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Twin Peaks: Pilot (import)

Artisan's excellent four-disc set Twin Peaks: The First Season is just 90 minutes short of perfection. Due to rights restrictions, Artisan was unable to include in their set the somewhat necessary pilot movie for David Lynch's riveting television drama. Die-hard fans of the series, however, have some relief: due to a licensing loophole, the series' crucial debut episode is available as a flawed all-region import from Republic Pictures in Taiwan. This bare-bones disc features a mediocre full-frame transfer, showing source damage as well as strain during darker scenes. But the real drawback is the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which — in its conversion from PAL to NTSC — loses ambient sounds to an intermittent sea-shellish howl and also, sadly, completely soils the beauty of Angelo Badalamenti's unusual, atmospheric score. The better your sound system, the worse this disc sounds. That said, owners of Artisan's set impatient for an official Warner Bros. release of the pilot will still want to enjoy the many narrative pleasures of this first chapter in the groundbreaking soap opera as it introduces all of the players figuring in the investigation of teen beauty Laura Palmer's gruesome murder. This is the original broadcast television cut and does not include the hasty ending tacked on for theatrical release in Europe and present on previous home-video incarnations. This disc can be had on eBay for under $20, including shipping — a very reasonable price for an import, and a temporary library item at that.
—Gregory P. Dorr