When news broke early this month that the ‘Twin Peaks’ revival would finally premiere on May the 21st, I was giddy with excitement. And how could I not be – it was ‘Twin Peaks’….. (woohoo!) One of the greatest cult classics in TV history, the show ended in a cliff-hanger, with no answers or explanations in quintessential Lynchian fashion. When Showtime first announced the revival in 2014, my excitement was at its peak, before all hopes were dashed when Lynch pulled out. Thankfully, the executives realized quite soon that there would be no ‘Twin Peaks’ without David Lynch and he was brought back on, with co-creator Mark Frost too returning along with most of the original cast. Now, that is no mean feat for a 25-year-old show, and the fans are eagerly awaiting the return to the world of ‘Twin Peaks’ with bated breath. Now, for the uninitiated — you might be wondering what it is about ‘Twin Peaks’ that still commands such a huge cult following and fandom. But to answer that, we might need to dig deeper.
We live in the Golden Age of Television (or so I’m told!). This century has seen some seminal works in Television, from ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ to ‘Lost’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. Along with broadcast networks, the advent of premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime and Internet streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have revolutionized the very idea of serialized television. But, it wasn’t always the same. Barring a few exceptions, American Television was once replete with contrived melodrama in the form of daily soaps intended for housewives and the elderly. Mainstream auteurs and film makers (barring certain exceptions like Hitchcock and Altman) steered clear of this medium, which never personified itself as an art form. That is, until one man changed it all with a revolutionary work, something critics and TV experts agree to be the stepping stone to a new era in television. A young, successful indie filmmaker, collaborated with a successful TV writer in early 1991 and created (arguably) the most fascinating work on television ever, a seminal piece of art which set off a domino effect and in turn revolutionized the medium.
Yes – ‘Twin Peaks’! I had sought out ‘Twin Peaks’ back when I was going through a David Lynch frenzy in 2014 and I was hooked on to the show from the word go. I had never seen anything like it ever (I still haven’t), and every frame carried with it an inexplicable aura and magnetism that had me hooked. As always, Lynch is a master of manipulation and he constantly subverts our expectations by going beyond the realms of what is considered palatable in the conventional sense.
Before the premiere of the show, ABC ran an ad campaign with a simple question – “Who killed Laura Palmer?” And after the premiere of the pilot, the same question reverberated in the minds of the millions of TV audiences who had their first taste of Lynch’s fascinatingly farcical world. Lynch transports us into the picturesque American town of Twin Peaks, and its quirky, innocent and closely knit inhabitants, whose lives take a tumultuous turn with the brutal murder of Laura Palmer, a young, impressionable homecoming queen, the apple of all eyes. And to investigate the horrifying murder comes FBI special agent Dale Cooper, a mysterious and idiosyncratic man who soon gets embroiled in the larger schemes that lay beneath the surface of the town’s glossy exterior. I cannot, in good conscience reveal anything more about the plot or the narrative, but suffice to say the Lynch truly pulls the rug from underneath our feet and we slowly lose grip of reality and logic in the magical world that he crafts.