Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twenty Years Ago This Month . . .

I first heard about Twin Peaks twenty years ago this month.  It was January 11, 1990, to be exact.  I had purchased a copy of the Dallas Morning News and on the front page of the Arts section was a TV column by critic, Ed Bark.  The title was: "ABC aims high with Twin Peaks."  Bark has just attended a mid-season screening of the Twin Peaks pilot in Los Angeles and was, to put it mildly, blown away.  Here's what he had to say:

"The two hour Twin Peaks movie, populated by an ensemble cast of 16 is the first TV masterpiece of the '90s and the best drama to come our way since Hill Street [Blues] floored critics and reviewers in January 1981. Dark, deceptive, visual, and, of course, quirky, it spellbinds from the very first minute -- make that the first second."

Well, I was excited.  Ed Bark was describing something magnificent and new, something startling and unique, something not-to-be-missed.  I knew I had to see Twin Peaks.  You see, I was always a fan of good TV and two decades ago good TV--and by that I mean something intelligent, complex and challenging--was a rarity.  The best television series to date had been St. Elsewhere.  There was also Hill Street Blues and the early episodes of Miami Vice.  But really, there was very little that made you sit up and take notice. 

Clearly something special was on the way.  Ed Bark ended his column by saying, "Much more will be written about Twin Peaks before it emboldens prime time as no series since Hill Street.  Circle March [the tentative broadcast month for the pilot] on your calendar and savor the prospect of further details."  Well, in a figurative sense, I did "circle the month." I took Bark's column home and placed it prominently on my desk.  I was not going to forget Twin Peaks

And I didn't.  I watched (and videotaped) the pilot episode when it premiered on April 8, 1990.  Then I watched it again the next day.  Like Ed Bark, I was bowled over.  It was the greatest thing I'd ever seen on TV. (Still is, actually.)  And Bark was right; much more was written about Twin Peaks (albeit after it aired).  In fact, much of that writing appeared in the pages of Wrapped In Plastic, produced by Craig Miller and myself. 

Not surprisingly, I'm still writing about Twin Peaks today.  And I hope in 2010 to write about it a little bit more.  Make no mistake; this blog will still be home to reviews of all sorts of books, comics, TV, films and other assorted stuff that sparks my interest.  But in this twentieth anniversary year of Twin Peaks I think I have a few fun things about Peaks to share.

Anyway, that's the story of how I first heard about Twin Peaks

So tell me, when did you first hear about it?


  1. I used to put together our Sunday TV magazine here at the then Middlesex (now MetroWest) Daily News in Framingham, Mass. The cover story for the April 8, 1990, edition was on ‘‘Twin Peaks.’’ I had seen numerous advertisements for the program, but hadn’t paid much attention to them. I just remember thinking that the name ‘‘Twin Peaks’’ was a pretty obvious double entendre, and I wasn’t going to support the program by watching it.

    That article convinced me otherwise.

    As 9 p.m. Sunday approached, my wife was watching a special on Martin Luther King, Jr. I asked her if she would very much mind changing the channel. She said she wouldn’t, she was going to go upstairs to take a shower anyway. Fifteen minutes later, she had settled on the sofa with me. The shower had to wait.

    I began taping the episodes with the second one-hour one, probably the most famous of them all. I was going to miss it otherwise, because I had a camera club meeting to attend. Nancy was so excited when I got home: ‘‘Wait til you see it!’’

    After that, I think she usually went to bed before the show came on, so I had to continue to tape each episode, which meant that I could watch it as it was broadcast, then watch it again later when I played the tape for her, which gave me the chance to pick up what I had missed the first time around.

    And then, two-and-a-half years later, a friend at work gave me a copy of a ‘‘Twin Peaks’’-themed magazine he’d picked up at his comic shop called ‘‘Wrapped in Plastic,’’ and I asked him to keep getting them for me, until I finally broke down and began subscribing so I could get them through the mail.

    Random memory: Another friend at work had a baby in July 1991; her husband’s name was Dale, they named their son Kyle.

    Four more years until Agent Cooper gets out of the Black Lodge?

    Raymond M.

  2. It may have been in the common room in the residence I was in at university. Possibly a guy from the film program told me. I had already been converted by Blue Velvet (oh that incredibly uncomfortable first viewing on video tape with both parents there to watch too), so I couldn't believe that something David Lynch did was going to be on tv. I was giddy with anticipation from that moment on.

    And I would have watched the show in that same common room, with a group of art school students going bonkers over the show.

  3. Australia didn't get Twin Peaks until 1991, which of course meant that all the big secrets had been revealed in the US by then - yet strangely enough those spoilers were kept well under wraps.

    I can't remember when I first heard of Twin Peaks, specifically. I remember it being discussed - even briefly - in genre magazines, because of David Lynch's involvement. There was even a discussion of the European ending some time in 1990 in one magazine or another.

    I guess my first prominent memory of the show (since I didn't see it until '91) was its numerous nominations at the Emmys in '90 - and losing nearly all of them.

    But anticipation for the show airing here - even a year later - was pretty phenomenal. And I had been anticipating it for a long time at that point. Looking back on it, I see how traditional media really did allow a TV show to air a year later without the surprises being widely known or spoiled. So I did experience it in a fairly pure way - even if my 20th Anniversary with the show isn't until next year!

    Keith Gow
    (who was grateful to find Wrapped in Plastic when he did, since we also had to wait 12 months for Fire Walk With Me when that was released - and I probably anticipated that more than the original series!)

  4. I was born the year Twin Peaks aired, so obviously my story is a little different to everyone else's but it's a bit strange anyway. The first thing I ever saw of TP was actually the very last scene, "How's Annie?"! I think I must have been eight or nine years old, and I vaguely recall it was part of a Greatest TV Endings show. However, this spoilt nothing for me, because being so young I forgot ever seeing it. Then, a few years ago, when I finally got round to watching the show, I got to the last episode and then when that last scene took place, it gave me the strangest feeling of dejà vu. It took me ages to realise where and how I had seen it before, but I think it added to the magic of the last scene really, because not only did I have the normal shock that any viewer would have, I also had these 10 year old memories of seeing it and not knowming what it meant but just being terrified!