Twin Peaks is a hilly area of San Francisco which towers high above the rest of the city, affording magnificent views in all directions. It can be reached from downtown by following Market Street, in a 20 minute drive.

As the name suggests, there are two peaks, both about the same height. The summits have not been built on, and so you can see from a distance the similarity to a pair of young girl's breasts which prompted sex-starved Spanish explorers to give the hills their original name "Los Pechos de la Choca" which literally means "The breasts of the indian girl" .

The south peak is 910 feet tall and the north peak is 904 feet tall, so, technically, they fall just short of the 1000 feet required to qualify as mountains.

Twin Peaks Episode Guide
Original airdate: April 8, 1990 Director: David Lynch Writer: Mark Frost and David Lynch
Episode 1: Traces to Nowhere
Original airdate: April 12, 1990
D: Duwayne Dunham W: Mark Frost and David Lynch
Episode 2: Zen, or The Skill to Catch a Killer
Original airdate: April 19, 1990
D: David Lynch W: Mark Frost and David Lynch
Episode 3: Rest in Pain
Original airdate: April 26, 1990
D: Tina Rathborne W: Harley Peyton
Episode 4: The One-Armed Man
Original airdate: May 3, 1990
D: Tim Hunter W: Robert Engels
Episode 5: Cooper's Dreams
Original airdate: May 10, 1990
D: Lesli Linka Glatter W: Mark Frost
Episode 6: Realization Time
Original airdate: May 17, 1990
D: Caleb Deschanel W: Harley Peyton
Episode 7: The Last Evening
Original airdate: May 24, 1990
D: Mark Frost W: Mark Frost
End of first season

Episode 8: May the Giant Be With You
Original airdate: September 30, 1990
D: David Lynch W: Mark Frost and David Lynch
Episode 9: Coma
Original airdate: October 6, 1990
D: David Lynch W: Harley Peyton
Episode 10: The Man Behind Glass
Original airdate: October 13, 1990
D: Lesli Linka Glatter W: Robert Engels
Episode 11: Laura's Secret Diary
Original airdate: October 20, 1990
D: Todd Holland W: Jerry Stahl, Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, Robert Engels
Episode 12: The Orchid's Curse
Original airdate: October 27, 1990
D: Graeme Clifford W: Barry Pullman
Episode 13: Demons
Original airdate: November 3, 1990
D: Lesli Linka Glatter W: Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Episode 14: Lonely Souls
Original airdate: November 10, 1990
D: David Lynch W: Mark Frost
Episode 15: Drive with a Dead Girl
Original airdate: November 17, 1990
D: Caleb Deschanel W: Scott Frost
Episode 16 (resolution of "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" storyline): Arbitrary Law
Original airdate: December 1, 1990
D: Tim Hunter W: Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels
Episode 17: Dispute Between Brothers
Original airdate: December 8, 1990
D: Tina Rathborne W: Tricia Brock
Episode 18: Masked Ball
Original airdate: December 15, 1990
D: Duwayne Dunham W: Barry Pullman
Episode 19: The Black Widow
Original airdate: January 12, 1991
D: Caleb Deschanel W: Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Episode 20: Checkmate
Original airdate: January 19, 1991
D: Todd Holland W: Harley Peyton
Episode 21: Double Play
Original airdate: February 2, 1991
D: Uli Edel W: Scott Frost
Episode 22: Slaves and Masters
Original airdate: February 9, 1991
D: Diane Keaton W: Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Episode 23: The Condemned Woman
Original airdate: February 16, 1991
D: Lesli Linka Glatter W: Tricia Brock
Episode 24: Wounds and Scars
Original airdate: March 28, 1991
D: James Foley W: Barry Pullman
Episode 25: On the Wings of Love
Original airdate: April 4, 1991
D: Duwayne Dunham W: Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Episode 26: Variations on Relations
Original airdate: April 11, 1991
D: Jonathan Sanger W: Mark Frost and Harley Peyton
Episode 27: The Path to the Black Lodge
Original airdate: April 18, 1991
D: Stephen Gyllenhaal W: Harley Peyton and Robert Engels
Episode 28: Miss Twin Peaks
Original airdate: June 10, 1991 (broadcast with episode 29 as a two-hour "movie")
D: Tim Hunter W: Barry Pullman
Episode 29: Beyond Life and Death
Original airdate: June 10, 1991 (broadcast with episode 28 as a two-hour "movie")
D: David Lynch W: Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Robert Engels

Cast List

US serial murder-melodrama directed by David Lynch running from April 1990 to June 1991 on ABC. Twin Peaks garnered great critical and commercial reception upon its debut in 1990. Audiences responded well to the show's sinister sensibility and its melodramatic edge. The debut deftly balanced parody, pathos, and expressionism as it defied the established conventions of television narrative. But David Lynch, who directed the enormously successful Blue Velvet in 1986, endowed this cinematic experiment with commercial appeal by grounding the series within the familiar structures of soap-opera melodrama.

