Why ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ was the miracle of a generation

Screenshot from 'Twin Peaks'

Screenshot from ‘Twin Peaks’

No other TV show will ever come close

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Contributor

 

When Twin Peaks first aired in 1990, it was unlike anything seen on television before. Created by surrealist filmmaker David Lynch, the show was bizarre, confusing, and didn’t follow traditional plot structures. The sheer weirdness and executive meddling of the second season led to the show’s cancellation after only 14 months. Despite its short run, the series went on to become one of the most well-regarded and influential shows of all time.

Despite its popularity and a prequel movie in 1992, the show remained off the air for 25 years. A sequel seemed impossible with such a long time having passed. But in 2014, the production of an official third season of nine episodes to be aired on the Showtime network was announced. It was emphasized that this was not a remake, but in fact a sequel to the original series, with the original cast and David Lynch returning as director. Although the production experienced some turbulence (most notably a brief period when Lynch announced he would not be directing, a decision he later recanted), it was finally completed. As of this printing, the entire third season has aired, consisting of not 9 but an entire 18 episodes.

If Showtime was concerned about the series being overly strange, they weren’t wrong. The new series is more surreal than its predecessor or almost anything ever seen on television. There are mundane shots of someone shuffling papers that last for long periods of time. One episode is almost entirely in black and white and features very little dialogue. New viewers had no idea what was going on, and neither did the longtime fans. Despite its differences from most television, The Return was a hit, attracting both old and new viewers of the series.

Simply the fact that David Lynch was able and willing to return to directing a TV series in his late sixties is a blessing. The fact that a network was willing to pay for such a bizarre series is lucky. Almost the entire cast returned as the quirky residents of Twin Peaks, including characters that had died during the events of the original series (in the supernatural world of Twin Peaks, death isn’t necessarily the end). In fact, multiple actors in The Return passed away between filming their scenes and the airing of the series. One of the most iconic characters was Margaret Landerman, a.k.a. “The Log Lady,” who carried (and communicated with) a log everywhere she went. Her actress, Catherine Coulson, passed away in September 2015—almost two years before the revival finally aired in May 2017. Despite battling cancer, she completed multiple episodes, and the real-world story makes her appearance and arc even more emotional. Even actors who passed away before the revival was filmed were worked in with the magic of archival footage, including Frank Silva as the main antagonist “BOB,” and even David Bowie.

During the events of the original series, Laura Palmer (in what may or may not be a dream, as Laura was murdered before the first episode) tells another character “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” The line was clearly just another line of bizarre dialogue. Not even Lynch himself could’ve dreamed that he would have the opportunity two and a half decades later to continue. (Even the timing itself is significant—while The Return actually aired 27 years after the original did, the show’s plot point of being exactly 25 years later is central to the events of season 3.)

Twin Peaks will always be an iconic show, and its third season has only furthered that reputation. A lot of stars had to align in order for this return to happen, and there were so many things that could have gone wrong. Yet somehow, 18 hours of new Twin Peaks was completed, with nearly the entire cast available and willing to bring it back. In the end, fans got to experience some closure in the town of Twin Peaks, Log Lady and all. Nothing in the history of television has ever happened like this before, and probably never will again.

 

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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