...with 5 Music Players!
"TWIN PEAKS opened the door for the next evolution of television storytelling, successfully embracing the experimental, the cinematic, and the surreal in a way that forged a path to the kind of storytelling we embrace, expect, and demand in our current age of Peak TV."
-SyFy / Tara Bennett (2020)
"TWIN PEAKS was the most visually striking TV show ever made. And still is."
-Slate / Sam Adams (2020)>
By Tym Stevens.
T W I N
P E A K S
The series TWIN PEAKS, by David Lynch and Mark Frost, turned television into cinema and opened the door for the New Golden Age Of Television. Its impact in popular culture has never ended, continually inspiring waves of movies, shows, books, comics, and games in its style and spirit. Here are two essays connecting them all in chronological order.
Its soundtrack was revolutionary, for television and for cutting edge music globally. Celebrating TWIN PEAKS' resounding effect, here are 5 music players with songs from the show, the music that inspired it, and all the vast range of music that it continues to inspire!
A • TWIN PEAKS and the triumph of quality
B • TWIN PEAKS: Its influence on TV, Film, Books, Comics, Games, Music, and Fashion
- Quality TV, Wave 1: the 1990s
- • Twin Peaks- Fire Walk With Me
- • Festivals
- Quality TV, Wave 2: the 2000s
- • Films
- • Websites
- • Books
- • Comics
- • Games
- • Music
- • Videos
- • Albums
- • Fashion
- Quality TV, Wave 3: the 2010s
- • Twin Peaks: The Return
- • Coffee
1 • TWIN PEAKS: The Soundtracks
2 • TWIN PEAKS: Songs that inspired its sound
3 • FIRE WALK WITH ME: Songs that inspired its sound
4 • TWIN PEAKS: Songs that it inspired
5 • TWIN PEAKS: Songs in the spirit of Twin Peaks
≫ How to enjoy the full TWIN PEAKS experience
(Note: this article will speak generally to avoid spoiling anything for people who haven't seen it yet.)
- A -
T W I N
P E A K S
Triumph of Quality
TWIN PEAKS completely changed television for the better. Along the way it had a massive influence on movies, music, video games, and coffee sales, which continues to the present.
TWIN PEAKS debuted on April 8, 1990, co-created by auteur film director David Lynch and writer Mark Frost. It was a Spring replacement series, with a two-hour pilot and seven episodes. It was so successful that a second season followed for a total of 30 episodes. Perceiving that the audience was dwindling, ABC cancelled it in 1991. Lynch responded with a film follow-up, TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME (FWWM), in 1992.
TWIN PEAKS brought a sophistication to television that it wasn't ready for, but which time has borne out in the best shows since. It coerced TV away from overly glossy cartoons into a more edgy, more surreal, more manic, and more honest maturity. Detracted by dunces, with time its quality has made it a legend and an unassailable classic.
This was borne out when, after decades of continually pervasive influence and the momentum of old and new fans, it came back to resolve old scores. TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, an 18-episode story arc, debuted in 2017 on the Showtime cable network.
This overview will first cover the direct impact of TWIN PEAKS on many areas of pop culture, and then give you five music players of TWIN PEAKS' musical influence.
"It may be the most hauntingly original work ever done for American TV."
-Time magazine / Richard Zoglin (1990)
"A captivating blend of the existential and the pulpy, the surreal and the neo-real, the grim and the farcical."
-Washington Post / Tom Shales (1990)
"Nothing like it has ever been seen on network television.”
-New York Times / John J. O'Connor (1990)
If it was so great, why didn't it last?
The airing of TWIN PEAKS' 2-hour pilot was a ratings smash, watched by a whopping 35 million viewers. The Spring series of eight parts -from the shocking pilot and through seven episodes to the intense season cliffhanger- riveted the world with its adult tone, its cinematic panache, and kinky fun. Set in a remote forest town in Washington, it followed an intuitive FBI agent investigating a murder that reveals the secrets of all connected. The phrase "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" haunted every magazine, ad, and water cooler. Everyone couldn't wait till the Fall season to find out who killed the prom queen.
TWIN PEAKS was a Top 10 show, watched and debated by everyone, celebrated on the covers of most major magazines, which changed the quality standard of the industry like wildfire. It immediately influenced style, creativity, and outlooks. So how did it end up a year later being dismissed by the masses and pigeonholed by historians as a 'cult hit' or a failure?
global cultural phenomenon.
The basic answer is that the TV industry values quantity over quality, ratings over raves. The general audience had ingrained expectations of what a mystery show should do and be. The creators directly ran counter to all conventions as the show progressed, and then many viewers and pundits punished this discomforting innovation by abandoning it steadily across the second season. The network saw less ad revenue and axed the show at the season's end. What shifted so radically in that span?
-Carl, FIRE WALK WITH ME
TWIN PEAKS' spectacularly popular first season played like a murder mystery with soap sidelines and a balance of edge and burlesque. Its style was sharp, its music breezy and surprising, its stars gorgeous, its characters eclectic, its engaging mystery constantly compelling. Perhaps the secret to that appeal was that it seemed like the history of familiar TV shows in a smoothie, whipped up with more invigorating panache. Along the way, the 'eccentric' FBI agent had a really surreal dream once, but nothing to indicate how much more that would mean. In truth, that exception was the very heart of everything important to come, and precisely what would drive so many running back to standard pablum.
Typical rote detective shows solved every crime in 42 minutes with snack breaks built in. This coloring book formula looped continuously across multiple seasons and soothingly implied evil was a person, an action, and a quick penalty. It's no wonder this comfort food didn't prepare anyone for how to digest the eagerly awaited Season 2 premiere of TWIN PEAKS, known at the time as Episode 8 (a.k.a, "May the Giant Be with You"). There was a general assumption, based on nothing other than coddled impatience really, that the killer would be revealed in the opener. Instead, something else happened. David Lynch and Mark Frost had taken the audience's strong support as a sign to really go for it, and they used the first half of the new season to make challenging fine art. Instead of summation, the audience got the subjective as the mystery actually deepened in a multi-lateral new way. Infamously, the first ten minutes of this second season premiere were so surreal and ambiguous the show lost almost all mainstream support in one single swoop.
Which was their mistake and loss... because that's exactly when everything got deep and incredibly interesting. While many fawn for the light purity of the first season, it's actually the middle third of #8 through #16 ("May the Giant Be with You" to "Arbitrary Law") where all the greatness hits its shattering peak. By shifting so bravely from the objective to the subjective, from the mundane to the sophisticated, from artifice to artful, TWIN PEAKS permanently expanded the depth and breadth of television.
ABC responded poorly. The show had averaged around 17 million viewers in its first season, to around 13 million across the second season's first half, to about 10 million in its latter phase. The Big 3 network monopoly at the time considered this low ratings and ABC canceled it. In hindsight, their outlook was clearly blinkered. Only a decade later, as a spectrum of cable networks muscled the 3 networks out of dominance and relevancy, LOST (2004) would be considered a ratings success for ABC having this exact same ratings arc of viewers, which they supported for six seasons to resolution. The upshot and surprising reality of PEAKS' ratings numbers is that the 65% majority of the audience stayed firmly with the show through its entirety, a hardcore who got it and held on to it and ultimately won't let it go away.
Who was the real killer, actually? An impatient public and a squirrelly network.
In the blurt culture of now, every action you make has been snark-attacked on web forums before you've even thought of doing it. So when people casually blurt to you who the series' killer is, and they will... please know that they are actually wrong. That's the surface, but there is far more to it than one person and one act.
TWIN PEAKS does what robo-cop shows can't; it asks the real question, the hard question, of 'What is Evil, and where does it come from?' And it dares to actually sketch out an ambitious answer. This subtext is what many superficial viewers missed entirely, and why the curt dismissal in their cheap blurt is actually as clueless as it is tone-deaf.
Which is to say, TWIN PEAKS is too deep for shallow responses, and too rich not to explore more fully.
Flitwits would have you believe the series was a fad and a failure. But the calcified narratives invented to dismiss TWIN PEAKS don't actually hold up under scrutiny: it was a mass phenomenon and initial ratings smash mis-termed as a 'cult hit' retroactively; the majority of the audience didn't actually abandon it, but stayed with it precisely because of its innovations; and the brave artfulness rejected as 'random excesses' is actually the brilliant crux that ensures its lasting legacy. Despite these truths, the series was systematically written off after its forced conclusion by a dismissive Backlash that, truth be told, only reinforces mediocrity over creativity.
PEAKS had replaced the pantomime ciphers of normal shows with actual unique personalities with tics, obsessions, contradictions, and mistakes. This got written off by media hacks with the timeworn term 'quirky', as if mundanity was the only norm. Whenever some flack uses 'quirky' or 'eccentric' or 'weird' (shudder) to describe interesting characters, -and they still do- it betrays their embrace of banality over the rich and the real.
There's a general view still parroted around in the mainstream press that 'TWIN PEAKS peaked early and fell apart as it went.' Untrue. It peaked in the middle, wandered a little through its last third, then peaked again with the most shocking ending ever televised. Mature viewers who actually followed the full course appreciated this, and with time so did a tidal wave of critically acclaimed shows, music, and academic books, supported by legions of new fans.
Another sad saw often heard is 'the failure of TWIN PEAKS', which argues that the ratings went down as a valid response to an implied quality decline. The show had some interior flaws to work out in its latter days, but the actual failure resides in the general audience's failure to pay attention, and in the media upholding that reflexive impatience. The series rose the quality of television, but the general audience didn't rise to the challenge of the material.
But despite the enforced narrative of 'failure', its triumph remains regardless.
when television became cinema.
TWIN PEAKS invented Prestige TV before anyone even knew what that was. Or would be, as the future would bring quality shows of various genres that had absorbed every one of its innovations. For someone coming in later, it may just seem that TV had always been like this.
The only way to appreciate change is to know before versus after.
Before TWIN PEAKS, conventional shows were shot on videotape in hyper-lit sets or studio backlots with standard blocking, practical shots, filler scores, and perfunctory editing; they were a poor relation to films, reducing innovative trends to a continuous turnover formula of standalone episodes, basic storytelling, and a reinforcement of normative values. After TWIN PEAKS, unconventional series became more cinematic with natural lighting inside or on location with choreographed blocking, artful shots, symphonic or synth scores, and sophisticated editing; they were becoming the new cinema, amplifying film innovations with the added benefit of serial arc depth, novelistic writing, and a refutation of false norms to explore the richer realities of actual life.
This revolution has now become the new standard, and only with perspective is the radical change truly recognized.
For example, a cop show before was Dragnet redux; procedural-bot lawmen grilling cliches for sequential clues until a tidy wrap-up. It was a police sketch of real life without realistic breadth or emotional depth or social complexity. But PEAKS turned this inside out. Bypassing the murder, its pilot lingered instead at a funereal pace on the crushing grief of the town, the slow breaking of each person's hearts, the miasma of confusion and unfairness and accusations. It was the broken pieces after a catastrophe, the shattered lives and facades. Its serial form became a tonal catharsis at half-speed, in scene and action and score.
Where Cop shows were shot like an instruction manual, instead David Lynch, cinematographer Fred Byers, and their editors -Jonathan P. Shaw, Paul Trejo, and Toni Morgan- compiled PEAKS like an emotional collage. Instead of simply relaying plot info, images convey intuitive feels and metaphors. Transition shots cut away from someone's feelings to swaying trees, a rippling brook, hazy mountains, an impassive owl, a slow ceiling fan, a lone stoplight in the night. Where 'Joe Cop' was stoic in typical investigations, Agent Cooper was sensitive, enlightened, and poetic. Like him, the show actually paid attention to the repercussions of tragedy, the fissures of disintegration, the tender grasps at hope. But also, at the same time, the random messiness of life, the awakening through coincidences, the sparking splendor of the ludicrous, the sacred value of sincerity. Hilarious, horrifying, hallowed. Rather than rigid and compartmentalized, the series was fluid and holistic, weaving the textures and subtexts of absurdity, delirium, and the abstract. No longer a plot checklist, but a tone poem. This overwrote the gene code of television storytelling with literacy and cinema; specifically because of this, every sharp show that followed now has PEAKS in the DNA of its technique, even if it is light years different in subject.
This happened because Lynch was an avant-garde filmmaker, unaware of the conventions of television. But TWIN PEAKS is also like it is because Lynch is originally a painter. His juxtapositions of unlike things for tension had just as much to do with Rene Magritte as Fellini, his smeared violence is as much Francis Bacon as Peckinpah, his unnervingly long shots which question perception as akin to Edward Hopper as Kubrick. As a creator, Lynch has instinctual synesthesia; he sees image, sound, movement, light, and pace as one spectrum, an integrated tonal palette from which to paint a feeling. His lens has become a third eye. The scene is not just seen, but sensed. Guided by intuition, he turned the small screen from landscape paintings and head-shots into impressionism and expressionism, from a slideshow of surrender into a montage to experience.
TWIN PEAKS parted the curtain to bring cinematic craft, literary complexity, maturity, ambiguity, surrealism, absurdism, and the subjective to the mass television audience. This directly inspired a next generation of bold creators with new possibilities, and these innovative qualities have become the central strengths in the most critically acclaimed network and cable shows created since.
In that sense, where it matters, TWIN PEAKS is one of the most successful shows of all time.
P E A K S
David Lynch became tied up in making the film Wild At Heart (1990), and wanted to maintain the quality of the series by hiring like-minded film directors in between his appearances.
