Nice first review. Have you seen all of the series before, Joe? If not, you are in for a treat.
This show starts in top form
Thinking it over, I think Twin Peaks has the best pilot ever. The structure is pitch perfect and at the same time unique. As you said, the pace is never rushed, allowing you to soak in each new character being introduced (There are lots of them too, an impressive feat!) , and just get mesmerized by the visuals and music.
It's also just how funny everything in this episode is. Once Cooper is introduced, The tone turns 180 degrees. Twin Peaks is close to my favorite series, but Cooper is by far my favorite TV character. Everything about him and every movement or speech he makes is fascinating to watch. The famed Atmosphere of this show is very evident early on, with such quirks as the fallen deer head, the broken fluorescent lights in the hospital, and the massive table of donuts. The little touches like these add to the charm and visual flair.
Speaking of comedy, There are lots of things in this show that I have no idea whether they are supposed to be funny or not. Soap opera or soap opera parody? it always seems to be both depending on the scene.
Yes, The 50's/60's is not just you. David Lynch really likes that era and a several of his films have the same look. In fact, if you want to see something "peaksish" after you finish the series, check out Lynch's Blue Velvet. Like Peaks, it's a mystery set in a small logging community. It even has Kyle Maclachlan in it.
The music is great. I keep meaning to get the soundtracks but never get around to it.
As a last note and a fun piece of trivia, notice that Cooper Refers to Sam Stanley, Kiefer Sutherland's FBI agent from the prequel. I thought it was so cool that they turned this meaningless line from the pilot into something down the road.