With the sheer breadth of stories being told on an average episode of Twin Peaks, it’s startling to take a step back and realize that each episode only covers a period of 24 hours. While not as slavishly devoted to calling attention to its timeframe in the way The Killing or 24 was, Twin Peaks is a show focused on the day-to-day of the town, beginning each episode with the prerequisite cup of coffee and ending on the wind blowing through the deserted streets and forest. The basic nature of that structure only makes it more remarkable to consider how much happens in a single day, and how good the writers are at keeping the momentum of each plot going as the season progresses.
When the viewer enters the world of Twin Peaks, they do it at close to the exact same time Laura Palmer leaves it. Whoever she was is gone entirely, departed off to heaven, hell, the darkness in the woods, the strange red room in Cooper’s dream, or perhaps to nowhere at all. Cooper and the Twin Peaks police department can overturn every stone in town until they find the killer, but nothing they do is going to bring her back. The only thing that’s left behind is a body growing colder by the minute, and the memories of a town that loved her without truly understanding anything about her.
After the tour de force performance that was the pilot of Twin Peaks, the most important of the many questions raised was how on earth this would be able to sustain a weekly series. Its vision was so unique and its oddness so carefully calibrated that it was easy to understand why so many of the critics who first reviewed it and loved it gave it zero chance of mainstream success, even while you could also understand why ABC would take a chance on its vision.
In the nearly 25 years since Twin Peaks debuted on ABC, the show has achieved an almost mythic status in the canon of television. Not only has it influenced a legion of other shows, but its various elements and images have become indelible parts of pop culture. Appreciation of cherry pie and damn good coffee. A lady with a log that she treats like a beloved pet. A dwarf dancing in a room with red curtains and a zig-zag carpet. When people think of Twin Peaks, they think of its oddities, and with good reason: the surreality is so distinct that it lingers long after the details surrounding it have faded.