Complex TVMain MenuIntroductionVideos for IntroductionComplexity in ContextBeginningsVideos for Chapter 2AuthorshipCharactersComprehensionEvaluationSerial MelodramaOrienting ParatextsTransmedia StorytellingEndsVideo GalleryTable of ContentsJason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945deNew York University Press
TWIN PEAKS begins with a languid credit sequence, setting the mood for its celebrated tonal juxtapositions
12015-03-13T09:41:55-07:00Jason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945de13501The lengthy credit sequence focuses our attention before the narrative commences with an ambiguous tone.plain2015-03-13T09:41:55-07:00Critical Commons1990VideoTwin Peaks pilotABC2015-03-13T16:14:28ZJason Mittell06e96b1b57c0e09d70492af49d984ee2f68945de
12015-03-12T20:20:21-07:00p. 57-58: TWIN PEAKS3plain2015-03-13T12:15:34-07:00As one of the early landmarks of complex television, Twin Peaks’ pilot provides an important template for the role of opening moments: it begins with two and a half minutes of opening credits combining languidly paced shots of a lumber mill with dreamy theme music, demanding our viewing patience and immediately setting a meditative tone. To viewers today, these credits are a striking anomaly, both in their length and placement, as most contemporary programs either forgo opening credit sequences entirely or precede shorter sequences with a teaser sequence to immerse viewers in the narrative. Twin Peaks’ pilot follows the credit sequence with an opening scene that both pays off and disrupts what preceded it: we open on Josie preparing for her day in a continuation of the initial languid tone. We then follow Pete to the shore, where he finds Laura Palmer’s dead body, iconically “wrapped in plastic,” and calls the sheriff’s office with a comedically clueless reply from receptionist Lucy. Within the episode’s first five minutes, we are taught to expect jarring juxtapositions in style, ironic undercutting of serious moments, and a dreamy tone leaving viewers unsure how to emotion- ally respond to the action—is Pete’s discovery played for laughs, melodrama, or both? These ambiguous tendencies are reinforced through- out the pilot, which also establishes more than a dozen characters, key plot points and relationships, and the intrinsic norm that each episode takes place within one day of story time. The program’s open-ended mystery and intriguing tone inspires viewers to want to keep watching, while the narrative form and style teaches us how to engage with the ongoing series.