Like anyone with an appetite for great television, I felt a hole in my heart when Sunday approached with no new True Detective. But I have a solution. Why not check out the first, brilliant season of 1990s hit Twin Peaks? The show still has a spooky, weird charm after all these years.
Twin Peaks was a sensation when it first aired in 1990 on ABC. Created by Mark Frost (Hill Street Blues) and weirdo auteur David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Dune), the murder mystery was moody and bizarre, full of gorgeous lumber factories and dead girls, stylish dream sequences, and portents from a supernatural realm. Named after the small town where the action takes place, Twin Peaks set the stage for the kinds of innovative series we now see regularly on cable networks like HBO, Showtime and AMC.
Twin Peaks is visually stunning, set in a beautiful pine forest in Washington State, right on the Canadian border. The town is a bastion of genuine rural innocence, but is also secretly crawling with corruption and crime. There's a distinctly True Detective feel to Twin Peaks, with our hero, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (an incredible Kyle MacLachlan), coming into town because the lovely homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) has been found murdered.
We immediately discover that there is a supernatural element to the crime when Cooper begins having weird, prophetic dreams.
He meets odd townspeople like the "log lady," who carries a log like a baby and can understand what the owls are saying. There are creepy clues, like the phrase "fire walk with me." And then, of course, there are Laura's schoolmates — the good girl Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and the bad girl Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn), along with incredible performances from an incredible cast of actors (including Michael Ontkean and Piper Laurie) who manage to walk the line between emo and goofy with ease.
The more that Agent Cooper learns, the more he realizes that the problems in Twin Peaks are similar to those that Rust and Marty discover in Louisiana. They start at the top of the town's economic and social pyramid, and wind up poisoning the futures of innocent kids, honest blue collar workers, and nice folks who ask nothing more from life than a good cup of coffee and some cherry pie.
Lynch has a flare for combining an almost corny sense of humor with intense horror, and he and co-creator Frost managed to make the first season of Twin Peaks into an addicting, multi-layered mystery that reaches in and out of the spirit world to finally reveal the true horror of small town life. Unlike True Detective, Twin Peaks is full-bore supernatural fantasy. But the spirit world is just a kind of twisted reflection of real life, and in the end there are flesh-and-blood people who are guilty of the crimes that drew Laura into the fire with nothing to shield her from evil.
If you want a good mystery full of weird foreboding and quirky humor, you can't go wrong by queuing up the first season of Twin Peaks on Netflix, or grabbing the DVD set and mainlining it this week.