This is exciting; properly exciting. I cannot think of any TV news that has been more exciting or intriguing than hearing that the iconic 1990’s David Lynch serial Twin Peaks is returning to our lives.
The simultaneous tweets that went out this week from both David Lynch and Mark Frost sent ripples of anticipation out across the substantial and enduring world of Twin Peaks fandom.
On October 6th  it was confirmed the classic show will return for a 9-episode limited series to air in early 2016 on Showtime in the US.


For a show that only had two seasons and ended over twenty years ago to still have that much of a legacy and that degree of loyal following is remarkable. But Twin Peaks was groundbreaking. At the time there had been nothing like it, no point of reference for comparison. Even now it remains a unique entity, despite the preponderance of TV dramas and series’ now and in the intervening two decades. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconic series is credited with having set the standard for most of the best TV drama-based series’ that have followed and is cited an influence on everything from The Sopranos to Mad Men; but I would argue that nothing has surpassed it for its uniqueness, impact and singular fascination.

Even with everything that’s come after it, Twin Peaks still stands alone in the annals of TV history as something pretty much inimitable.

With its off-beat tone, surrealist take on small-town suburban America (with dubious morality and Satanic undercurrents), eccentric characters and its opening premise of ‘big city detective’ arriving to solve the brutal murder of small town’s idyllic homecoming queen, it’s easy to see how the show could’ve generated such fascination in the first instance, being part mock-soap opera, part supernatural/horror and part god-knows-what.

I was only ten years old when I watched Twin Peaks for the first time; literally staying up to watch the first episode when it premiered on the BBC. It was the first ever drama series I had watched from the pilot; but the promo hype that preceded that first air date worked its magic on me. From that opening episode – in fact from the famous scene of Laura Palmer’s body being fished from the river – onward I was hooked all the way through to the end of the second season and its disturbing finale.


The funny thing is that as a 10 to 12 year-old during the series’ broadcast, I never fully understood the story and all its eccentricities and details. I understood a lot of it, of course; but I certainly didn’t have a handle on everything. Later when I re-watched the series on DVD in my twenties I understood the show’s labyrinthine tapestry a lot better, picked up on things I never did as a child and came to appreciate the nuances of the series even more. But the funny thing is that, even not grasping so much of it at the time, I was compelled and addicted to the show anyway; it must’ve been the style and tone of the thing more than anything, the weirdness, the characters and the numerous highly stylized, highly memorable moments or motifs scattered throughout the two seasons.

There were moments and visuals in Twin Peaks that stay in your mind forever, becoming part of your subconscious landscape; from the evocative opening title sequence with its moody images, famous theme music and the ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’ sign, the image of Laura Palmer’s discolored face wrapped in plastic, to the unsettling dancing dwarf (The Man From Another Place) and the ominous and cryptic Giant man and most of all that mystical realm beyond the Red Curtains of the “Black Lodge” in the woods where Laura Palmer is murdered (and where Agent Cooper eventually loses his soul).

The question ‘Who Killed Laura Palmer?’, even though it was THE question of early 90s television (possibly until ‘Who Shot Mr Burns?’), actually became secondary to the ongoing narrative; the investigation into her murder, the journey of Agent Dale Cooper through this bizarre labyrinth of creepy small-town suburbia, became more interesting than the case itself. That was certainly the case after the murder was solved with still so much of the series left to go. While some viewers claimed to have lost interest after that point, especially as the show got weirder and weirder, I wasn’t one of them.

The “Red Room” sequences in particular both frightened the hell out of me at the time and have remained in my mind for all the years since.

With its off-kilter, reversed-speech business (bringing to mind the enduring fascination some people have with ‘satanic’ ‘back-masking’ and backtracking in pop music) and otherworldly currents it might be the weirdest, yet most compelling, sequence of scenes in any television show ever. I had nightmares about Cooper’s experience when I was younger. That final episode of the series remains one of the most shocking finales to a TV series there’s ever been; I still think it may be the best series finale I’ve ever seen, particularly the disturbing “How’s Annie?” ending with the cracked mirror.

On the one hand, with that finale and that final scene the story seems finished enough, as though adding to it now might be unhelpful to the narrative. On the other hand, I’m not going to pretend the prospect of more Twin Peaks doesn’t appeal to me. Also although the series finale seems like a difficult act to follow, the same can’t be said for the follow-on feature-film Fire Walk With Me, which despite some good moments, was nothing like on the same quality level as the TV series. If nothing else, Fire Walk With Me should not be the final creative statement of the Twin Peaks mythology.

And now it won’t be. The die-hard fans who’ve been waiting 21 years for more of the show are finally being rewarded for their dedication. In the wake of the new announcement, sales for the annual Twin Peaks Fest (which has been going every year since 1993) have reportedly shot up. Agent Cooper’s catchphrase (though I’m not sure he said quite as many times as is made out) is trending on Twitter and water-cooler speculation about Twin Peaks is going to come back, if only briefly.


At any rate, whether the charm and appeal of the original series can be recaptured in 2016 remains to be seen. Capturing that same magic a second time might be a difficult task, particularly with two decades elapsed inbetween. But it’s highly unlikely David Lynch and the creative forces would’ve decided on adding to the legacy of the show unless they felt it was creatively worthwhile.

There remain so many questions. Who if anyone from the original cast will return? Kyle Machlachlan as Agent Cooper seems absolutely necessary as he is the  soul of the show. I imagine much of the rest of original ensemble are both unnecessary and not that important, though it would be terrific to see Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle and Ray Wise reprise their roles along with some of the others.

What is the story going to consist of now that the Laura Palmer murder mystery is long resolved? David Lynch is keeping understandably tight-lipped about details at this time; we’ll have to wait and find out in 2016, though we’ll probably find out a fair bit between and now and then too. Until then, remember – “The owls are not what they seem.”


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