubbed C.O.O.P (Coalition Opposed to Offing Peaks). The campaign was a huge success and ABC agreed to another six episodes (to finish the season).

With the creators knowing this was possibly the end for the show, they made a last ditch effort to revitalise it. Agent Cooper was given a love interest, the 18 year-old Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) (with no objections from Kyle MacLachlan this time around). With the season finale they hoped to spark more interest in the show with a dramatic cliffhanger ending (the same way the previous season had). Unfortunately it did not boost interest sufficiently and the show was not renewed for a third season leaving fans with a completely unresolved storyline that would continue to be debated on fan websites to this day.

Later, David Lynch, having been long unhappy with ABC's "meddling" during the second season, sold the whole show to Bravo for a small sum, finally taking it from their hands. Bravo began airing the show from scratch again, but even with David Lynch shooting special 'Log Lady introductions' for each episode, it never caught the public interest the way it did the first time around.


David Lynch was not quite finished with Twin Peaks, though, and in 1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the Twin Peaks motion picture, was released to eager fans. It focused on the subject David Lynch had initially been interested in: the story of Laura Palmer. The film was a prequel to Twin Peaks, showing Laura's murder and the events immediately preceding it. Unfortunately many people, both fans of the series and critics, were disappointed by the film, which was more disturbing and less humorous than the series and did not resolve the cliffhanger ending of season two. Another large complaint at the time was its incomprehensibility to those who were not familiar with the series.

In time, Fire Walk With Me has become more accepted, especially by fans, but also more surprisingly by critics who have come to appreciate its merits.

Twin Peaks' legacy can be seen in the slew of "quirky" TV shows that followed it, such as Northern Exposure, Wild Palms, Eerie, Indiana, Picket Fences and Carnivàle.

Series plot summary

Template:Spoiler The body of Laura Palmer, homecoming queen and the town's most popular girl, is discovered wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell. The news is relayed to the town's residents, who react in various ways. Meanwhile, across the state line a second girl, Ronette Pulaski, is found walking in a catatonic state along the railroad tracks. Since, apparently a crime was committed that crossed state lines, the FBI is alerted and Special Agent Dale Cooper arrives to investigate. Cooper's initial examination of Laura's body reveals the typed letter 'R' inserted under her fingernail. He recognises this as the "calling card" of a killer who took the life of Teresa Banks a year earlier in the nearby town of Deer Meadow.

Cooper quickly establishes that Laura's character and relationships are not as they first appear, and that she's far from the wholesome homecoming queen that the town knew her as. Laura had been two-timing her boyfriend Bobby Briggs with the biker James Hurley, a situation known to Laura's best friend Donna Hayward. Cooper also finds traces of cocaine in Laura's diary, a habit she shared with Bobby.

Cooper is staying at the hotel owned by the Horne family. Audrey Horne develops a crush on Cooper and when he traces Laura's cocaine usage to a club called 'One-Eyed Jacks' she infiltrates it for him. It is revealed that Laura had also been working as a prostitute sometimes based at the club. Cooper has a dream in which he visits the Red Room, where he meets the Man from Another Place as well as the trapped spirit of Laura Palmer, who whispers into his ear the name of her killer. However, when he awakes, Cooper is unable to remember the name.

The information that Cooper has gained from psychic and observed means leads him to a number of suspects, but he knows that finding Laura's secret diary holds the key. This diary is held by Harold Smith, who was one of Laura's confidants. The secret diary reveals that from a very early age Laura was abused by a character called Bob, and that her use of drugs and sex are the means she has utilized to escape from Bob.

As Cooper delves deeper into the sordid secret life of Laura Palmer he comes across a one armed man who reveals that Bob is an old drinking buddy of his who spouted poetry and engaged in various criminal activities. The Bob he knew, however, is long since dead.

Maddie Ferguson, who is Laura's cousin and her spitting image, arrives to stay with Laura's parents. Both of them at times confuse Maddie with Laura. Maddie also becomes obsessed with finding Laura's killer and discovers that it is none other than Leland Palmer, Laura's father. Leland kills Maddie, but is apprehended by Dale Cooper, who realises that Leland has been possessed by Bob who is in fact an evil spirit. Leland smashes his own head against the wall of his cell and in his dying moment his soul is restored.

Cooper stays in Twin Peaks for a while longer. Before long he is playing a deadly game of chess with his old mentor Windom Earle; Earle has gone mad and wants to play with Cooper's mind, not least because Cooper had an affair with his wife. Cooper gets involved in a drug bust gone wrong (with David Duchovny as a transvestite DEA agent) and temporarily is suspended from the FBI. He continues to try to track down the origins of Bob and the mysteries of the woods surrounding Twin Peaks. And he falls in love with a new girl in town, Annie Blackburn.

