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"Pilot"
Twin Peaks episode
Pilot
Dale Cooper and Detective Harry S. Truman in an autopsy bay with Laura Palmer's dead body
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Written by David Lynch
Mark Frost
Directed by David Lynch
Production no. 1.000
Original airdate April 8, 1990
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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"Traces to Nowhere"
List of Twin Peaks episodes

"Pilot" (also known as "Northwest Passage") is the premiere episode of the mystery television series Twin Peaks which premiered on the ABC Network on April 8, 1990. It was written by series creators Mark Frost and David Lynch, and directed by Lynch. "Pilot" follows the characters of Dale Cooper and Harry S. Truman on the case of the death of popular high school student Laura Palmer, with Cooper thinking the murder has connections to a murder case that occurred a year earlier. In addition to setting the tone for the show, the episode sets up several character and story arcs and marked the appearance of several recurring characters. The episode received a strong Nielsen household rating compared to other season one episodes and was well-received by fans and critics alike.

Plot overview Edit

The small northwest town of Twin Peaks, Washington is shaken when the body of Laura Palmer, is discovered washed up on a riverbank, wrapped in plastic. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in when Ronnette Pulaski, who attended the same high school as Palmer, is found wandering on a bridge before lapsing into a coma. Cooper believes there is a connection between Palmer's death and the death of another girl named Theresa Banks that happened a year earlier. Cooper discovers a small piece of paper with the letter "R" on it shoved under Laura's fingernail. He tells Sheriff Harry S. Truman that under Banks's nail he found a "T". Meanwhile, the Palmer family and friends struggle to come to terms with her death, and wonder how it might have come about.

Believing that this is the same killer who struck the previous year, Cooper starts an official investigation. Meanwhile, the rebellious Audrey Horne ruins a business deal for her father Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer); Sheriff Truman arrests Palmer's boyfriend Bobby Briggs, who is secretly seeing a married woman named Shelly; Palmer's best friend Donna Hayward and Palmer's secret boyfriend James Hurley discover a mutual attraction; and Laura's mother is terrified by a vision.

Production Edit

Conception and writing Edit

David Lynch and Mark Frost pitched the idea to ABC during the time of Writers Guild of America, East strike in 1988 in a ten-minute meeting with the network's drama head, Chad Hoffman, with nothing more than this image and a concept. According to the director, the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer was initially going to be in the foreground, but would recede gradually as viewers got to know the other townsfolk and the problems they were having. Lynch and Frost wanted to mix a police investigation with a soap opera.[1]

ABC liked the idea, and asked Lynch and Frost to write a screenplay for the pilot episode. Frost wrote more verbal characters, like Benjamin Horne, while Lynch was responsible for Agent Dale Cooper. According to the director, "He says a lot of the things I say".[2] Originally, the show was entitled Northwest Passage and set in North Dakota, but the fact that a town called Northwest Passage really exists prompted a revision in the script. They filmed the pilot for $1.8 million[3] with an agreement with ABC that they would shoot an additional "ending" to it so that it could be sold directly to video in Europe as a feature if the TV show was not picked up.[4] However, even though ABC's Bob Iger liked the pilot, he had a tough time persuading the rest of the network brass. Iger suggested showing it to a more diverse, younger group, who liked it, and the executive subsequently convinced ABC to buy seven episodes at $1.1 million apiece.[5] Some executives figured that the show would never get on the air, believing it would meet negative reviews from viewers and critics alike.[3] However, Iger planned to schedule it for the spring. The final showdown occurred during a bi-coastal conference call between Iger and a room full of New York executives; Iger won, and Twin Peaks was on the air.[6]

Improvised elementsEdit

David Lynch -microphone -10Aug2007-2p

Lynch, the co-writer of the episode as seen in 2007

At several points during the filming of the pilot episode, David Lynch improvised by incorporating on-set accidents into the story. The most notable of these occurred when set decorator Frank Silva was accidentally filmed in a mirror during Sarah Palmer's vision at the end of the pilot. When Lynch saw Silva's face, he liked it so much he kept it in the show, and cast Silva as Killer BOB, the mysterious tormentor of Laura Palmer.[7]

