When Twin Peaks hit broadcast TV in 1990, no one had seen anything like it before. Well, fans of auteur David Lynch certainly had, but his distinct brand of weirdness could only be found in the world of film before Twin Peaks’ debut. With only two seasons and 30 episodes, Twin Peaks burned bright and fast, sending ripples through the world of pop culture. With Twin Peaks’ third season set to air May 21, there’s never been a better time than the present to look back and see how other properties poked fun of the series’ notable eccentricities.
Darkwing Duck – “Twin Beaks”
The production of Darkwing Duck was underway while Twin Peaks captivated a nation of TV-viewers, so it’s not strange to see David Lynch rub off a bit on Disney’s caped crime-fighter. The episode in question, named—what else—”Twin Beaks” sees Darkwing traveling to a mysterious town that seems to be the cause of some recent missing person cases. What results is a loving Twin Peaks homage that touches upon some of the shows most stand-out elements: Angelo Badalamenti’s score, the Log Lady, the iconic diner, an eyepatch-wearing waitress, and lots of coffee talk. And, in a bold move for a kids’ show, the villain Bushroot’s corpse even washes up, wrapped in plastic, a la Laura Palmer. (But of course he’s okay in the end, this being a Disney show and all.)
The Simpsons – “Lisa’s Sax” and “Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)
The Simpsons’ “anything goes” animated atmosphere made for some pretty great parodies, and we see a brief send-up of Twin Peaks in the episode “Lisa’s Sax.” In this 1990 nostalgia piece (which aired in 1997), we see a brief scene of Homer watching the show and undoubtedly having the same reaction as a lot of other Twin Peaks fans.
A few years before this, the episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)” had a little more fun with one of Twin Peaks’ most iconic scenes. After Chief Wiggum nods off at work, Lisa appears to him in a dream, speaking backwards and giving cryptic clues about Mr. Burns’ assailant. Unfortunately, he’s not as on the ball as Agent Dale Cooper, so Lisa basically has to explain it to him in explicit detail before he understands what’s going on.
Saturday Night Live
Twin Peaks was so popular, it couldn’t possibly avoid being parodied by SNL, and luckily, they waited for Kyle McLaughlin to host the show before they did it. This great sketch parodies the cryptic and eerie nature of Twin Peaks by having the show’s characters essentially state the outright truth to Dale Cooper, who still insists on using his unorthodox investigation techniques on a mystery that’s already been solved. A special shout-out goes to Mike Myers, who appears at the tail-end of the sketch to imitate the little person in Dale Cooper’s dream—only to be met with absolute silence by a confused audience. (It’s possibly not everyone that night was fully aboard the Twin Peaks train.)
Sesame Street – “Monsterpiece Theatre: Twin Beaks”
Twin Peaks parodies even aimed a bit younger than the audience of Darkwing Duck. In the Sesame Street “Monsterpiece Theatre” segment, “Twin Beaks” (two references that would sail miles over any pre-schoolers’ heads) we see the Children’s Television Workshop do their own sendup of Lynch’s show. This sketch features Cookie Monster playing “Agent Cookie,” and what follows is a collection of Twin Peaks references injected into a lesson teaching young viewers to ask questions if they don’t understand something. Cookie Monster repeatedly evaluates things with the expression “darn fine” (a G-rated version of Cooper’s “damn fine”), talks to a woman named Diane via his tape recorder, meets “David Finch” and “The Log Bird,” and even has Sesame Street’s version of Laura whisper into his ear. And, unlike Darkwing Duck’s parody of the same name, this one is actually about Twin Beaks.
Deadly Premonition is such a loving tribute to Twin Peaks that it actually had to go back to the drawing board to remove some of its more blatant references. But even in its current form, it’s about as close to a video game version of Twin Peaks that we’ll ever get. Seriously, nearly every element in Twin Peaks has a corollary here, from the enigmatic protagonist who talks to himself, to a mysterious woman who perpetually carries around a strange object (a cooking pot instead of a log). Heck, there’s so many Twin Peaks references in Deadly Premonition that we have an entire wiki article on the subject alone! Despite the game’s somewhat rough nature, its director, Hidetaka Suehiro (otherwise known as SWERY) immediately became one of gaming industry’s most lovable and eccentric figures. And if you play Deadly Premonition, you’ll definitely know why he’s so special.