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Twin Peaks

This article is about the television series. For alternative meanings, see: Twin Peaks (disambiguation).

Twin Peaks was an American television series created by David Lynch and Mark Frost . The show is set in the fictional town of Twin Peaks in north-east Washington.

It aired on the ABC network in the United States from April 8, 1990 until June 10, 1991. Some episodes were written/directed by Lynch and Frost, but most were directed by guests invited by Lynch. The show was co-produced by Aaron Spelling's production company and ran for 29 episodes over two seasons.



Twin Peaks tells the story of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and his investigation into the murder of a popular young local girl Laura Palmer. The programme portrays small-town America via an imaginary tight-knit community of unsophisticates. The pilot was filmed in the real-life town of Snoqualmie, Washington, not far from Seattle, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The gradual unraveling of the tale necessarily exposes each Twin Peaks inhabitant to unwelcome scrutiny from Agent Cooper and men from the Sheriff's Department. As with much of Lynch's other work (such as Blue Velvet), Twin Peaks explores the relationship between the veneer of respectability and the seedier layer of life beneath it. The programme borrowed generously from American soap operas in its melodramatic presentation of its characters' morally dubious activities. However, like all Lynch's previous and subsequent work, there exists a strong moral seriousness that informs the totality of the production.

The series is particularly memorable for Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Special Agent Dale Cooper, who had the most famous line in the series (which became a catch phrase): "This is a damn fine cup of coffee."

The series made use of multiple red herring plot elements and spin-offs into other media that was novel for American television at the time. While the search for Laura Palmer's killer drove the first season, single episodes would detour into self-contained plots. Most fans agree that once the killer was revealed the series lost pace.

It should be noted that each episode takes place over the course of a single day, usually beginning in the morning and ending around midnight.


The body of Laura Palmer, homecoming Queen and a popular girl, is discovered wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell. The news is relayed to the town's residents who react in various ways. Meanwhile across the state line a second girl, Ronette Pulaski, is found walking in a catatonic state along some rail road tracks. Since the crime crosses state lines, the FBI is alerted and Special Agent Dale Cooper arrives to investigate. Cooper's initial examination of Laura's body reveals the typed letter 'R' inserted under her fingernail. He recognises this as the "calling card" of a killer who took the life of Teresa Banks a year earlier in the town of Deer Meadow.

Cooper quickly establishes that Laura's character and relationships are not as they first appear, and that she's far from the innocent homecoming Queen that the town knew her as. Laura had been two-timing her boyfriend Bobby Briggs with the biker James Hurley, a situation known to Laura's best friend Donna Hayward. Cooper also finds traces of cocaine in Laura's diary, a habit she shared with Bobby.

Cooper is staying at the Hotel owned by the Horne family. Audrey Horne develops a crush on Cooper and when he traces Laura's cocaine usage to a club called 'One-Eyed Jacks' she infiltrates it for him. It is revealed that Laura had also been working as a prostitute sometimes based at the club. Cooper has a dream in which he visits the Red Room where he meets the Man from Another Place and the trapped spirit of Laura Palmer who whispers into his ear the name of her killer. However when he awakes, Cooper is unable to remember the name.

The information that Cooper has gained from psychic and observed means leads him to a number of suspects but he knows that finding Laura's secret diary holds the key. This diary is held by Harold Smith who was one of Laura's confidants. The secret diary reveals that from a young age Laura was abused by a character called Bob and that her use of drugs and sex are the means she has evolved to supress Bob.

Maddie Ferguson, who is Laura's cousin and her spitting image, arrives to stay with Laura's parents. Both of them at times confuse Maddie with Laura. Maddie also becomes obsessed with finding Laura's killer and discovers that this is Leland Palmer, Laura's father. Leland kills Maddie but is captured by Dale Cooper who realises he has been possessed by the malevolent spirit of Bob. Leland smashes his own head against the wall of his cell and in his dying moment his soul is restored.


Composer Angelo Badalamenti, a frequent contributor to Lynch projects, scored the series and provides the leitmotif "Laura's Theme", the famous title theme and other evocative pieces to the soundtrack. Julee Cruise added ethereal vocals that complimented the otherworldliness that typified Twin Peaks during its run.

Variant versions

The pilot episode, first screened on TV in the US, was also released theatrically in Europe as a stand-alone story. The European version is 20 minutes longer than the TV pilot with a different ending added to bring closure to the story (see below the spoiler warning).

After the TV series had ended, Lynch made a prequel movie, Fire Walk With Me, co-written with Robert Engels (a writer from the series).

In September 2002, the first season (episodes 1-7) of Twin Peaks was released as a DVD box set. The box set was noted for being the first TV show to have its audio track redone in DTS. The set was heavily criticized for not including the key pilot episode, which could not be included due to the fact Lynch sold the rights to it to another company in order to facilitate its release theatrically. The pilot episode is included in the box set released in Europe, but as of late 2004 it is not yet known whether the televised version of the pilot (which ties in with the rest of the series) will ever be released to DVD in North America, or if the version released there will be the theatrical version.

The second season is due to be released worldwide by Paramount.

The European version wraps up the story by showing Mike, the one-armed man , shooting Bob who admits to the murder. Most of the supernatural aspects of the story are toned down or eliminated.