During the filming of the scene in which Dale Cooper first examines Laura's body, a malfunctioning fluorescent light above the table flickered constantly, but Lynch decided not to replace it, since he liked the disconcerting effect that it created. Also, during the take, one of the minor actors misheard a line and, thinking he was being asked his name, he told Cooper his real name instead of saying his line, briefly throwing everyone off balance. Lynch was reportedly pleased with the lifelike, unscripted moment in dialogue, and kept the mistake in the final cut.[8]

Release Edit

Ratings and awards Edit

The two-hour pilot was the highest-rated movie for the 1989–1990 season with a 22 rating and was viewed by 33% of the audience.[9] In Los Angeles, Twin Peaks became the seventh most-watched show of the week earning 29% of viewers, while the most-watched show being Married... With Children whom gathered 34% of viewers.[10] The following episode, "Traces to Nowhere" would start with a significant drop in ratings. Various medias such as The New York Times and local radio stations announced that the show had managed to grow a cult following. According to a local radio station, many viewers were "offended with some of the sexual overtones or the eating sequence".[11]

In the 1990 Emmy Awards, the pilot episode was nominated for six awards, including "Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series" for David Lynch, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" for Kyle MacLachlan as Dale Cooper, and "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series" for Mark Frost and Lynch. The pilot won two awards, Patricia Norris won the "Outstanding Costume Design for a Series" and Duwayne Dunham won the "Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production".[12] According to the Internet Movie Database, the pilot received a Peabody Award in 1990.[13]

Critical reception Edit

Before the two-hour pilot premiered on TV, a screening was held at the Museum of Broadcasting in Hollywood.[14] Media analyst and advertising executive Paul Schulman said, "I don't think it has a chance of succeeding. It is not commercial, it is radically different from what we as viewers are accustomed to seeing, there's no one in the show to root for."[14] Initially, the show's Thursday night time slot was not a good one for soap operas as both Dynasty and its short-lived spin-off The Colbys did poorly.[14] Twin Peaks was also up against the hugely successful sitcom, Cheers. Initially, the show received a positive response from TV critics. Tom Shales, in the Washington Post, wrote, "Twin Peaks disorients you in ways that small-screen productions seldom attempt. It's a pleasurable sensation, the floor dropping out and leaving one dangling."[15] In the New York Times, John J. O'Connor wrote, "Twin Peaks is not a sendup of the form. Mr. Lynch clearly savors the standard ingredients...but then the director adds his own peculiar touches, small passing details that suddenly, and often hilariously, thrust the commonplace out of kilter."[16]

Many critics saw the pilot as "the movie that will change TV" history, according to Diana White from the Boston Globe.[17] Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly was overall positive towards the episode, giving it a A+. While liking the story, and calling Lynch's directing beautiful, he said it "not a chance in hell" the show could become a rating hit. Because of its "unsettling" story.[18] David Zurawik from Eugene Register-Guard compared the pilot to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. He further stated that the filming of the episode was as close "as prime-time television" could get "to art".[19] Jen Chaney from The Washington Post called the pilot "one of the most finely crafted series kick-offs in broadcast history".[20]

Home video release Edit

Due to rights issues, the American pilot (94 minutes) was not released for the United States home video market until 2007. The European pilot (116 min) was released on VHS and laser disc years earlier. Both versions of the pilot are included in the Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition DVD set, released in the US on 30 October 2007.[21] An alternate version of the pilot was aired in Europe as a stand-alone television movie. This version is identical to the United States-aired version up until the last several scenes, when the killer of Laura Palmer is revealed. Lynch was so pleased with the footage shot for the European ending that he later incorporated some of it into Cooper's dream sequences that aired in subsequent episodes.[22][23]

