Twin Peaks is back on television and it’s just as intriguing as the original series
Note: Just to be on the safe side, there may very well be some spoilers in this article, even for some other television series. I will do my best not to spoil too much as I want everyone to eventually watch this series as well as the original Twin Peaks.
Rebooting a series or franchise is really, really difficult. Just browse through your favorite Internet forum and see how angry and disappointed people were with Star Wars: The Force Awakens for being a remake of the original film and how the sentence “I’m pregnant” sullied an overall good Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Revivals are a delicate balancing act of appeasing the core audience of die-hard fans who painstakingly do frame-by-frame analysis and bringing in a new audience to the mix that has no relationship to the entity in any form. More often than not, they are scrutinized far more than they are praised, and yet, studios keep pumping out the revivals and reboots.
Last night, there was a debut for another revival of a television series that last aired live on television twenty-six years ago on Showtime – and this wasn’t the revival of any other television series. The David Lynch and Mark Frost cult classic Twin Peaks is back with the first two parts of an eighteen-part limited series debuting live and the third and fourth parts being readily available on the Showtime website/app. As of right now, there are four hours of brand new Twin Peaks episodes and it’s exactly what fans have been waiting all these years for.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Twin Peaks was Lost before Lost, The X-Files before The X-Files, and any other major television series that took pop culture by storm over the past fifteen years. You can see its influence across so many different series, including those you would not necessarily expect, like The Sopranos. It’s mixture of surrealist imagery, oddball humor, and daytime soap-opera satire, all wrapped up in a “who done it?” murder mystery. This combination hasn’t been matched by any other series. That sort of undertaking is extremely difficult to execute, especially since it can be argued that Twin Peaks grew too weird and ambitious for its own good.
The original series debuted in 1990 on ABC and ran only two seasons consisting of thirty episodes, with the series ending on one of the most infamous cliffhangers in television history. Twin Peaks: The Return begins twenty-five years after the events of the original with our favorite special agent Dale Cooper (sorry Mulder and/or Scully) still trapped in the Black Lodge while this evil doppelganger (referred to as Doppel-Coop from here on out) has been just roaming around and killing people without a care.
The Twin Peaks Universe 25 years later is much grander in scale. We are taken to New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, a small town in South Dakota, and of course, Twin Peaks. Unlike the original series, the first four parts do not have the same overall campiness. It’s much darker, slower, and equally as weird. This isn’t a knock of any sort; when it comes to rebooting a previous franchise, differentiating the two via tone while maintaining key themes, imagery, and style allow for the core fans to get a different experience and new fans to get a taste of the original experience.
And it isn’t like Lynch and Frost didn’t throw in some scenes and moments for the fans who love the series either. Moments like when Bobby walks into the conference room and breaks down emotionally when he sees Laura’s photo, seeing that Ben and Jerry still haven’t changed, and the scenes where Catherine E. Coulson, the Log Lady, just crushes it. You have to be a monster if you didn’t get a bit choked up with she told Hawk, “I’m too weak to go with you …” (Unfortunately, Coulson passed away while filming the series. Cancer just sucks).
I can go on about all the different scenes and moments that were just fantastic, especially if you’re a fan of David Lynch’s work – the interrogation scene at the end of Part Four is so unsettling, for example. There are some serious Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive vibes watching the first four parts. You can tell that both Frost and Lynch put a lot of love and care into this revival, as the two of them wrote the scripts and Lynch directed the series.
And what makes this revival even more interesting is that even in four hours of plot development, we still have no clue what exactly is going on – well, some clue – and where the story is going. Did the coffee snap Cooper out of his “Mr. Jackpot” malaise? Who were Gordon and Albert speaking about? Who’s funding the box project? Did BOB possess Matthew Lillard? Will Doppel-Coop’s plan to remain out of the Black Lodge succeed?
There are still fourteen parts left to go, so there is still much to be discovered, discussed, and analyzed over the course of the series’ run. Lynch and Frost managed to start things off as perfectly as possible when it comes to that delicate balancing act of reviving a series. Twin Peaks: The Return hits on all the right levels of weirdness (that Michael Cera monologue is bananas crazy), the right levels of humor (the South Dakota woman with the dog in the apartment complex scene is great), and the right levels of fresh intrigue. Let’s hope that it continues for the remainder of the season.