Twin Peaks. A cult lightning show that sprang onto screens in 1990 and 1991 with just two seasons, has been given a reboot on Showtime in 2017, like many others we’re seeing coming through at this time. Co-penned and directed by the effervescent David Lynch, it is an exercise in the weird and wonderful, mystery and intrigue. However, the new show may just teeter on the side of too weird for most.Today we check out the Twin Peaks reboot and see just where it stands in 2017’s TV lineup.
Introducing… David Lynch
If you want to get weird with your viewing habits, then a good place to start is with the kooky, sometimes creepy, and ever entertaining David Lynch. A hypnotizing, engrossing, and melodramatic writer, producer, and director (and sometime actor), everything the man does is clever, calculated, and beyond (or beneath?) the normal.
His films uncover a madness to the everyday, a style many times imitated but none replicated, films that reflect in essence the man himself. To quote Winston Churchill (on Russia, no less), Lynch is “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key”.
Lynch first burst through our collective psyche in the 1977 film Eraserhead, a mind-bending and genre-busting surrealist film about a man who goes on to live with a new child of his, a deformed infant that shrieks and cries. Hallucinations dot the film and make it a truly creepy experience, as well as a must-watch for cinema buffs.
And so, with this film, well, we know that Lynch is weird. Eraserhead was followed up as stints as director on famed movies The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart, throughout the 1980s. Dune was supposed to be an epic movie, in the style of Star Wars, and was to be Lynch’s first taste for the big time.
Due to arguments with the studio, Lynch’s vision for Dune never really came to fruition, the movie bombed (sort of), and he disassociated himself with the film overall. The other Lynch pieces during this time, however, did have success. It seemed that quirky and cultish was more his style rather than big and blockbuster – and he since has not picked up such a massive project again – until the Twin Peaks reincarnation, perhaps, but more on that later.
So by now, we have established that if anyone is, in fact, a master of the weird and wonderful, then David Lynch is right up there. Enter: Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks, the original series
Twin Peaks, the original series, was a creepy, absurd, mysterious series that swept onto small screens around the globe in 1990 and took the world by storm. It quickly became the series du jour and the talk in offices around the world after each show – if you think about the praise garnered for Westworld last year in 2016, you’ll have some of an idea how big and bold the original Twin Peaks was.
However, Lynch fans were not as impressed as others. They saw the series as a watering down of the man’s crazy genius. A smart move for television, perhaps, but a departure from what they were used to consuming from him at the time. Nevertheless, the series was fairly successful, sweeping up Golden Globes for Best TV Series, Best Performance by an Actor, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Twin Peaks ran for just two seasons at the start of the 1990s. As the storylines became more absurd – perhaps more Lynchian, in fact – viewership went down. It seemed that the consensus among the general public was that they just “didn’t get” this crazy/weird style of TV series. After being a touch of crazy/weird, that was enough, the whole hog was just too much. The show was effectively cancelled in 1991.
However, that didn’t stop fan and cult fever from taking hold with speculation across the years that the show would be brought back to life. And in 2014, that dream came true for many.
Twin Peaks 2017: The reboot
Showtime, a major US TV premium cable network, announced in 2014 that they had picked up the show for a third season, with Lynch and Mark Frost (the other original developer) at the helm. It was not a new concept and was to be somewhat of a continuation of the first two series. As such, many of the original cast members came back on board.Released in 2017, Twin Peak: The Return marked a (funnily enough) return to the original story of Twin Peaks. But is today’s version, 25 years later, enough to satisfy fans?
In this age, we are used to near cinematic masterpieces from shows on premium channels, from big guns such as Netflix, Showtime, and HBO. Series like the aforementioned Westworld, along with Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Stranger Things, and True Detective all have high production values and high expectations for viewers.
These shows have garnered massive followings and franchises, with cult to mainstream followings, spawning massive online forums, fan fiction communities, retail products, apps, and even casino games have been based on TV shows. With these TV shows, our viewing is now peppered with series that are more like films or miniseries, and gather the same amount of frenzied interest.
And it is in that respect, perhaps, that the original Twin Peaks was ahead of its time. And this is precisely why it can be successful in today’s TV consumptive market – we are used to these quirky, engulfing worlds, used to TV shows that break the mold, break the traditional formula. 2017 is the perfect time to be released a new season of Twin Peaks.
How has the show itself gone over? At the time of writing, we are now 14 episodes in to an 18 episode series, with the first episode gathering half a million viewers on US television. While this isn’t a particularly high figure, the series is rating well among critics and fans, coming in currently at 8.7/10 stars on IMDB.
Is the new Twin Peaks just too weird?
The new series may not seem quite like the old one to fans – and it’s not. Whereas during the first and second series, Lynch was being given direction by the heads at ABC, its original home, at Showtime, the heads have relinquished full creative control, so that Lynch can just “roll with it”.
This should absolutely delight fans of Lynch’s films, but it may confuse viewers of the original two series. The reboot of Twin Peaks sees Lynch back in form as the master of the weird and the wonderful. It’s more eccentric, more offbeat, less linear, and less congruent than its predecessors for sure. Expect the unexpected and expect giggles that maybe you shouldn’t be having.
Our earnest advice to fans following along from series one and two, along with the oft-forgotten movie and prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, is to check out Lynch’s back catalogue of movies. Perhaps even check them out before you dive into the new Twin Peaks series. An understanding of what makes things “uniquely Lynch” and how he puts his stamp on filmmaking will give you more of an idea about how to consume Twin Peaks season 3, and how to really “get it”.
Start at the easily accessible and huge hit movie Mulholland Dr. (2001) and then view favorites Wild at Heart (1990) and Lost Highway (1997). If you’re after some true weird, you can try out Lynch’s first big break on the big screen Eraserhead (1997), but be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart.
If you’d like to compare Dune, the movie from 1984, as, in effect, a vehicle where Lynch was too restrained stylistically, and compare it to the original series, then this can also be a good exercise. Lynch is best when he’s allowed to take the ball and run with it. Comparisons between Dune and the original two series of Twin Peaks, where he has been held back due to being overruled by those in charge, are interesting to see.
If you’re not getting the new series of Twin Peaks, then take a pause and get to the Lynch favorites. If you don’t like his style of directing or writing in these classics, then the new Twin Peaks may just be too weird for you. It’s not quite like the original and it makes no promise to be. However, it is uniquely Lynch, and with the right background viewing, you might find that you enjoy it more.
If you already like weird and wonderful, and haven’t yet given this new series of Twin Peaks a go then dive right in – you’ll probably enjoy yourself immensely, and you don’t have to have viewed the first two seasons in advance. Come back to them as an afterthought and see what you think. Fans of the true Lynch already will be pleased as punch by Twin Peaks: The Return.
So just think about it, and line it up for your binge viewing pleasure… Are you ready to get weird?