TriviaEdit

  • Laura Palmer's homecoming photo that is used in this episode and throughout the series is NOT actress Sheryl Lee's actual prom photo.
  • When Sheriff Truman and Agent Cooper see Donna and James drive by on the motorcycle, the Sheriff flips on the truck's emergency lights. The scene then cuts to the truck pulling out onto the road in pursuit of the motorcycle and the lights are no longer on. In the next scene we see the truck on the road and the lights are now on again.
  • The population of Twin Peaks is 51,201 due to a request from ABC Network.  They felt that a town of 5,120 (the original population) was too small and unrelatable.  This was one of the few changes that the network made regarding the original pilot - as revealed by Mark Frost in an appearance with the cast in New York City in September 1990.
  • This episode takes place on: Friday, February 24, 1989
  • Agent Cooper mentions an agent named "Sam" who doesn't seem to be on the ball. In the Twin Peaks movie, Fire Walk with Me, we're introduced to Special Agent Sam Stanley, a goofy specialist who investigates the murder of Teresa Banks.
  • In the final scene, where Sarah Palmer has an upsetting vision, look in the mirror behind her. You can briefly make out the reflection of Set Decorator Frank Silva. When this was called to Lynch's attention on the set, he was overjoyed and shouted "PERFECT!" This is how Frank Silva was chosen to play the character of Killer Bob.

NotesEdit

  • Due to a contractual obligation, Lynch was forced to shoot an alternate ending to the pilot, which wrapped up the story quickly. Released on video in Europe (and a few years later, the US) this version ends with the One Armed Man, Mike, contacting Cooper at the hospital. He directs them to the basement, where they confront Killer Bob. Bob gleefully admits to murdering Teresa Banks (and by extension Laura) and vows to kill again. Mike bursts in and shoots Bob to death, before suffering a heart attack and dying. The next scene jumps ahead twenty-five years; Cooper finds himself in a red room with Laura Palmer and a little man. Much of the footage of the red room was re-edited and used to great effect in Episode Two in a dream sequence, though the scenes in the hospital were not.
  • This two hour special originally aired as the ABC Sunday Night Movie.
  • The original title for the pilot movie (and for the series as a whole) was Northwest Passage. It was later changed to Twin Peaks.
  • When Twin Peaks was rerun on the Bravo cable network in 1993, David Lynch wrote new introductions for each episode that were performed by Catherine Coulson as The Log Lady.
  • When Twin Peaks was rerun on the Bravo cable network in 1993, during the scene in which Maddie Ferguson (Laura's identical cousin) is murdered, the killer begins strangling Maddie. At that exact moment, the "Bravo" logo appeared on the screen, as if applauding Maddie's murder.
  • The Pilot episode, with the "European" ending, was exhibited in some countries in cinemas. It played in a number of film festivals including the Seminci.
  • The pilot features an extended opening title sequence, with more shots of the Packard Mill then usual. All the "Guest Starring," writing, producing, editing and directing credits also run during the main title sequnce. The title font is also slightly different then what will be used in the series.
  • The pilot episode was nominated for eight Emmy Awards in 1990, including best drama, best writing, best directing, best production design, best actor (MacLachaln), best director, and best supporting actress (Fenn). Duwayne Dunham won the Emmy for best editing and Patrica Norris won for best costume design for this episode.
  • In this episode, Julee Crusie sings "Falling" and "The Nightingale." All the original songs in Twin Peaks have music by Angelo Badalamenti and lyrics by David Lynch.
  • Rating: 21.7/33; Number 1 for the night, number 5 for the week.

QuotesEdit

Pete: She's dead. Wrapped in plastic.

  • Agent Cooper: Who's the lady with the log?
    Sheriff Truman: We call her the Log Lady.
    Log Lady: Shhhhhhh!
  • Cooper: Diane, 7:30 am, February twenty-fourth. Entering town of Twin Peaks. Five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line. Never seen so many trees in my life. As W.C. Fields would say, I'd rather be here than Philadelphia. It's fifty-four degrees on a slightly overcast day. Weatherman said rain. If you could get paid that kind of money for being wrong sixty percent of the time it'd beat working. Mileage is 79,345, gauge is on reserve, I'm riding on fumes here, I've got to tank up when I get into town. Remind me to tell you how much that is. Lunch was $6.31 at the Lamplighter Inn. That's on Highway Two near Lewis Fork. That was a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat, a slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee. Damn good food. Diane, if you ever get up this way, that cherry pie is worth a stop.
  • Shelly: What kept you, Heidi? Seconds on knockwurst this morning?
    Heidi: I couldn't get my car started.
    Shelly: Too busy jump starting the old man, huh?
  • Norma: I thought the only time you cared about, Bobby, was making time.
  • Bobby: Norma, I'll see you in my dreams.
    Norma: Not if I see you first.

