Many people are already familiar with the story of Twin Peaks: The mystery-crime series about FBI agent Dale Cooper trying to solve the murder of schoolgirl Laura Palmer in the mysterious small town of Twin Peaks made its mark on the television landscape in the early 1990s. Originally titled Northwest Passage, Mark Frost and David Lynch made the two-hour pilot for $1.8 million after receiving a commitment from the ABC television network. It received mostly positive reviews at the 1989 Vancouver International Film Festival. After initial skepticism, seven more episodes were ordered following the surprising success. A few months later, the pilot episode was watched by more than 35 million television viewers in the United States in April 1990. When the first season finale set the next audience record, the network ordered another season for the end of the year.
The second season continues the story in 22 episodes in the usual style, but unfortunately cannot maintain the high level of the brilliant previous season. Particularly in the second half, the series loses the tension it has steadily built up over the previous episodes. In order to end the falling of the ratings and not to leave the viewers further in the dark, Frost and Lynch were urged to resolve the core of the story and reveal a murderer of Laura Palmer. When this happened in the middle of the season, viewers nevertheless continued to lose interest and the series was initially sent on an indefinite hiatus with the 16th episode, which usually results in a cancellation. Fortunately, a subsequent petition campaign by fans turned out to be successful and ABC continued the series. However, it was announced that the series would not be renewed for a third season and the remaining episodes marked the end of the series. Lynch later announced that they never had in mind to uncover the killer and the end result was due to the controversial intervention in the plot by the network. As a consolation, the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was released in 1992 under his direction, which can be seen as a prequel to the series, but failed at the box office.
International version vs. original version - the differences
In the event that Twin Peaks would not be aired or continued, an additional ending was agreed upon before filming began. This allowed the pilot to be sold on the international market as a completed feature film. Up to minute 93, both versions are identical, then the first additional scenes follow with simultaneous changes in the editing (Sarah Palmer's vision). The subsequent 18 minutes or so are exclusive and contain footage that, with one exception, is not seen in the later episodes. Among them, the murderer of Laura Palmer is revealed. This begins as early as Sarah Palmer's vision of Killer Bob in Laura's room. After Sheriff Truman is notified by Lucy and Agent Dale Cooper gets the mysterious call, Bob is finally convicted in the hospital basement. The ending features the famous dream sequence where Cooper meets Laura Palmer as well as the little man in the red suit. By his own admission, David Lynch liked this section so much that he later reused it for the second episode of the series.
An overview of the changed and added sections:
Which Twin Peaks version is better? Original or international?
For newcomers, the only recommendation is to start with the shorter original version. The resolution is different from the one in the series, but it takes away the suspense from the plot too early. Some things could also cause even more confusion. The additional minutes also don't really provide any added value, but a look might still be interesting for connoisseurs. The longer version is also suitable for a quick refresher or preparation for the 2017 season. If you don't like the series format at all, but would still like to get a taste of Twin Peaks, you should prefer the longer, international version, as it is self-contained.
Twin Peaks on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming
For the home video market, both versions were released on DVD in 2007 in the Twin Peaks - Definitive Gold Box Edition. In 2014, the Blu-ray release followed along with the film in the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set. After the third season, Twin Peaks - A Limited Event Series was released in 2017, Universal Pictures released the complete boxes Twin Peaks: The Television Collection and Twin Peaks: From Z to A, which includes a 4K Ultra HD version of the pilot episode as an extra. Apparently, only the shorter original pilot can currently be streamed. It should be noted that the pilot is offered in two parts on Amazon.de, so the buyer is asked to pay twice. We don't know whether that's the case in other countries, as well. If you do, please write it in our comment section.
Runtime of the original version: 1:34:03
Runtime difference: 18 minutes and 52 seconds
[Timecodes are taken from the international version.]
Compared was the original version with the international version, both included on the Blu-rays by Universal Pictures
[1:33:11] ''Sarah Palmer's Vision".
Sarah Palmer's vision contains additional scenes and is edited differently. She first calls out to her daughter Laura in the stairwell. The shorter original version shows only two short shots of this.
Sarah then runs down the stairs and enters Laura's room. After looking around the room, she sees Killer Bob kneeling behind the bed. In the original version, she dreams about the walk in the woods instead.
After Sarah wakes up from the shock and gets up from the sofa, she once again catches sight of Bob behind the bed. In the original, someone puts the stone from the ground aside.
Then she screams out loud and calls for her husband, Leland Palmer. In the original version, the unknown person in the woods digs up Laura's necklace. The credits roll and the shorter pilot episode ends.
[1:34:10] ''Lucy and Andy"
While Lucy Moran practices with the paddleball bat and Deputy Andy Brennan plays the trumpet, Leland Palmer calls. He tells Lucy about his wife Sarah's vision and the visit from Laura's killer.
Lucy then informs Sheriff Herry Truman.
[1:36:45] ''Mysterious call"
During the night, Agent Dale Cooper receives a call in his hotel room at the Great Nothern Hotel. The stranger has information about the killer and wants to meet him at the hospital.
Cooper turns on the lights and is then told by Lucy about the latest events.
Then he records another voice message for Diane.
Dale Cooper, Herry Truman and Andy Brennan visit the unknown man from the phone in the hospital.
The sheriff shows the mug shot of Killer Bob to the one-armed man. He recognizes him and then tells the three that Bob is down in the basement.
Killer Bob is holding his ritual in the basement of the hospital. When Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman arrive there, he calls for Mike and tries to reach him in his mind.
Mike appears in the background and shoots Bob.
He screams in pain and falls to the ground. Sheriff Truman kneels down to him. After looking at the dead Bob, Agent Cooper watches as the 12 candles go out.
[1:46:44] ''Twenty-Five Years Later"
The aged Dale Cooper finds himself in the "red room" and discovers Laura Palmer and the little man in the red suit.
Laura taps her nose and the "Man From Another Place" has good news.
The little man gets up from the couch and starts dancing to the jazz music. Laura rises as well, saunters over to Dale Cooper and whispers something in his ear.
End. While dancing continues, the credits roll.