TWIN PEAKS is something of a oddity even without the fact it is a very odd show. It lasted on two seasons and went from being one of the highest rated shows on television (being watched by roughly half of the people who owned televisions at the time) to one of the lowest. It combined soap operas, mysticism, murder mysteries, and absurdist humor into something that was at times genius and other times idiotic. It's no surprise this show became widely influential and only surprising it took 25 years to get a revival.
However, Twin Peaks isn't a show you can just jump on and start watching. Indeed, that was part of the reason the show had difficulty keeping its audience. Every episode revealed important new plot developments and if you weren't watching it consistently then you so out of luck. It's also been off for twenty-five years so if you haven't watched it on DVD or online streaming you may also wonder why you should care about a guidebook to the program. Well, to be honest, you shouldn't as fans of the show will obviously get a lot more out of this book than non-fans. Nevertheless, it's a great refresher and discussion for those who want to venture back down to the oddly populated well-populated Washington State city that acts like a small town.
The premise for the show, which author David Bushman discusses at length, is that Laura Palmer the beloved daughter and homecoming queen of the titular town has been murdered. The murder is particularly brutal, especially for network television, with her being left naked and wrapped in plastic with her body dumped in the lake. The FBI is called in to investigate with Special Agent Dale Cooper, a quirky Tibetan mysticism practicing oddball, taking the lead. The investigation soon reveals the town is riddled with secrets and poor Laura was up to her neck in them. Magic is also found in the woods of Twin Peaks with enigmatic spirits, log talking women, and demonic entities being just some of them.
The Twin Peaks FAQ isn't actually a FAQ nor does it directly address any questions. Instead, it's divided into discussing the history of the creators (David Lynch and Mark Frost), discussing how they came together to make Twin Peaks, the actual production of Twin Peaks, an analysis of all the characters, and then an episode guide. David Bushman is clearly a huge fan of the show and does his best to give a breezy comedic commentary throughout more pertinent information. While this book was written before The Return, he discusses several works inspired by Twin Peaks as well as the spin-off movie TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.
As an independent fan guide, the TWIN PEAKS FAQ works quite well and is an excellent layman's guide to the franchise. There's a few places where Bushman chooses not to share rumors or speculation which would have been interesting (like whether Lara Flynn Boyle or Kyle Mclaughlin was behind the axing of the popular Cooper/Audrey Horne relationship). Also, we could have used a bit more information on the real-life mysticism which inspired the Black and White Lodges. Still, I was quite entertained by the majority of the book.
Unfortunately, the book fails in the final third as the episode guide is basically just a dry recounting of the series' events. A better way to handle it would have been giving episode commentary throughout, which is what I expected anyway, but this just serves as a series of recaps. I could just go to Wikipedia for those. That means almost a third of the book wasn't all that useful and wouldn't be to someone who has seen the show. You know, the people most likely to buy the book in the first place.
In conclusion, I recommend purchasing this book as an entertaining guide to Twin Peaks but it stumbles in the last section. It's by no means a must buy but it is still a book for fans by fans and I'm always inclined to give those a lot of slack. *sips his coffee and eats his cherry pie*