TV Discussion

Twin Peaks @ 30 – We Are Like the Dreamer

For the 30th anniversary of Twin Peaks, we detailed the arduous history of the show’s inception. We took you through its full run, audience reception, and the many ups and downs both on and off-screen that have since become the stuff of TV legend. But, the story does not end there in 1992, and who are we to leave a story half-told? David Lynch and Mark Frost elected not to, and so it’s only fair that we follow their example…

Barring The Straight Story, an anomalous, Disney-produced, feel-good movie about a man and his tractor, the filmography of David Lynch succeeding Twin Peaks existed in a similar vein. The style now universally accepted as ‘Lynchian’ was most displayed in the forms of Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire. His 1977 debut Eraserhead is about as ethereal, unsettling and despondent as you can get, and these are the key components most associated with his name… but on the pre-Peaks side of things, that’s kind of all you’re getting.

READ MORE: Twin Peaks @ 30 – Northwest Passage

It was Twin Peaks itself that rebirthed this affinity for the unadulterated grips of madness. Lynch had always painted Americana. Always dressed a stone-cold killer like a Midwestern mother who bakes and smiles from the beautiful wooden front porch. He had almost never shown us a darkness so upfront before. There’s industry commentary in abundance throughout the course of both Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire… the very settings of these stories are meant to depict Hollywood and its frequent ‘types’ in a, shall we say, less-than-admirable way… regardless of what you think either movies ‘mean’, that’s unavoidable. Subtlety dies wailing, and we leap headlong into the midst of the blackness. We had tasted soap opera sheen; glared at juxtaposition. Now it was time to contend with bared teeth from the offset.

It would take the full, prophesied quarter of a century between the car crash of a film and new Peaks content. The revitalised ‘Return’ series, airing through Showtime (home to Dexter, Homeland, and Weeds) took nearly five years to write and shoot to completion. The reuniting co-creators pretty understandably didn’t want to rush in, and would take any precaution necessary to avoid the pitfalls of the previous go-around. Mercifully, attitudes towards the show had changed by this time period, as the shape of wider programming had shifted dramatically, and in a way that proved it retroactively cutting-edge.

READ MORE: Twin Peaks @ 30 – Its Influence on Television

Northern Exposure and The X Files instantaneously put meat on the bones in the remainder of the 90s with their flaunting influence, and the early 2000’s television boom solidified suspicions beyond a shadow of a doubt. You couldn’t watch an episode of JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof’s smash show Lost and not see the blueprint that Lynch and Frost laid out a decade earlier, and that’s to name but one. New network Showtime were clearly well into this reinvigorated reputation, and oversaw that the original nine episode project expand to twice the size… and sat Lynch in the director’s chair for each and every upcoming offering. This is the kind of creative freedom the co-creators had long-sought, and it’s so ironic they finally secured that leverage by way of their once-wronged, mutilated brainchild that never knew anything of the sort. The conditions were right, and it was time to create what should have always been.

If the first two seasons of Twin Peaks experimented with where television ends and film begins, then The Return married the two ideas and paid-in-full for their new shared home. What arrived was nothing short of an 18-hour movie; a dream much darker and more bold than anything either had produced prior. Take that sentence in. It could’ve very easily coasted on the pre-existing affections of fans and phoned it in. There’d have still been those that loved it just for existing. Instead, we were gifted a reinvention of everything we once thought quintessentially Twin Peaks… an accomplished and finally expounded world in every drop of detail you wished for.

READ MORE: Twin Peaks @ 30 – “I’ll See You In My Dreams”

There’s no nostalgic agenda to serve, no “remember them?” moments set up around the extensive parade of old friends and faces… these interactions are purpose built for you to get your bearings before the next horrifying paroxysm; the next moment meticulously built to shake you to your core. The characters and settings were once again spoken through by Lynch, delivering the latest volume of his opinions on the showbiz sphere, (though, no spoilers) and completing the interesting circle of influence within his own catalogue. It broke ground again, and any fan would tell you it was a joy to watch. Or, as close to joy as one can experience when you’ve just had scrambled egg made of your brain. (Part 8 is the most ludicrously deranged hour of television that ever aired.)

Now, to the the matter of Frost. Either side of The Return‘s 2017 release, he wrote and published two books delving into the mythos of Laura Palmer, and the town as a whole respectively. They contained details unmentioned and unexplored in any iteration of the show, signalling that we may still not be done with that batshit town in Washington just yet. From our vantage point in 2020, both creators have said as much. Widespread interest in continuing on has never been at such a high, and Showtime are certainly happy to see it happen under their banner; a welcomed change in the history of the franchise. Whether it will or not remains to be seen, and here’s hoping we can arrive celebrating the anniversary of another solid run of the show. Here’s to Twin Peaks, at 30.

Twin Peaks celebrates its 30th anniversary on 8th April 2020.  Check out the rest of our Twin Peaks @ 30 coverage.

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