"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
Celebrating TWIN PEAKS' unending influence, here are five music players with songs from the show, the music that inspired it, and the music that it inspired!
And also two essays that break down all the series, films, and other pop culture that reflect its style or spirit.
A- TWIN PEAKS and the triumph of quality
B- TWIN PEAKS: Its influence on Film, TV, Games, and Comics
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.)
P E A K S
and the 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 summer 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.
-Carl, FIRE WALK WITH ME
If it was so great, why didn't it last?
TWIN PEAKS was a massive success in its first season. The summer series -from shocking pilot to season cliffhanger- riveted America with its adult tone, its cinematic panache, and kinky fun. 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' first season played like a murder mystery with soap sidelines and a balance of edge and burlesque. The FBI agent had a really surreal dream once, but nothing to indicate how much more that would mean. In truth, that exception was the heart of everything important to come, and what would drive the mainstream running back to standard pablum.
Rote shows like Murder She Wrote solved every crime in 42 minutes with snack breaks built in. This coloring book formula worked for a shocking twelve seasons and implied evil was a person, an action, and a quick penalty. It's no wonder this baby food didn't prepare anyone for how to digest Episode 8 (a.k.a, "May the Giant Be with You") of TWIN PEAKS. The first ten minutes of this second season premiere were so surreal and ambiguous the show lost almost all of the viewing audience 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 #8 through #16 where all the greatness hits its shattering peak. By shifting from the objective to the subjective, TWIN PEAKS expanded the depth and breadth of television.
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 killer is, and they will... please know that they are actually wrong. That's the surface, and 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 most mainstream viewers missed entirely, and why the curt dismissal in their cheap blurt is actually as clueless as it is tonedeaf.
Which is to say, TWIN PEAKS is too deep for shallow responses, and too rich not to explore more fully.
TWIN PEAKS also 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, call them out on their banality.
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, then peaked again with the most shocking ending ever televised. Mature viewers who actually followed the full course appreciate this.
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, and the mass audience didn't rise to the challenge of the material.
TWIN PEAKS parted the curtain to bring cinematic craft, literary complexity, maturity, ambiguity, surrealism, absurdism, and the subjective to the mass television audience. Much of that has been explored in network and cable shows ever since.
In that sense, where it matters, TWIN PEAKS is one of the most successful shows of all time.
"That Gum You Like Is Coming Back In Style…" -The Man From Another Place
"Who do you think this is there?"
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 and Frost, along with their invaluable writers Harley Peyton and Robert 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.
P E A K S :
Its influence on Film, TV, Games, and Comics
-Actually, 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.
-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)
- 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 cancelling 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 cancelled 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.
Quality TV, Wave 1: the 1990s
-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 advance television*.
- 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 of the Gulf War, then moved it all over the schedule and finally canceled it, the same strategy they had used on PEAKS.
- Barry Levinson midwived the stark unflinching drama Homicide (1993) which elevated the maturity and depth of all cop shows, and led to its supreme progression, David Simon's The Wire (2002).
- Stephen King created the original mini-series Golden Years for TV in this fertile climate.
- 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.
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 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 unshown finale plays like a jawdropping collision of Salvador Dali and Busby Berkeley!
-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.
- 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).
- And The X-Files took David Duchovny himself and the paranormal FBI slant straight from the show. (And so did Fringe and Warehouse 13, by extension.)
-Variedly successful attempts to expand on TWIN PEAKS' innovations were Eerie, Indiana (1991), Picket Fences (1992, by David E. Kelley), American Gothic (1995, co-created by Shaun Cassidy and Sam Raimi), and the miniseries Wild Palms (1993, produced by Oliver Stone).
-Lynch himself broke the ice with ABC by doing a new pilot for a series in 1998. They reached an impasse that killed it before it could start, and David eventually brainstormed the footage into the comeback film Mulholland Drive (2001).
[The scene of the executive meeting where the Suit Guy (Angelo Badalamenti) can't drink even the weakest thing without throwing it up is open to interpretation.]
Quality TV, Wave 2: the 2000s
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 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. Ironically, he then made an anthology pilot for HBO called Hotel Room (1993), a trio of stories across time set in the same room. The press backlash to Lynch was in full swing that year, and because of this toxic environment and general lack of cultural vision the series never 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 David Chase'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.
"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 >
"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 >
“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 Esmai, creator of Mr. Robot >
The 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), 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, and Hawley's Fargo.
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.
who the shooter is.
-TWIN PEAKS has also 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 animateds like Darkwing Duck, Scooby Doo, and Jimmy Neutron, all the way to Greg The Bunny and Torchwood.
- The Simpsons poked fun at TWIN PEAKS in a Red Room sequence with Chief Wiggum and Lisa Simpson (s.6,ep.21; 1995). And again when Homer watches TWIN PEAKS and says, "Brilliant! I have absolutely no idea what's going on." (s.9,ep.3; 1997).
