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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, January 30, 2023
Jake Smasal columnist mug

‘Twin Peaks’ revival breeds skepticism and excitement

On Monday, it was revealed that David Lynch’s acclaimed psycho-drama “Twin Peaks” would come back after more than 20 years for a third season on Showtime. Lynch’s sprawling vision of a northern town and its seedy (and mostly psychotic) underbelly failed to live up to lofty ratings expectations in its second season and has since become a cult classic, gathering legions of new fans as the years have gone by.

This news is a continuation of a trend started by Netflix when it brought back Arrested Development for a fourth season last year. These two shows already come with a built-in fan base and have been publicized enough over the years that Netflix and now Showtime know that there will be huge viewership for the revivals.

“Twin Peaks,” however, is a little different by virtue of David Lynch’s involvement. It represents the mercurial director’s first and only foray into the realm of (network) television—it originally aired on ABC. Known mostly for his surreal films like “Mulholland Drive” and “Blue Velvet,” his going to television was a landmark moment. While he sort of lost control of “Twin Peaks“ to the network late during the second season, the first season and beginning of the second season were strong enough that a third season is as hyped as it (deservedly) is.

The problem with “Twin Peaks” is that the quality of the show went swiftly downhill after its vaunted “Who killed Laura Palmer?” storyline wrapped up about a third of the way through the second season. Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost clearly had problems coming up with stories as engrossing as the murder of Twin Peaks High School’s most popular student. The characters and their various quests and quirks spread like scattershot in any and all directions, from Officer Andy’s demon child and Benjamin Horne’s sudden obsession with Civil War figurines to Maureen developing super-strength and going back to high school. While the plot ostensibly proceeds to thwarting a mass murder and an ancient Indian spirit-ground called “The White Lodge,” neither is remotely as compelling as Laura’s death.

Therefore, the question that has to be asked is which “Twin Peaks” we are going to get? Will we get the calm, controlled lunacy of the show’s inception or the maniac stupidity of its end? The third season announcement made it very clear that Lynch and Frost will have full creative control and that Lynch will direct the entire season, but it’s hard not to wonder if they can coax more sympathy out of the characters that we loved, or, like stupid freakin’ James, characters we tolerated because they were essential to the plot. While it will help that Showtime is a premium cable channel and affords more freedom, will “Twin Peaks” be able to take advantage of its new freedoms? My guess is yes, because some parts of the original “Twin Peaks” were pretty graphic for their time—but you never know with David Lynch.

“Twin Peaks” definitely deserves your attention, and it might even deserve your love. It’s hard for me to come up with another TV show that people are as devoted to as “Twin Peaks,” and there’s definitely some convincing reasoning for that devotion in season one and the beginning of season two. Myself, I will take a wait-and-see approach and see if Lynch and company can wow me once again.

Really like “Twin Peaks?” Think season two was better than season one? Let Jake have it at smasal@wisc.edu.

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