By now you’ve heard the good news, because when it was announced, the internet freaked the f-ck out: Twin Peaks is returning for a nine-episode run on Showtime in 2016. And depending on who you are, you have a lot of questions. The practical among you are probably wondering how they could ever hope to resolve that killer cliffhanger now that actor Frank Silva has died. The conspiratorially minded will be asking if executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost were planning this comeback since the show first went off the air. Or, if you are one of my co-workers, you may just be asking, “What’s Twin Peaks?”
If you fall into the third camp, this post, which is adapted from my response to my co-worker, is for you:
You asked about the show Twin Peaks yesterday, and I wish I had been able to give you a more succinct description that properly captured how compelling this weird and memorable show is.
The show is equal parts murder mystery, quirky comedy, surreal nightmare and soap opera. The plot kicks off with an honest, open-hearted, slightly odd FBI agent traveling to a remote northwestern town to investigate the grizzly death of a beloved local prom queen. The town is filled with off-beat, funny characters and gives off an idyllic charm, but as he pulls back the curtains on this beautiful little slice of America, he reveals a surreal and withered soul.
A lot of TV shows have been inspired by some aspect of it or another—The X-Files wouldn’t have had FBI agents investigating supernatural and alien activity in remote locations without Twin Peaks; Desperate Housewives wouldn’t have taken a cynical look at suburban utopia through the lens of satirizing soap operas without it; some of Lost‘s most striking images came straight from it, too—but no TV show had ever tried to bring together all of the styles and tones of Twin Peaks and no one has ever attempted it since.
It was roughly 28 episodes long. It was messy. It was impenetrable. It was hilarious. It was frightening. It gave us some of the most bizarre images TV has ever produced. And it was awesome.
The weirdest thing: It was on normal, broadcast TV.
Of course, it only lasted two seasons.
It was spearheaded by acclaimed film director David Lynch, whose affable, aw-shucks demeanor belies the fact that he is a master of surreal horror and nightmare logic. (As evidence, I offer this simple scene from his film Lost Highway. Here’s hoping you don’t watch it alone.)
The fact that the revival is only nine episodes long and Lynch is directing all nine episodes of them is good news: The show’s first, abbreviated season is universally regarded as its best. Its focus blurred and its quality dropped when Lynch took a less active role in its longer second season.
Nine episodes directed by David Lynch on Showtime in 2016. Other than that, we don’t know much. David Lynch and producer Mark Frost are contacting actors to verify their availability, but even that isn’t a guarantee of who will be involved.
For now, all we can do is hope that David Duchovny makes a triumphant return.