HTF Review: Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition

JustinCleveland

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Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Collection

Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS Video
Year: Released 2007, Broadcast 1990-1991
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 25hrs 1 min mins
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Spanish Mono, Brazilian Portuguese Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
MSRP: $99.99

Release Date: October 30, 2007
Review Date: November 12, 2007

A clever and quirky television offering from acclaimed director David Lynch, “Twin Peaks” is a show dedicated to finding the truth behind the seemingly senseless murder of “All American Girl” Laura Palmer. Following FBI Special Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLaughlan) and a host of quirky characters through a town with more secrets than can be told, “Twin Peaks” brought a sense of artistry to serialized television. Littered with Lynch-ian sensibilities, “Twin Peaks” is definitely something different. Thankfully it is pretty good, too. This Gold Box collection pulls together an amazing audio/video presentation for all 30 episodes from the series original broadcast run—along with two flavors of pilot—resulting in a pleasing set for fans and newcomers alike.

To synopsize “Twin Peaks” is simple. It is the story of a small town—though 51,000 is sizable by most reckonings—shattered by the seemingly senseless murder of one of its favorite daughters. The resulting investigation uncovers the city’s seedy underbelly of drugs, sex, and violence. The charms of “Twin Peaks” come largely from the understated and contrasting over-the-top performances of corny, oft-illogical dialogue which betrays, I feel, Lynch’s true purpose with “Twin Peaks.” Going into a discussion of the particulars of what makes the show interesting would, I feel, spoil a lot of the surprises that it holds in store for its viewers, nor would a simple summary do this program justice. Suffice to say I, who had never before this review seen the show, was entranced by the program’s odd charms.

I believe that, in making this program, David Lynch was doing more than constructing a twisted mystery. “Twin Peaks,” at its heart, is a commentary about the death of innocence and a commentary about the state of contemporary television. Purity—such as “I Love Lucy,” or “Leave it to Beaver”—has been killed, replaced by a crass, course, and vulgar type of program—such as “Dallas”—more reminiscent of trashy soap operas than traditional prime time entertainment. Resultantly “Twin Peaks” plays like a soap opera, going so far as to include sections of a fictional soap opera, “An Invitation to Love,” as part of its narrative, as if to call attention to the ludicrous scenes going on within “Twin Peaks” itself. If we stopped to recognize how silly some of the situations are—such as Laura’s almost identical twin cousin showing up hours after her death to help solve her murder—we would be forced to laugh. By playing up the archetypes Lynch shows how goofy modern television has become.

While the characters are cut from stereotypical patterns, such as the James Dean-esque bad boy with a soft heart James (played by actor James Marshall) or the conniving real estate developer Ben Horne (Richard Breymer), they are flawed in such odd ways that you can’t help but laugh, despite the seriousness of the general situation. Case in point, lifelong resident Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill). After high school, when his sweetheart cheated on him, Ed had a fling with Nadine (Wendy Robie), the mousey girl who nobody ever noticed. And on that date… he shot out her eye with a bb gun. Convention would have Ed impregnating the girl and staying with her out of guilt. As is routine in the series, Lynch takes a left turn into the ridiculous. This style can leave the viewer scratching their head—fortunately it more often than not it works by forcing the audience to examine their underlying presuppositions.

Sorry, slipped back into graduate school for a second there. David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” will have that effect on you. At its face a mere farce that skewers logic in favor of a New Age FBI agent who loves coffee and pie, a bumbling Good Ol’ Boy sheriff’s department, and a soap operatic town where everyone is engaged in a sexual affair, “Twin Peaks” is enjoyable at prima fascia, however those who are seeking a deeper experience will be thoroughly entertained.

When the final episodes were drawing to a close, I felt a sense of sadness overwhelm me. I had spent two or three hours a night with this community for over a week. When it was all said and done, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear friend. “Twin Peaks” quickly grew on me, and I will miss getting to see this fascinating crew.

Quirky, thrilling, a little scary, and completely entertaining, I can easily recommend “Twin Peaks.”