A strong roster of notable independent creators rotated the director's chair for TWIN PEAKS with their contributions.:
• Tina Rathbone had directed Zelly And Me (1988);
Tim Hunter helmed the corrosive River's Edge (1986);
Graeme Clifford made the doubly Oscar-nominated biopic Francis (1982);
Uli Edel had adapted Selby's brutal novel Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989);
acclaimed actor Diane Keaton directed an episode of PEAKS between films;
James Foley had done At Close Range (1986), the neo-noir After Dark, My Sweet (1990), and then Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (1992);
and Stephen Gyllenhaal made A Killing in a Small Town (1990) and Paris Trout (1991).
Paris Trout; Wonderfalls
• A master of surrealistic farce (Malcolm In The Middle), Todd Holland then directed much of the excellent and deeply underrated series Wonderfalls (2004), which captured the twisted humor and odd surprises of PEAKS. FOX only showed 4 of the 13 episodes, and out of order, before canceling it, but the complete series is now on DVD.
His co-creator Bryan Fuller then did two seasons of Pushing Daisies (2007), about a pie-loving diner and the paranormal which crossed that askew humor of PEAKS with the romantic fable style of Amelie. ABC canceled it, too. Fuller then channeled the hallucinatory edge of TWIN PEAKS through Hannibal (2013) and his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods (2017).
• Lesli Linka Glatter directed suit guys with slick hair again on Mad Men, for which she received one of her four Emmy nominations.
David Lynch and Mark Frost wrote the first season with Harley Peyton and Robert Engels.
• Harley Peyton had screenwritten Less Than Zero (1987), would create the crime show Moon Over Miami (1993), and later wrote for the horror anthology Channel Zero (2016).
• Robert Engels had written for Wiseguy (1987), and would write and produce on Roddenberry's Andromeda (2000).
• In the second season the main quartet were supplemented by four extra contributors:
Jerry Stahl, who would become famous for his addiction memoir "Permanent Midnight" (1995); Barry Pullman would become a TV producer; Scott Frost, who wrote the tie-in novel "The Autobiography of FBI Agent Dale Cooper" and the recent Alex Delillo detective books; and Tricia Brock, who became an in-demand TV director on acclaimed shows like The L Word, Breaking Bad, and Mr. Robot.
Heather Graham; David Duchovny;
Don S. Davis; Carel Struycken; Billy Zane; Miguel Ferrer
The series has a remarkable track list for launching future stars.
• The large cast included stalwart film and TV actors, like Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story), Royal Dano (every TV show), Dan O'Herlihy (Fail Safe), Peggy Lipton and Clarence Williams III (The Mod Squad), Michael Ontkean (The Rookies), Piper Laurie (Carrie), Jack Nance (Eraserhead), David L. Lander (Laverne And Shirley), David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors), and David Warner (Time Bandits). Pop composer Van Dyke Parks made a cameo.
• Headed by breakout star Kyle MacLachlan (Lynch's Blue Velvet, Sex And The City), it launched the careers of new stars like Lara Flynn Boyle (The Practice), Sherilyn Fenn, Joan Chen, Ray Wise, Mädchen Amick, Sheryl Lee (BackBeat), Heather Graham (Boogie Nights), and David Duchovny (The X-Files).
It also gave the calling card to cult genre favorites like Michael Parks, Billy Zane (Titanic), Don S. Davis (Stargate), Carel Struycken (The Addams Family), Chris Mulkey, Grace Zabriskie, Kenneth Welsh (Lodge 49), and Miguel Ferrer (Crossing Jordan, NCIS: Los Angeles).
• Several actors in side roles went on to greater fame after the series, like Alicia Witt, Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives), Ted Raimi, Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live), and Jennifer Aquino.
Family of cast members also became famous later: Peggy Lipton's daughter is Rashida Jones; Caleb and Mary Jo Deschanel's daughters are Emily and Zooey Deschanel; Russ Tamblyn's daughter is Amber Tamblyn; Robyn Lively's sister is Blake Lively. And David's daughter, Jennifer, became a noted author and film director.
The tillers nurtured the soil, and then the harvest began.
"That Gum You Like Is Coming Back In Style…"
-The Man From Another Place
TWIN PEAKS had roots in myriad soils: soaps like Peyton Place; indie nihilism like Rivers Edge; the empathic FBI agents of Harris' Red Dragon and Silence Of The Lambs; and a hell of a lot of late '50s and early '60s pop culture. It added up to a timeless and unique vision unlike anything ever seen. Conspired by Lynch, Frost, Peyton, and Engels, it blended many of their obsessions into a new world that felt comfortingly right and dangerously wrong. Like a combination of ice cream parlor and funeral parlor.
While it flamed brief, it became a wildfire igniting other media to this day.
T W I N
P E A K S :
Its influence on
Film, TV, Games, and Comics
TWIN PEAKS has inspired pop culture continuously to the present. This essay will detail how and what, in chronological order.
The X-Files; Homicide
Quality TV, Wave 1:
The TWIN PEAKS effect is the sudden awareness that television could now embrace cinematic quality and maturity. But its specific and unique qualities also directly set off the cascade of creative dominos that follow in this overview.
This is not about passing resemblances, this is a family tree. Watch how the root branches.
Believe it or not, TWIN PEAKS was already being homaged before it even debuted! The edgy informant series Wiseguy (1987-90) had a bizarre storyline in a small Washington state log town involving murder, madness, and corruption.
Staff writer Robert Engels was also working on the impending first season of PEAKS so the events in the 'Lynchboro' story arc (s.3/ep.60-64) took on a strangely esper edge. Weeks later Lynch and Frost's pilot debuted.
It's a matter of record that Lynch's film acumen and unflinching realism opened the door for a wave of major film directors to follow suit in advancing television*.
*(I could have footnotes and quotes, but this is long enough as it is!)
• Stephen King created the original mini-series Golden Years (1991) for TV in this fertile climate.
• George Lucas' The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992) made some of the most potent anti-war statements ever televised with episodes like "Verdun"; ABC, during the conservative wave accompanying the Gulf War, then moved it all over the schedule and finally canceled it, the same strategy they had used on PEAKS.
• PEAKS was known for its particularly erotic soap edge and was reflected in filmmaker Zalman King's HBO series Red Shoe Diaries (1992), which featured David Duchovny and secret passions unleashed in the wake of tragedy.
• Barry Levinson midwived the stark unflinching drama Homicide: Life On The Streets (1993) which elevated the maturity and depth of all cop shows, and led to its supreme progression, David Simon's The Wire (2002).
• Oliver Stone produced the miniseries Wild Palms (1993).
• Lars von Trier wrote and co-directed the horror miniseries The Kingdom (Denmark, 1994).
• Sam Raimi co-created the small-town horror series American Gothic (1995).
To see the transition in television quality to the new cinematic standard literally happening in midstep, watch the premiere of the Prime Suspect (UK, 1991) series.
A police procedural starring the estimable Helen Mirren as the first female head of a London murder squad, the acclaimed two-parter created by novelist Lynda La Plante was made at the same time as PEAKS' waning last episodes. It has one foot in the past and the other in the future as redefined by Lynch and Frost; it is generally crafted conventionally like UK cop shows from before, with laddish blokes and department intrigue shot in omni-lighting on videotape with functional editing. And yet perverse moments of inspiration abruptly weave throughout, such as complex blocking, overlapping dialogue, an elaborate copter-view shot, and a suspect who shares far too many traits with a certain PEAKS character. (To its extra credit, the show was filmed in widescreen a decade before that became the standard TV aspect ratio.) All future shows would start flexing new legs after Lynch, but here we see one actually putting the first shoes on.
At this point, the TWIN PEAKS effect will become exponential, a series of ripples that transform how successive shows are made. After this, for instance, all procedural cop shows will assimilate the techniques of the series (and The Silence Of The Lambs), becoming a hybrid of formula investigation shows augmented with more cinematic craft and richer storytelling. The focus will often be serial killers, sometimes ritualistic or theatric, sometimes happening in a remote and primal setting, told with an autumnal tone about anguished loved ones and compromised secrets, sober professionalism and inner turmoil, uncanny intuition and dire reveals, conveyed with artful visuals, nervy editing, dirge-ish synth chords, unflinching forensics, moody environment shots, impressionistic dreams, and novelistic chapters.
Let's flash-forward a moment to its fruition. PEAKS will be taught in film schools, and this templates the 21st century murder mystery, sparking a cottage industry of 'psychological thriller' shows on streaming sites under descriptions like 'slow burn', 'dark', 'cerebral', 'unsettling', 'gritty', 'intimate', and 'offbeat'. All of those words are of course the definition of the series, and the seeds that grew the future. When revolutionary techniques are absorbed they always diffuse out through abstraction, and even when these shows aren't clones of PEAKS, they are cousins: from Forbrydelsen (Sweden, 2007) to The Fall (UK/Ireland, 2013), from Happy Valley (UK, 2014) to Bordertown (Finland, 2016), from The Break (Belgium, 2018) to Black Spot (France/Belgium, 2019).
Watch what else develops.
brought to you by Wellbee Snaps!";
On The Air (1992)
Lynch tried again with ABC in his comedy series On the Air (1992).
This show about a '50s live TV variety program going consistently awry took the more slapstick side of PEAKS to amazing extremes. ABC only televised three of the seven episodes before canceling it. A criminal shame, as the glorious unaired finale plays like a jaw-dropping collision of Salvador Dali and Busby Berkeley!
The cult favorite was released super-briefly on VHS with all the episodes, but remains unavailable on home media or broadcast to this day.
PEAKS had directly changed dramas with its mature edge, but it would also help change comedies across time with its absurdist farce. On the Air's amplification of this anticipated the modern brainy dramedy, a collision of Marx Brothers mayhem, Lucille Ball tangles, and Altman satire. Flashing forward again, this innovative collusion throbs at the core of future acclaimed and successful shows like Ally McBeal (1997), Malcolm In The Middle (2000), Arrested Development (2003), Pushing Daisies (2007), Jane The Virgin (2014), Better Call Saul (2015), Schitt's Creek (2015), Fleabag (UK, 2016), The Good Place (2016), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017), Lodge 49 (2018), and Russian Doll (2019).
Both dramas and comedies became tranformed by the series across three decades. Let's trace how this happened.
TWIN PEAKS was fun and scary. If you cut it in half you got Northern Exposure (1990) and The X-Files (1993).
Which is exactly what the networks did.
• The comedy Northern Exposure was even filmed 15 minutes away from Snoqualmie, Washington, where PEAKS was filmed, and they winked at this deeply on "Russian Flu" (s.1/ep.5). They even have a waitress named Shelly.
• The eerie The X-Files took PEAKS actor David Duchovny himself and the paranormal FBI slant straight from the show. (And so did Men In Black, Fringe, The Middleman, Threshold, Warehouse 13, and Project Blue Book, by extension.)
These two shows personified the new phenomenon: another barometer of how TWIN PEAKS changed television is the concept 'Small Town'.
Before the show, that meant a), rural comedy hijinks like The Andy Griffith Show, or b), soap drama secrets like Peyton Place. These conventions were still prevalent in 1990 in comedies like Evening Shade and night soaps like Falcon Crest, respectively. PEAKS itself even had fun spoofing these tropes with characters like Deputy Andy and the soap opera satire, "Invitation To Love".
But after PEAKS, 'Small Town' came to popularly mean an isolated rustic zone where an event revealed the duplicity of all involved, and perhaps something worse beneath. Saying the title became industry shorthand for the peripheral, and duality, and the bizarre; the sales pitch for new shows went "Twin Peaks with _______". It became cultural shorthand for the innovative, the challenging, and the daring. And if your show was set in a small town from then on, the comparisons inevitably followed.
Immediately in its wake, this new trope kaleidoscoped through '90s shows that grappled to contain it.:
• The young teens investigating the uncanny in remote Eerie, Indiana (1991), a version of the PEAKS outlook for young people.
This foretold similar later shows like Stranger Things, and the cartoons Gravity Falls and Hilda.
• David E. Kelley kicked off his career doing a muggy mainstream swipe of PEAKS with local cops rooting out seriocomic farce in Picket Fences (1992). During the Backlash, the show regrouped into a straighter rural dramedy.
Kelley later did a more accomplished abstraction of small-town secrets and murder adapting Big Little Lies for HBO, in the space between trenchant Altman satire and caustic Flynn thriller.
• Co-created by the unlikely duo of Shaun Cassidy and Sam Raimi, a distinctly King-esque horror permeated the hardscrabble township in the brief series American Gothic (1995).
This forecast later shows like Sleepy Hollow and King's Castle Rock.
• Screenwriter Joss Whedon became a showrunner extraordinaire adapting Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) to the small screen, a smart comedy with small-town high schoolers fighting evils.
Flashing forward again, the Small Town effect redefined by PEAKS continues to the present, from Gilmore Girls to Les Revenants, from The Killing to Fargo, from Broen (The Bridge, Nordic) to Dark (Germany), from Broadchurch to True Detective, from Fortitude to Riverdale.
What Lynch and Frost set in motion has remained a through line followed by other creators.
The cinematic standard.
By example, PEAKS reset the bar for production standards and mature innovation for quality shows of the 1990s.
• In the 'mid-'80s, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) -along with Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and Crime Story- helped transition television to the cinematic, with its film production values, stereo sound, and orchestral scores.
Breaking away from its streamlined comfort however, the edgy successor Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) embraced sociopolitical depth with the innovation of long serial arcs. Its Twilight Zone scenarios, Hitchcock intrigue, and surreal dreams were expressed with film noir lighting, complex framing, and moody atmosphere. This owed more to Lynch's example than to the previous standard.
