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One of the highlights of 2017 for me was Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks this summer. Not everyone who tuned in enjoyed the show as much as I did. Given complete creative control, a sizable budget and 18 hours to fill director David Lynch followed his creative impulses with little concern for the show’s eager fans. Many viewers, myself among them, had waited over twenty-five years for the resolution to the cliffhanger that ended the original series. Technically, Lynch closed the loop on that story-line but in doing so he raised dozens of new questions which are unlikely to ever be answered on television. Fan of Lynch should be used to that treatment but many viewers were understandably frustrated by the glacial pace of The Return and how dissimilar it was from the show they loved. If the end of Twin Peaks left you wanting more (specifically more answers), Mark Frost’s new book, The Final Dossier, fills in some of the blanks.
With only five hours left to go (four remaining after this installment), Twin Peaks: The Return has entered its endgame. The pace is picking up as Lynch begins paying off plot lines that were set up in the early episodes. This hour was filled with more head-scratching “did I just see what I think I saw” moments than most. As Lynch got down to the business of ending his story, this was an episode about story-telling.
It’s happening again. That show I like is coming back in style. I am of course referring to the cult sensation, Twin Peaks, which after twenty-five years has been revived for a third season on Showtime. But this isn’t the first time Twin Peaks was given a second chance. In 1992, just one year after the show’s cancellation, director David Lynch brought his creation to the big screen.
Showtime’s revival has been met with joyous celebration, but Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me opened to booing at the Cannes Film Festival, jeers from critics and ambivalence from audiences. Even the show’s few remaining fans didn’t seem to know what to make of the big screen version of Twin Peaks. A quarter century later, the movie, like the show, has enjoyed a critical reappraisal with many now viewing Fire Walk With Me as an under-appreciated gem. That may be true, but as an attempt to extend the life of Twin Peaks mania, it was a critical and commercial failure.
David Lynch has never had mainstream sensibilities. His movies have a dreamlike quality which often veers into the territory of nightmares. In 1990, against all odds, Lynch found commercial success however briefly with the offbeat television show, Twin Peaks. Just as the show was reaching its saturation point, Lynch released his follow-up to the critically acclaimed 1996 drama, Blue Velvet. While audiences at the Cannes Film Festival went crazy for Wild at Heart, critics were more muted in their praise. Many were put off by the film’s graphic violence.
In the September 1990 issue of Movieline, co-editor Virginia Campbell took a very pro-Lynch stance in an article that heaps more praise on Wild at Heart than it probably deserves.
Billy Zane got his start in one of the most beloved science fiction movies of the 80’s. He gained popularity on one of the quirkiest TV shows of the 90s. And he played the least-loved character in what was at the time the highest-grossing movie ever. His list of credits include several popular films. But when the handsome actor tried to transition into leading man roles, something didn’t click. Zane has worked steadily since 1985, but somehow he never became a household name.
What the hell happened?
Heather Graham has been around a lot longer than most people realize. She had an early role in a Haim/Feldman “Coreys classic”, got caught up in the craziness of James Woods and somehow clawed her way to being Hollywood’s “it” girl for a few short years in the mid 90’s. And then, she vanished into virtual obscurity. What the hell happened?
Shortly after Twin Peaks was cancelled by ABC, a Twin Peals movie was announced. For the dedicated fans who watched the TV show to the bitter end, the announcement was great news. The show ended with maddening cliff hanger. It stood to reason that the movie would offer some closure.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, auteur David Lynch made a movie that was too tied to the mythology of the TV show to be appreciated by casual viewers and yet so different in tone from the TV show that it alienated fans.
In short, it satisfied almost no one.
I was discussing Twin Peaks with some fellow fans after my review of the show and I stumbled on this brilliant video of Lego Twin Peaks. If you’re not a fan, you won’t get it. But if you still remember Twin Peaks fondly, this will put a smile on your face.
Recently Netflix started streaming episodes of Twin Peaks. This news was cause for celebration as far as I was concerned. During most of its brief run, Twin Peaks had been my favorite TV show. But most people didn’t share my enthusiasm.
The years have not been kind to Twin Peaks’ reputation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Twin Peaks has become something of a cautionary tale. Back in the days when Lost was frustrating its fans with bizarre clues to mysteries it seemed it would never answer, I commonly heard the phrase “They better not pull a Twin Peaks!”