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Welcome to Twin Peaks

May 26, 2017

Twin Peaks was a cultural phenomenon during its very brief run from 1991 to 1992. And now, the series has been revived by creator David Lynch. Here’s a look back at how Twin Peaks was one of the weirdest and greatest shows in TV history.
Twin Peaks
After a movie about Marilyn Monroe fell apart—they insisted on depicting as fact the conspiracy theory that Monroe was murdered by the Kennedys—director David Lynch and screenwriter Mark Frost started working on an oddball mystery show called North Dakota, set in the plains of the state because they wanted the show’s setting to be isolated. They decided that forests were more dark and mysterious than trees, however, and switched the setting to Washington. The mysteries surrounding Monroe’s death were adapted into the show’s central storyline about the bizarre murder of Laura Palmer.
In the opening credits, there’s a sign that says Twin Peaks has a population of 51,201. That’s because Lynch and Frost were overruled—they wanted the sign to say 5,120. But ABC executives thought nobody would watch a show set in a small town. Lynch got his revenge. In the tie-in book Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town, Lynch wrote that the sign was wrong, and that the town’s real population is 5,120.1.
One of the weirdest characters on this very weird show was the Log Lady, played by Catherine Coulson. David Lynch came up with the character in the ‘70s. Coulson acted in his movie Eraserhead. Lynch told her he always liked wood because his father had been a botanist for the U.S. Forest Service. Seeing Coulson while thinking about wood put into his head the idea for a TV series called I’ll Test My Log with Every Branch of Knowledge. She’d talk to experts about their field, and the log would “learn.” (Sadly, that show never came to fruition.)
Twin Peaks was produced by Aaron Spelling Productions. During the height of the show’s “who killed Laura Palmer?” mystery, Aaron Spelling got a call from the company’s co-owner, financier Carl Lindner, wanting to know who the guilty party was. Spelling passed the question to company president Jules Haimovitz, who asked Lynch…who wouldn’t say. As it turns out, Lindner was calling on behalf of President George Bush, who was calling on behalf of his friend, Twin Peak superfan Mikael Gorbachev, president of the Soviet Union.
David Lynch toyed around with never revealing the identity of the killer. He wanted that arc to fade away as the show focused on the town and its strange characters. ABC wanted the mystery solved at the end of season 1. Lynch went so far as to send the network a fake script that said whodunit…and then kept doing what he wanted into the next season, which had already begun production. But it backfired. Fans got frustrated and ratings dropped significantly in season 2. Frost and Lynch had gotten so tired of the network’s meddling on this show that they moved on to their next show, a surreal comedy set backstage at a 1950s TV station called On the Air. Twin Peaks, a top-20 hit in early 1990, was off the air by the summer of 1991.

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