Twin Peaks: a totally comprehensive potted history
- Murray Robertson
- 19 May 2015
David Lynch is back on board, so we chart the peaks and troughs of the cult TV show's complicated history
It's been a turbulent time for Twin Peaks fans. However, after six weeks of negotiations, David Lynch is back on board for the new series, written by himself and original co-creator Mark Frost. But it's never been plain sailing for the cult TV show. Here we take a look at some of the many 'peaks' and 'troughs' along the way.
PEAK: 8 April, 1990 – Twin Peaks debuts on US television
Twin Peaks launched with a 90-minute pilot episode; a superb piece of television drama that radically blurred the boundaries between television and film. Audiences were hooked by its quirky characters and compelling central whodunnit mystery: who killed Laura Palmer?
TROUGH: 30 September, 1990 – season two debut
Steven Spielberg was all set to direct the opening episode of season two but Lynch got cold feet and decided to take over. And so audiences keen to see how the previous season's many cliffhangers would be resolved had to endure a protracted opening sequence involving a senile bellhop fumbling around a hotel room. For many viewers, this was weirdness for the sake of it, and it precipitated a gradual viewer fall-off.
PEAK: 10 November, 1990 – episode 14 airs and the killer is revealed
Following pressure from the network, Frost and Lynch were forced to reveal the identity of Laura Palmer's killer far sooner than they intended. Fortunately, the best was made of a bad decision as Lynch again took over the reigns to craft this exquisite piece of television.
TROUGH: 8 December, 1990 – episode 17 airs and it all starts to go wrong
Following the killer's reveal, Frost and Lynch drifted off to work on other projects. The result is a crushing low point in the series. It's here that we're introduced to 'Little Nicky', Lana Budding Milford and – arguably the show's most hated character – Evelyn Marsh.
PEAK: 10 June, 1991 – Season 2 finale
Lynch effectively tore up the original script for the season 2 finale and improvised with his cast well into the night. The result is 45 minutes of network television unlike anything else: a bleak barrage of surreal horror leading up to a shock cliffhanger ending.
TROUGH: Summer, 1991 – Twin Peaks is cancelled
Network ABC finally pulled the plug on the series as ratings had plummeted to place it 85th out of 89 shows. With the series' most beloved characters now frozen in mortal peril, viewers were left with one of television's greatest unresolved cliffhangers.
The following year, feature film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was released to a critical mauling and hostile reaction at Cannes. Mark Frost had no involvement in the film, having preferred instead to have crafted a sequel to the TV series. While it would go on to a critical reappraisal many years later, the film took less than half its budget of $10million. Plans for a Twin Peaks feature film trilogy collapsed.
PEAK: 29 July, 2014 – Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery released
For years, there were rumours of an extra 90 minutes which Lynch had cut from Fire Walk With Me. Twenty-three years after the series' cancellation, this comprehensive box set was released, hosting the fabled 'deleted scenes'. It also includes an in-character discussion with Lynch and key cast members.
Then in October, Lynch and Frost simultaneously Tweeted that Twin Peaks would return as a nine episode miniseries in 2016, written by both and directed by Lynch. It's later revealed that Frost plans to publish a book in late 2015 detailing the events in Twin Peaks that have taken place over the past 25 years.
On 12 January, it was announced that Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan has been signed to reprise his role as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the returning series.
TROUGH: 5 April, 2015 – Lynch walks away from Twin Peaks
Rumours had been circulating that Lynch was unhappy about the budget for the new series. Then on Easter Sunday he suddenly announced he was walking away from Twin Peaks for that very reason. In a panic, Showtime claimed they were still committed to making the project as planned (read our article on who could have taken over).
PEAK: 15 May, 2015 – Lynch is back
Finally, after six weeks of negotiations, a thunderous bombardment on social media by Twin Peaks fans across the world, and a concerted effort from a number of Twin Peaks' original cast, Lynch confirmed everything has been sorted out with one vague but notable change: there will be more than the previously mooted nine hours of new Twin Peaks. Preproduction is now underway.
Twin Peaks will return in 2016.