From the vault: Twin Peaks, in its time


To be honest, I’m a little surprised David Lynch and Mark Frost are going there again. And a little worried. Twin Peaks was so far ahead of its time in its time, will it meet itself coming backwards when it returns as a Showtime series? Because of Twin Peaks, viewers weren’t put off by the mind-bending metaphysical and supernatural touches of shows like The X-Files and Lost. Because of Twin Peaks, we now watch dramas — whether The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad — with a scavenger-hunt eye out for portents and clues.  What more can Twin Peaks offer to the medium it helped to change?

I wrote about Twin Peaks extensively when I was the TV critic for the old San Francisco Examiner. From the show’s premiere on April 8, 1990, to its cancellation after only 30 episodes (but a lot of doughnuts), I was under the show’s spell as both a critic and a fan.  I wanted to link to some of those articles here, because they capture the sense of what it was like to watch Twin Peaks at the moment it became a cultural phenomenon. But, sadly, the Examiner is not digitally archived.

I do have hard copies, though, and if I can find a way to scan the oversized daily-paper clippings, I will. I did find one immediately scannable piece that I wrote for Image, the Sunday magazine published by the Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle (the two rival papers put out a joint Sunday edition, thanks to an operating agreement too complicated to get into here). I’m proud of this piece, and I don’t think I can write anything better about Twin Peaks right now, not having seen the show in 23 years. So here’s a scanned copy of that essay;  if you’re reading on anything larger than a tablet, you’ll have to click and use your zoom in/out tool to adjust the image. It’s a little clunky, but it works.

I apologize for the use of “Chinese puzzle” in the subhead (which I didn’t write) and the use of “midget” instead of “dwarf” (my usage) to describe the Little Man;  this was written in a less enlightened time. There are also some weird typographical errors in the original, with words randomly hyphenated where there should have been line breaks. Please ignore.

Now, please join me in the Wayback Machine. The dial is set for full immersion, as we travel back to Twin Peaks mania, 1990.






©Joyce Millman, The Mix Tape, 2014

“As the Parallel World Turns” ©The San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, 1990



3 thoughts on “From the vault: Twin Peaks, in its time

  1. milomiles October 9, 2014 / 6:58 pm

    “But, sadly, the Examiner is not digitally archived.”

    Sixteen tons of swear words about this as well as a couple tanker-loads for other worthy print items everybody can’t read as readily as the lesser spew that’s all over everywhere. Humph. Vintage films first, sure. But print next.

    • Joyce Millman October 9, 2014 / 7:41 pm

      I could also have said “and probably never will be”. The Examiner archive was a casualty of the sale of the paper, and was neglected by the new owners. They finally donated it to the UC-Berkeley library, but there’s no money to digitize it. Maybe Google will get to it someday …

  2. Jonathan Perry November 3, 2014 / 8:50 am

    Wonderfully well-written as usual Joyce, thanks for fishing out the hard copy and scanning. Loved reading your take at the time and agree(d) whole-heartedly. One of my absolute favorite series’ for the psyche. And because, yes, I did tape those shows on VHS (as well as the ‘Twin Peaks’ marathon that Nick@Nite or somebody ran one week many years ago) have had other chances to re-obsess. Like damn good coffee and cherry pie (and there was , ahem, certainly a lot of that on the show as well), you never get tired of it.

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