Reflections; Between Two Worlds
-Flip quips by entertainment writers about the series are one thing, but more considered voices have plenty more to say in PEAKS' defense. Like the opulently abstract 2001: A Space Odyssey had done for cinema, the richly subjective terreign of TWIN PEAKS has continually been mined in books of critical essays.:
- An entire indie magazine dedicated to the series called WRAPPED IN PLASTIC published 75 issues from 1992 to 2005, with voluminous essays on its meaning and interviews with the unsung writers and directors who crafted it. This was distilled into the book, "The Essential Wrapped In Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks" (2016).
- "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.
- "Between Two Worlds: Perspectives on Twin Peaks" (2016), by H. Perry Horton.
Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes;
The Secret History;
The Final Dossier
-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 Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes" (1991), by Scott Frost.
- 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" (October 2017) by co-creator Mark Frost.
Promethea, with Man From Another Place (detail)
-The Lynch perspective laces through many of the adult-oriented comics of the early '90s and beyond.
- 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.
- 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).
- And the graphic novel "Nobody" (2009) by Jeff Lemire has been oft compared as 'the Invisible Man goes to Twin Peaks'.
-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.
-Films by Christopher Nolan like Memento and Inception owe a huge nod to Lynch and his dream factory, as do Tim Burton, David Fincher, the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Wes Anderson, Bryan Fuller, and Jennifer Lynch.
- For a similar taste in Lynchian 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 Lynch not by Lynch, Scorsese's After Hours (1985); Demme's Something Wild (1986); 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); Aronofsky's Pi (1998); Greg Marcks' 11:14 (2003).
- For vibe and scope, the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy of books and films.
- TWIN 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 two-faced town in Oliver Stone's U-Turn (1997); and its edge and mystery in Donnie Darko (2001), Christopher Nolan's remake of Insomnia (2002), Spider Forest (Korea, 2004), The X-Files 2: I Want to Believe (2008), and Jennifer Lynch's underappreciated Boxing Helena (1993), Surveillance (2008), and Chained (2012).
-Many TV shows have the fun or the edge of PEAKS very directly in their DNA.
- The creepy hospital in The Kingdom (UK, 1993); The Prisoner-meets-Lynch vein of Nowhere Man (1996); the funereal tone of Millennium (1996); the early '60s style and spooky undercurrent of Dark Skies (1996).
- 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 Gilmore Girls (2000); the funky characters and bent farce of Deadwood (2004); the black humor of Six Feet Under (2001), Dead Like Me (2003), and Dexter (2006); and the non-sequitur zen farce of John From Cincinnati (2007).
- The schizoid smalltown of early Smallville (2001), as well as Invasion (2005), Supernatural (2005), Eureka (2006), True Blood (2008), and Haven (2010).
- And particulary in the modernist fetishism, mercurial dramady, and corroded undertone of Mad Men (2007).
-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 TWIN 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).
-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).
- 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).
-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.
- 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).
-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" rewrites the actual series soundtracks with midnight jazz readings that sound like alternate mixes.
- 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.
-New ideas always seed and grow out later, regardless. Even though a decade had now passed, PEAKS' influence continued to flourish sideways into mainstream TV shows across time. The C.S.I. clone shows (2000, ad infinitum), which come off like the robot cops of Dragnet co-opting the tone of The Silence Of The Lambs, actually root back to the autopsy scenes from the PEAKS series and film, with their use of stark forensic realism and deadpan humor.
-Push, Nevada (2002), co-created by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, was almost outrageously outright in its similarities; a '50s-style government agent investigating a labyrinthine mystery in an off-kilter small-town. ABC killed it after 7 episodes.
-LOST (2004) is the successful revenge of TWIN PEAKS, without ABC knowing it.
It did it by hooking its huge audience with careful character while phasing in the odd in paced doses across six seasons. Still controversial, still a winner forever. Quality wins!
-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).
Quality TV, Wave 3: the 2010s
-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 cancelled 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 The Killing set in New Zealand.
- 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 engmatic 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 hallunitory 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.
- 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.
- 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.
With shows trying to fulfull some of the promise of a return '25 years later', TWIN PEAKS was everywhere in spirit and in reruns if not in actuality.
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.
Rounding it out, in 1990, Agent Cooper's bold love for coffee seemed charmingly retro at the time. But soon afterward Starbucks owned all of your storefronts and wallets quick enough, based from the 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)
T W I N
P E A K S
1. The Soundtracks Of TWIN PEAKS And FIRE WALK WITH ME,
By Angelo Badalamenti
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 preimminent 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 anamoly 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.
Season Two soundtrack;
FIRE WALK WITH ME soundtrack
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.)
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. (#12-23 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 (#24-44). They are parallel extensions of the PEAKS soundscape.
