I’m of the same generation, and Twin Peaks was one of those shows that kind of haunted my childhood. I think that’s really the first reason I am excited by the third season; I always like revisiting old childhood oddities.
The other big reason is that the show is weird in a proto-weird kind of way. It’s more like The Prisoner, unselfconscious and serious, which made it something special. These days, shows like that are almost expected. Twin Peaks helped lay the foundation.
i was the prime demographic for the show when it came out. at the time i was 29 and had watched “blue velvet” and “eraserhead.” i saw the first two or three shows and then i moved and no longer had a television. by the time i had a tv again the series had been cancelled. my wife and i watched the entire series on dvd about a year ago. the point in the second season when lynch and frost lost interest because of other projects and commitments was easily seen in retrospect and would probably have been pretty obvious while the season was ongoing. one could probably tell when they took control back towards the end of the season but it was probably too late by then to save the show.
the comparison to “the prisoner” above is fairly apt. both shows are heavily invested in notions of the auteur. both were compelling and each one was consistent in the expression of its own worldview.
i have to say i would approach a new season with a great deal of trepidation. the show was such an expression of a particular time that i don’t know if it could be brought into the current zeitgeist in a way that would be similarly meaningful. despite my fears i would probably watch it.
Part of what made Twin Peaks vibe, the creepy and the scary, was the isolation that came with the technology of the day.
It won’t be easy to reproduce that now, when modern cultural expectations hold that nearly all have smartphones. with camera. Heck, Twin Peaks predated the web.
I do not want to see Agent Cooper talking to Siri, that’s fer shure. Or snaps of the black lodge on instagram.
That’s kind of the problem with a lot of horror and urban fantasy today. They depend on the idea that there could be isolated towns with cultists or wizards going about their business and nobody much noticing other than people from neighboring towns saying “Aye, them folk from Weirdsville keep to themselves”. These days the Esoteric Order of Dagon would have a Facebook page.
For some reason, I never watched the original broadcasts. In the spirit of “I really should watch this because it seems culturally significant”, in 2013, I watched the whole series on Netflix in a few weeks.
I liked it, but I knew I never would have continued beyond the first few episodes if I’d tried to watch it back then.
Nicely done essay.
A few actually.
It was never the intention of the show to resolve in anyway. The problem with the serial is it’s driven by economics: cliff hangers and unresolved mysteries to keep you coming back. The reason why Spider-Man always wins is because he has to sell more comic books.
Twin Peaks was the first show that outwardly exploited that. But, eventually became what it was: a serial. Thus the makers loosing interest, the vehicle had run out of gas.
It’s wrong to assume that the show is going to pick-up where it left off or not represent an artist who’s interests and style have evolved. Which is not to say that there isn’t financial motivation either.
There are all sorts of potential ways to address the social media era on the show:
- Someone who’s out in the woods sees something freaky, takes a picture. When they look at it, BOB’s face leers back at them. They freak out, go to show their phone to someone else–but it’s just a picture of the woods with nothing out of the ordinary in it.
- Someone tries to start a Facebook page to expose the freaky goings-on, but when they post something, it ends up getting erased or edited to look innocuous, and the edits are coming from their own laptop. When they set up a spy program on their own webcam to see who’s using it, they find out that it’s themselves.
- They actually get the page set up and post to it, but get accused of doing a weak rip-off of Welcome to Night Vale.
I’m confident that David Lynch will be able to handle making Twin Peaks just as creepy with modern technology around. Consider the telephone conversation in “Lost Highway”, or the surveillance video in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”.
Well, none of will know for 1.5+ years how it actually turns out but IMO:
I don’t want to see this new season as “what happens next” (compared to the end of the original series), but “what’s happening now”?
It’s been a long time. EVERYTHING has changed, not just in TP, but in the world. Any compelling storyline will have to deal (and embrace) that, not try to sweep it under the rug and try and evoke a similar vibe by conveniently forgetting 20+ years of change. And not just change in the world, but change in viewer’s expectations and the way hourish long video episodes are told these days.
So I’m expecting (and hoping) many of the same faces and characters from long ago will still be around, punching through the routines they set way back and are continuing but with new aspects (and iterations) on top. The combo of new and old can make this great.
Who knows how long the Black Lodge has been around. 20-odd years probably hasn’t changed it much and the true spookiness has been with us for tens of millinia.
I think it’s interesting that many of the people I’ve seen excited over the relaunch came to the show through DVD collections. They first viewed the show in a format where it was packaged as a cult-classic status symbol rather than in the context where it was posed as a resistance to the mainstream television culture it occupied.
Actually, I think they can still explore the notion of isolation, even with the supposedly deeply interconnected society that we have now. I’d argue that we still have a great deal of alienation despite our constantly being “on” and connected with the internet and smart phones. What you share, you overshare, and what you don’t can be quite telling. Additionally, not everyone presents themselves as is online, for a variety of reasons. Delving into how the internet can act as a site of self-disinformation as well as a site of information seems to fit rather nicely in the Twin Peaks ethos/world building…
I watched the show when it came out (when I was like my daughter’s age now - 11 or 12) and I could not get enough. That was my first encounter with Lynch’s work (although maybe I saw the Elephant Man before that? Certainly no Eraserhead). I was really drawn in by the utter weirdness… I’d imagine I’ll go back and watch the series again before the 3rd season comes out. I’d have to say that this show was one of the major things that shaped my cultural tastes for estoric weirdness later on… I’m really happy it’s getting a new season, although I always understand the reservations that some have. You can’t go back, but I think that what Lynch had to say to us with this show might still be relevant today.
Yeah, I mean it isn’t like that because now we have The Internet, there are suddenly no more creepy recluses, either.
Kind of a rambling diatribe here, did the author have a point in mind when he started this?
Not all recluses are creepy, though. The reasons for not being active online as oneself can be for any number of reasons - fear, safety, just general unease with not being highly visible online… It’s not just the creep factor, was my point. Plus, I bet we can probably identify new kinds of alienation in this brave new world, too.
There was that scene in ‘True Detective’ where you see Cohle manhandle Ginger out the backdoor of a drug house and away from a robbery that has gone bad. Cohle hides in the shadows compelling his captive (Ginger) forward, running from house to house toward the road, where he hopes his partner will arrive in time to pick them up before they’re found. As they run, the camera rises up on a crane (I imagine) and you see the house in relationship to the other houses in the neighborhood, the shadows in between them, each silent and isolated in their own dim interior light. The confusion and violence spill out on to the lawn of the drug house and in the distance you can hear the sirens.
To me this was one of the most amazing and bone-deep depressing scenes in the series. If it was not nominated for at least a technical Emmy, it should have been. You see the themes of isolation, ignorance, pride, secrecy, sickness, and the need for redemption throughout ‘True Detective’, and while those themes in stereotype played out in the countryside, I accepted it, until the camera showed those houses at night and shadows in between… and I thought ‘Oh, you’re talking about absolutely everyone. Well done!’
So, is it worth seeing then? I’d have to get it on DVD from Netflix, but is it worth seeing? Cause that sounds like a well done and evocative scene.