'Twin Peaks': THR's 1990 Review

Twin Peaks TV Still Four - H 2014

Twin Peaks TV Still Four - H 2014

On Sunday, April 8, 1990, ABC debuted a new crime drama, David Lynch's Twin Peaks. The Hollywood Reporter appraised the series days before its premiere, read the original review below:

The blue, bloated body of a young woman washes up on shore, wrapped in a plastic bag. A fisherman discovers the decomposing corpse. And the Northwest logging community of Twin Peaks is thrown into a chaotic search for the killer. 

The big news here is not that television has another serial drama in primetime. It's not even that ABC's Twin Peaks is a provocative, stunningly photographed piece of storytelling. No, the big news here is David Lynch. Lynch, the filmmaker. The man who brought us the likes of Eraserhead and The Elephant Man has turned to television. And he's done it in such a way that producers and critics alike, who look down on the media as a secondary art form to the big screen, will now see how it is supposed to be done. 

Lynch and co-executive producer Mark Frost have crafted their two-hour opening script into vignettes that delicately scrape off the veneer of the idyllic life in a picturesque rural town and reveal all the greed, passion, jealousy and corruption underneath. And along the way we are introduced to a plethora of characters, each with potential for enormous character development in weeks ahead. 

There is Sheriff Harry S. Truman, played strongly by one-time "Rookie" Michael Ontkean. A murder in his jurisdiction is strange stuff, and so FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is brought in. 

Cooper is an orange masquerading as a tangerine; a fast talker whose amazement at the size of the trees in the milling town and taste of the cherry pie baked there masks the mind of a top-notch investigator who notices the smallest nuisance of a clue. 

The pair guide the story and explore the true motives of a variety of townsfolk. Mod Squad's Peggy Lipton makes a welcome return to television as Norma Jennings, the owner of a greasy spoon, who's in love with the owner of Ed's Gas Farm (Everett McGill). Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' Russ Tamblyn is all character as psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Jacoby. Piper Laurie as Catherine Martell and Joan Chen as Jocelyn Packard, who run the town's Packard Sawmill, each add their own brilliance. 

They join together with hairdressers and bikers and teenage girls in saddle shoes to dodge and weave their own secrets and desires throughout an investigation that is as much about the town as it is the murder. 

It's television at its best — climax, building, and climaxing again, ever drawing the viewer into its intrigue. 

The problem with Twin Peaks is not the show. The problem here is the viewer; and it's unavoidable. For as classy, clever and well-spun as Twin Peaks is, it makes the mistake of presuming the viewer will watch and listen and perceive. Not so.

Lynch expects the viewer to suck the Tootsie pop slowly until the inner chewy nucleus is revealed. TV viewers chomp through their pops. 

But concentration is such a rare event in television viewing that any hope of following the intricacy of Twin Peaks is a dream. Especially after the hour series moves to its regular time slot on Thursday nights from 9-10 p.m., when Cheers and Grand are only a flick of the remote away. Sad but very true. — Richard Hack