• Parallel to Homicide, Bochco and Milch's cop drama NYPD Blue (1993) tried to push mainstream TV as close to R-rated reality as it could. Milch went on next create the acclaimed western Deadwood.
• The '90s is also when adult animation subverted the mainstream, with the cutting edge graphics of Æon Flux (1991), the detective noir of Batman: The Animated Series' (1992), and the jazzy Beat cool of Cowboy Bebop (Japan, 1998).
"Drink full, and descend."
The PEAKS DNA, in mood and production, branched out in descendants like:
the creepy hospital in von Trier's miniseries The Kingdom (Danish, 1994);
The Prisoner-meets-Lynch vein of Nowhere Man (1996);
the funereal tone of Millennium (1996), a spin-off from The X-Files;
the early-'60s style and spooky undercurrent of Dark Skies (1996);
and the high school, diner, and strange desert town of Roswell (1999) (which was remade later as Roswell, New Mexico (2019)).
who the shooter is.
Like every cultural phenomenon, TWIN PEAKS became a social pivot point from then on, and it has been referenced or parodied in a countless range of shows and films.:
• From the lesson on binaries on Sesame Street's Twin Beaks" (1991), to period animateds like Darkwing Duck, Scooby Doo, and Jimmy Neutron, to current animateds like Gravity Falls and Hilda; and many more from Greg The Bunny to Torchwood.
• The Simpsons poked fun at PEAKS in a Red Room sequence with Chief Wiggum and Lisa Simpson (s.6,ep.21; 1995). And again when Homer watches PEAKS and says, "Brilliant! I have absolutely no idea what's going on." (s.9,ep.3; 1997).
> Twin Peaks in popular culture
Whether directly -Northern Exposure, The X-Files, Picket Fences- or broadly -Young Indiana Jones, Homicide, Prime Suspect- TWIN PEAKS was still changing television. Like Laura Palmer, an absence defined by the responses of those who loved her, the canceled series was the empty eye in the cultural hurricane it had ignited. This only made its loss more acute to the hardcore fans who longed for it to return.
When David Lynch couldn't find a network to resurrect the show, he went back to his true love. Fans rejoiced in late-'91 when he announced a TWIN PEAKS feature film, co-written with Robert Engels. Everyone expected a continuance of what they'd had before.
FIRE WALK WITH ME
"It is happening again.
It is happening again."
"And TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME is the craziest film in the history of cinema. I have no idea what happened, I have no idea what I saw, all I know is that I left the theater floating six feet above the ground."
-Jacques Rivette, director
If TWIN PEAKS felt like a tipsy party with an undertaste of alcoholism, then TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME (FWWM) (1992) felt like a heroin binge on the wrong side of complete ruin.
The first shot in the film is of a television being smashed to pieces by a sledgehammer. That says it all, for better and worse.
Bitter with ABC and unrestrained by anything, David Lynch channeled his fury through this obtuse and brutal film. While the edge was magnified, the fun side of the series was lost in transition. And fans dying for a resolution for certain outstanding storypoints were frustrated with a prequel that played as an odd parallel to "The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer", the excellent flashback companion book written by Jennifer Lynch.
Adding to this was the attempt to compress five hours worth of footage into half that running time, leading to a dense cut that was difficult to parse without multiple viewings. But the film has earned its own hardcore following over the years on the merits of those perceived faults, making it a cult classic, and an essential piece in understanding the total picture of TWIN PEAKS.
The critical and public response was another matter. If Lynch and PEAKS had ruled the world in 1990, only two years later they were persona non grata. The general public was still pissed over the subjective material of the series they couldn't figure out, and many fans were disheartened by the tone and lack of closure of the film. For the remainder of the decade, a mainstream Backlash locked David (and his writer/director daughter, Jennifer) out on all sides.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Regardless, he stayed with his intuitions. With TWIN PEAKS, Lynch had steadfastly shown that he would follow his instincts over what the public expected. With FWWM, Lynch then showed he would also follow his instincts over what the most hardcore fans expected. This was a hard lesson to many and caused factionalism in the faithful. Later, Frost and he would do this yet again with the denuded and extreme PEAKS: The Return.
It's often said of visionaries that they are ahead of their time. In truth, everyone is really just excusing themselves for being too far behind. Through the '90s, the seeds planted by PEAKS slowly came to fruition in the bounty of continuing culture around them, quietly taking over the creative landscape and transforming it over time to a new ecosystem.
Eventually, its influence will be abstracted into virtually everything. And it will return met with open arms.
✭✭ The 'prequel' is meant to be seen
A F T E R
the original two seasons. ✭✭
Please feel free to savor the word AFTER
like warm cherry pie.
The film is a prequel to certain events in the original series, but in very subtle ways, it is also a sequel. (Think, The Godfather II or Better Call Saul.) It generally depends on the viewer having seen the series, so that it can then upend their assumed knowledge of the past while portending the unknown future. Literalists who watch it first are only going to be at a complete loss on both of these subtexts.
Watch it after the first two seasons, not before.
Think of FWWM as a hinge from the original two seasons to its modern return.
After the 'prequel' of FWWM, there was supposed to be a second film (and maybe a third, depending on your source) that would directly sequel the original two seasons. The interweaving of new concepts between these films in this before/after structure was deliberate.
There was also what the film audience didn't see. Lynch had filmed 5 hours of material but had to cut out half of it while compressing the rest for running time. For decades, fans petitioned that these deleted scenes be released on a remastered disc. This happened: the blu-ray of FWWM contains 90 minutes of 'Missing Pieces' that play like an additional parallel film. Watching the released film and then the vital Pieces introduces crucial new ideas that finally played out in the actual sequel, TWIN PEAKS: The Return/ Season 3 (2017): such as dreams, Woodsmen, Jeffries, Judy, Carl, electricity, etc.
Hinge. So again, watch them after the first two seasons, not before.
at the 1992 Twin Peaks Festival.
Two main things were at the heart of what kept TWIN PEAKS alive for the next few decades: the Twin Peaks Festival, and the magazine Wrapped In Plastic.*
*More on the mag in the 'Books' chapter below.
Like all genre phenomenons, it took its precedents from Star Trek. After NBC canceled the innovative series in 1969, legions of hardcore fans kept it alive through the next decade creating new fiction books and by organizing the first conventions. The cons grew exponentially, inventing cosplay and fan networking along the way, generating a cultural momentum that led to the actual return of the series through new films and spin-off series, copious merch, national bestsellers, and ultimately the international media credibility of Comic-Cons.
The premiere of TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) in Snoqualmie, WA, united fans in a way that no one wanted to end.> The resulting Twin Peaks annual fest, run by a relay hand-off of fans from 1993 to 2019, was the New Years Day that kept the fandom resolute.> Guests over the years included actors and creators from the show, and tours took guests to all the local filming sites. In 2009 the separate Twin Peaks UK Festival began in anticipation of the show's 20th Anniversary, and has continued ever since.
The American fan festival ended in 2020 when CBS, the current rights holders, decided to have their own official fest in Memphis to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the show.> Like Star Trek (which they also own), they're able to do so solely because of everything pioneered by the true fandom before them.
The remote mountain hotel in Stephen King's "The Shining" (1977) has a history of strange events, and Lynch is an admirer of Kubrick's 1980 film version. In TWIN PEAKS, Room 315 at The Great Northern Hotel proves to be a crucial crossroads, a space where possibilities align.
Many fans held hope that PEAKS could be resurrected by HBO, a mature cable network without ad sponsor restrictions. David Lynch and Barry Gifford (writer, Wild At Heart) tested the waters with a 90-minute pilot called Hotel Room (1993), an anthology of three separate stories set in various years in the same room. HBO aired it separated as three episodes.
Because of the reactionary post-PEAKS Backlash against Lynch at the time, HBO passed on making an ongoing series. But the anthology feature film Four Rooms (1995) used a similar concept with four Roald Dahl short stories by four directors, including Quintin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Later, as Lynch was resurrecting TWIN PEAKS for Showtime, HBO debuted the Duplass brothers' edgy anthology series Room 104 (2017), telling separate stories across the history of one hotel room set in a remote misty mountain region, for four seasons.
[The 15-second intro theme sounds so much like a minimalist version of the PEAKS theme that you might catch yourself singing, "Falllll-innng...".]
In 2020, J.J. Abrams announced production on Overlook, an anthology maxiseries of six different happenings in the hotel from King's "The Shining". Although HBO had passed over Lynch's idea, this would be the second series that they commissioned based around the same concept.
Lynch himself broke the ice with ABC by creating a new pilot for a series in 1998.
It was originally meant to be a spin-off of PEAKS, a neo-noir in Hollywood starring the character Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). Because of the lingering backlash narrative against that show at the time, it was re-conceived with different characters, though the resonance of the series clearly remained.
ABC reached an impasse that killed it before it could start, and David eventually brainstormed the shot footage into the comeback film Mulholland Drive (2001).
[The scene in the executive meeting where the Suit Guy (Angelo Badalamenti) can't drink even the weakest thing without throwing it up is open to interpretation.]
From now on, notice how ABC keeps blowing it with every new chance at a PEAKS that they get.
And how HBO keeps trying to make up for not resurrecting PEAKS with surrogate Lynch-ian shows.
LOST; Mad Men
Quality TV, Wave 2:
ABC recast their premature ejection of PEAKS with the spin that it was a noble failure. This attitude hampered development and support of sophisticated shows from the major networks for the entire decade following it.
PEAKS was a complex serial unfolding like the chapters of a book, but hampered by a broadcast format that worked against this: a corporate network that depended on mass ratings by quickly churning out episodes for channel surfers. The production grind and studio pressure is most directly responsible for throwing the series askew in its latter half. The outside crush for quantity was the true killer, not the accused quality. In retrospect, it's clear that TWIN PEAKS should have been on the BBC instead of ABC; it was essentially 3 story chapters (Pilot to #7; #8 to 16; #17 to 29) that should have been released in three phases for a sophisticated hardcore audience on a supportive cable network.
But this broadcast model wasn't available to them then after the show was canceled, which forced Lynch to attempt a projected trilogy of films with the ill-fated TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) instead. This didn't work out. Ironically, when he made Hotel Room (1993) for HBO, the press backlash to Lynch was in full swing that year, and because of this toxic environment and general lack of cultural vision, neither the hotel anthology series or a PEAKS return happened. As usual, Lynch was ahead of the curve waiting for folks to catch up.
But eventually progressive TV creatives solved this delivery dilemma by migrating to the adult cable networks. In 1997, HBO got serious about original adult programming with Tom Fontana's R-rated penitentiary series Oz. By 2000 a renaissance of adult shows with cinematic production, complex stories, gritty edge, absurdist humor, actual personalities, unusual settings, and strong writing emerged. This was directly made possible by showrunners who were opened up to cinematic possibilities on television by TWIN PEAKS.
Better Call Saul; Fargo
"Well, I don’t know how to explain this, but as surreal as TWIN PEAKS could be, and as particular as it could be, as it was, it felt more like real life to me than the average hour-long television show."
-David Chase, creator of The Sopranos >
"...one of the ways that TWIN PEAKS impacted me was that it showed me that a TV show can be so many things at once — funny, scary, strange, sexy, melodramatic. It was the definition of unique."
-Damon Lindelof, co-creator of LOST >
"In a single stroke of genius Mark Frost and David Lynch advanced the storytelling art of television by a mile."
-Carlton Cuse, co-creator of LOST >
"I was already out of college when TWIN PEAKS came on, and that was where I became (aware) of what was possible on television."
-Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men >
“I think Lynch and TWIN PEAKS influences everything I do.”
-Bryan Fuller, showrunner of Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, and American Gods
“My influences stretch further back to (Bochco’s) Murder One and David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS.”
-Chris Chibnall, showrunner of Broadchurch
“David (Lynch) is without parallel in our generation, unique, disturbing, brilliant, homey, and very often darkly funny, even hilarious.”
-Jane Campion, film director, showrunner of Top Of The Lake >
“Certainly the mixture — the humor of the police station, the whimsy, the heightened folksiness, obviously is something we deal with on Fargo as well. There's something very horrifying going on, and yet, there's also this very comedic element.”
-Noah Hawley, showrunner of Fargo >
"TWIN PEAKS is the best show on (2017) TV."
-Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot >
The innovative promise of TWIN PEAKS was thus inevitably fulfilled by shows like Chase's The Sopranos, Abrams' Alias, Simon's The Wire, Ryan's The Shield, Whedon's Firefly, Lindelof and Cuse's LOST, Life On Mars (UK), Davies' Queer As Folk, Gilligan's Breaking Bad, Overman's Misfits (UK), Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire, Weiner's Mad Men, Ashford 's Masters Of Sex, Chibnall's Broadchurch (UK), Pizzolatto's True Detective, Gilligan and Gould's Better Call Saul, Esmail’s Mr. Robot, Miller's adaption of The Handmaid's Tale, and Hawley's Fargo and Legion.
They also solved the 'wobble' in PEAKS' latter season by doing shorter-run seasons with fully-planned story arcs, one of the best advancements in TV quality ever made. This allowed them to take care in making each season like they were chaptered parts of a total book. They knew where they were going and fully controlled how to get there, supported by enough audience to sustain the series. This lead to what is currently considered a new Golden Age of Television, created almost entirely outside of the mainstream broadcast network system of the past.
And, completing the circumference of a circle, they thus paved the path for TWIN PEAKS itself to return from limbo later.
The seeds of the TWIN PEAKS Effect blossom in the second decade.
