Long Before The Internet, 'Twin Peaks' Anticipated The Need For TV Recaps

1-900 numbers weren’t all about horniness.
Long Before The Internet, 'Twin Peaks' Anticipated The Need For TV Recaps

Throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s, there were certainly some pretty damn weird pop-culture-themed 900 numbers. For a small (rapidly escalating as every minute passes) fee, you could use your touch-tone phone to call, say, pop-culture icon Captain Kirk or child-murderer Freddy Krueger or Mac, the McDonald’s-loving alien from Mac and Me. But really, who would want to talk to that grotesque creature -- other than Steven Spielberg’s attorneys, of course.

Back in 1990, Mark Frost and David Lynch’s surreal mystery/soap opera/coffee and cherry pie porn Twin Peaks also attempted to cash in on the 900 number craze, launching the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Hotline -- which hopefully no one called in need of actual emergency assistance. The premise of the phone number was that you would be connected to Lucy at the police station, and she, along with other actors, would fill you in on the “latest clues and updates” in the world of Twin Peaks.

But in reality, all it did was provide a brief rundown of what happened on the previous week’s episode, all while you shelled out $1 a minute. But given how wacky and dense Twin Peaks was, it may have been worth it.

This may seem like an insane thing to spend money on in retrospect, but in a weird way, this 900 number anticipated a trend that would become far more prevalent decades later: the television recap. Whether it’s in an article or a video or maybe even a podcast, in the internet era, millions of people routinely turn to others to summarize TV episodes they’ve already watched. Really Twin Peaks’ attempt to milk America out of their hard-earned dollars per minute was a rudimentary, unnecessarily expensive version of that. But while Twin Peaks may have inadvertently been ahead of its time, there’s just no defending Hulk Hogan’s Hulkamaniac Hotline. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: CBS Television Distribution


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