Sorry to rain on everybody’s cherry pie parade, but new Twin Peaks is almost certainly a really bad idea. Let me count the ways.
You can’t recreate a cultural moment. Remember when George and Steven wheeled out a cantankerous Harrison Ford to give all of us adoring fans one last bullwhip ride on the S.S. Indiana Jones? We all loved that, right? Or how about the emotionally-flat new season of Arrested Development, that despite its cleverness and bravado, was somehow lifeless and drowned in its own mean-spiritedness? And all of us are constantly turning on our hi-fis to play the 1995 release of the Beatles’ “new” song, Real Love, right?
All three of these endeavors weren’t meaningless cash grabs, they were all the work of talented, passionate artists who were in love with their creations, but maybe a little too much. They listened to their own egos, and to the whispers in their ears, the millions of fans chanting “more,” a back beat of insistence that today is amplified by social media and Hollywood’s almost fetishistic enthusiasm for reboots. Lynch and Frost certainly have the ability to create something unique and worthwhile in another season of Twin Peaks, but why, exactly do we need it?
Yes, the series imploded in season two, spinning its narrative quirks into structural irrelevancy. And that final episode, written and directed by Lynch fresh off the set of Wild at Heart, was a meta-bomb of plot and character destruction that hammered a nail into the coffin of episodic television as being something worth our time and attention--it was an hour long hilarious middle finger to the whole idea of serialized storytelling. That final episode, like all of Lynch’s great works, is really a non-story. It plays off expectation, like the ear gag in Blue Velvet, like Sarah Palmer’s wordless scream in episode one, like Betty and Laura’s entwined tragedies in Mulholland Drive. It takes us out of our comfort zone. What I fear is that people want more Twin Peaks because they want to be back in the comfort zone. They want some more coffee at the Double R.
Is more Twin Peaks really about narrative fulfillment? Do we need to get Coop out of the Black Lodge and back to his tape recorder? Will the Bookhouse Boys finally come to the rescue? Whatever happened to Nadine’s silent drapes? The problem is that Twin Peaks was not a narratively-complex television show, it was not “binge-worthy” as much great modern episodic television is—populated with shows that are, incidentally, deeply indebted to Twin Peaks. But the parent is not the child. Those shows learned from very specific elements in Twin Peaks’ pacing and structure and character development. But they are not Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks wrote a rule book for how to build a world that was deeply engrossing and sort of “more than real”on the small screen, but it wasn’t really concerned with those rules except in so much as those rules helped deliver a sense of moral unease, and an exploration of a certain brand of American cool that grew straight from Lynch’s gee whiz Montana childhood.
Can Lynch and Frost explore those same elements in another season of Twin Peaks? Sure. But all of Lynch’s personal work is about those themes, so that’s no surprise. But what will be a surprise, and not--most likely--a good one, is revisiting and diving deeper into the mythology of that little town in the corner of Washington state. Consider, as an example, these new Star Wars movies that J.J. Abrams and co. are filming. All the media hype around them seems to be about how Abrams won’t make the same mistakes made in the prequels. These will be grand, old-school space operas with hand-made models and rollicking story lines and rubber costumes and nary a CGI Gungan in sight. While I’m relieved that the world will be spared another monstrosity like episodes I through III, it seems to me what Abrams will create will be like an intricate toy model of a battleship you buy in a hobby shop. It will be an authentic recreation, stamped and numbered for avid collectors, but basically just a piece of plastic you spent too much money on. It won't be something new. Lynch and Frost will approach Twin peaks with that same reverence as Abrams is bringing to Star Wars, but to what end? Won’t they just be making high gloss internet fan-fiction for their own creation?