Twin Peaks—Season 1

twin peaks season 1 dvd cover episode guide
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visual: 10/10

David Lynch weirdness applied to nighttime soap operas of the '80s


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Try the coffee and cherry pie!

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is dead…and the sleepy town of Twin Peaks questions who could have murdered a young high school girl. Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) finds he has been given help in the form of Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) who believes Laura’s murder could be part of a bigger picture. As Cooper dives deep into the darkness surrounding the town of Twin Peaks, Laura’s friends and acquaintances are also looking for their own answers and keeping the secrets that might have contributed to Laura’s death, but even the explainable could have a darker, supernatural basis in nature.  Agent Cooper is about to find that there is something dangerous lurking in Twin Peaks…and it could be coming for him next!

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Gotta love Audrey

Twin Peaks—Season 1 aired from April 8, 1990 to May 23, 1990 on ABC. The pilot for the series aired as a movie on April 8, 1990 and was sometimes reworked for DVD and Blu-Ray releases leading to changes in the numbering of the episodes. The series became a cultural phenomenon and won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (“Pilot”) and Outstanding Editing for a Series (“Pilot”) with nominations for “Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Music and Lyrics (“Into the Night” Episode 5), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) (Episode 2), Outstanding Art Directing in a Drama Series (“Pilot”), Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor (Kyle MacLachlan), Outstanding Lead Actress (Piper Laurie), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Sherilyn Fenn), and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (Pilot, Episode 3). The series also won Golden Globes for Best Television Series—Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series—Drama (Kyle MacLachlan), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television (Piper Laurie) with Sherilyn Fenn also being nominated for the same category.  The episodes initially didn’t have titles but were named when rebroadcast.  The 1992 film Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk with Me serves as a prequel to this season.

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Piper, you may be good at what you do, but the mill storyline is always the worst part of the show

I distinctly remember watching the premiere of Twin Peaks. I was a teen, and I can recall talking about it the next day at school (with everyone questioning what was going on). The series was interesting, completely original, and back then I took it much more at face value. Though I have seen it a number of times (especially the first season), it is always fun to go back and watch it again.

Though the plotlines and stories relatively stand on their own, it might be hard to understand what was going on in Twin Peaks if you didn’t grow up at the time. The nights were dominated by shows like Falcon Crest, Dallas, and Knots Landing which were loaded with incredibly unbelieve plots of murder, death, and resurrection. Lynch took these ideas and incorporated them into Twin Peaks…and put his twist on them. You have a strange, unsettling supernatural aspect to the series that still can be very tongue-in-cheek at points (something that always seemed to happen in late night soaps which often had comedic relief). While the late-night soaps took themselves dead serious, Twin Peaks seemed to make fun itself immediately with cliché characters and storylines combined with a very, very odd murder investigation.

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Still terrifying…years later

The cast for the series is perfect though they aren’t always the best actors (some of which is intentional). You get a bunch of artists with different acting styles existing within one world. You have violent and dangerous characters like Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re) mixed with the goofy characters like Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz). While the two storylines shouldn’t work together they do with Kyle MacLachlan floating between the two.

Visually the TV series is also a step above what was being done at the time. Though it still has the look of series from the time (unfortunately not letterbox), the sound editing and video editing for the series is high above anything that was being done. Scenes like Cooper’s visions alone were worth tuning in for.

Twin Peaks was one of my favorite series of all time. It was so strange, and so out there that you did feel you were watching something special even if you didn’t understand what it was. The series suffered from the dreaded “sophomore slump” and although the continuing plots are much more in tune with today’s TV series, 1990s viewers didn’t have the patience for the lingering “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” question that served as the basis for this season and the first part of season 2. Twin Peaks is a classic…watch it and watch Lynch present some of his best (and keeping it PG enough for network TV).

Twin Peaks—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Northwest Passage (Pilot)”

1.0       Northwest Passage (Pilot) Airdate:  04/08/90

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is found dead and wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell (Jack Nance).  When another girl is reported missing, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is called in to investigate the ties to another murder and the possibility of a serial killer operating within the state.  Twin Peaks is also hiding secrets with Laura’s boyfriend Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) having an affair with Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick), and Laura herself having a hidden relationship with James Hurley (James Marshall) known only to Laura and her best friend Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle).  Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is also keeping secrets and knows more than she’s telling.  Meanwhile Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) is trying to recapture the town’s sawmill from her deceased brother’s widow Josie Packard (Joan Chen) who is secretly dating Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean).  Driven crazy by his blinds obsessed wife Nadine (Wendy Robie), Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) having an affair with Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) whose husband is in prison.  The person keeping the biggest secret might be Laura Palmer, and as Agent Cooper dives deeper into the life of Laura Palmer, he discovers even a quaint town like Twin Peaks has a dark side.

