If you follow the online discussion of the new Twin Peaks, you know it can turn nasty in a heartbeat. Mainly it's the staunch fans of the new show complaining about those who dare to comment that they're not impressed. I thought I'd try to offer up a slightly more objective review.
Who's Loving The Return?
Twin Peaks: The Return is the David Lynch fan's dream come true. Every week a new hour of stunning Lynch cinematography and frightening Lynch strangeness. The more "normal" episodes--the ones featuring a cohesive story that actually makes sense in a conventional way--are reminiscent of Blue Velvet. These are usually followed by episodes which have something more of an Eraserhead feel to them. Then there are episodes that fall somewhere in between. I guess I'd call these the Mullholland Drive episodes.
It's the Eraserhead-esque installments which spark the most controversy amongst fans. Hard-core David Lynch fans think they're the best thing they've ever seen on the small screen. Fans who loved the original Twin Peaks but could basically pass on anything else Lynch ever put out into the world come to the end of these episodes with a general feeling of, "What the $@&# did I just watch?" And then both groups of fans head to the internet to battle it out.
Since I have a mild interest in filmmaking, I do enjoy the more artsy episodes simply from a cinematography perspective. And as for the more mainstream episodes, well I'm certainly glad to finally know what happened to Agent Cooper. But that doesn't mean I think the new Twin Peaks is perfect.
Basically, Twin Peaks: The Return is not Twin Peaks. Not really. What was the original show about? The town of Twin Peaks, of course. It was a show about a quaint little town with a bunch of quirky residents doing some very odd things. The new show does have its fair share of quirky characters, but the majority of the action has been taken out of the town of Twin Peaks. This is certainly not what fans were expecting when their favorite show returned after a nearly thirty year hiatus.
Twin Peaks was about trees. It was about spooky things happening in the woods and owls which were not what they seemed. Where are the trees and the woods and the owls in the new Twin Peaks?
Twin Peaks was a soap opera. Remember on the original show how everyone was always sitting at home watching the same daytime soap which happened to correlate pretty well with what was actually going on in the town? This was a concept which originally appeared in Blue Velvet. Jeffrey's mother and aunt are always shown sitting in their perfect suburban house watching a movie which showcases the dark underbelly of society. Meanwhile, Jeffrey is out discovering that same dark underbelly in the real world. In Blue Velvet it was some film noir flick that was always on the TV because what was happening just out of sight was a real-life version of film noir. On Twin Peaks it was a soap opera because that was what everyone's lives had become. Everyone was married, but having an affair with someone else. There were the two rich families, the Packards and the Hornes, who between the two of them owned pretty much the whole town. Soap fans will recognize this plot device. Remember the Lewises and the Spauldings on Guiding Light? The Newmans and the Abbots on The Young and the Restless? That concept was applied to the original Twin Peaks, but is missing from The Return.
Finally, Twin Peaks was about coffee and donuts and cherry pie. I think I've seen one donut on The Return, I can't remember anyone eating pie, and Agent Cooper is the only person who drinks coffee. Yes, these are minor details, but they are minor details which played a pretty big role on the original show, and I miss them.
By all means watch the new Twin Peaks, but watch it expecting something completely new and original. Don't expect a continuation of your favorite nineties prime-time drama, because that's not what it is.