Log Lady IntroEdit

"Welcome to Twin Peaks. My name is Margaret Lanterman. I live in Twin Peaks. I am known as the Log Lady. There is a story behind that. There are many stories in Twin Peaks--some of them are sad, some funny. Some of them are stories of madness, of violence. Some are ordinary. Yet they all have about them a sense of mystery--the mystery of life.

Sometimes, the mystery of death. The mystery of the woods. The woods surrounding Twin Peaks.

To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses the all-- it is beyond the "fire", though few would know that meaning. It is a story o many, but begins with one--and I knew her.

The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the one."

ReferencesEdit

  1. Frost, Mark; Latt, David; Ray, Johanna; Lee, Sheryl; Wise, Ray; Robertson, Kimmy; Chen, Joan; MacLachlan, Kyle; Hersheberger, Gary; E. Coulson, Catherine; Horse, Michael; Dunham, Duwayne. (2007). Northewest Passage: Development of the pilot. [DVD]. CBS Home Entertainment. 
  2. Woodward, Richard B (April 8, 1990). "When Blue Velvet Meets Hill Street Blues". New York Times. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lynch, David; MacLachlan, Kyle; Amick, Mädchen; Goaz, Harry. (2007). A Slice of Lynch. [DVD]. CBS Home Entertainment. 
  4. Patterson, Troy; Jeff Jensen (Spring 2000). "Our Town". Entertainment Weekly. 
  5. Fuller, Graham (November 24, 1989). "A Town Like Malice: Maverick Director David Lynch had made a bizarre soap opera for American television". The Independent. 
  6. Chion, Michel (1995). "David Lynch". British Film Institute. pp. 100. 
  7. Dunham, Duwayne. (2002). Audio commentary for the pilot episode. [DVD]. Universal Home Entertainment. 
  8. "Secrets from Another Place", a featurette in the Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition DVD release of October 2007.
  9. Bickelhaupt, Susan (April 12, 1990). "Twin Peaks vs. Cheers". Boston Globe. 
  10. DuBrow, Rick (April 10, 1990). "Twin Peaks Bow Garners Lofty Ratings". The Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60033146.html?dids=60033146:60033146&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Apr+10%2C+1990&author=RICK+DU+BROW&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=%60Twin+Peaks'+Bow+Garners+Lofty+Ratings&pqatl=google. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  11. Gerard, Jeremy (April 26, 1990). "'A 'Soap Noir' Inspires a Cult and Questions". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/26/arts/a-soap-noir-inspires-a-cult-and-questions.html. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  12. "Advanced Primetime Awards Search". Academy of Television Arts & Science. http://www.emmys.tv/awards/awardsearch.php?action=search_db&selectYearFrom=1949&selectYearTo=2004&textPerson=alan+alda. Retrieved July 10, 2009. 
  13. "Awards for Twin Peaks". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278784/awards. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Roush, Matt (April 6, 1990). "High Hopes for Twin Peaks". USA Today. 
  15. Shale, Tom (April 8, 1990). "Troubling, Transcedent Twin Peaks". Washington Post. 
  16. O'Connor, John J (April 6, 1990). "A Skewed Vision of a Small Town in Twin Peaks". New York Times. 
  17. White, Diana (April 10, 1990). "It's Not Just a Series, It's a Lifestyle". Boston Globe. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=BG&p_theme=bg&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EADDECD23B85990&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  18. Tucker, Ken (April 6, 1990). "Twin Peaks". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,317112,00.html. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  19. Zurawik, David (April 7, 1990). "ABC's new Twin Peaks series dares to be different". Boston Globe. http://news.google.ca/newspapers?id=e3oVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=z-sDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5522,1616620&dq=twin+peaks&hl=en. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  20. Chaney, Jen (October 30, 2007). "Taking Another Trip to Twin Peaks". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/artsandliving/movies/features/bonus-points/103007.html. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  21. "Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition Debuts on DVD October 30". Movieweb. August 7, 2007. http://www.movieweb.com/dvd/news/18/21718.php. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  22. "Twin Piques Who Did It? The Answear Maybe Tonight". The Sacramento Bee. May 23, 1990. 
  23. Lacey, Gord (August 2, 2007). "Twin Peaks – Press release reveals the Definitive list of extras – With Art". TV Shows on DVD. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Twin-Peaks/7769. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 

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