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“Traces to Nowhere”

1.1       Traces to Nowhere Airdate:  04/12/90

The search for Laura Palmer’s killer has commenced and in Agent Cooper’s eyes, everyone is a suspect.  Shelly find a blood-soaked shirt in Leo’s car…leading Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re) to take out vengeance.  A trip to see Josie has Cooper uncovering Josie’s relationship with Truman.  Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) reveals her log might have seen something involving Laura’s murder.  Donna tries to come to terms about the loss of Laura and her budding relationship with James.  Audrey’s father Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) carries on an affair with Catherine in an attempt to wrestle control of the sawmill form Josie.  James is released from jail, but hunted by Bobby and Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger).  Mrs. Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) begins to recall events on the day that Laura disappeared.  The person possessing the other half of Laura’s locket is revealed.

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“Zen or the Skill to Catch a Killer”

1.2       Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer Airdate:  04/19/90

Audrey’s uncle Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) returns from France and Jerry and Ben make a trip to One Eyed Jacks.  Nadine finds a solution to her problem with the silent drapes.  Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) and his crew of men come in to examine Laura Palmer’s body before her burial.  Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) meet with Leo and learn that Leo expects the money that Laura was holding.  Cooper takes an unusual Tibetan approach to determine which suspects to question but a visit from Laura Palmer and a strange dancing man (Michael J. Anderson) in his dreams could be the key to solving the case.

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“Rest in Pain”

1.3       Rest in Pain Airdate:  04/26/90

Rosenfield’s autopsy of Laura Palmer reveals some surprising clues as Cooper tries to interpret his dream of Laura and a man named BOB (Frank Silva) and MIKE (Al Strobel).  Norma gets word that Hank (Chris Mulkey) could be getting out of prison.  Cooper is let in on Twin Peaks’ secret dark side and that the Bookhouse Boys are trying to stop a drug smuggling trade from Canada.  Laura’s cousin Maddy (Sheryl Lee) arrives in Twin Peaks as Laura’s funeral turns into a madhouse.

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“The One-Armed Man”

1.4       The One-Armed Man Airdate:  05/03/90

Mrs. Palmer provides the police with a sketch of the man she saw in Laura’s room and the search for BOB begins.  Cooper investigation leads him to the one-armed man who is also MIKE and the search for a mynah bird.  Bobby tries to get himself and Shelly free from Leo by using the bloody shirt.  Donna and James find Laura’s necklace is gone and question how Mrs. Palmer knew what happened to it.  Hank is being released from prison and it could mean problems for Norma but also Josie.

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“Cooper’s Dreams”

1.5       Cooper’s Dreams Airdate:  05/10/90

As Bobby and Shelly work to set up Leo, Cooper discovers Laura could be part of a pornography ring.  Maddy starts working with James and Donna, but the newly paroled Hank (Chris Mulkey) learns of their plan.  Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) tries to get into what drove Laura while he counsels Bobby.  A visit to the Log Lady could reveal a secret about the murder.  A breakdown by Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) during an important meeting with the Icelanders could mean trouble for Ben Horne’s deal, but Josie has her own secret deal with Ben.  Hank sets out to clear up Leo’s mess, and Shelly has her own means to protect herself from Leo.  Cooper gets a surprise visitor in his room.

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“Realization Time”

1.6       Realization Time Airdate:  05/17/90

Cooper awaits to hear any clues from the myna bird but learns that the trauma could keep it silent.  Leo discovers Bobby and Shelly’s affair but also finds the myna could be a problem.  Donna, James, and Maddy seek out what Dr. Jacoby knows about Laura’s murder.  Josie worries that Ben Horn might be a danger to her and the mill, but Catherine discovers that Josie might have her own plans.  Cooper and Ed go undercover at One-Eyed Jack’s and discover that Audrey is on her own undercover mission.  Bobby plans to deal with James himself.

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“The Last Evening”

1.7       The Last Evening Airdate:  05/23/90

James and Donna’s investigation into Dr. Jacoby yields Laura’s necklace and a new tape.  Cooper finds the drug connection at One-Eyed Jack’s named Jacques Renault (Walter Olkewicz) and learns the connection between Laura and the myna.  Jacoby suffers a heart attack after being attacked in the park.  Leo decides that he has to deal with Shelly.  Andy (Harry Goaz) finds why Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) has been so moody.  Nadine decides that she can’t accept her failure with her blinds.  Bobby impersonates Leo to frame James with the drugs, but the search for Leo remains in full swing.  Leland Palmer learns there is a potential arrest in the murder of his daughter and decides to take action into his own hands.  Audrey learns who the owner of One-Eyed Jack’s is as someone targets Agent Cooper.

Related Links:

Twin Peaks—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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