A network may cancel a show regardless of hardcore viewers. But many of those fans grow up to be the next wave of professionals, and their influences return through their work. Across the 00s, many TV shows continued to have the fun or the edge of PEAKS very directly in their DNA.
• The rainy town mystery of The Dead Zone (2002); the 'X-orcist Files' of Miracles (2003); the dark HBO series Carnivale (2003), featuring PEAKS vet Michael Anderson; the oddly deductive FBI agent of Touching Evil (UK or US, 2004); and the interwoven guilt and brutal grit of the Red Riding Trilogy (UK, 2009).
• The hip whimsy and loopy town of Sherman-Palladino's Gilmore Girls (2000), in which a handful of PEAKS actors showed up as in-jokes; the funky characters and bent farce of the western town of Milch's Deadwood (2004); the black humor of Ball's Six Feet Under (2001), Fuller's Dead Like Me (2003), and Dexter (2006); and the non-sequitur zen farce of Milch's John From Cincinnati (2007).
Bizarre happenings in small remote towns wildfired throughout the 2000s. Many pitch meetings must have happened saying, "Twin Peaks with _____".
Examples include the otherworldy villains plaguing Clark Kent in the early Smallville (2001); the alien inversion from Florida swamps in Invasion (2005); the monster-buster duo on Supernatural (2005); the tech freak-outs in Eureka (2006); the swamp gothic of True Blood (2008); and, based on a Stephen King novel, the FBI agent maneuvering the paranormal in Haven (2010).
Fire Walk With Me; The Chris Isaak Show
The musician, steeped in the tradition of Elvis and Roy Orbison, made his breakthrough by association with Lynch. His moody and haunting 1989 ballad "Wicked Game" was used as an instrumental in Lynch's film Wild At Heart (1990), during the zenith of PEAKS' popularity. The attention made the song a Top 10 hit, with a classic noir video directed by Herb Ritts, and has become a standard covered by countless artists, including Mädchen Amick's daughter, Mina Tobias.
When Kyle MacLachlan had limited availability for the FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) prequel film, Chris made his acting debut as fellow FBI Agent Chet Desmond who gets caught up in the beginnings of the mystery. Because of this, he later starred in The Chris Isaak Show (2001) for three seasons on Showtime.
Manhunter: Will Graham / Hannibal Lecter;
Silence: Clarice Starling / Hannibal Lecter;
TWIN PEAKS: Dale Cooper / Windom Earle
Hannibal: Will Graham / Hannibal Lecter;
Mindhunter: Holden Ford / Ed Kemper
The Silence Of The Lambs and TWIN PEAKS are the parents of all Profiler and Serial Killer shows.
But what were the roots of that? In the late-'70s, a trio at the FBI's Quantico headquarters pioneered the concepts of 'psychological profiling' to understand and catch 'serial killers'. The first profiler, John E. Douglas, interviewed mass murderers and learned to intuit their mindset. But to think like a killer, such as the gentlemanly but lethal Ed Kemper, ran the risk of confusing his own ethical balance.
Thriller author Thomas Harris fictionalized the FBI trio in his bestseller "Red Dragon" (1981), amplifiying Douglas as his brilliant but troubled profiler Will Graham, who reverse-engineered murders by an empathic intuition about sociopaths. This ushered the concept of the profiler, the Empathic Detective, into the canon of popular culture. Every Holmes has a Moriarty, and Graham's nemesis is the courtly and serpentine Hannibal Lecter.
The national bestseller led to the stylish neo-noir movie adaptation Manhunter (1986) by Michael Mann, a film director whose cinematic TV shows Miami Vice (1984) and Crime Story (1986) helped set the stage for Lynch and Frost's breakthrough. Now a new screen concept, the intuitive profiler began to ember in shows like the brief UnSub (1989). But it was in TWIN PEAKS' latter second season (1991), pitting the Zen detective Cooper against his sinister nemesis Windom Earle, where the concept caught fire through mainstream screens.
Harris' bestselling 1988 sequel, "The Silence Of The Lambs" (1988), had flipped the concept: instead of empathy about killers, Clarice Starling solved crimes by empathic intuitions about the victims. Eschewing Mann's slick brightness, Jonathan Demme notably filmed The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) grungy and dark like Lynch. The lauded film became a cultural phenomenon because of its breakout villain Hannibal Lecter and won all the Oscars.*
*(Note that Lambs' use of Lynch's style gets only popular acclaim, but the simultaneous Backlash against the actual Lynch will throw PEAKS and FWWM into the flames for the same concepts and accomplishments.)
The branches are aflame, and every profiler and forensics show and film from the '90s onward would now ensue. (more on this below) Later, the confluence of Harris and PEAKS realigned in the hallucinatory fever dream of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal (2013), a prequel TV series about Graham and Lecter inspired specifically by the style of David Lynch.
The actual first FBI profiler, John E. Douglas, wrote a memoir called "Mindhunter" (1996), a pun referencing the 1986 film. Film director David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac) turned it into the moodily cinematic Netflix series Mindhunter (2017), with the surrogate 'Holden Ford' against Kemper. The profiler had come full circle.
Reality, fiction, reality fiction, reaction fealty.
Mann's underrated Manhunter (1986) became a cult classic. Because William Petersen had played the archetypal profiler, Will Graham, he was then cast as the lead in the first C.S.I./Crime Scene Investigation series (2000).
Note how much of the stark forensic realism and deadpan humor of its autopsy scenes root directly from those first seeded in PEAKS, FWWM, and Silence. And then how that root influence branches out into successive Profiler and forensics shows like Cracker (UK, 1993), Profiler (1996), Touching Evil (UK, 1997), all of the C.S.I. spin-offs, Numb3rs (2005), Criminal Minds (2005), the film Mad Detective (Hong Kong, 2007), and on and on.
This will come back around, as Profiler series re-embrace the unique aspects of PEAKS in the 2010s.
Push, Nevada (2002), co-created by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, was almost outrageously outright in its blatant similarities; a '50s-style government agent investigating a labyrinthine mystery in an off-kilter small-town. (He is a perfect synthesis of Kyle MacLachlan and Chris Isaak.) As a publicity stunt to engage viewers, a sweepstakes reward was offered to any viewer who could solve the mystery with the clues unveiled in each episode.
ABC killed it after 7 episodes, though someone did figure it out to win the money.
LOST (2004) is the successful revenge of TWIN PEAKS, without ABC knowing it.
Showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse loved PEAKS. The best way to honor a phenomenon is to do something just as impactful in an unexpected way. Mindful of that show's triumphs (tonal variety, engaging mystery, rich cast) and pitfalls (subjective-phobic viewers, erratic focus), they made sure to always balance the hook with the whole. The first season hooked its huge audience by immersing them in careful character dramas about the island castaways and their surprising pasts, with mystery and edge on the peripheries. People recognized themselves in the people and cared. From that viewer loyalty, they were confident in the second season to build out the locale and the mythos, very gradually dialing in the strange and the beyond in careful pacing across six seasons to unveil the whole picture.
As much as The Sopranos and The Wire, LOST helped launch the New Golden Age Of Television. While some quibblers may split hairs about the pay-off, that solid fact is undebatable. In subject, it was different than PEAKS, but in stylistic spirit it was its child. Still controversial, still a winner forever.
Quality won! And ABC never saw it coming.
The show that often gets credit for hinging the New Golden Age Of Television into full-force is Mad Men (2007). And it needs to be said that this show would not exist without PEAKS.
Saying this about a show focusing on 'Madison Avenue Ad Men' set across the span of the '60s may seem like a stretch. On the surface it seems like an Arthur Miller dramedy tweaked quietly by Robert Altman and shot by Todd Haynes. But the secret is in the craft: pay attention to its matinee idol in suits and slick hair threading an existential crisis, its '60s modernism fetishism, the women deeper than glamour and smarter than any restraint, the psychology and feel of its style rooms, the mercurial emotional tones, the use of style to mesh fractured identities, the grand gestures and fashion voguing, the underlying jazz metronome, the sordid underbelly, the wounded cores. It's not a GQ fantasy, it's a documentary expose.
In style, tone, craft, acclaim, and impact, it is another direct child of PEAKS which wouldn't exist without it. Notably, it was able to be so impactful and last for seven seasons to tell a total story because it had the exact broadcast model that Lynch and Frost lacked in their time: it was on a small cable network with just enough viewers and enormous critical acclaim to sustain it, making only a limited amount of episodes per year in seasons carefully charted out by the Writers Room. This screen revolution becomes the new template for all the Golden Age successes that will follow.
The lesson wasn't lost on Lynch and Frost, who would do just that to return PEAKS in a decade.
Fringe (2008), based on the idea of an FBI squad investigating paranormal cases, wouldn't exist without FIRE WALK WITH ME.
• On TWIN PEAKS' 20th birthday in 2010 they did the episode "Northwest Passage" [the first working title of PEAKS; (Fringe s.02/ep.21)], set in a remote Washington town with references to Snoqualmie and the show galore.This episode presaged the show's grand break into its 'Two Worlds' duality arc.
Ultimately, Fringe bracketed this storyline with another PEAKS-esque episode, "Marionette" (s.3,ep.9), featuring a blond teenage girl who died in April, a weeping Mom with mantlepiece photos, and Peggy's malt shop (the diner owner on PEAKS was played by Peggy Lipton).
• And still more direct references again on "The Firefly" (s.03/e.10), as well as an appearance by Joan Chen herself in "Immortality" (s.03/e.13).
Also on April's 20th anniversary, Happy Town (2010) debuted, bringing a young woman "from Snoqualmie" into a wooded town's murderous secrets. What could have been a PEAKS also-ran instead had plenty going for itself.
So naturally ABC killed it after eight episodes. Yes, the suits who run things have a penchant for consigning good things into oblivion.
A particularly ambitious celebration of PEAKS' 20th anniversary came when the light paranormal show Psych engineered a grand reunion of seven PEAKS actors in a lavish homage called "Dual Spires" (s.5/ep.12; 2010).
Films by Christopher Nolan like Memento and Inception owe a huge nod to Lynch and his dream factory, as do directors like David Cronenberg, Lars von Trier, Tim Burton, David Fincher, the Coen Brothers, Jennifer Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Wes Anderson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Bryan Fuller, and Bi Gan.
Here are some of the roots of Lynch and PEAKS...
For films that directly inspired Lynch, watch:
Ray’s Emak-Bakia (1926); Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera (Russia, 1929);
Cocteau’s The Blood Of A Poet (France, 1930); Fleming’s The Wizard Of Oz (1939); Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life (1946); Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947);
Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950); Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953); Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958);
Harvey’s Carnival Of Souls (1962); Kubrick’s Lolita (1962); Fellini’s 8 1/2 (Italy, 1963); Bergman’s Persona (Sweden, 1966);
Polanski’s Chinatown (1974); Hertzog’s Stroszek (Germany, 1977); Huston’s Wise Blood (1979);
Kubrick’s The Shining (1980).
For TV shows that directly inspired TWIN PEAKS, watch:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955); Peter Gunn (1958); The Twilight Zone (1959); The Fugitive (1963); Peyton Place (1964); The Prisoner (UK, 1967); The Mod Squad (1968); Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976); Moonlighting (1985); Crime Story (1986); Wiseguy (1987).
Other classic films to watch:
Wiene’s The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920); Bunuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andalou (1929);
Lang’s M (Germany, 1931);
Deren’s Meshes Of The Afternoon (Ukraine, 1943); Preminger’s Laura (1944); Hawk’s The Big Sleep (1946); Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus (1949); Reed’s The Third Man (1949);
Dassin’s Night And The City (1950); Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (Japan, 1953); Laughton’s The Night Of The Hunter (1955);
Greville’s Beat Girl (UK, 1960); Franju’s Eyes Without A Face (France, 1960); Welles’ The Trial (1962); Godard’s Alphaville (France, 1965); Antonioni’s Blowup (1966);
the recent reconstruction of Welles’ The Other Side Of The Wind (early-‘70s); Bunuel’s The Phantom Of Liberty (1974); Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock (Australia, 1975); Altman’s 3 Women (1977); Tarkovsky’s Stalker (Russia, 1979);
Kasdan’s Body Heat (1981); the Coen’s Blood Simple (1984); Aronofsky’s adaptation of Requiem For A Dream (2000).
Mulholland Drive; INLAND EMPIRE
Here's a basic Filmography of Lynch's work...
• Eraserhead (1977)
• The Elephant Man (1980)
• Dune (1984)
• Blue Velvet (1986)
• Wild At Heart (1990)
• Twin Peaks (TV, 1990-'91)
• Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
• Lost Highway (1997)
• The Straight Story (1999)
• Mulholland Drive (2001)
• INLAND EMPIRE (2006)
• Twin Peaks: The Return (TV, 2017)
Barton Fink; Pi;
Eyes Wide Shut; Long Day's Journey Into Night
And here are some of the branches of Lynch...
For Lynch-ian movies not by Lynch:
Cronenberg's Videodrome (Canada, 1983), Scorsese's After Hours (1985); Demme's Something Wild (1986) and The Silence Of The Lambs (1991); Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre (1989); Tsukamoto's Tstsuo: Iron Man (1989);
Lyne's Jacob’s Ladder (1990); the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998); Proyas' Dark City (1998); Aronofsky's Pi (1998); Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Gilliam's Tideland (2005); Greg Marcks' 11:14 (2003); Lanthimos' Dogtooth (Greece, 2009);
Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010); Glazer's adaptation of Under The Skin (2013); von Trier's Nymphomaniac (Neth., 2013); Gosling's Lost River (2014); Cosmotos’ Mandy (2018); and Bi Gan's night-noir odyssey Long Day's Journey Into Night (China, 2018).