When Annie wins the Miss Twin Peaks contest, Windom Earle kidnaps her and takes her to the Black Lodge, a mystical other-dimension in the woods of which the Red Room is a part. Cooper follows, and has a series of bizarre encounters. As the series closes, it seems Cooper, unknown to those around him, has also become possessed by Bob.


Composer Angelo Badalamenti, a frequent contributor to Lynch projects, scored the series and provides the leitmotif "Laura's Theme", the famous title theme and other evocative pieces to the soundtrack. A handful of the motifs were borrowed from the Julee Cruise album "Floating Into the Night", which was written in large part by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch, and was released in 1989. The song "Falling" (sans vocals) became the theme to the show, and the songs "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart", "Into the Night", found in their full versions on the album, were used elsewhere during the show's run.

Variant versions and video releases

The pilot episode, first screened on TV in the US, was also released theatrically in Europe as a stand-alone story. The European version is 20 minutes longer than the TV pilot with a different ending added to bring closure to the story (see below the spoiler warning for details). Much of this additional footage was incorporated into the second episode of the regular series -- that is, the third episode shown in the U.S. including the Pilot.

After the TV series ended, Lynch made a prequel movie, Fire Walk With Me, co-written with Robert Engels (a writer from the series).

In September 2002, the first season (episodes 1-7) of Twin Peaks was released as a DVD box set. The box set was noted for being the first TV show to have its audio track redone in DTS. The set was heavily criticized for not including the key pilot episode, which could not be included due to the fact Lynch sold the rights to it to another company in order to facilitate its release theatrically. The pilot episode is included in the box set released in Europe, but as of late 2004 it is not yet known whether the televised version of the pilot (which ties in with the rest of the series) will ever be released to DVD in North America, or if the version released there will be the theatrical version.

The second season is due to be released worldwide by Paramount. It has so far been postponed three times, from September 2004, to early 2005, to September 2005, to early 2006, which is the date at present. Complicating the process was the sale of Republic Pictures, the successor-in-interest to Worldvision Enterprises (the series' former distributor) and which currently holds ancilliary rights in the U.S., to Paramount/Viacom in 1998. However, the video rights are now in transition. The first season was released to DVD on Artisan Entertainment, the video licensee for Republic, but Artisan/Lions Gate's rights expired in September 2005, after which Paramount assumed all rights to Twin Peaks, thus opening the door for a Season Two release on DVD. Domestic rights to the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me film are owned by Time Warner's New Line Cinema division, and is available on video and DVD through New Line.

Template:Spoiler The European version of the pilot film wraps up the story by showing Mike, the one-armed man, shooting Bob who admits to the murder. Most of the supernatural aspects of the story are toned down or eliminated. The scene in the Red Room where Cooper visits the Little Man From Another Place and his cousin who looks exactly like Laura Palmer was originally shot for this film. Lynch was so happy with the material that he incorporated it into the series as a dream Cooper has about the case.


Many books have been written from or about the television show Twin Peaks. During the show's second season, Pocket Books released three official tie-in books, each authored by the show's creators (or their family) which offer a wealth of backstory. These three books are:

  • The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes (ISBN 0330272802), 1991: written by Mark Frost's son, Scott Frost. A collection of transcripts from Agent Dale Cooper's audio tapes, from his childhood to the day he is assigned to Laura Palmer's murder. The book includes Dale's family, his first stumbles with love, his obsession with the FBI and explores the relationship between himself, Windom Earle and Earle's wife. Many of these tape transcripts are dictated to "Diane", though a later tape states that Cooper enjoys the thought of Diane listening to his tapes so much that he will address all tapes to her, whether she will ever listen to them or not.
  • The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (ISBN 0330272292), written by David Lynch's daughter Jennifer Lynch in 1990. Lynch paints a haunting portrait of an abused teen's double life, falling into a world of prostitution and drug abuse while maintaining the status quo as homecoming queen and high school student. The book fits neatly into the show's continuity and fleshes out the character of Bob and Laura's relationships with her father.
  • Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town (ISBN 0671743996), 1991, is the most lighthearted and humorous of the books. It's a parody of a traveller's guide book, as published by the Twin Peaks Chamber of Commerce. Inside fans can find anything from a history of the Native Americans around the area to a list of songs on the jukebox in the Double R Diner. A double-page ad in the middle stars David Lynch and Mark Frost as brothers "Tim and Tom", who offer a "Taxi-Dermy" service: A blind David Lynch (Tim) will drive you anywhere within the Twin Peaks city limits, while Mark Frost (Tom) will stuff and mount any fish or game up to the size of a bear.


