SUNDAY TIMES - 'It is happening again': cult hit 'Twin Peaks' back for brand new season
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Sunday Times Entertainment By Andrew Donaldson, 2017-05-19 00:00:00.0

'It is happening again': cult hit 'Twin Peaks' back for brand new season

Michael Horse in the new 'Twin Peaks'.
Image: IMBD

As the giant who haunts FBI special agent Dale Cooper's strange dreams insists: "It is happening again." And for fans of one of the greatest and most influential TV series, it's not a moment too soon.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the second season of Twin Peaks.

In that final, maddening episode of the second season of Twin Peaks, Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) finds himself once more in that otherworldly Red Room for another encounter with the tortured soul of murdered high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). "I'll see you again in 25 years," she tells him.

That was in 1991, and now we're back for a fresh trawl through the underbelly of the idiosyncratic town in the north-western US that gave the series its name.

The first of 18 episodes from director David Lynch and screenwriter Mark Frost airs on M-Net (DStv 101) on Tuesday. (The two-hour pilot premieres at Cannes this weekend, the first time a TV production has been afforded this honour at the film festival.)

The series is not a reboot but a sequel - and picks up from season 2's ending, just 25 years later.

Twin Peaks left us on a perverse note: the last we saw of Cooper, he was laughing like a maniac, blood running down his face, after smashing his head into a bathroom mirror, apparently possessed by a demonic spirit known as Killer Bob. As finales go, this was contrary to textbook "closure", especially as, in one unresolved narrative thread, Cooper had failed to rescue his romantic interest from an insane kidnapper.

Lynch, the director of classics Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, had been forced to cut the series short by commissioning TV network ABC, which cited a loss in viewership figures. The fall-off came dramatically once Laura Palmer's killer was revealed in episode 7 of season 2. Which, as far as ABC was concerned, was where Twin Peaks should have ended.

This was how these things were supposed to be: a culprit eventually emerges with the exposure of a community's secrets. But Lynch subverted the process; seldom had malevolence been portrayed with such cinematic luminosity - and confusion.

The "darkest hour before the dawn of the TV golden age", as The Guardian put it, began with the discovery of a body. But Lynch brought his art-house sensibilities to mainstream prime-time.

The puzzling plot lines? Dwarves who spoke backwards? That lady with the log? Zen detection? Surreal dream sequences? Occult mysticism? What, exactly, was this? Science fiction? A black comedy? A post-modernist thriller?

"Television," MacLachlan told the newspaper, "was supposed to make you feel comfortable and make you feel good, and this was not about being comfortable. This was about something else."

At the height of its popularity, Japanese fans were holding mock Laura Palmer funerals. When the first season ended, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly begged President George H Bush to ask its creators who killed Laura.

WATCH the trailer for Twin Peaks 2017

Twin Peaks continued to thrive after its axing. Fans traded VHS copies, debated episodes, and launched fanzines. Its influence was noted in other TV series. First Wild Palms, then The X-Files, The Sopranos, Hannibal and, more recently, Mr Robot, Riverdale and Stranger Things among others.    

Lynch has maintained secrecy over the new production. In January, he answered questions in what the London Sunday Times described as "true gnomic style, at best leaving people none the wiser, at worst muddying the water still further".

Asked to describe the creative process behind the show, he replied: "Many years ago, we were, Mark [Frost] and I, as if lost in the wilderness. As it always is in the beginning. Then we seemed to find some mountain and we began to climb, and when we rounded the mountain, we entered a deep forest. And going through the forest for a time, the trees began to thin, and when we came out of the woods, we discovered this small town called Twin Peaks."

As to what we can expect plot-wise? Well, that hardly matters - and that's part of the fun.

This article was originally published in the Times.