Collaborative Chemistry

Combining the strengths of writer-producer Mark Frost and writer-director David Lynch, Twin Peaks was the unique product of creative collaboration. Frost earned network credibility by way of his capacity as writer and story-editor for the highly acclaimed Hill Street Blues (1981-1987) an NBC police procedural/melodrama. Set in a densely populated urban workplace, and distinctly Dickensian in terms of character and plot development, Hill Street Blues displayed Frost's masterful orchestration of a large ensemble drama within a strucutured serial format and his keen understanding of cast and set management.

David Lynch, a prominent cinematic provocateur, had achieved his status on the basis of three critically celebrated and commercially valuable films: Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), and Blue Velvet (1986). In his invaluable edition A Biographical Dictionary of Film (1975-1994), David Thomson praises the manner in which Lynch "kept surrealism, hallucination, and 'experiment' in perfect balance with Americana, a simple compelling storyline, and the huge, gravitational force of a voyeuristic setup". Indeed all of these stylistic elements contributed to the superb filmcraft at work in Twin Peaks.

Network Of Secrets

Twin Peaks focuses on FBI agent Dale Cooper's investigation of a murder in the northwestern community of Twin Peaks, a town just a few miles from the Canadian border. Wrapped in plastic, high school prom queen Laura Palmer is found floating in the lake. Cooper assimilates within the community fiber to uncover a densely complex network of secrets. "Killer Bob", an apparently supernatural entity inhabiting the forests of the Pacific Northwest, emerges as the source of Laura's murder.

In these first episodes of Twin Peaks, David Lynch exhibits his ability to create a body of work embodying the tropes of melodrama while defamiliarizing and deconstructing them. The premier episode, enriched by the brooding synthesizer score and dreamy jazz interludes of composer Angelo Badalamenti, centers on nothing more narrative than the extended emotional responses of the victim's survivors. The chamber drama scenario, while at home in any daytime melodrama, is deflated by a macabre, negative energy that would be entirely unwelcome anywhere outside of this series circa 1990. ABC, in an unheralled move for network television, colluded with the artistic currents at work in Twin Peaks by broadcasting this emotional debut without the interference of commercials in certain markets.

The Absense of Closure

While David Lynch drew viewers deeper into a labyrinth of red herrings and blind alleys, and further from any semblance of closure in the traditional sense of the word, network managers -- and the audiences they seek to represent -- were becoming frustrated with the show's studied ambiguity. In spite of these issues, the presence of a strong cult following and a small but dedicated group of devotees at ABC inspired the network to renew Twin Peaks for a second season.

But in light of the negative reaction to the increasingly avant-garde pretentions of the series, ABC proposed two actions in order to ensure the sustainability of Twin Peaks: they transplanted the series to a new slot on the Saturday evening schedule (10 - 11 pm) where they hoped to capture a larger viewership; they called for the writers to provide a relatively "definitive" solution to the mystery of Laura's killer early within the second series; and they vouched for the introduction of a host of new characters and enigmas to reinvigorate the story line.

Each of these network-induced actions contributed to the downfall of the series both in terms of commercial sustainability and critical success. Audiences were initially drawn to Twin Peaks on the basis of their empathy with the victim and the tension surrounding the hunt for a killer: the absense of these two narrative devices was off-putting. Additionally, the crucial college audience dwindled because students tend to spend Saturday night out or prefer to watch celebrity comedy fare.

The transition from a cohesive eight-episode miniseries in the first season to an open-ended serial drama in the second also undermined the narrative force of the show. In the interest of preserving the sense of mystery and pervasive dread at the heart of Twin Peaks, and having exhausted the battery of supernatural and extraterrestrial motifs, staff writers turned to absurdist humor and meta-commentary, i.e. episodes about episodes, dreams within dreams. These efforts were futile. ABC packaged its final two episodes together as a grand finale, and cancelled the series after a total of 30 episodes.

In the words of David Thomson: "There is a genius in Lynch that may have been lucky to get its one moment."

Music Information

Angelo "Bad Angel" Badalamenti created the following compositions, instrumental except where noted: Twin Peaks Theme; Laura Palmer's Theme; Audrey's Dance; The Nightingale (voc); Freshly Squeezed; The Bookhouse Boys; Into the Night (voc); Night Life In Twin Peaks; Dance of the Dream Man; Love Theme from Twin Peaks; Falling (voc). Lyrics by David Lynch, vocals by Julee Cruise.

DVD Information

The Twin Peaks first season has been made available in a marvelous DVD ($40) edition from Artisan Entertainment, which includes digitally remastered high-definition full-frame transfers and DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 representations of Angelo Badalamenti's dreamy score. Commentary tracks provide critical insights and are usually done by the episode's director or writer, or with other crew members. The pilot episode (sold separately) cannot be purchased within the United States, but can be imported from the UK on Amazon.

Note on Locations:

The fictional community of Twin Peaks should not be confused with the San Francisco neighborhood and hills (just under 1000 feet) of the same name. The series was filmed near Snoqualmie, Washington.

Comprehensive Episode Guide and Cast List:


Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.

Thomson, David. A Biographical Dictionary Of Film. New York: Knopf, 1995.

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