What should the new Twin Peaks be?
Theresa DeLucci wonders what form the revived series will take when it hits screens in 2016.
"I'll see you again in 25 years," homecoming queen Laura Palmer promised, from her otherwordly home in the Black Lodge, back when Twin Peaks went off air in 1991.
Fans of David Lynch and Mark Frost's landmark TV mystery have been speculating and hoping that some big Twin Peaks news was coming. After a weekend of cryptic tweets, this Monday saw real confirmation: Twin Peaks is returning to television as a limited-run series on Showtime in 2016. This is huge news for fans who watched the show during its original run in 1990 -- which was a substantial number of people, as ABC hooked a record audience with the tagline "Who Killed Laura Palmer?"
I came into the fandom through a Peaks-inspired fashion spread in Sassy magazine. If ever I will write a more 90s-era sentence, I don't know. But at the time, Sherilyn Fenn's sultry portrayal of teenage siren Audrey Horne was about as aspirational it got. Before My So-Called Life's Angela Chase and Daria, the 90s had Audrey Horne tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. While she was popular with boys and older men -- even saintly Special Agent Dale Cooper was close to committing a felony for her -- she wasn't popular. Other female classmates saw her as a threat, but Audrey didn't care; she just wanted to toy with people's hearts and smoke in the girls' room and sway all spaced-out to a smooth Angelo Badalamenti score. No one wanted to be Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen hiding the worst secrets in the world. No one wanted to be Donna, the most vanilla girl in Twin Peaks High.
So, for a certain set of Twin Peaks fans, there's some heavy nostalgia swirling around this show. But Twin Peaks never really went away. It's been hiding under new seasons of TV mysteries, pop culture in-jokes, and the resurgence of hipster bar trivia and bingo nights from Brooklyn to Capitol Hill, Seattle. This is in no small part due to the series' availability on Netflix, but there's more. Back when Twin Peaks was starting, so, too was the internet, and Twin Peaks was one of the first shows that found a forum of conspiracy theorists online. (And print zines. Oh, the zines. Like the best one, Wrapped in Plastic.) These days, we expect fine dramas to get obsessed over online, on social media, in lovingly-crafted episode reviews by fine critics, but when Twin Peaks debuted, it wasn't the norm.
Nothing from David Lynch is ever the norm. And for original fans of the show and newcomers to David Lynch's vision, perhaps the best news about the Twin Peaks revival isn't just that it will be Lynch's longest directorial effort since 2006's Inland Empire, but Twin Peaks was never as good when Lynch departed at the end of the first season. While the first season has a tightly-coiled mystery about a young girl's brutal murder, a cast of eccentric townies, and that dirty, teeming underbelly David Lynch loves to shine a light on so much, the second season squandered a lot of that good will -- and in perhaps its most egregious sin -- introduced the world to the wooden acting of Heather Graham.
So what might separate Twin Peaks from the new "Golden Age" of TV that it helped originate? The return of Special Agent Dale Cooper is crucial, even if he's only a minor character. Played by Kyle MacLachlan at his absolute dreamiest, Cooper seemed like a throwback even 25 years ago. While all of the police department in Twin Peaks are Mayberry-friendly, Cooper goes beyond even that. The whitest white-hat you can find, the purest paragon, a beacon of Zen mastery in a topsy-turvy town where demons wear denim, Canada is a den of vice, and the owls are not what they seem.
While there was tragedy in Cooper's past, his baggage weighs about as much as a cotton ball compared to the moodier, much darker detectives on TV today. I'm looking at you, Rust Cohle, with your cigarettes and existential despair, and you, Will Graham, with your extreme empathy disorder and cannibal buddies. Cooper would tell you both to just have some pie, get a little fresh air for a new perspective. Hell, True Detective's King in Yellow was a red herring in the end. Cooper has to deal with Killer BOB, who actually is a pure evil deity from another dimension. And Cooper can still smile.
However, the infamous tragedy of Twin Peaks was that it burned bright but brief and was cancelled with a hellacious cliffhanger. (It's been 25 years. The statute of limitations on Twin Peaks spoilers is over.) Agent Cooper was last seen leaving the Black Lodge, possessed by Killer BOB. Will the new series offer us a newer, darker, Cooper? Like Nolan's darker Batman reboot, will Twin Peaks get a modern cable makeover and kill all the beautiful, strange things about it?
I'm hoping that Cooper will find a way back to his good self in the Black Lodge. That's what people really want to know. Okay, maybe that and "How's Annie?" Which leads me to wonder who might actually make it back to Twin Peaks at all. That Kyle MacLachlan is all but confirmed is, of course, fantastic. It seems fitting that the most beloved man in Twin Peaks would be crowned the mayor of Portland on a show that lampoons the kinds of people who never forgot Twin Peaks in the first place. Let's gloss over MacLachlan's other works between Peaks and Portlandia, okay? Showgirls has its place, as does Sex & the City and Desperate Housewives, but I like my MacLachlan best when he's paired with David Lynch or people who enjoy David Lynch.
As for the rest of the town and its lingering mysteries? While we might get an answer to “How’s Annie?” in Lynch style, do we want to? Do we even need to? (I’d be okay if Killer COOP murdered Annie, to be honest. But I know my opinions on Heather Graham’s acting are rather... strong.) But what about the others? Audrey Horne was last seen in an exploding bank. It’d be a shame to not use Sherilyn Fenn again. Madchem Amick, who played winsome waitress Shelly, has been working steadily since Twin Peaks, her most recent role being on Witches of East End. But vanilla Donna Hayward, who learned that –gasp!—she might be Audrey’s half-sister, isn’t such a sure bet for the big reunion. I’d speculate that Lara Flynn Boyle won’t return. Her career was launched by Twin Peaks but she didn’t want to reprise her role in the prequel movie Fire Walk With Me.
Ray Wise has also been coy about what part he might play in a new series, which is pretty surprising considering his character’s fate. (One of Peaks' best hours, hands-down.) And it wouldn't be Twin Peaks without Laura Palmer, last seen on the Blu-Ray Twin Peaks box set sitting down for a roundtable interview with David Lynch -- Sheryl Lee played this in character. Yet, I’m not sure anyone is clamoring for more stories of star-crossed townies Big Ed and Norma, nor Ed’s wife Nadine. Or seeing Lucy’s lovechild all grown up (though actress Kimmy Robertson is a regular at Twin Peaks-related fan events and it’d be plain rude to not use her.) Sadly, Jack Nance, a Lynch regular since the director’s Eraserhead days, passed away in 1996. Killer BOB himself, Frank Silva, has also passed. But a lot has happened in twenty-five years and there will surely be a lot of new people in town, too. Who will be the younger stand-in for David Lynch, as is the director’s style? MacLachlan is an elder statesman of the town and Justin Theroux, Lynch’s post-Peaks male muse, is busy with his own depressing HBO series.
Answers may be wanted by old and new fans, but I feel that as an older fan, I’m overjoyed but not quite fully excited for the changes that could be coming to Twin Peaks. Not yet. Not with so little to go on. But just for now, Twin Peaks can remain all tied up in fond memories of smoky girls’ rooms and irony-free gumshoes. Until 2016, the Douglas firs of my youth can be evergreen.
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