We live in an age where every show threatens to return, like one of the corpses on The Walking Dead just lying there until it is hit by a spark and lurches up again, whether we want it to or not.
Finally, it’s happened to Twin Peaks, the beloved ABC show that took forever to solve the murder of Laura Palmer using dancing dwarfs, creepy giants, and an FBI investigator who wasn’t afraid to investigate the darkness inside all of us. The show will return to Showtime in 2016 for a nine-episode limited engagement to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its cancellation. Original writer Mark Frost will write all the episodes and co-creator David Lynch will direct all of them. In typical Twin Peaks fashion, the announcement was made official with a really creepy and cryptic teaser video.
With so many TV shows making well-publicized returns, what’s different about Twin Peaks? Allow me to explain.
We’ve waited long enough: It has been 25 long years since Twin Peaks was cancelled in its second season after a precipitous drop off in both viewers and quality. (It didn’t help that ABC shuttled the program off to the dead zone of Saturday nights either.) Since then the whole TV landscape has changed to be more accommodating to the show. Also leaving a generation-wide gap in seasons is an interesting proposition from a story perspective. What happened to all the citizens of Twin Peaks that we met as teens? How have their lives changed and what are they up to now? This gives Lynch and Frost an excuse to investigate middle age in a small town, as well as introduce us to Audrey Horne’s (Sherilyn Fenn) kids (she’s sure to have them) and see how they might have been influenced by the dark creatures of the Black Lodge.
This is auteur television done right: When Twin Peaks debuted in 1990 no one even realized it was ushering in the “golden age of television” we hear so much about. This was really the first time that a marquee director decided to make a television show and it was as weird, weird, weird, weird, weird as it wanted to be. Now that anthology shows like True Detective are the hottest trend and directors like Jane Campion are making shows like Top of the Lake (about a missing teenage girl rather than a dead one), Lynch will be right where he meant to be all along. Also the show started to suffer when Lynch moved on to other projects so knowing he will be there for the entire series is promising. Every prestige show that has a rural setting or a sense of dread (think The Killing) is inevitably compared to Twin Peaks. It will be exciting to see if Lynch can take his vision even farther and influence the next 25 years of television as well.
Finally, some answers: What, exactly happened to FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in that final scene of Twin Peaks when he looks in the mirror? What did Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) mean when she told Cooper that she would see him again in 25 years? Did Lynch plan this all along? And what has Lara Flynn Boyle been up to? And can Peggy Lipton get her daughter Rashida Jones to appear in an episode? There are so many wonderful questions to be answered.
It can be as crazy as it wants to be: Twin Peaks was groundbreaking for network television and, compared to what is on cable these days, it’s incredibly tame. When looking at the gore and sexuality of Fire Walk with Me, the prequel movie Lynch made after the show was cancelled, that appeared to be more in line with his original vision of what Twin Peaks could be. Now that it will air on Showtime, it can be as bloody, as dirty, as curse-laden as Lynch would like. Also, the show has such an incredible reputation now that I hope that the suits at Showtime will lay off and let Lynch do his thing. I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of brilliance in that freedom.
We get to rewatch the original: The best thing about new Twin Peaks is we get to enjoy the brilliance of the original Twin Peaks all over again. This time we also get to do it with the internet and the recaps, fan chatter, and rampant speculation will only heighten the delight of reinvesting in the original and exploring the new season. Finding it is easier than ever (RIP the VHS copies ripped from ABC live airings). There’s a Blu-Ray set that was just released this summer (do people still watch Blu-Ray?) and for easy access, both seasons are streaming on Netflix. Now you have no excuse not to watch.