Later, Lynch produced similar albums for Jocelyn Montgomery, Chrysta Bell, and himself that transmit from a PEAKS-ian night world. They are included here as well.
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.)
2. The Songs That Inspired 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.
-The echo twang guitar comes from Duane Eddy, who brought it from Honky Tonk to Rock'n'Roll instrumentals.
-The dark tonal synths come out of electronics pioneers and German Prop expirementers from the '70s (Faust, Neu!), 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.
(see also, 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; his hipster lounge cool is what grooves Audrey’s and The Man From Another Place’s shoes.
-Early R’n’B was fueled by raunchy sax solos, like in the standard “Harlem Nocturne”, bringing torrid jazz licks to pop kids.
-The Dream Pop of the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, The Paris Sisters, and The Shangri-La’s possess Julee Cruise.
-Ricky Nelson pouts that Rockabilly style and stance later seen in Chet, Dale, and James.
-In the early '50s, visionary couple Les Paul & 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.
-Later in the '60s and '70s, Ennio Morricone channeled unsettling arias through his muse, the eerie soprano Edda Dell’Orso; he also used dissonate 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. ✭
"It is happening again.
It is happening again."
If TWIN PEAKS felt like a tipsy party with an undertaste of alcoholism, then TWIN PEAKS-FIRE WALK WITH ME 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 film into half that 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.
A F T E R
the original two seasons. ✭✭
Please feel free to savor the word AFTER like warm cherry pie.
The film depends on you're having seen the series, so it can upend or reinvent events based on that experience. Literalists who try to watch it first are only defeating the proper intended perspective. (They would also miss out on the deeper subtexts about temporality.)
3. The Songs That Inspired The Sounds of FIRE WALK WITH ME
-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, and Chet Baker 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!) likewise animated 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 and Ennio Morricone.
-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 Inspired By TWIN PEAKS And 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, and Interpol.
-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.
5. Songs In The Spirit Of TWIN PEAKS, 1950-Today.
✭✭✭ 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"/Pillowdriver, is songs that parallel the sonic spirit (and many plot themes) of the original series.
- 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.
- The third part, from "Twin Peaks Theme" (2017)/Angelo Badalamenti onward, is songs paralling the sonic spirit and guest musical artists of TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN.
What music would waft through Twin Peak's 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 faultline 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 retro rock like surf, rockabilly, and orchestral pop. Since the '90s, bands have made songs that paralleled the series' sounds in using these different pallettes.
-From the '50s we have the dreamy pop of The Everly Brothers, raw Rock'n'roll of Screaming Jay Hawkins, otherworldly instrumentals of Santo And Johnny, and angelic tones of The Flamingos.
-From the '60s come the twang guitar of Duane Eddy, cocktail jazz of Les Baxter and Esquivel, girl gods The Caravelles, cool jazz of Miles Davis, heroin rock of Velvet Underground, jolting abrasion of Captain Beefheart, and fluxus delirium of Ennio Morricone.
-From the '70s strides the 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, dream pop of Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush and The Dream Academy, 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 rock of Tom Waits (think "Pink Room"), the Elvis/Orbison of Chris Isaak, moody dreams of Mazzy Star and Morphine and Jeff Buckley, and the cinematic nightscapes of TripHop bands like Portishead, Tricky, Hooverphonic, Violet Indiana, Morcheeba, and Massive Attack.
Angelo Badalamenti also scored Marianne Faithfull's "A Secret Life" album, and recorded with James' frontman Tim Booth as Booth And The Bad Angel.
-From the '00s we round up unusual suspects like Fantomas, the biker fuzz of The Raveonettes, and 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, and His Name Is Alive.
-From the '10s come moody evocations from The Last Shadow Puppets, Anna Calvi, Louise Burns, and Chrysta Bell, as well as Badalamenti acolytes like Bookhouse, Silencio, and The Dale Cooper Quartet.
And, naturally, songs by David Lynch himself!
Julee Cruise; Jocelyn Montgomery; BlueBob; Ariana Delawari.
Julee Cruise 2
Chrysta Bell 1
Chrysta Bell 2
T W I N
P E A K S
So you can't wait to watch TWIN PEAKS now, right?
The Blu-Ray box set "Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery" contains everything: 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.
TWIN PEAKS can also be streamed from the online subscription service HULU.
"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 movie 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"
- 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"
- 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 scenes cut out of FWWM which play like a parallel movie itself, and which are deeply important to the past, present, and future.
- Episodes 1 through 18
- Read the supplementary books "The Secret History of Twin Peaks" (2016) and "Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier" (October 2017), by series co-creator Mark Frost.
This will give the viewer a more enriched and surprising enjoyment of TWIN PEAKS as a whole.
"Through the darkness of future past
The magician longs to see
One chants out between two worlds
Fire walk with me."
-"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
Music Playlists by 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
-How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!