Twin Peaks: The Return

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How often does a decades-too-late sequel, reunion or follow-up ever work out?  It does, sometimes.  Fury Road, the fourth Mad Max movie, for example, was the fun bit of mayhem everyone expected it to be.  Usually, though, the results are something more like the second Dumb and Dumber… not terrible, but something better left alone.  The problem is that the characters are old now.  You look at Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey goofing around and you’re like, man, this is all kind of sad.

Twin Peaks had an excellent first season, a second season that started off great, got lost along the way, and found itself near the end—too late for audiences, because the show was canceled.  A movie was made, but the movie was not interested in wrapping up loose ends, and was instead a prequel.  People hated it.

Of all shows to come back, 25 years since the film Fire Walk with Me, Twin Peaks did not seem like one that would be very triumphant in its return.  A lot of the supporting cast was already pretty up there in age when the show was originally on, and many of them have since passed away.  David Lynch hasn’t directed anything of note in around 11 years or so.

Somehow, fortuitously, Twin Peaks: The Return, is pure David Lynch and Mark Frost.  Moving from ABC, network television, and to Showtime, the show is obviously more Rated-R in its depiction of violence and afforded the ability to have nudity.  So far, Twin Peaks: The Return is significantly less goofy than before.  It’s more like the movie, but moving the plot forward instead of going over what had already been said before.

There’s a charming quality to its funky special effects.  Twin Peaks wouldn’t work with state-of-the-art special effects… it wouldn’t jibe with its soap opera aesthetic.  It works much better when the effects look like something that would like woefully out-of-date even in the 90s, because even in the 90s, during its original run, those effects pretty much always looked like shit.

What helps The Return is that each episode is directed by David Lynch.  There is a singular vision here.  After these 18 episodes are up, not only is that going to be forever the end of Twin Peaks, but the end of David Lynch’s directing career (although he may still make music videos and shorts).  There is no want to continue the story.  After this, it’s done, and this works in its favor.  It’s not introducing plot points to keep it afloat for years to come, it’s simply getting things done.

18 episodes, by the way, is a lot for modern television, and I’m happy to be getting so much.  I’m also glad that there seems to be a genuine enthusiasm for this project from both David Lynch and Showtime.  This isn’t some cynical cash-grab, it’s a genuine labor of love.

Episodes 1 and 2 premiered last night, and Showtime was cool enough to put out episodes 3 and 4 early on demand, so I was a little late to work this morning.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think Twin Peaks would be coming back.  For that matter, I never thought that, should the show return, would it be any good.  It’s back and it’s damn good.

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