[31 October 2007]
Detroit Free Press (MCT)
One of the great unsolved TV mysteries is finally brought to resolution this week with the release of “Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition” (4 stars, Paramount, $99.99; look for discounts in the $70 range). No, it’s not who killed Laura Palmer; in fact, it was that much-requested revelation that may have sent the ultimate cult series to an early death after its second season in 1991.
What the new, 10-disc box resolves is the case of the missing pilot, which was without doubt the finest two hours of the surreal series, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Though Paramount has issued Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD, the pilot was in legal limbo, Lynch having long ago sold it to Warner Brothers, but in the pre-DVD era, without rights to release it on disc in the United States. (It was released in Europe last year.) And as anyone who watched Season 1 without seeing the pilot knows, it’s not just obscure and odd, it’s incomprehensible.
It is now duly collected here, in a beautiful digital remaster, and in remixed 5.1 Surround, introducing us to the plastic-wrapped corpse of Laura (Sheryl Lee) and the eccentric inhabitants of the northwestern logging town of Twin Peaks, all of whom apparently loved her. It’s left to FBI agent Dale Copper (Kyle MacLachlan) to investigate a murder case that takes him, and us, into territory that was completely uncharted for TV: one that included a rubber-limbed dwarf; a giant; various doppelgangers; dreams that may or may not be of consequence, and cherry pie and damn fine coffee.
To the pilot and 30 hour-long episodes, the box appends hours of extra material, including a feature length documentary “Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks” that includes new interviews with Frost, Angelo Badalamenti (the composer of the haunting scores) and cast members MacLachlan, Lee, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie and more. Alas, no interview with David Duchovny as the transsexual DEA agent Dennis/Denice.
Lynch shows up to share pie and coffee with MacLachlan, and there is a short doc about “Twin Peak” fanatics who host an annual festival, and some reminders of the impact, brief as it was, that the show had on popular culture. MacLachlan’s visit to “Saturday Night Live” is a highlight.
New this week:
“Spider-Man 3,” one of the summer’s biggest hit movies, as well as one of its biggest disappointments, naturally gets the multiple-version treatment. The movie alone comes on a single disc (2 stars, $28.97) while the two-disc “Special Edition” ($39.95) adds more than six hours of special features, including commentary.
BluRay owners can now own all three films in high-definition, with all the extras included on the earlier releases for $92.95.
“Other Side of the Mirror - Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-65” (4 stars, Columbia Legacy, $19.98) is buried treasure for Dylan fans, with director Murray Lerner collecting footage he shot of Dylan’s performances at the famous fest over three summers and providing a look at his evolution from finger-pointing protester to tradition-betraying rocker.
The footage is terrific, especially of Dylan introducing “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1964 and the electric “Like a Rolling Stone” from 1965 (when the booing began). Still, one wonders why full performances from every year were not included.
TV on DVD:
If you have never seen or owned “My So-Called Life,” the brilliant 1994 series starring Claire Danes as a 14-year-old high schooler deciding who she wants to be for the rest of her life, the new “The Complete Series” (4 stars, Shout! Factory, $69.99) should make your fall.
If you did buy the earlier release, this is one of those reissues worth ponying up for. All 19 episodes from its short-lived run on ABC have been remastered, and it also includes a 26-page bound book and a newly filmed interview with Danes.
And now, my own dirty little secret: In the right mood, I can watch a couple of hours or more of “Benny Hill,” the English sketch show with its roots in vaudeville and burlesque. And I now have the opportunity via “Benny Hill: Complete& Unadulterated Mega-Set” (3 stars, A&E, $149.95). It features all 58 episodes from 1958 to 1969 on 18 discs and restores all the smutty bits that were cut for U.S. airing.
Family pick of the week:
One can wish that Warner Bros. had treated the “Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies” archives chronologically, but that would have meant delaying release of restored, latter-day classics like “Duck Amok” and “What’s Opera, Doc?” Thus it’s easy to understand why the studio has taken the themed approach in compiling the studio’s animated shorts.
“Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Five” (4 stars, Warner, $64.98) serves up 60 more wacky beauties on four discs, the first devoted to “Bugs and Daffy.” The second, “Fairy Tales,” serves up some new twists on old favorites, such as “Little Red Rodent Hood” and “Tom Thumb in Trouble.” Disc 3, “The Best of Bob Clampett,” is a tribute to one of the great animation directors in history.
The final disc, “The Early Daze,” will be one of the most interest to collectors because it spotlights the earliest adventures of Porky Pig. There are also hours of special features, not a little of it devoted to the legacy of the great Chuck Jones, including the excellent Jones documentary “Extremes and In-Betweens: A Life in Animation.”