True Stories; Spider Forest
For a similar taste in Lynch-ian expressionism:
the Jeunet and Caro films Delicatessen (1991) and City Of Lost Children (1995).
• For raiding Lynch actors and themes:
Red Rock West (1993).
• For vibe and scope:
the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy of books and films (late-'2000s); The Red Riding Trilogy (2009) TV miniseries.
For films in the spirit of TWIN PEAKS:
PEAKS' spiritual wilderness is especially acute in The Blair Witch Project (1999), Eli Roth's Cabin Fever (2002), and the American version of The Ring (2002);
its seriocomic town in Byrne's True Stories (1986) and the Coen’s Fargo (1996);
its two-faced town in Oliver Stone's U-Turn (1997);
and its edge and mystery in Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), Jennifer Lynch's undervalued Boxing Helena (1993), Donnie Darko (2001), Christopher Nolan's remake of Insomnia (2002), Spider Forest (Korea, 2004), The X-Files 2: I Want to Believe (2008).
Lynchland / Roland Kermarec
It could be that the ultimate trinity of fan culture are Star Trek, Star Wars, and TWIN PEAKS. The first two are obvious but the third may surprise. In truth, PEAKS joined them as one of the guiding forces in the early Internet that led to fan media takeover of modern popular culture.
The primordial Internetwork of the '80s was a select bandwidth, almost like ultraviolet, that only colleges and the military could access through sectioned PC connections. By 1990, this was first opening up like sunbeams to the public through satellite feeds, commercialization, home PCs, and new tools like a 'web browser'. While PEAKS episodes were airing, college fans with early access were responding in real-time on Usenet niche newsgroups like alt.tv.twin-peaks, dissecting the clues and comparing impressions.>
This would change the game. While the corporate media continually presumed to define the critical narrative on the series, from build-up to Backlash, the college fans stealthily countered them by creating a socially networked forum space with better depth and sharper instincts. So as the mainstream complained the show was too complex or bizarre, the fans relished its sophistication by exploring it with analysis from all angles.>
Meanwhile, 'Cult TV show.' The continued Big Media use of 'cult' to describe/dismiss hardcore fan communities is a reductive misnomer. They are the avant-garde, the cutting edge of insight for the new possible. Because of this they would transform the media by taking it over in the next century.
The future would suture its way across time through fanzines, chat rooms, websites, conventions, and podcasts. By the late-'90s, fan websites like Twin Peaks Studios, Dugpa, and Twin Peaks Online emerged, with global doppelgangers from Germany, Italy, Russia, and Ukraine. The mounting cultural momentum demanding that the series return was accelerated in the '10s by popular and pivotal websites like Pieter Dom's Welcome To Twin Peaks (2011) and Roland Kermarec's Lynchland (France), expanding this impact outward through their social media sites. Willing it into being, that hope arced from fan sites like 25 Years Later to the official Showtime site for the show's 2017 resurrection.
Just as many viewers became filmmakers and showrunners who ushered the new Golden Age Of Television, others became media writers at major mags and papers and online media, an empowered fanbase who now diversified genre coverage with a fan's heart and a pro's chops. Snobs and snarks had been replaced by buffs and aces. Being pop culture literate was now just good business sense, and most major mags and sites would devote entire subsections with extensive ongoing coverage to the series and its Return, such as Entertainment Weekly, Consequence Of Sound, Vulture, Indiewire, The Independent, and Film School Rejects.*
Don't read their articles until after you've watched everything first. Because spoilernet.
From intensive Blog posts to innumerable Podcasts, fandom was the conduit who channeled the impossible to materialize.
Two main things were at the heart of what kept TWIN PEAKS alive for the next few decades: the Twin Peaks Festival, and the magazine Wrapped In Plastic.
Super-fans Craig Miller and John Thorne published an entire indie magazine dedicated to the series named from the TV pilot's opening lines. Published in 75 issues from 1992 to 2005, it contained voluminous essays on the series' meaning and Lynch's various works, interviews with the actors as well as the unsung writers and directors who crafted it, and related news on all involved. Starting as a fanzine that became glossier and sharper over time, the magazine was distributed initially by alternate venues like comic shops and Tower Records, and eventually in national bookstore chains.
If the Twin Peaks Festival was the annual exclamation mark, then 'Wrapped In Plastic' was the ongoing conversation that kept the core of PEAKS fandom engaged and alive. Salute!
'Wrapped In Plastic' eventually succumbed when the internet outpaced it.
But the mantle was picked up by Scott Ryan's Blue Rose magazine in early 2017, available to subscribers in print and digital formats. The quarterly mag interviews cast and creators and authors about all things PEAKS, along with thoughtful essays.
≫ Wrapped In Plastic website
≫ Digital Issues on Amazon
During the original series' zenith, there were ancillary books about the phenomenon.
• "Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town" (1991), sanctioned by the show, was an ersatz guidebook to imaginary tourists visiting the remote logging town.
• "Twin Peaks: Behind The Scenes" (1991), by Mark A. Altman, was a cash-in entertainment book that included valuable insight into the ongoing production of the show.
Reflections; The Politics Of Twin Peaks
The series was an initial critical success, but remained one for the long run in deeply academic circles. The dismissive narrative lipped in flip quips by entertainment industry writers became ultimately outweighed by more considered voices who had plenty more to say about PEAKS' literary depth.
Like the opulently abstract 2001: A Space Odyssey had done for cinema, the richly subjective terrain of TWIN PEAKS has continually been mined in books of critical essays.:
• "Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks" (1994), by David Lavery, which grew out of the issue of 'Literature/ Film Quarterly' examining FIRE WALK WITH ME.
• "Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks" (2014), by Brad Dukes, an overview of the making of the series.
• Articles from the magazine Wrapped In Plastic were distilled into the book, "The Essential Wrapped In Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks" (2016).
• "Between Two Worlds: Perspectives on Twin Peaks" (2016), by H. Perry Horton, with 17 essays from the One Perfect Shot site examining the first series and follow-up film.
• "Angelo Badalamenti's Soundtrack from Twin Peaks (33 1/3)" (2017), by Clare Nina Norelli. As part of the 33 1/3 series of books appreciating classic albums, this appraises the stylistic range, visual alchemy, and cultural impact of the best-selling 1990 soundtrack album.
• "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" (2018), by Lindsay Hallam, a critical reassessment and appreciation for the feature film.
• "Twin Peaks and Philosophy: That's Damn Fine Philosophy!" (2018), by Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene, two philosophers exploring the intrinsic moral issues and meaning of the original series and film.
• "The Politics of Twin Peaks" (2019), edited by Amanda DiPaulo and Jamie Gillies. An array of essays putting the original and the Return series in context with their political times and struggles.
• "Critical Essays on Twin Peaks: The Return" (2019), edited by Antonio Sanna, a massive text with 18 essays assessing the dimensions of the Return series from all angles.
• "Twin Peaks Unwrapped" (2020), edited by Ben Durant and Bryon Kozaczka. Compiled from 200 of their podcasts, this collection of interviews speaks to cast, creators, and fans in a guide through the original series, the film, and the Return.
The PEAKS Effect also spread ripples through fiction books.
• Stephen King's "Needful Things" (1991) has some general thematic parallels, with a small town and a negative force carefully undoing the community.
• Surrealist author Haruki Murakami also has thematic correlations in "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" (1995-'97), a trilogy of tales that retells Orpheus through a postmodern lens.
• Mark Z. Danielewski's experimental metatext "House Of Leaves" (2000) is in the tradition of Joyce and Pynchon, telling its subjective story in rotating layers -a narrative about a thesis about a documentary- questioning what is real while threading the labyrinth of the unknown.
• Gillian Flynn synthesizes the best of Hitchcock and Shirley Jackson with "Sharp Objects" (2006), which examines a small-town murder through revelatory secrets and caustic social satire.
• Just as an array of TV shows took the general setting of PEAKS as a framework to tell other genre stories, so have books. For example, Blake Crouch's "Pines" series (2012) starts with the same premise and changes into others by degrees. The "Welcome To Night Vale" books (2015) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, based on the popular podcast, centers on a southwestern town that becomes a nexus of the possible.
Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes;
Diane: The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper;
The Secret History;
The Final Dossier; Mark Frost
TWIN PEAKS spun-off excellent tie-in books that expanded the backstory of the series:
• The astounding "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer" (1990), by Jennifer Lynch (> reissued book, and new audiobook), a national bestseller and revered cult classic.
Jennifer Lynch became a misunderstood and maligned director in her own right. Her Boxing Helena (1993) was universally lambasted in a concurrent backlash against her father, David; her Surveillance (2008) was criminally overlooked; she retreated to doing a Hindi exploitation movie, Hisss, (a.k.a., Nagin: The Snake Woman) (2010) which veers weirdly between better-than-expected and brilliant; and the harrowing trials of making this film were captured in a documentary called Despite the Gods (2012).
• The proto-audiobook recording, "Diane: The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper" (1990), featured additional dictation recordings with extra clues not shown on the show, performed by Kyle MacLachlan.
• "The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes" (1991), by Scott Frost.
An original novel by Mark Frost's brother and fellow show writer, which details Cooper's life before the series.
• In tandem with the new series, TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, came the books "The Secret History of TWIN PEAKS" (2016) and "TWIN PEAKS: The Final Dossier" (2017) by co-creator Mark Frost.
An audiobook of "The Secret History of TWIN PEAKS" was performed by many of the lead actors of the PEAKS Return series.
Shadows Fall; Pachyderme
The Lynch perspective laces through many of the adult-oriented comics of the early '90s and beyond.
• The outlook and stark organic noir of David McKean's urban meditation "Cages" (1990).
• Daniel Clowes' graphic novel, "Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron" (1993), is very Blue Velvet/PEAKS with its normalcy underwritten by bacchanal and dementia.
• Lynch influence radiates particularly in "Enigma" (1993) published by Vertigo Comics, with its rustic setting, estranged characters, and hallucinatory aspects.
• Another Vertigo series, "Shadows Fall" (1994), deals with inner demons in an expressionist cinema style Lynch would appreciate.
• Greg Ruth's horror series "Sudden Gravity" (1998), drawn in ballpoint pen, administers the sinister in a sanitarium. Its final issue was entitled, "...And As I Leave, the Birds Will Stay, Singing."
• Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic epic "Promethea" (1999), about how reality is constructed from creative dreaming, featured The Man From Another Place on its Sgt. Pepper tribute cover (#10).
• The graphic novel "Black Hole" (2005) by Charles Burns comes from the same dark wilderness as PEAKS, literally: a layered and nonlinear story of fevered dreams, teen love trysts, and murder in the black Washington woods. It was hailed by Time magazine as "the best graphic novel of the year", and "a masterpiece" by the New York Times.
[The book is read in the forest by Maurice the orangutan in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014).]
• The Magritte imagery and Fellini daydreaming of the surreal graphic novel "Pachyderme" by Frédérik Peeters (2009).
• The graphic novel "Nobody" (2009) by Jeff Lemire has been oft compared as 'the Invisible Man goes to Twin Peaks'.
• The maxi-series "Fatale" (2012) by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is parallel to Lynch by combining detective pulps and Film Noir with Lovecraft-ian horror.
TWIN PEAKS has had pervasive influence over the look, style, tone, imagery, settings, and characters of video games.
• "The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening" (1993) was admitted by its creators as being heavily influenced by the show's "suspicious types" approach to its characters.
• "Silent Hill", the video game (1999) and film (2006), are a deliberate homage to PEAKS with easter eggs everywhere, particularly the Welcome sign by the roadway.
• Strong visual, story, and setting influences underline "Mizzurna Falls" (1998), "Deadly Premonition" (2010), "Alan Wake" (2010), "Life is Strange" (2015), "Kathy Rain" (2016), and "Thimbleweed Park" (2017).
• If "Myst" (1993) had evoked Kubrick and Lynch with its odd puzzle rooms, unnerving stillness, and impenetrable mystery, this came full circle with the "TWIN PEAKS VR game" (2019). Virtual Reality users could now wander the labyrinth of the town and, uh, places elsewhere. Say Hi to Chet, if you see him.
> Twin Peaks VR
Fire Walk With Me;
"Outside" (1995), and a few of its characters
TWIN PEAKS was deeply influenced by musicians, and then deeply influenced musicians.
• The '70s ambient synth work of David Bowie and Brian Eno had much impact on TWIN PEAKS' soundtrack. Eno did some music for Lynch's Dune.
Bowie himself has a brief role in FIRE WALK WITH ME. Soon afterward he made a concept album with Eno called "Outside" (1995); a future-noir mystery about the ritual death of the young woman Baby Grace Blue, the diary of the odd agent pursuing the case, and the edgy suspects. This was intended as a trilogy counting down to the millennium, but the project was abandoned with the mystery still unsolved.
• Stars Of The Lid did the pieces "Music For Twin Peaks Episode #30, parts 1 and 2" (1997), which imagined a score for the deeply longed-for resolution episode to the original series. Atmospheric bands with cinematic sense like Tortoise, Deerhunter, and Mt. Eerie have similar PEAKS vibrations through all their work.
• David Lynch is an avowed fan of The Beatles, and has received support for his all-star meditation benefits from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Paul returned the love when he made a remix project with DJ Freelance Hellraiser under the pseudonym Twin Freaks (2005). David winked back with a reference to The Beatles' song "A Day In The Life" in TWIN PEAKS: The Return.
• Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls) had a solo album cheekily called, "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" (2008).
• The hiphop duo Dwellers on the Threshold released "Live from the Black Lodge" with Lynch-themed raps (2015).
• Red Room created the sonic concept album "Laura Palmer" (2017).
• The Black Keys called their album "Let's Rock" (2019), driving home the PEAKS reference with a rocker called "Fire Walk With Me".
• The influential TWIN PEAKS soundtracks by Angelo Badalamenti became such cultural touchstones that they were reissued in vinyl with deluxe packaging.
The late-'80s and early-'90s are an edgy time of rising up and fighting back. When TWIN PEAKS was on the air (1990-'91), Grunge from Seattle and Riot Grrrl from Olympia began shredding the music underground, completely in sonic accord with Lynch's own use of textural noize and emotional discord.
But Angelo Badalamenti's soundtrack album was most often rooted in lounge jazz, rockabilly, moody freejazz, and prom pop. Completely in the spirit of Mancini's Peter Gunn (1958) score, it was all xylophones, jazz snares, walking bass, moody string swells, midnight sax, synth washes, and girl group croons. The top-selling TWIN PEAKS soundtrack may have single-handedly unleashed the sound and success of TripHop music in the mid-'90s. The ingredients remain virtually the same, with its eerie sirens crooning over reverb guitar, cinematic strings, freejazz drum skitters, and abrasion textures.
Disparate acts like Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, Hooverphonic, Barry Adamson, Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps, Mono, Propellorheads, and Violet Indiana were a sonic tonic to guitar assault music, an alternative to the new Alternative, combining cinematic samples with trippy hip hop flourishes and ghostly torch song vocals. The spirit of Badalamenti and Julee Cruise is everywhere, along with the film scores of John Barry, Ennio Morricone, and Lalo Schifrin. This sound echoes today in artists like Lana Del Rey, Flying Lotus, Kandle, Adrian Younge, and particualarly in Unloved's songs used in the Killing Eve soundtrack.
[Barry Adamson later did music for Lynch's film Lost Highway (1997).]
Note also that the PEAKS soundtrack's embrace of timeless sounds predicated the rise of new Lounge, Swing Band, Rockabilly, and Surf bands across the decade. If it's not always the catalyst, it is at least clearly a harbinger.
Across two decades, several dozen musical artists used song titles gleaned from the show, in electronica, doom metal, bliphop, indie, ambient, and hiphop styles: there are two dozen unique uses of "Fire Walk With Me" alone, along with many for Laura Palmer, Agent Cooper, the Black and White Lodges, and even famous lines like "That chewing gum you like is coming back in style", "These things that I tell you", "Wrapped in plastic", "Garmonbozia", and "The owls are not what they seem".
(see Music Player 4.)
Jenny Gabrielsson Mare
Often musicians channel TWIN PEAKS through their videos.
• Anthrax's Lynch-ian video for their ode "The Black Lodge" (1993) was followed by another starring series actor Frank Silva himself.
• The Melissa Auf der Maur video for "Out Of Our Minds" (2010) careens crazy through Lynch's woods.
• Sky Ferreira's song "Night Time, Right Time" (2013) takes its title and many lyrics from words Laura Palmer spoke in FWWM, and the video is filmed in homage to the movie. Lynch repaid this tribute by having Ferreira do a guest part in TWIN PEAKS: The Return (2017).
• Some artists transmit directly from The Red Room itself, such as Silencio with their "Slow Sin Jazz" (2012), Jenny Gabrielsson Mare's "The Black Lodge" (2013), and Ben Khan's "1000" (2015).
• Videos that directly evoke Lynch's style, and elements of PEAKS or FWWM, include:
Bernard + Edith, "Poppy" (2014), Hazel English's "That Thing" (2017), The Holy Knives' "I Guess It's Enough" (2018), Lisa Crawley's "You Got Me" (2018), and Champagne Superchillin's "Amor Fati" (2018).
Some artists do entire albums from TWIN PEAKS country.
• Mt. Eerie live up to their name with the atmospheric albums "Clear Moon" and "Wind's Poem", which sound like Sonic Youth doing the Badalamenti score.
• Silencio says it outright with their "Music Inspired By the Works of David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti" (2012), and its follow-up "She's Bad" (2015), which sound like unreleased PEAKS scores.
• Bookhouse's "Ghostwood" (2013) rewrites the actual series soundtracks with midnight jazz readings that sound like alternate mixes.
• Heroin And Your Veins' album "Nausea" (2013) sounds like an alternate FWWM soundtrack, with addict sax and weary corrosion on titles like "Two Black Dogs" and "The Trainyard".
As do downtempo moodscape albums like Morphine's "Cure For Pain" (1993), Joel Fausto And Illusion Orchestra's "Illusion Orchestra At The Gloomy Club" (2013), Manet's "Dolomiten" (2013), Black Chamber's "Black Chamber" (2016), Bleakhaus' "Northwest Passage" (2019), and Trigg And Gusset's "The Way In" (2020).
A specifically created alternate soundtrack to FWWM is Ghost Of Wood's "Meanwhile" (2020), right down to all the song titles.
• Xui Xui reinterprets the series soundtrack like cut-ups in the trio's experimental covers album "Xiu Xiu Plays The Music of Twin Peaks" (2016).
• Johnny Jewel's "Windswept" (2017) plays so much like an alternate soundtrack that they performed live in the TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN series.
• Daniel Knox's "Half Heart: Songs From Twin Peaks" (2020) reinterprets songs from the first two season's soundtracks and a few from FWWW.
Louise Burns; 'Tim Peaks'
PEAKS' influence can be seen refracted on album covers.
• The Seattle band Soundgarden's "Superunknown" (1994) cover invokes FWWM with its Jumping Man-esque smeared figure and upside-down woods. Their Olympia compatriots Sleater-Kinney channel Magritte on the "The Woods" (2005). Louise Burns abstracts the vibe in her impressionistic cover for "Mellow Drama" (2010).
• Tim Burgess and Bob Stanley, under the name Tim Peaks, compiled moody tracks by mainly English artists as "Songs For A Late-Night Diner" (2019). Their cover is a visual rhyme to the iconic Welcome sign shot on the original series soundtrack.
Peggy Lipton; Joan Chen; Lara Flynn Boyle
TWIN PEAKS was a cultural phenomenon, and its photogenic stars graced the covers of many magazines, including fashion mags.
"That gum you like is going to come back in style", dept.:
Elle (2012), ph/Horst Diekgerdes;
Elle (2013), ph/Carl Bengtsson;
Seattle Met (2016), ph/Brandon Hill
• The costume design of the show itself, principally by Sara Markowitz with additional work by Nancy Konrardy, has been as hailed as its cinematography, music, and set design. In recent years, as new viewers caught up to the series on streaming sites, new fashion shoots homaged the series' designs in magazines like Vice (2010 and 2011), Elle Sweden (2012 and 2013), Portland Monthly (2016), and Seattle Met (2016).
• In the lead-up to the TWIN PEAKS Return series, entire new fashion collections inspired by the original series and film came out from Suckers Apparel (2013), Black Weirdos (Japan, 2014), TitisClothing (Spain, 2014), and MSGM (Italy, 2017).
• New press articles about TWIN PEAKS' lasting fashion impact were published by GQ (2014) of course, the Feminist magazine Bustle (2015), Vogue (2017), Glamour (2017), The Conversation (France, 2017), and The Guardian (UK, 2020).
Legion; Lodge 49
Quality TV, Wave 3:
In 2009 the Danish series Forbrydelsen ('The Crime') followed the murder of a young teen, the toll on her family, and an intuitive detective.
The 2011 American remake The Killing infused clear amounts of PEAKS into the mix: a murder in the Seattle woods, a female body by the river, a distraught family, a moody synth-wash score, and a brazen ad campaign asking "Who killed Rosie Larsen?"
Even the response was the same: critics and viewers loved it until two seasons to find the killer taxed their patience, the network canceled it too abruptly, and a pile-on narrative of failure was echo-chorused by the hacks.
But they were wrong again.
The American show had course-corrected flaws in the Swedish original, with more depth and an alternate ending; the quality had maintained while the audience failed it with impatience. As if no one had learned a damn thing in 20 years.
And in a foreshadowing for the future, the show fought its way back to life for a third season (featuring the actor who played Laura Palmer's mom, no less). It was canceled and then un-canceled again for a fourth final season. Thanks to the cable model, of quality creators, controlled arcs, and hardcore fans, the good guys won.
By the time the 20th anniversary had arrived, the series had made the rounds of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix and become available in DVD box sets. This brought in an increasing swell of new viewers, many of whom may not have been born when the show first aired, but who through word-of-mouth, ratings, and dollars were intensifying attention on the series. At this point the show had become a legendary classic, and its cryptic dream reference to '25 years later' focused a groundswell of demand for the series to return and resolve its outlying mysteries.
With no sign of this happening at that point, other series took it upon themselves to create surrogate realities of that return, starting in 2013.
• Hemlock Grove (2013), the werewolf series set in a small woodlands town, was described by director Eli Roth (Hostel) as "TWIN PEAKS with a monstrous edge".
• The series Bates Motel (a prequel to Psycho), about which co-creator Carlton Cruse (LOST) admitted, "We pretty much ripped off TWIN PEAKS... If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes. I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry [Ehrin] and I thought we'd do the 70 that are missing." (They did make 50.)
• Hannibal, with its unique lead detective and his cryptic dreams. The source book "Red Dragon" (1981) inspired all modern empathic detectives, including Dale Cooper, and this prequel series brought it full circle with its cinematic style, harsh and surreal cases, and dream states. Showrunner Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies) said, ""When I sat down to the script, I was very consciously saying, 'What would David Lynch do with a Hannibal Lecter character?'"
• Top of the Lake, a mystery mini-series by Jane Campion (The Piano), with rustic locations, a missing girl, an edgy father, and an intuitive detective (Elizabeth Moss). Like a New Zealand parallel to The Killing.
(The second season was a much looser Altman tribute.)
• The astounding Rectify, by actor/director Ray McKinnon; a murdered girl, a small town, secret layers, and a mysterious zen lead. The meditative serial played like a southern gothic co-written by Flannery O'Connor and Thomas Pynchon, and its four seasons earned many awards as one of the finest series made. But it wouldn't have happened at all, without the staunch support of the Sundance Channel giving it a home.
True Detective, Season 2;
In 2014, the Fargo series debuted. The Coen brothers have always shared many stylistic hallmarks with Lynch, and this adult cable series by Noah Hawley based on their 1996 film clearly channeled both. The anthology series, with a different era and cast each season, remained thematically consistent: diners, intuitive cops, folksy cordiality, surreal humor, absurdist dialogue, bizarre turnarounds, secret backstories, and evil edginess. The third season (2017) featured an especially enigmatic appearance by PEAKS star Ray Wise.
The homages to TWIN PEAKS continued across various shows, often by high-profile creators.
• In 2012, Guillermo Del Toro (the hallucinatory Pans Labyrinth and Crimson Peak) announced he was developing a mystery series for HBO, based on "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" by Corinne May Botz. Its tales of murder mysteries solved by hand-made dioramas drew comparisons to Hitchcock and Lynch.
(This series hasn't yet materialized.)
• The two-season series Les Revenants (France, 2012) plays like a Stephen King story filmed by Lynch. Set in a remote mountain town, a population still haunted by grief is shocked when departed spirits start to return. The setting, shots, tone, and mixed emotions come directly from PEAKS. Retaining these qualities, it was remade as The Returned (US, 2015) by LOST co-creator Carlton Cuse, but was canceled after one season.
• Alfonso Cuaron (Children Of Men) produced the short-lived series Believe (2014), which featured Kyle MacLachlan as a villain living in a large wooden lodge, often framed by red curtains or seen sipping coffee at a diner.
• Also in 2014, Carel Struyken (the Giant from PEAKS) guest-starred on the FBI procedural The Blacklist as a serial killer in a cabin out in the night woods ("The Mombasa Cartel", s.2, ep.6).
• The HBO mystery anthology True Detective drew comparisons to PEAKS. In its first season (2014), a rural Louisiana mystery leads into hints of occultism, local corruption, ritual murder, and a Southern Gothic finale of deeply-debated ambiguity. The second season (2015) often convened in an L.A. bar where moody music, noir lighting, and a hypnagogic trance state were all-pervasive.
• On yet another HBO series, Damon Lindelof (the other co-creator of LOST) channeled many of his PEAKS influence through the moody and quietly surreal The Leftovers (2014); a small-town sheriff, town intrigue, a disruptive event, mercurial citizens, primal woods. Finding its feet in the ambitious and brave second and third seasons, it specifically channeled Lynch in "International Assassin" (s.2/e.8) and ""The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)" (s.3/e.7).
• You can virtually hear the show pitch on this one: "Twin Peaks in the arctic". (Or "Northern Exposure goes to hell".) Fortitude (2015), a sinister thriller set in the harsh Nordic ice reaches, feels like an alien world... but also oddly familiar: isolated town, capricious residents, a seasoned sheriff, political intrigue, shamanism, aberration. As the strange death toll increases, all normalcy deteriorates and careens askew in a descending spiral of madness that's horrid but hypnotic.
• Starting in 2015, M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) produced two seasons of the series Wayward Pines for Fox, based on the book "Pines" by Blake Crouch. It ran a shell game of genre facades, going from TWIN PEAKS to Nowhere Man to The Prisoner to, well, you name it.
