In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Twin Peaks

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Anthologies
  • Special Journal Issues
  • Official Tie-In Books
  • Aesthetics, Style, and Narrative
  • Auteurism and David Lynch
  • Detection and Crime
  • Doubling, Repetition, and Returns
  • Dreams, Fantasy, and Surrealism
  • Evil and the Supernatural
  • Fandom and Audiences
  • Gender, Feminism, and the Family
  • Horror, Gothic, and Science Fiction
  • Nature and the Wilderness
  • Paratexts and Transmedia Storytelling
  • Sound and Music
  • Television Studies and Media Industries

Cinema and Media Studies Twin Peaks
by
Rebecca Williams
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 January 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0348

Introduction

Twin Peaks is an American television series that first aired on the ABC network in the United States on 8 April 1990. Despite its critical acclaim the show was cancelled at the end of its second season in 1991 and remained off-air until its third series, titled Twin Peaks: The Return, was aired on the premium television network Showtime in 2017. The show was created by renowned filmmakers David Lynch and Mark Frost, whose television successes included police drama Hill Street Blues, and it was widely promoted as the series that would “change television.” The program, set in the fictional northwestern US town of Twin Peaks, was focused on the central mystery surrounding the murder of local schoolgirl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and the efforts of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in solving the case. The show featured a cast of inhabitants of the town and was renowned for quirky characters, dream sequences, and surrealism, which were seen as hallmarks of David Lynch’s cinematic work. The question of “who killed Laura Palmer?” constituted the key narrative enigma for the first season of the show. When this mystery was resolved at the midpoint of the second series, audience interest waned, and the show’s declining viewing figures led to its cancellation. The program’s original run ended on a cliffhanger where lead character Dale Cooper became possessed by the evil spirit BOB (who was responsible for Palmer’s death while possessing her father Leyland Palmer [Ray Wise]). In 1992, David Lynch directed the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which involved a return to Twin Peaks to depict the events leading up to Laura Palmer’s murder. The film was initially viewed as a disappointment, especially for those who wanted resolution to the show’s cliffhanger ending. Fire Walk with Me has since been reappraised and is now widely viewed as a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking. In 2016, David Lynch and Mark Frost began teasing a Twin Peaks–related announcement on their social media, with The Return of the series on Showtime announced soon after. While some setbacks were encountered when Lynch temporarily departed due to conflicts over budget and artistic vision, Twin Peaks: The Return aired in 2017 and was widely hailed as a return to form for the series. Throughout its history, Twin Peaks has attracted a loyal fanbase and critical attention on issues, including authorship, aesthetics, narrative, and genre.

General Overviews

Several books offer an overview of the series. Most of these works focus on the two original series of Twin Peaks and some are academic in tone while others are designed to appeal to the more casual reader. Dukes 2014 provides an extensive reflection on the creation and making of the original series and presents in-depth interviews with many of those who worked on the show. Thorne 2016 gathers important interviews and analytical essays from the magazine Wrapped in Plastic and reprints them alongside a highly detailed episode guide to the original series. Taking more academic approaches, Burns 2015 combines exclusive interviews with academic analysis, while Halskov 2015 provides insightful discussion of the show’s impact on television drama and production alongside interviews with cast and crew. Boulègue and Bushman 2017 focuses on the original series and offers high-level discussion of concepts such as psychoanalysis and mythology, seeking to provide a comprehensive analysis of the show. Hallam 2018 is the only volume focused on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me to date, analyzing the film’s journey from maligned failure to respected horror classic. Grossman and Scheibal 2020 provides a well-researched and accessible discussion of all three seasons of Twin Peaks, with a particular focus on the show’s impact on contemporary television production and aesthetics and its transmedia and paratextual afterlives.

  • Boulègue, Franck, and David Bushman. Twin Peaks: Unwrapping the Plastic. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2017.

    Focusing on concepts such as fairy tales and folklore, psychoanalysis, and mythology, this volume is best suited to postgraduates and academic researchers already familiar with many of the key debates around the series.

  • Burns, Andy. Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks. Toronto: ECW Press, 2015.

    This short book provides an overview of the history and impact of the original series and contains exclusive interviews with cast and production staff.

  • Dukes, Brad. Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks. Nashville: Short/Tall Press, 2014.

    While not an academic volume, this book offers exclusive and invaluable information about the production of the original series. Featuring interviews with the majority of cast and crew involved in producing the show, the book charts the development and making of the series. It offers invaluable background information for readers.

  • Grossman, Julie, and Will Scheibal. Twin Peaks: TV Milestones. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2020.

    This compact and readable volume covers all elements of the Twin Peaks phenomenon, including both the original and the return series. It focuses its short chapters on issues of authorship, genre, performance, gender, and transmedia storytelling and is ideal for readers new to the series as well as those seeking a concise yet well-researched overview of the key themes and academic debates.

  • Hallam, Lindsay. Fire Walk with Me (Devil’s Advocates). Leighton Buzzard, UK: Auteur Publishing, 2018.

    DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325642.001.0001

    This short but comprehensive volume offers a reappraisal of the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk with Me, focusing particularly on its status as a horror film. Will be most useful for those seeking discussion of all elements of the show, especially beyond the television series itself.

  • Halskov, Andreas. TV Peaks: Twin Peaks and Modern Television Drama. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2015.

    This meticulously researched book explores the ongoing legacy of Twin Peaks, arguing that its impact has shaped the television industry and production and creation. Written from the Scandinavian perspective, the book includes exclusive interviews with vast and crew alongside meticulous academic research. It will be of use to those researching the series’ lasting legacy in television studies, and anyone interested in an academic overview of the original series.

  • Thorne, John. The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks. Dallas: John Thorne, 2016.

    This volume is a collection of key essays and interviews from the Wrapped in Plastic magazine. It offers the reader an accessible guide to the early work on the series published in that magazine and also provides a detailed episode guide that will be of use to readers requiring orientation to the original series.

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