ALEXI DEMETRIADI reviews David Lynch’s television series and anticipates the third season after a twenty five-year wait.
Diane, 11:30am, February 24th, entering the town of Twin Peaks.
Five miles south of the Canadian border and twelve miles west of the state line sits the small town of Twin Peaks. Surrounded by Douglas firs, haunted by owls and engulfed in secrets, David Lynch’s groundbreaking 1990s television series sought to find out who killed Laura Palmer. Inhabited by a quirky FBI agent, odd townsfolk and a lodge full of evil spirits, the initial two-season run of Twin Peaks came to it’s shocking, but fitting, conclusion in 1991. But as Laura Palmer promised: ‘I’ll see you again in 25 years’. Twin Peaks is making it’s long awaited return in May 2017.
Lauded by critics and audiences alike after it’s first season back in 1990, Lynch created a groundbreaking and influential piece of television that can also claim ‘water cooler’ status, as hooked viewers deliberated who had brutally murdered the homecoming queen of Twin Peaks High. As cryptically promised by Laura, the show is returning to television screens to (hopefully) answer the many questions it left up in the air in the 1991 conclusion.
For those who haven’t seen the show, to think of it as a simple murder mystery would be a mistake.
The story revolves around Dale Cooper (an FBI Special Agent), who is assigned to search for Laura Palmer’s murderer. When her body washes ashore wrapped in plastic, it quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary case, and no ordinary murder mystery show. Using old Tibetan techniques and clues given by a dancing dwarf and a kind giant in his dreams, Cooper attempts to uncover the culprit behind Laura’s death. We lurch from murder mystery to soap opera, horror to romanticism while the stories of Audrey, Donna, Bob, Mike, and Windom Earle unfold.
The show received fourteen Emmy Award nominations in 1990 and won Best Television Series at the Golden Globe Awards, providing critical and viewership success for NBC. The first season of eight episodes was near perfect television. It was unique in its use of film-like cinematography for television. It blended comedy, horror, mystery and soap opera. Alongside the haunting score by composer Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks managed to create a dreamlike sense of surrealism. Considering the bored norm of 90s television, its refreshing arrival cannot be underplayed.
However, the second season had its unfortunate flaws even to die-hard fans. Lynch and Frost’s strong presence on and off the set was sidelined in the second season; the distinctive style and compelling narrative present in the first season was now largely absent. After being forced to reveal Laura’s killer prematurely in season two, viewership ratings took a critical hit. Even when a new storyline emerged in the second half of the latter season, Twin Peaks came to an abrupt end in 1991, leaving viewers on the most frustrating of cliffhangers.
Although new episodes have not graced our television screens for twenty five years, the show’s presence has reverberated and influenced dozens of shows over the years. The Killing has obvious Twin Peaks influences: its tagline ‘Who Killed Rosie Larsen?’ is a mirror image of Twin Peaks’. Wayward Pines shares a similar name to Lynch’s masterpiece, but more importantly, the author explained he would not have written the Wayward Pines books had it not been for his fascination with Twin Peaks as a kid. 2016’s Stranger Things shares a ‘theme song mash-up’ with Twin Peaks, while its opening title designer also created the Twin Peaks titles back in 1990. The sheer impact of Lynch’s haunting murder mystery can be undeniably and widely felt some thirty years later.
There were significant fears that the revival would not go ahead after the hype had been created. After agreeing to write and direct all eight episodes of the new season, Lynch abruptly announced he was leaving the project with reports that he was dissatisfied with the lack of money made available to tell the story properly. An online campaign by cast and fans, ‘Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like…’ eventually persuaded Lynch to return to the project, now with a larger budget and more than double the number of episodes.
With an extensive cast list of both returning and new actors and with Lynch and Frost returning to write and direct all eighteen episodes of the new season, it should prove to be a spectacle when it finally returns next year. To quote Special Agent Cooper, and in reference to the upcoming series, ‘I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange’.
The third season of ‘Twin Peaks’ premiers on 21 May 2017.
Featured image courtesy of The Dissolve.