• In 2017 a TV version of Archie comics was reimagined as a murder mystery in a noir town called Riverdale, clearly deliberately based off of TWIN PEAKS. They even cast PEAKS star Mädchen Amick as woman named Cooper!
With shows trying to fulfill some of the promise of a return '25 years later', TWIN PEAKS was everywhere in spirit and in reruns if not in actuality.
"The stars turn,
and the time presents itself."
-The Log Lady, TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
So, after years of Lynch declaring that this was an impossibility and deflecting the subject, it came as an absolute shock to everyone with the announcement on October 6, 2014: that TWIN PEAKS would return, in a new maxi-series for the cable channel Showtime, completely co-written by Mark Frost and David Lynch, with Lynch directing every episode. Nearly the entirety of the cast would reconvene, along with composer Angelo Badalamenti. Initially thought to be 9 episodes, it was later expanded to 18.
After some contract wrangling and reassurances, the radar went silent as the two creators went stealth in the creation of the new show.
On May 21, 2017, TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN premiered to intense media scrutiny and fan anticipation.
The new iteration of TWIN PEAKS shocked everyone alike in new ways; the deep fans with its sober starkness and almost perverse inversions; the newbies with its brutal art and labyrinthine symbolism. It knocked late-kid cynics on their ass while polarizing even the hardcore into factions. The sheer shock of the renewed stunned reviewers enough to place it in most every Top 10 list of the year, including film lists by critics who perceived it as one 18-hour film.
“The Best Show on TV Is TWIN PEAKS: The Return.”
“Who could have guessed that the single best show of the decade would turn out to be a revival?”
“TWIN PEAKS: The Return was the most groundbreaking TV series ever... just as the original TWIN PEAKS inspired visionary showrunners from David Chase to Damon Lindelof to create the New Golden Age, the show’s revived third season may have leapfrogged them all.”
“Weird and weirdly wonderful, David Lynch’s maximalist reboot was smarter, funnier, stranger and more perplexing that anything else on TV.”
“The best film of the decade.”
-Cahiers du Cinéma
“Best films of 2017: David Lynch’s epic, mind-altering anti-detective TV series gave us exactly what we expected, by giving us nothing that we expected.”
“I loved TWIN PEAKS (2017). I wish more shows were as bold as that.”
-Alfonso Cuaron, director
“A real work of incredible beauty... a masterwork.”
-Jim Jarmusch, director
Episode 8 of the original series had startled and alienated mainstream viewers with its surreal amibiguity. But Episode 8 of the new series overwhelmed everyone. Essentially a standalone art film, the black/white epic unveiled the big picture, an intensely symbolist span across time and beyond. Once more, David Lynch had thrown down the gauntlet, daring other creators to step up.
“Last night's terrifying TWIN PEAKS (Episode 8) will be remembered as one of the best episodes of Television ever.”
“TWIN PEAKS Part 8 is one of the most radical hours of TV ever.”
“Episode 8 is arthouse cinema at peak performance by one of the great masters.”
-Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
Legion, Season 2 (2018)
It had happened again.
And its impact ensured that TWIN PEAKS' influence would resonate even stronger.
• Noah Hawley was clearly galvanized, and his Kubrick-ian surrealist series Legion (2017) very specifically homaged PEAKS in the second season with futurepast Syd (s.2/e.7 and 8, 2018).
• Then there's the German series Dark (2017) that uses the general framework; a small forest town, deep secrets, families, loss, time, cycles...
• We come full-circle with the original profiler.
Film director David Fincher's (Seven, Zodiac) adaptation of FBI profiler John E. Douglas' memoir "Mindhunter" (1996) as the Netflix series Mindhunter (2017) is Hitchcock in framing, Lumet in film stock, but decisively Lynch in tone. Its cinematic production, color temperatures, slow burn, underlying tension, Orphic hero, complex plotting, and spiritual struggle are direct fruitions of what the 1990 TWIN PEAKS pilot first made possible for the small screen.
• When Donald Glover described his comedy series Atlanta (2016) as "Twin Peaks with rappers", it sounded cheeky. But that was borne out dramatically in the edgy "Teddy Perkins" (s.2/e.6, 2018) and directly in the forest nightmare in "Woods" (s.2/e.8, 2018).
• John From Cincinnati's (2007) wobbly attempt at a zen beach bum odyssey was a wipeout. But Lodge 49 (2018) shot the curl perfect. With a title winking at Pynchon, this crack comedy with an eclectic ensemble (which featured PEAKS actor Kenneth Welsh) was all secrets wrapped in surprises: the mythic lodge, alchemy and quests, the snow room, confluence, mania, etc.
It was canceled after two seasons, but remains worth every moment.
• Brit Marling's speculative fiction films were always visionary (Another Earth), but her brave series The OA (2016) was a whole new level of complexity and sheer verve. With "The Medium And The Engineer" (S.2/e.5, 2019) she blazed in full Lynch-ian glory, navigating a symbolist puzzle palace to enlightenment.
It was canceled after two seasons, but remains worth every moment.
• Gillian Flynn's midwestern gothic novel was translated into the HBO mini-series Sharp Objects (2018). Shot in dreamy impressionistic style by Jean-Marc Vallée, it follows reporter Amy Adams investigating ritual murders in a forest town, uncovering terrible truths under the studied facades of community, law, and family.
• Sam Esmail's Mr. Robot series took a very Lynch-ian turn, leaving the urban hacking behind in an hallucinatory night in snowy woods ("404 Not Found", s.4/e.4, 2019).
The circling cycle continues.
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. It could be a new shirt at a men’s store, a cat nap in your office chair, or… two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”
- Dale Cooper
In 1990, Agent Cooper's bold love for coffee and cherry pie seemed charmingly retro at the time. But immediately in the wake of the PEAKS series, Starbucks coffee shops (and their competitors) took over the planet, owning all of your storefronts and wallets.
And, as fate would have it, they were based out of the same Seattle area the show was filmed, no less.
But what about the music, you're saying?...
"Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air."
-Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820)
THE MUSIC OF
T W I N
P E A K S
1. The Soundtracks Of
FIRE WALK WITH ME,
By Angelo Badalamenti
"The music from TWIN PEAKS is dark, cloying, and obsessive -- and one of the best scores ever written for television."
-Brian Mansfield, All Music Guide
"The sometimes overtly and sometimes subliminally creepy music Badalamenti created contributed immeasurably to the deeply unsettling textures of the series."
-Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide
“Its moody, melodramatic presence was embedded into the show’s most fundamental DNA, running through the town’s core with the same tangible presence as its gushing waterfall or buzzing sawmill.”
TWIN PEAKS is as powerful as it is thanks to the inestimable soundtrack by Lynch's collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti. Much as Lynch and Frost gumboed ingredients from all over the place for their concoction, Angelo simmered it to perfection with his varied score. As much as the show's startling visuals and style, people remember and revere its sound.
Badalamenti's work revolutionized the sound of television scores to this day. As synth tones had become pervasive in mid-'80s music, Jan Hammer was preeminent in forging this for television series by creating synth scores for the 'MTV-meets-cops' series Miami Vice. As that series arced from Day Pastels (1985) to Night Noir (1988), Hammer's tones became moodier, elongated, dark, abrasive. If Hammer had opened the door, Badalamenti's soundtrack then built the palace. Whereas synthesizer-driven soundtracks were an anomaly before him, after TWIN PEAKS the use of moody synth washes and modal theme motifs has become universal.
For the original series, Angelo was abetted by a first-rate ensemble of players, including Jazz greats like Grady Tate on drums and Eddie Daniels on clarinet, and session star Vinnie Bell on the electric guitar. For the follow-up film, FWWM, he led a dream team of Jazz players including Tate and Donald Bailey on drums; Buster Williams, Rufus Reid, and the legendary Ron Carter on acoustic bass, Jay Hoggard on vibraphone; and Bill Mays on piano.
Julee Cruise 1; Julee Cruise 2;
FIRE WALK WITH ME soundtrack; TWIN PEAKS: The Return
His Series recital is a zig-zag dream of Girl Group sighs, cold synth German Prog tones, Duane Eddy vibrato, snapping Lounge Jazz, galloping Rockabilly, sleazy Sax-strumentals, a pinch of piano Boogie, soda suds and Prom Pop, and the ethereal siren called Julee Cruise. (#1-11 on the player.) A collection of the Second Season's cues follows (#12-35).
His Film score is a swerving nightmare of addict Cool Jazz, rough Link Wray chords, paranoid Tom Waits rants, chiming Penderecki chorales, and the androgyne vocals of Little Jimmy Scott. (#35-47 on the player.)
Along with her essential songs for the series and film, Julee Cruise made two albums scored and produced by Lynch and Badalamenti, which are included here (#48-68). They are parallel extensions of the PEAKS soundscape.
David and Angelo became more experimental by '92-'93, recording tracks for FWWM under the pseudonym Thought Gang. Their full album was finally released in 2018, and is included here (#69-80).
Later, Lynch produced moody and ethereal albums for Jocelyn Montgomery, Chrysta Bell, and himself that transmit from a PEAKS-ian night world. They are included here as well.
The Playlist concludes with TWIN PEAKS: The Return (2017), including the new Badalamenti score cues along with songs by musical guests in the series. This is followed by Dean Hurley's textural soundtrack to the series, released as "Anthology Resource Vol. 1: ∆∆ ".
In 2011, David Lynch's website was relaunched as a music portal. For a limited time, 'The TWIN PEAKS Archive' allowed visitors to stream 212 unreleased music cues from the series and film, or to buy them in download bundles. These tracks have not been compiled on disc or released on streaming networks since.
(The total bundle can still be purchased here.)
Jocelyn Montgomery; BlueBob;
Ariana Delawari; Chrysta Bell 1.
Julee Cruise 2
Chrysta Bell 1
Chrysta Bell 2
2. The Songs
The Sound Of The
TWIN PEAKS Series
But where does it all come from?
In every way, TWIN PEAKS is a temporal nexus, in style, tone, fashion, culture references, and narrative. That blending of the past with the present reflects in the music. Here’s an alternate jukebox for the town, with songs that inspired its favorite tunes.
"And you see Laura on a train that is passing through
Those eyes how familiar they seem
She gave your very first kiss to you
That was Laura, but she's only a dream."
- "Laura" movie theme by David Raksin (1944), lyrics added by Johnny Mercer
David Bowie; Chris Isaak;
Little Jimmy Scott; The Paris Sisters
≫ The echo twang guitar comes from Duane Eddy, who brought it from Honky Tonk to Rock'n'Roll instrumentals.
The tremolo rolled with The Ventures and Al Casey.
≫ The dark tonal synths come out of electronics pioneers and German Prog experimenters from the '70s (Faust, Neu!, Cluster), as well as tonal composers like Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Brian Eno expanded this with Davids Bowie and Byrne, and coined the term “ambient” music.
This was paralleled in work like Wendy Carlos, and Vengelis' BLADE RUNNER score.
≫ Jazz got its currency in films and TV with Henry Mancini’s crucial score for the 1958 detective series, Peter Gunn;
the show's soundtrack is the prime template for the music of TWIN PEAKS, essential for every fan, and it's Mancini's hipster lounge cool that grooves the shoes of Audrey and The Man From Another Place.
Listen also to the moody club cool of Jazz players like Lionel Hampton, Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, Milt Jackson, Chet Baker, Jimmy Smith, and (soundtrack bassist) Ron Carter, as well as vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Jimmy Scott (who sang "Sycamore Trees" in the original series' finale).
≫ Early R’n’B was fueled by raunchy sax solos, like in the standard “Harlem Nocturne”, bringing torrid jazz licks to pop kids. Hear it reverberate in The Viscounts, Elmer Bernstein, The Lounge Lizards, and The Creed Taylor Orchestra.
≫ The Dream Pop of the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, The Paris Sisters, The Fleetwoods, The Caravelles, The Shangri-La’s, and disciples like Blondie and Cocteau Twins, possess Julee Cruise.
≫ Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Ricky Nelson, and Vince Taylor pout that Rockabilly crooner style and stance later seen in Chet, Dale, and James.
Go Cat Go with Bill Black Combo, Stormy Gale, Del Shannon, and Chris Isaak.
≫ In the early '50s, visionary couple Les Paul And Mary Ford invented the echo guitar and angel pop most of this was built on.
≫ Lush and dark scores for classic Noir films like LAURA and VERTIGO (about Ferguson’s obsessive love for a twin named Madeleine) haunt a new Laura.
Hear inspirations from the noir scores of Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Roy Budd, and Jan Hammer.
≫ Later in the '60s and '70s, Ennio Morricone channeled unsettling arias through his muse, the eerie soprano Edda Dell’Orso; he also used dissonant strings, seductive jazz, angelic chorales, and reverb guitar to stunning effect.
✭ The song playlist is structured to mirror the arc of the series; from the intro, to finding the body, to the characters and the impact on them, where they go and what they find, and on to a culmination at the train car and within the Lodges, with a prayer for a redemptive end. ✭
3. The Songs
The Sounds of
FIRE WALK WITH ME
The Shangri-Las; Tom Waits;
Julie London; The Platters
≫ The harsh abrasive clang guitar, heard in the film tracks "The Pink Room" and "Blue Frank", is an emulation of Link Wray ("Rumble").
≫ The uptown underground snapped their fingers to the bleary, worldly Cool Jazz of Miles Davis, Kenny Burrell, Chet Baker, and Donald Byrd with moody meditations on the midnight of the spirit; this soul-searching style, between revelation and destitution, moans through FWWM.
