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Charlie Gearon previews the return of Twin Peaks, but will it ever be as good as its first series way back when?

26 years down the line and that gum we all like oh-so-much is about to come back in style.

ABC’s Twin Peaks first aired in 1990, bringing David Lynch’s signature surrealist touch to primetime television. Previously known for his film work including horror cult favourites Eraserhead (1977) and Blue Velvet (1986), Twin Peaks saw Lynch flexing a different kind of cinematic muscle. Lynch developed the show’s plot slowly, gradually introducing the viewer to the show’s more surreal aspects, leaving room for plenty of quirk and humour.

The show’s central question, ‘who killed Laura Palmer?’, was one of television’s greatest mysteries. It resonated throughout the series, driving it forward until the midpoint of the second season.

Upon revealing the murderer, Lynch’s work was not yet done. Despite a slightly more tepid reception from critics, the second season delved deeper into the absurd, terrifying world of Twin Peaks, Washington.

Capitalising on the success of the series, a film entitled Fire, Walk With Me (1992) was directed by Lynch, serving as a prequel to the show. This work shied away from the show’s light-heartedness and entirely committed to the dark, horrific and mind-bending nature of the series.

And here we are. 26 years after the release of the series (unfortunately, one year later than Laura Palmer herself predicted) and a third season is in the works. It is to be broadcast on Showtime with a release date set for 21st May 2017.

As previously hinted at, many viewers fell out of love with the show towards the end of the second season. They argued that the show had lost its direction: its central plot had been resolved, and it was spiraling out of control fast.

That, however, is the beauty of Twin Peaks.

 the direction in which Lynch and Frost will take the show is entirely unknown.

It is a surrealist piece of television. Lynch and the show’s other creator, Mark Frost, are not concerned with adhering to the standards established by most primetime series. They are willing to confuse their viewers, leave them in the dark, throw them off the trail and not let them back on. This is the intention of the show, not a flaw of it.  

With this in mind, I have nothing but high expectations for the show’s return. Lynch and Frost are fully committing to the show’s absurdity, even using an unconventional release schedule. As David Nevins, head of Showtime, claims: ‘I want to embrace the unusualness of it and I think it’s quite possible we’re not going to do a traditional release pattern.’ Viewers should expect irregular episode lengths and an avoidance of the usual one episode per week schedule.

The show will continue to subvert the expectations of its viewers. This will inevitably upset some, but if it didn’t do this, it simply wouldn’t be Twin Peaks.

If viewers needed any more reason to put their faith in the show’s creators, they need only look at Lynch’s more recent filmography. Since the show’s release, Lynch has only further proved himself a master of the surreal genre. In a recent poll between critics, the BBC gave Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001) the title of the greatest film of the 21st Century.

As well as this, the irreplaceable Kyle MacLachlan is making his return as agent Dale Cooper. In the original series, MacLachlan was undeniably a highlight. The character’s unique combination of irreverence, authenticity and genius made him a lasting fan-favourite.

Along with MacLachlan, many of the series’ original cast are returning, including Sherilyn Fenn as Audery, Dana Ashbrook as Bobby, Mädchen Amick as Shelly and Richard Beymer as Ben Horne.

Apart from this, the direction in which Lynch and Frost will take the show is entirely unknown. In the past couple of decades, television has slowly been morphing into a higher art-form, liberated from the binds of censorship.

In the original iteration of the show, this censorship is fairly evident. At points, Lynch seems to be holding back slightly, a trait which is absent from Fire, Walk With Me. We should expect Lynch to take full advantage of this new approach to television, perhaps leading to a creation more similar to his filmic work than the original series.

It would be remiss, however, if the show substituted its humour and light-heartedness for non-stop grit. It is a fine balance which Lynch and Frost must find, particularly when expectations are running so high amongst long-time fans.

Despite this, fans and first-time viewers should trust the creators of one of television’s finest offerings to recreate some of the original magic of Twin Peaks.


Are you optimistic for the new series?

Let us know on @EpigramFilm.

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