Grouping Name Description Played by
The FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper Investigates Laura's death Kyle MacLachlan
Albert Rosenfield Abrasive forensics expert Miguel Ferrer
Chief Gordon Cole Cooper's stone-deaf boss, shouts all the time David Lynch
Diane Cooper's never-seen secretary  ? (never seen or heard)
Twin Peaks Police Department Sheriff Harry S. Truman Lover of Josie Packard Michael Ontkean
Deputy Andy Brennan Dorky sidekick, lover(!) of Lucy Harry Goaz
Deputy Hawk , Tommy Hill Tracker Michael Horse
Lucy Moran Ditzy receptionist Kimmy Robertson
The Sawmill Josie Packard Widowed sawmill owner, lover of Sheriff Truman Joan Chen
Catherine Packard Martell Scheming with lover Ben Horne to burn the mill Piper Laurie
Pete Martell Long-suffering husband of Catherine Jack Nance
The Palmers Leland Palmer Laura's father Ray Wise
Sarah Palmer Laura's psychic mother Grace Zabriskie
Laura Palmer Murder victim, connected to almost everyone in town Sheryl Lee
Maddie Ferguson Laura's cousin Sheryl Lee
The Johnsons Leo Johnson Brutish trucker, drug-runner, had sexual relationships with Laura Palmer Eric Da Re
Shelly Johnson Wife of Leo, lover of Bobby Briggs Mädchen Amick
The Briggses Major Garland Briggs Air Force officer involved in Project Blue Book Don S. Davis
Betty Briggs Unassuming wife and mother Charlotte Stewart
Bobby Briggs Rebellious teenager, boyfriend of Laura Palmer, lover of Shelly Johnson Dana Ashbrook
The Hornes Benjamin Horne Wealthy businessman, owns hotel, department store Richard Beymer
Jerry Horne Ben's playboy brother David Patrick Kelly
Sylvia Horne Ben's constantly angry wife Jan D'Arcy
Audrey Horne Ben's sultry teenage daughter Sherilyn Fenn
Johnny Horne Ben's mentally handicapped son, tutored by Laura Robert Bauer III
The Haywards Doc Hayward Coroner, performs autopsy on Laura Palmer Warren Frost
Eileen Hayward His wife Mary Jo Deschanel
Donna Hayward Laura's best friend, lover of James Hurley Lara Flynn Boyle
Harriet Hayward Donna's younger sister Jessica Wallenfels
Gersten Hayward Donna's youngest sister Alicia Witt
The Hurleys Big Ed Hurley Gas stop owner, lover of Norma Jennings Everett McGill
Nadine Hurley Ed's drape-obsessed wife Wendy Robie
James Hurley Ed's nephew, secret love of Laura Palmer, lover of Donna Hayward James Marshall
The Jenningses Norma Jennings Diner owner, lover of Big Ed Hurley, organiser of meals on wheels with Laura Palmer Peggy Lipton
Hank Jennings Her husband, paroled criminal, conspirator with Josie Packard Chris Mulkey
Annie Blackburn Younger sister of Norma, an ex-nun with a troubled past Heather Graham
The Renaults Jacques Renault Canadian, croupier, drug-runner, had sexual relationship with Laura Palmer Walter Olkewicz
Jean Renault Criminal brother Michael Parks
Bernard Renault Murdered brother Clay Wilcox
Others Dr Lawrence Jacoby Psychiatrist, therapist of Laura Palmer Russ Tamblyn
Blackie O'Reilly Brothel madame Victoria Catlin
Harold Smith Agoraphobic horticulturist, Laura's friend Lenny Von Dohlen
Margaret Lanterman The Log Lady , mystic, widow who divines through her ubiquitous log Catherine E. Coulson
Denise/Denis Bryson Cross-dressing DEA Agent who investigates drug allegations against Dale Cooper David Duchovny
Dick Tremayne Pretentious employee of Men's Department at Horne's, ex-lover of Lucy. Ian Buchanan
Windom Earle Psychopathic ex-partner of Cooper, desires the powers of the Lodges, Kenneth Welsh
The People from the Lodges The Man From Another Place Enigmatic dwarf Michael J. Anderson
The Giant A giant who helps Cooper Carel Struycken
Phillip Michael Gerard AKA MIKE, the one-armed man . A shoe-salesman who also acts as host for Mike. Al Strobel
BOB malevolent presence who haunts Laura Frank Silva
Mrs. Tremond / Chalfont Messenger from Lodge with nephew - Pierre (who knows of BOB). Intentions unknown. Frances Bay


  • The musician Moby used "Laura Palmer's Theme" as the basis for his track "Go".
  • Marilyn Manson titled a song on their Portrait of an American Family album “Wrapped in Plastic”, apparently after a line of Pete Martell 's in the first minutes of the pilot. The track itself appears to have a sample of Laura Palmer’s scream from episode 29
  • The series launched the careers of a number of actors, including Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn.
  • A number of principal and minor actors from Twin Peaks also had small (but memorable) roles on the sitcom Seinfeld:
    • Warren Frost (Doc Hayward) and Grace Zabriskie (Sara Palmer) had recurring roles on Seinfeld as Susan's parents (George Costanza's fiance, Susan).
    • Ian Abercrombie (the medical insurance salesman when Leo is brought home after being shot) had a recurring role on Seinfeld as Mr. Pitt (Elaine's boss).
    • Frances Bay (Mrs. Tremond) appeared in three episodes as the "marble rye-bread lady" (where Jerry Seinfeld stole her marble rye)
    • Walter Olkewicz (Jacques Renault) appeared as the cable man that Kramer tries to avoid
    • Molly Shannon (woman from the adoption agency, also of SNL fame) appeared as one of Elaine's co-workers that did not swing her arms when she walked

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Last updated: 05-23-2005 19:17:18