≫ The confessional falsettos and eerie dream music of The Flamingos and The Platters (with a member named David Lynch!) along with torch songs like Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, and Julie London likewise sprigged Jimmy Scott's ”Sycamore Trees”.
≫ The Thought Gang’s songs ("A Real Indication", "Black Dog Runs At Night"), were a contemplation of Tom Waits, whose heady mix of evil blues, seedy cabaret, and corrupt jazz scorches the timid.
≫ The moody dream pop of Julee Cruise was also in the spirit of concurrent bands lumped into the 'shoegazing' movement like Cocteau Twins, Jesus And Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine.
≫ Classical piano and string quartet swells ripple through Angelo’s synth keys.
≫ The chiming angelic chorales parallel similar work by Krzysztof Penderecki, György Ligeti, and Ennio Morricone.
≫ The menacing noir strings carry the traditional of film composers like John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Vangelis, and acolytes like Barry Adamson.
≫ The cold and sonorous chords of synth prog by Cluster and Brian Eno.
≫ The industrial synth of David Bowie and the Rockabilly romance of Chris Isaak had so much influence that they actually appear in the film as agents.
≫ As always, the twang bar guitar sound is straight out of Duane Eddy.
✭ The song playlist is structured like the arc of the film: the world of Laura, her wild restlessness, the dangers that encroach, and the finale of terror and transcendent grace. ✭
OF TWIN PEAKS
4. The Songs
FIRE WALK WITH ME
TWIN PEAKS was a musical sensation, selling boatloads of the first soundtrack and Julee Cruise albums. Its rich smorgasbord of sounds appealed to every hip angle, so it's not surprising that so many artists from so many genres have homaged it every year since it came out.
This music player includes dance, hip hop, goth metal, trip hop, doom metal, retro lounge, indie rock, ambient, and postpunk. And artists as divergent as Moby, Anthrax, The Wedding Present, Marilyn Manson, Superdrag, DJ Shadow, Fantomas, Unkle, Camper Van Beethoven, Sinead O'Connor, Beach House, Interpol, Voivod, and The Black Keys.
≫ Listen for Stars Of the Lid doing "Music For Twin Peaks Episode #30", and Mt. Eerie homaging "Falling".
✭ These are all songs written directly about or featuring audio samples from TWIN PEAKS, in order from 1991 to today.✭
-The Log Lady, FWWM.
In The Spirit Of
FIRE WALK WITH ME,
TWIN PEAKS: The Return,
Hear the unlimited 500+ song Playlist here.)
✭✭✭ The playlist is sequenced in 3 parts:
the original series, and then the film follow-up, and then the new series. ✭✭✭
≫ The first part,
from "Falling"/Julee Cruise to "Twin Peaks"/Blvck Ceiling,
is songs that parallel the sonic spirit (and many plot themes) of the original TWIN PEAKS series score.
≫ The second part,
from "Fire Walk With Me"/Fantomas to "Fire, Walk With Me"/Bookhouse,
is songs that parallel the sonic spirit (and many plot themes) of the film Fire Walk With Me's score.
≫ The third part,
from "Twin Peaks Theme" (2017)/Angelo Badalamenti onward,
is songs paralleling the sonic spirit and guest musical artists of TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN's score and songtrack.
What music would waft through Twin Peaks' radio, Norma's jukebox, or Audrey Horne's iPod?
TWIN PEAKS pulled together many classic sounds of the past, while reflecting growing movements of the time, and setting the trend for many revivals that followed.
This music player contains songs before, during, and after the series that parallel the sounds in the show and film.
TWIN PEAKS was meant to be in the middle of nowhere, but the Seattle area where it was filmed in the early '90s was turning into the big bang of the musical decade. The series was thematically prophetic of its time, on the fault line between smooth skin and roaring heart. It swayed in an early-'60s soda shop dream indoors. But outside, the harsh wilderness, gloomy pall, and enveloping nights clawed on the sanity. Seattle soon upended the music industry with a raw rebuke of the previous decade's gloss with Grunge and the Riot Grrrl movements. An early signal of it was the stoner character Rusty (Ted Raimi) in the latter half of the series.
But as a tonic to the latest rise of aggro and angst, music fans also began exploring the smooth cool of vintage Lounge jazz, Free Jazz, and “acid jazz”, dark ambient electronica, chill out moodscapes, '60s Italian film scores, swing music, and timeless rock like surf, rockabilly, and orchestral pop. Since the '90s, bands have made songs that paralleled the series' sounds in using these different palettes.
≫ From the '50s
we have the dreamy pop of The Everly Brothers;
the Rock'n'Roll of Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Kip Tyler, and Screaming Jay Hawkins;
cool jazz of Ahmad Jamal and Dave Brubeck;
the otherworldly instrumentals of Santo And Johnny; and the angelic tones of The Flamingos, The Chordettes, The Skyliners, Buddy Holly, Bonnie Guitar, The Platters, and Los 5 Latinos.
≫ From the '60s
come the guitar vibrato of Duane Eddy, John Barry, The Ventures, The Rumblers, and The Shadows;
cocktail jazz of Hanry Mancini, Les Baxter, Nelson Riddle, and Esquivel;
girl gods The Caravelles, The Cookies, and The Shirelles;
beautiful ballads of Patsy Cline and Glen Campbell;
cool jazz of Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, and Grant Green;
torch mood of Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Julie London, Freddie Scott, and Lee Hazlewood;
acid rock of 13th Floor Elevators and The Executives;
lit rock of The Doors;
heroin rock of Velvet Underground;
jolting abrasion of Captain Beefheart and Ornette Coleman;
and fluxus delirium of Ennio Morricone.
≫ From the '70s
strides the musical-rock of Alice Cooper;
synth-abilly of Suicide;
ambient waves of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno;
and rockabilly redux of Robert Gordon.
≫ From the '80s
slides in angled jazz with The Lounge Lizards;
ambience of Harold Budd;
goth of The Cure and Siouxsie And The Banshees;
cool croon of Roxy Music;
death cabaret of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, and Crime And The City Solution;
dream pop of Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, and The Dream Academy;
noir folk of The Cowboy Junkies;
and guitar edge of Jesus And Mary Chain and Pixies.
≫ From the '90s
come bands lumped as Shoegazing, like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Miranda Sex Garden, and Slowdive, whose lush darkness and often ethereal vocals oddly paralleled Julee Cruise's work.
As well as the noize of Tom Waits (think "Pink Room"), Soundgarden, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Bodeco, and Nine Inch Nails;
the Elvis/Orbison croon of FWWM star Chris Isaak;
and moody dreams of Mazzy Star, Morphine, Tortoise, Los Lobos, Jeff Buckley, David Bowie, and Garbage.
The TWIN PEAKS soundtrack ushered in TripHop music, with its eerie sirens crooning over reverb guitar, cinematic strings, freejazz drum skitters, and abrasion textures. Listen to the spirit of Julee in bands like Portishead (with Beth Gibbons), Tricky, Hooverphonic, Mono, Air, Violet Indiana, Morcheeba, and Massive Attack.
Angelo Badalamenti himself also scored Marianne Faithfull's "A Secret Life" album, and recorded with the band James' frontman, Tim Booth, as Booth And The Bad Angel.
≫ From the '00s
we round up unusual suspects like chameleons Fantomas;
the biker fuzz of The Raveonettes, The Kills, and Robert Johnson And Punkdrunks;
and the border crossings of Calexico.
There's the glimmer of ethereal songbirds in the spirit of Julee Cruise with Kyra Lynn Cain, To Kill A Pretty Bourgeoisie, 8mm, Amber Asylum, Martina Topley-Bird, Cranes, Isobel Campbell, Nurse With Wound, Keren Ann, and His Name Is Alive.
≫ From the '10s
come moody evocations from The Last Shadow Puppets, Louise Burns, Robert Plant, Rebekah Del Rio, Lana Del Rey, A.A. Bondy, Betty Black, Mark Lanegan, La Femme, Sky Ferreira, Unloved, and PEAKS Return star Chrysta Bell;
as well as Badalamenti acolytes like Bookhouse, Silencio, and The Dale Cooper Quartet.
Guitar clang from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Calibro 35, Anna Calvi, and J.D. McPherson;
indie rock from The Black Keys, Interpol, and Dum Dum Girls;
nightscape music from Heroin And Your Veins, Manet, Ghost Of Wood, and Trigg And Gusset;
and country from Harry Dean Stanton.
≫ For the RETURN segment of the last third, we have acts generally from around and after 2017:
alternate songs from artists that appeared in it like Chromatics, The Cactus Blossoms, Au Revoir Simone, Chrysta Bell, Sharon Van Etten, Sky Ferreira, Nine Inch Nails, Lissie, The Veils, and Julee Cruise;
alternate songs by legacy artists heard in the show like The Platters, The Paris Sisters, Otis Redding, Santo And Johnny, and Booker T And The MG's;
and artists that sound like they might headline the Roadhouse someday like Flying Lotus, Cults, Lana Del Rey, Los Espiritus, Perfume Genius, Graham Coxon, TOPS, Timbre Timbre, Angel Osen, Gaudalupe Plata, Julianna Barwick, Widowspeak, Palatine, Spoon, Kandle, Lera Lynn, The Secret Sisters, PJ Harvey, and La Luz.
And, naturally, songs by David Lynch himself!
T W I N
P E A K S
So you can't wait to watch TWIN PEAKS now, right?
1 • The Blu-Ray box set "Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery" contains everything from the '90s: the complete original series, the prequel film (which is meant to be seen AFTER the original series), and 90 minutes of never-before-seen scenes cut from FWWM.
The original TWIN PEAKS series can also be streamed from the online subscription services CBS All Access, Netflix, and Hulu.
2 • The new 2017 series TWIN PEAKS: The Return is available from Showtime and on disc.
TWIN PEAKS Experience
TWIN PEAKS: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
"The things I tell you will not be wrong."
But if you want the real full experience, as Lynch and Frost structured and unveiled it, here is how.
As the show progressed, cool supplementals were released to enhance the backstory: an audiotape of Agent Cooper's trademark dictations, plus a book each about Laura and Cooper. "The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer" by Jennifer Lynch is especially brilliant, and has a cult following all its own. Listening to and reading these at certain times between watching the episodes magnifies the intensity of the TWIN PEAKS experience.
Can you just watch the show and the movie and new show and be okay? Sure. But watching PEAKS in tandem with the supplements will deepen the total experience as the creators intended.
• 1: The Pilot*
• Episodes 1/"Traces to Nowhere" through 7/"The Last Evening"
*(An alternative ending was added to make the pilot a feature film overseas.
Skip that 'International Version' option on disc and watch the original.)
• listen to >"Diane: The Twin Peaks Tapes Of Agent Cooper" (available again exclusively from Amazon/Audible)
• read "The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer", by Jennifer Lynch.
• Episodes 8/"May the Giant Be with You" through 16/"Arbitrary Law"
(These may have been renumbered as #1-9 for Season 2's sake.)
• Read "The Autobiography Of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes" by Scott Frost (currently out-of-print)
• Episodes 17/"Dispute Between Brothers"
through 29/"Beyond Life and Death"
(These may have been renumbered as #10-22 for Season 2's sake.)
• Only after the original two seasons, watch the follow-up film TWIN PEAKS- FIRE WALK WITH ME
• After FWWM, on the "Entire Mystery" Blu-Ray, watch the MISSING PIECES supplement:
90 minutes of additional scenes cut out of FWWM which play like a parallel movie itself, and which are deeply important to the past, present, and future.
• Read the supplementary book "The Secret History of Twin Peaks" (2016), by series co-creator Mark Frost, in preparation for TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN.
• Episodes 1 through 18
• Read "Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier" (2017), by series co-creator Mark Frost, as an afterword.
This will give the viewer a more enriched and surprising enjoyment of TWIN PEAKS as a whole.
The magician longs to see
One chants out between two worlds
Fire walk with me."
© 2010-2020; all text, research, and photomontages by Tym Stevens
• "Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery" box set
• "The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer", by Jennifer Lynch
• TWIN PEAKS Wiki, resource site
• Dugpa, TWIN PEAKS resource site
• Welcome To Twin Peaks, news site
• TWIN PEAKS Facebook
• Welcome To Twin Peaks Facebook
• Twin Peaks: Between Two Worlds Facebook
• Lynchland - David Lynch Archivist Facebook
Music Playlists by Twin Peaks experts:
The Lynchland playlists on Mixcloud, curated by Roland Kermarec:
The Welcome To Twin Peaks site, curated by Pieter Dom:
• Twin Peaks: Nighttime At The Roadhouse
• Leland Palmer gets HAPPY!
• Isn’t It Too Dreamy: An Audrey Horne Inspired Playlist
• TWIN PEAKS 2017 Cast Mixtape
• MUSIC 101: The 1950s, with Music Player
• Revolution 1950s: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!, with Music Player
• The Pedigree of PETER GUNN, with Music Players
• YOU DON'T OWN ME: The Uprising of the 1960s GIRL GROUPS, with Music Player
• JOHN BARRY: The Influence Of The JAMES BOND Sound On Pop Music, with 2 Music Players
• THE PRISONER: Its Influence On Music, TV, and Comics, with Music Player
• How SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Revolutionized Rock Music!, with Music Players
• 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY -Its Transcendent Influence on all Pop Culture, with Music Player
• How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!
• THE CANON 1: 50 Books That Created Modern Culture, with Music Player
• THE CANON 2: 50 More Books That Created Modern Pop Culture, with Music Player
• THE CANON 3: 50 Recent Books That Created Modern Culture, with Music Player