Video:
Unlike the recent “Adventures of Young Indiana Jones,”—yes, I’m stirring up that hornet’s nest again—the video quality on this CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment release is largely gorgeous. Presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, this program has never looked better. Colors are deep and lush, there are few if any artifacts marring the print, and fine details are easily discernible. There is a new transfer for the first dozen episodes, not merely a port of the previous Artisan set. About the only negative I noticed was in dark scenes when blacks would crush out any details, and a few (three that I recall) shots go soft for whatever reason. On par, however, this transfer is excellent.

Audio:
There are two flavors of audio for English-speaking audiences: the original 2.0 stereo track and an expanded 5.1 Dolby Digital track. I primarily listened to the 2.0 mix to get a feel for the original program, but found the 5.1 perfectly serviceable, expanding the sound out through the main speakers and plugging music cues into the rears, with little discrete detail (though none was expected). The 2.0 track works nicely, clearly bringing across the haunting melodies composed by Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise. Dialogue is crystal clear, without a hint of limitation or strain.

Tangentially, the music cues are another piece of support for my contention that this show is designed to make you think. So odd and awkward, at times is the music, that you can’t help but wonder what it is all about. And when themes begin overlapping, swelling inappropriately, and repeating… well, you get the idea. I’m usually the first to criticize Lynch for his experimental filmmaking techniques, but when restrained it is with “Twin Peaks,” I think he hits pay dirt. Anyway, back to the review.

Extras:
Remember at the beginning of this review when I said that this gigantic, expensive box was incomplete? Well this is what I’m talking about: The extras. Lost have we the individual episode commentaries and (I’m told) some of the deleted scenes from previous generations, but we have gained the pilot and the brief introductions from the oddly prescient “Log Lady,” cryptic summations of previous episodes and forecasts of what is to come, pieces that were attached to the syndicated versions of the show. They are in rough shape, but completists will be glad to have them included. I stopped watching them after about three episodes, just because they aren’t needed if you’re watching the show consecutively.

Similarly the international cut of the TP pilot is included here, with a new ending that provides a sense of closure, making the pilot into a somewhat-complete film. Obviously this should be saved until after the viewer has experienced the show in its entirety, lest you be somewhat spoiled.

The ninth disc of this set houses the first set of bonus features, including five deleted scenes from various episodes. Included without context or reference, they are still nice to see. The quality varies from mediocre to poor; a preview slide informs the viewer that retaining any deleted scenes from this era is rare and the quality of these reflects tradition.

The bulk of the extra features are contained within the tenth and final disc, including the stellar “Secrets from Another Place,” a series of documentaries on various stages of production, from the consummation of the original idea, shooting the pilot, the first season, scoring the show, and the second and final season of “Twin Peaks.” Participants are frank and forthcoming about the show’s successes and failings, which I found refreshing. About the only criticism I can offer is that these pieces feel abbreviated, as though there is more to be said but the producers were constrained by time. It is also interesting to note who is conspicuous by their absence, and not discussed. While this feature is stellar for what it is, it could have been so much more.

“A Slice of Lynch” suffers a similar fate as the previous extra. Lynch is joined by actors Madchen Amick (AKA Shelly, the second-most beautiful member of the cast after Sherilyn Fenn) and Kyle McLaughlin, along with Production Manager John Wentworth (who?) to reminisce. The transitions are abrupt, Wentworth adds little to the discussion, and while it’s nice to see Lynch having a conversation with friends, it feels horribly uncomfortable.

A couple of pieces of McLaughlin’s Saturday Night Live appearance survive here, including his opening monologue which reveals the second season’s secrets, and a skit mocking his seemingly idiosyncratic methodology. They are a nice bonus.

There are also a host of recorded TV promos, including the clues that could be gathered each week by calling a 1-900 number. Production photos and some snapshots of scripts and call sheets round out the promotional section.

Julee Cruze’s music video for the haunting song “Falling” is recorded here, too. But trust me, if you can find it; just get a copy of the show’s soundtrack so you can listen to it over and over again. It is an amazing, powerful song.

Finally, there is a documentary of fandom, “Return to Twin Peaks” which drops in on the organizers of an annual Twin Peaks festival located in the town where the show was set. Visiting familiar landmarks and schmoozing with the cast and crew, you’ll be given the chance to see some of the people who have kept this show alive.

Charles de Lauzirika should be commended for his attention and performance on this set. While not his best work, it’s a tribute to a show that would likely have received little attention elsewhere. This Gold Box is a wonderful collection that should satisfy fans.

