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Let’s start with the obvious: Twin Peaks is a masterpiece. The brainchild of Mark Frost and David Lynch (the patron saint of uncomfortable weirdness), it premiered on ABC in 1990. It went on to become one of the most popular shows on ABC, and has inspired countless pop culture references and parodies, not to mention the undying affection of a worldwide audience.
The premise was simple: the prom queen (Laura Palmer) has been murdered in the sleepy town of Twin Peaks, Washington, and an FBI agent (played by the inimitable Kyle McLachlan) is sent to investigate.
What seems at first to be a run-of-the-mill crime investigation slowly gets weirder and weirder, incorporating elements of horror and the supernatural. By episode three we’re in the deep end of Lynchian tropes including dancing midgets, haunting sound design, and unsettling glimpses into shattered human psyches.
On the Two Deaths of Twin Peaks
The first, eight-episode season of Twin Peaks earned huge ratings for the broadcasting company, and a second season was quickly greenlit. However, viewership quickly declined to the point where ABC insisted that the showrunners reveal the identity of Laura Palmer’s murderer halfway through season two. Their reasoning, I suppose, was that audiences had become fatigued with the show’s many unanswered questions, and hoped that resolving the show’s biggest mystery would reignite fans’ passion for the show.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Twin Peaks was cancelled after the second season wrapped. 1992 saw the release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which, while giving us further insights into the final days of Laura Palmer’s life, unwisely chose not to wrap up any of the dangling plot points from the end of season two.
Since then, the future of Twin Peaks has been not just uncertain, but non-existent.
Could a Reboot be in the Works?
You already know where I stand: this show desperately needs a reboot. But how does David Lynch feel? He’s said that he’d be keen to revisit the town of Twin Peaks as recently as 2013, and even Netflix has expressed interest in rebooting the beloved cult classic.
But the most important question remains: Why this show? And why the enduring fascination?
The easiest answer, of course, is that the show is almost wholly unique. It’s been frequently imitated over the years, but never reproduced. While I did feel, as many other fans did, that the quality of the show flagged after Laura’s murderer was revealed, I never lost interest – nor fell out of love with the show’s colorful cast of characters.
McLachlan’s Dale Cooper ranks among the most memorable characters ever to grace a popular TV show, and each of the supporting characters are brilliant in their own right: from the mysterious and beautiful Audrey Horne to the slightly deranged Dr. Jacoby, everyone in the town is remarkably fully realized, and never all that they appear to be.
In the course of the murder investigation, we’re frequently treated to unsettling glimpses into what might be another realm of existence altogether, and Agent Cooper repeatedly thanks himself for keeping his personal injury attorney on speed dial.
In other words, the show was a wild ride from start to finish, and I loved (almost) every minute of it.
But I Thought Reboots Were Bad?
By now you’re thinking: But we don’t like reboots – do we? Hollywood’s lack of creativity and all that?That’s true to a certain extent; I get as frustrated as anyone when Hollywood insists on creating a carbon copy of a previously successful intellectual property and inevitably makes a hash of it.
However: a show that serves as a spiritual successor to Twin Peaks? That’s something I’d very much like to see. Examples include the recent Fargo on FX and, in the world of interactive entertainment,BioShock served as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2.
I wouldn’t want to live Laura Palmer’s story over again. But if David Lynch and co. managed to create a new story, with new characters, but kept it true to the spirit of the original, I’d watch the resulting masterpiece in a heartbeat.
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