Twin Peaks International Pilot (Arrow Recommends)

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: When the body of Prom Queen Laura Palmer (Lee) is found on the shore, wrapped in plastic in the quiet town of Twin Peaks, Special Agent Dale Cooper (MacLachlan) is brought in to find the murderer and solve the mystery. It sounds simple as cherry pie on a Sunday morning, but trust me…it isn’t. Kick back and enter the spellbinding world of “Twin Peaks”!

"Gentlemen. When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object in inquiry we must always pay strict attention." –  Special Agent Dale Cooper

LOWDOWN: In the 90’s the first season of TWIN PEAKS became a sensation and “Who killed Laura Palmer” was the question (one that Lynch never wanted to answer BTW, but was forced to by the Network) on everybody’s lips. Then the oddness overload that was Season 2 lost mucho viewers (not this one) and acted as the last nail in the show’s coffin… or so we thought. TWIN PEAKS has finally returned to television now in 2017 with the warped and Lynch in top Lynch form Season 3 (dubbed The Return, check out the reviews here). Now I’m not here to dive into The Return, but will just say this: respect to Lynch and Frost for not making it easy for the audience right off the bat. In a day and age when so much is dumbed down for the lowest denominator, it’s refreshing to take on something that simply doesn’t give a f*ck. Although I have mixed feelings about the series so far, just like in the 90’s, there’s nothing else like it on TV that’s for sure! I'll stick to it till the end and make up my mind about it then.

Now, in light of The Return, I wanted to recommend something Twin Peaks related but figured that the two seasons would be a tall order for you new Peakers to take on. And I’ve already addressed the feature length prequel FIRE WALK WITH ME here. So I took on the 116 minutes long International Pilot (which you can see on this SOLID and filled to the brim boxet), which wraps up the storyline as opposed to the 94 minutes US Pilot which left things opened for the story to continue. To my knowledge this version of the Pilot was created for the foreign market that didn’t want an ongoing series but a “one-off” and it was also a back-up plan for the Network, just in case the show didn’t get picked up. Lucky for us it did and we got two Season of genius and now a long overdue third one is gracing the small screen. But how does the International Pilot hold up? Pour yourself a cup of Joe, line up them donuts and order that slice of cherry pie – here it goes!

Everything that wasn’t shot for the foreign market worked…lol! The elements that made the show what it is, resulted in quite the unique blend, even by today's standards. Think murder mystery, meets soap opera (everybody is cheating on everybody here, it's silly) by way of unorthodox comedy (with snappy dialogue to boot) and metaphysical horror. How's that for a mix! Yup, Twin Peaks was a trailblazer! Without it we wouldn’t have gotten shows like True Detective, Northern Exposure, The X-Files, Eerie Indiana and the list goes on! I gotta say it, it struck me on this round as just how emotional the Pilot was. Lynch went about conveying his poignant moments like a champ! His shot compositions, the way they were cut together and backed by stirring music (by the great Angelo Badalamenti) all came together to deliver quite the impactful moments. The keen attention to details and the random oddball touches (like a guy breakdancing in the background out of nowhere) were also noticed more this time around. They made an already full meal much meatier!

Lynch’s arresting visual style (loved his use of static shots; like that low angle on the staircase with the ceiling fan doing its thing), the jaw dropping settings (the woods, the mountains, the waterful) and the “out of time” small town feel greased me right as well. Finally, the slew of distinctive characters played by the affable cast was a huge plus! So many people to love here! Kyle MacLachlan was transfixing as the sharp yet child like Agent Dale Cooper. Michael Ontkean played off the latter ideally as the deadpan Sherriff Truman. Madchen Amick (Shelly), Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna), Joan Chen (Josie) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey) had me hypnotized to the screen by way of their hefty acting chops and retina pleasing good looks and I dare ya not to fall in love with Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer. Yes her screen time was limited, but she exuded “something special” that just grabbed me (and the rest of the world). I guess that's why she was cast! Dana Ashbrook, Peggy Lipton, Piper Laurie, James Marshall, Everett McGill , Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goanz, Ray Wise… they all owned it! I can go on and on and on about the cast, so I’ll stop right here. 

NOTE: What I particularly loved about all of the characters is that Lynch and Frost gave them little quirks that had them stand out. From Bobby’s barking or Lucy’s and Andy’s idea of a quiet night at home (trumpet and paddle ball… nough said)… it all sounds silly on a paper but it managed to rock it in an organic fashion. END OF NOTE.

What didn’t do for me in this International cut of the Pilot was actually the added material. The ending came off as tacked on (cause it was). The killer rambled on wayyyyyyy too much hence pissing on his threat level. And now that I think of it, the new footage didn’t really cap-off anything hence leaving me scratching my nuts as to HOW this version was all good for foreign buyers. When the final frames in the red room popped up, and that midget started snapping them fingers, it was weird out of left field within this Pilot as opposed to being gradually built up to via the 2 Seasons. On that, Lynch went on to use some of the BOB (Frank Silva) footage he shot for this version as part of a Cooper dream sequence in the series, hence it wasn’t a total waste of his time.

So should you watch the TWIN PEAKS International Pilot? Yes. It should be seen as a curiosity item. Also, if you’re into the new season and know nothing of Twin Peaks, it’s a good idea to give it a whirl, just so you get familiar with the settings and characters. If it’s between tapping the International Pilot or watching Season 1-2 though, well it’s no contest, clock the two Seasons.

I’d like to add that I’m very happy for David Lynch right now. The dude kind of peaked within the mainstream with Mulholland Drive in 2001 and although he kept working (Inland Empire), his work didn’t get the attention it deserved. Now his first two episodes of TWIN PEAKS THE RETURN got a standing ovation at Cannes and his unique vision is getting to shine again on the small screen with a solid budget backing him up to boot. Props man! I personally missed Lynch’s novel voice and I am in a tizzy to have him back! Happy Peaking mofos and mofettes!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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