Grouping Name Description Played by
The FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper Investigates Laura's death Kyle MacLachlan
Albert Rosenfield Abrasive forensics expert Miguel Ferrer
Chief Gordon Cole Cooper's stone-deaf boss, shouts all the time David Lynch
Diane Cooper's never-seen secretary ? (never seen or heard)
Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department Sheriff Harry S. Truman Lover of Josie Packard Michael Ontkean
Deputy Andy Brennan Dorky sidekick, lover(!) of Lucy Harry Goaz
Deputy Hawk, Tommy Hill Tracker Michael Horse
Lucy Moran Ditzy receptionist Kimmy Robertson
The Sawmill Josie Packard Widowed sawmill owner, lover of Sheriff Truman Joan Chen
Catherine Packard Martell Scheming with lover Ben Horne to burn the mill Piper Laurie
Pete Martell Long-suffering husband of Catherine Jack Nance
The Palmers Leland Palmer Laura's father Ray Wise
Sarah Palmer Laura's psychic mother Grace Zabriskie
Laura Palmer Murder victim, connected to almost everyone in town Sheryl Lee
Maddie Ferguson Laura's cousin Sheryl Lee
The Johnsons Leo Johnson Brutish trucker, drug-runner, had sexual relationships with Laura Palmer Eric Da Re
Shelly Johnson Wife of Leo, lover of Bobby Briggs Mädchen Amick
The Briggses Major Garland Briggs Air Force officer involved in Project Blue Book Don S. Davis
Betty Briggs Unassuming wife and mother Charlotte Stewart
Bobby Briggs Rebellious teenager, boyfriend of Laura Palmer, lover of Shelly Johnson Dana Ashbrook
The Hornes Benjamin Horne Wealthy businessman, owns hotel, department store Richard Beymer
Jerry Horne Ben's playboy brother David Patrick Kelly
Sylvia Horne Ben's constantly angry wife Jan D'Arcy
Audrey Horne Ben's sultry teenage daughter Sherilyn Fenn
Johnny Horne Ben's mentally handicapped son, tutored by Laura Robert Bauer III
The Haywards Doc Hayward Coroner, performs autopsy on Laura Palmer Warren Frost
Eileen Hayward His wife Mary Jo Deschanel
Donna Hayward Laura's best friend, lover of James Hurley Lara Flynn Boyle
Harriet Hayward Donna's younger sister Jessica Wallenfels
Gersten Hayward Donna's youngest sister Alicia Witt
The Hurleys Big Ed Hurley Gas stop owner, lover of Norma Jennings Everett McGill
Nadine Hurley Ed's drape-obsessed wife Wendy Robie
James Hurley Ed's nephew, secret love of Laura Palmer, lover of Donna Hayward James Marshall
The Jenningses Norma Jennings Diner owner, lover of Big Ed Hurley, organiser of meals on wheels with Laura Palmer Peggy Lipton
Hank Jennings Her husband, paroled criminal, conspirator with Josie Packard Chris Mulkey
Annie Blackburn Younger sister of Norma, an ex-nun with a troubled past Heather Graham
The Renaults Jacques Renault Canadian, croupier, drug-runner, had sexual relationship with Laura Palmer Walter Olkewicz
Jean Renault Criminal brother Michael Parks
Bernard Renault Murdered brother Clay Wilcox
Others Dr Lawrence Jacoby Psychiatrist, therapist of Laura Palmer Russ Tamblyn
Blackie O'Reilly Brothel madame Victoria Catlin
Harold Smith Agoraphobic horticulturist, Laura's friend Lenny Von Dohlen
Margaret Lanterman The Log Lady, mystic, widow who divines through her ubiquitous log Catherine E. Coulson
Denise/Denis Bryson Cross-dressing DEA Agent who investigates drug allegations against Dale Cooper David Duchovny
Dick Tremayne Pretentious employee of Men's Department at Horne's, ex-lover of Lucy. Ian Buchanan
Windom Earle Psychopathic ex-partner of Cooper, desires the powers of the Lodges, Kenneth Welsh
The People from the Lodges The Man From Another Place Enigmatic dwarf Michael J. Anderson
The Giant A giant who helps Cooper Carel Struycken
Phillip Michael Gerard AKA Mike, the one-armed man. A shoe-salesman who also acts as host for Mike, who is a good (reformed) spirit. Al Strobel
Bob malevolent presence who haunts Laura Frank Silva
Mrs. Tremond / Chalfont Messenger from Lodge with nephew - Pierre (who knows of BOB). Intentions unknown. Frances Bay

References to other works

There are several references to the 1944 movie Laura, both explcitly through shared names and implicitly through the plot. Some examples follow