Overall:
While the show loses focus half-way through the second season, and the cliffhanger ending has been driving me nuts for the past 24 hours, I can wholeheartedly recommend “Twin Peaks.” This piece of inspired television opened new roads for what serialized programs could be, and is excellent in its own right. Populated by an endearing if unknown cast and littered with chills, thrills, and suspense, “Twin Peaks” is not to be missed.
 

JustinCleveland

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Sorry for the delay on the review, gang. This set is amazing. Short version of the review:

Great show
Amazing presentation
Fine extras
Highly Recommended.
 

Craig Beam

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It should be mentioned that Julee Cruise released two albums back in the early 90's ("Floating into the Night" and "The Voice of Love"), both of which feature her various songs from Twin Peaks, as well as other Lynch projects (Blue Velvet, for example). Both albums were written by Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti, and perfectly capture the various Twin Peaks moods. I've got 'em both and still listen to them quite regularly.
 

JustinCleveland

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A friend gave me a copy of the TP Soundtrack, but I can imagine that Cruze alone would be fantastic, too. Thanks for the heads-up!
 

Bonedwarf

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I remember reading at the time that Julee auditioned for Lynch, and Lynch said he'd only hire her if she quit smoking immediately. She did. Her music also has a remarkable quality in that the quieter you listen to it, the more discernible the lyrics are. Was disappointed that "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" wasn't on the new soundtrack.

Thanks for the review! I avoided reading it until I got my set. Can't wait to get the extras but am watching the whole show through first. No commercials, no stupid station logos on the screen. First time I've seen the show unmolested with any of that crap in 15 years. (And I've only seen it in it's entirety twice.) Sheer bliss!
 

Hollywoodaholic

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Bonedwarf said:
I remember reading at the time that Julee auditioned for Lynch, and Lynch said he'd only hire her if she quit smoking immediately. She did. QUOTE]


Funny, because after listening to her raspy speech on the 4-part documentary, it's obvious she started again.
 

Bonedwarf

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Hollywoodaholic: I remember the cigarette story from when she did PR in England for the theme song. (It made the UK charts.) As an ex-smoker myself, I know how hard it is to stay quit.

Jeff: Yep, it's not on the new CD. Just double checked to make sure I wasn't going mad. (Not listened to it all yet.) That great song is missing. So I shall have to hit up bit torrent to find the song. (And before anyone says anything, downloading in Canada has been ruled legal multiple times by the courts here due to the levies we pay on media that go to the recording industry.)

It is pretty amazing they left the song off. Maybe there's licensing issues or something.
 

Craig Beam

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"Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" is on Julee Cruise's first album ("Floating Into the Night"),which is easy to find (iTunes, Amazon - some dirt-cheap used copies readily available). Trust me, it's an AMAZING album, and any fan of Twin Peaks music NEEDS to own it.
 

Bonedwarf

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It's on iTunes? I'm getting an iPod for Christmas, and while I think that buying music online is kinda stupid (paying almost CD prices for something you don't physically possess), I honestly thought that album was deleted. I remember at the time it came out I could NOT find it anywhere.

At the moment, alongside Twin Peaks, I'm watching Buffy again. I find it interesting comparing the use of music. In Buffy (as well as many other shows) there were episodes where it was "Band of the Week" trying to sell their latest album or whatever. Pretty much universally appearances by bands in TV shows take me right out of my escapism as it's all just a promotion more than anything and smacks you upside the head with reality. Which is why Julee in Twin Peaks is so remarkable. She's such an intrinsic part of the show that it never feels forced in anyway. Even if "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" was there just to promote her album, it doesn't feel out of place.

I'm probably talking crap here, but I'm tired, so there you go.
Off to iTunes...
 

JohnMor

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I just received my set. Can anyone tell me if there is supposed to be a booklet in the pocket? All that came in mine was an envelope of postcards, and I just want to make sure that I'm not missing a list of episodes/air dates or anything. Thanks!
 

Bonedwarf

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Actually iTunes would probably be the better idea, as having looked at it, I already have half the tracks from the album.

And from what I gather, the new boxes turning up at Best Buy etc... The postcards are no longer included. First batch only.
 

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