WHAT’S THE DEAL: That damn fine coffee you like is back 25 years later, as promised, and David Lynch spiked it with acid.
WHY SEE IT: Described as the “pure heroin version of David Lynch” by Showtime president David Nevins back in January, the world finally got to see the against-all-odds third season of TWIN PEAKS this summer, all 18 episodes of it, and it was a glorious fever dream of pure genius, experimental phantasm, narrative frustration — and a test of your own sanity. For all its naked flaws — and there were many — week in and week out TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN delivered the most audacious, unpredictable, challenging, and mind-blowing television I have ever seen in my life. Yes, it was that insane — and then some.
THE TV FLICK FLACK: While you may have hoped that this third season of TWIN PEAKS would resemble the show that aired on ABC back in 1990-1991, anyone who really knows David Lynch and his oeuvre should have expected it to be an absolute mind fuck. Tonally, it’s a lot more of a companion piece to Lynch’s big-screen 1992 prequel TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. And this time around, for every random, fleeting moment you get that toes the line of the kind of comedic quirk that the show pioneered two decades ago, you get an angry, disturbing, gritty, thought-provoking Lynchian gumbo of Dadaist terror and wonder, often divided by groan-inducing pacing that dares you to either commit 100% or exit with dismissive disappointment. Like Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne whines three-quarters of the way through THE RETURN, “I want to stay and I want to go. I want to do both,” arguably at least half of the people who saw season three all the way through felt the same way of this demanding television journey.
My frustrations were directed at the many wasted opportunities Lynch and co-creator/co-writer Mark Frost had to develop new, intertwined storylines with their original characters given the fact that practically every actor came back to be part of the show. But for every bravura moment that involved Dale Cooper’s (a game Kyle MacLachlan) deadly doppelganger or the epic atomic birth of evil, there was a half-baked bucket of chum; I really wanted to see how the whole puzzle would fit together, but I’d marvel at all the time wasted with the available talent in the room, swirling in a narrative eddy with little to do.
Rather than break these frustrations down moment by moment, suffice it to say that when all was said and done after 18 episodes, I was left wanting more — in a good but mixed-feeling way — and I was not disappointed that I invested my time and energy in TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN. However, I now lie awake at night wondering what could have been, wishing more questions were answered, and ultimately hankering for someone to make a three-hour “alternate cut” of the series as a single film that’s more in line with the tone of the ABC series.
NOTABLE NOTES: In revisiting the world of TWIN PEAKS and fabricating a whole new season 25 years later for his beloved characters, Lynch sought to capture the emotional tonality of the various storylines in order for his ideas to translate to the screen. The filmmaker told Variety back in May, “An idea holds everything, really, if you analyze it. It comes in a burst. An idea comes in, and if you stop and think about it, it has sound, it has image, it has a mood, and it even has an indication of wardrobe, and knowing a character, or the way they speak, the words they say. A whole bunch of things can come in an instant. … You pick up on the way they want to be. That’s what I always say, it’s like fish. You don’t make the fish, you catch the fish. It’s like, that idea existed before you caught it, so in some strange way, we human beings, we don’t really do anything. We just translate ideas. The ideas come along and you just translate them.”
MORE INFO: www.sho.com/twin-peaks
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