  • Laura Hunt in the movie is thought to have been murdered in the doorway of her apartment, but reappears midway through, having let her apartment to a friend named Diane who was the actual victim. Since the victim's face was destroyed, the body in the apartment was misidentified. The character of Diane is only mentioned, never seen. In Twin Peaks Laura Palmer is in fact murdered, but midway through the series her cousin and double Maddie appears. Diane is the unseen secretary to FBI Chief Gordon Cole.
  • Despite her high-society lifestyle, Laura Hunt in the movie is really a 20th century courtesan, who owes her position to relationships with men, especially Waldo Lydecker. The movie producers referred to the character specifically as a whore. Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks is promiscuous and indulges in deviant sexual behavior.
  • Waldo Lydecker is the murderer in the movie. In Twin Peaks the Lydecker Animal Clinic is where the investigators find the one-armed man, Mike. Additionally, "Twin Peaks" features a talking-bird named Waldo, who provides information on the night Laura Palmer was killed.
  • Waldo Lydecker is a father figure to Laura Hunt in the movie, but attempts to kill her out of jealousy. Laura Palmer is killed by her father.
  • Jacoby is a painter and sometime lover of Laura in the movie. He painted the portrait of her which obsesses various men, just as the photo of Laura Palmer features so prominently in Twin Peaks. The TV series has the psychiatrist, Lawrence Jacoby.
  • In the movie Det. McPherson bizarrely plays with a hand-held ball-bearing game that features a baseball diamond, claiming it helps him think. In Twin Peaks Agent Cooper uses baseball pitching as a divining tool.


  • The musician Moby used "Laura Palmer's Theme" as the basis for his track "Go".
  • Marilyn Manson titled a song on their Portrait of an American Family album “Wrapped in Plastic”, apparently after a line of Pete Martell's in the first minutes of the pilot. The track itself appears to have a sample of Laura Palmer’s scream from episode 29
  • Australian DIY avant-pop star Talkshow Boy has a song with lyrics inspired by Twin Peaks. Entitled "Black Logic (VHS Version)", Talkshow Boy maintains that song was written whilst 'stuck' in the fictional Black Lodge.
  • The series launched the careers of a number of actors, including Kyle MacLachlan, Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn.
  • A number of actors from Twin Peaks had roles in the short lived 1992 Lynch / Frost TV series On the Air about a 1950's live television show. Seven episodes were produced while only three aired in the US.
  • A number of principal and minor actors from Twin Peaks also had small (but memorable) roles on the sitcom Seinfeld:
  • Several of the actors from Twin Peaks appeared on The X-Files:
  • A number of Twin Peaks actors appeared on Dawson's Creek:
    • Madchen Amick, Shelly, played Nicole Kennedy, Dawson's critical film teacher who also dates his father, in three Season 2 episodes.
    • Sherilyn Fenn, Audrey, was Alex Pearl, Pacey's temptuous boss in three Season 5 episodes.
    • Ray Wise, Leland Palmer, had a small role at the end of Season 6.
    • Dana Ashbrook, Bobby, played Rich Rinoldi, Pacey's smarmmy "boiler room" boss in nine Season 6 episodes.
  • One of the major influences on the Konami video game series Silent Hill was Twin Peaks. The opening theme tune to the first game on PSOne has very noticeable similarities to "Laura Palmer's Theme", and Silent Hill 2 available on PS2 and Xbox contains not only a character called Laura, but the opening theme music is listed as "Theme of Laura" on the original soundtrack. The Silent Hill series also touches on paranormal and supernatural themes, not unlike Twin Peaks.
  • Special Agent Dale Cooper's middle name is Bartholomew.
  • The name of Dale Cooper might have been inspired by the mysterious 'D.B. Cooper' who, in 1971, high-jacked an airliner leaving Seattle and jumped from the plane with $200,000 dollars strapped to his chest, never to be seen again.
  • The Log Lady's husband died fighting a forest fire.
  • The two mountains in Twin Peaks are called Whitetail and Blue Pine.
  • Laura Palmer's prom date was Bobby Briggs.
  • The Twin Peaks High School mascot is a Steeplejack (stated in Second Season, Episode 9).
  • The Simpsons featured Twin Peaks in a show highlighting Bart's young childhood. Homer was watching as Dale Cooper remarked "That's some damn fine coffee you got here in Twin Peaks...and damn good cherry pie." Cooper was then shown waltzing with a horse, under a tree with a traffic light hanging from a branch. Although Homer announced that it was "brilliant," he confessed momentarily afterward: "I have absolutely NO idea what's going on."
  • In the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Simpsons episode, Chief Wiggum has a dream that resembles Dale Cooper's dream in which Lisa talks backwards to reveal clues. The chief awakens from his dream with his hair shaped like Dale Cooper's.

See also

External links



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