Exactly one month from now, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s classic Twin Peaks makes its long awaited return to the airwaves after 26 years on Showtime. Although the series has been in the works for years now, everything surrounding this production has been top secret. There hasn’t been a trailer with any new footage, and all the ads have only featured music and moments from the old series.
So with just a month to go, fans barely have any idea what to expect when the new series hits on May 21. Even with nothing to go on, expectations for the new show are sky high. But what exactly does the series need to really work this time around? Here are five essential things the new Twin Peaks needs to have for fans to consider it a success.
1) Change TV Storytelling Again
When Twin Peaks premiered, there was nothing like it on television. Network TV was not a place where film auteurs went to tell their stories. But since then, television has changed. A decade later, when The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and others came on the scene, the creators of those shows picked up the baton from Lynch/Frost, and a new era of auteur driven television began, one we are all still living in today.
But Lynch/Frost need to acknowledge what those shows did, and they need to take it a step further and change the game again. One of the only things we know about the new series is that it’s not structured like a traditional TV series at all. Lynch is hesitant to even call them “episodes”, describing the new show as a movie broken up in 18 hours. This means there are probably no acts 1,2,3 etc., like a traditional TV hour. That alone would be a daring change from how TV usually works. Something like this could change how we digest long form storytelling, and the new show would change TV just as much as the original did.
2) Balance the Old Cast with the New
The new Twin Peaks has an enormous cast list, with some 200 names attached. Many of them are well known, younger actors, like Amanda Seyfried, Michael Cera, and Namoi Watts, to name a few. But the show needs to keep the original series cast in prominent roles as well, and not just have the old guys relegated to small parts, while all the focus is pulled on to the new fresh faces.
Fans have waited a very long time to see the stories of the classic characters continue, and although new blood is important to the story (it is 25 years later after all), we certainly hope that Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Cooper isn’t the only original series cast member with a significant storyline for season three. It would be a disservice to such a tremendously talented ensemble.
3) Don’t Over Explain the Mysteries
The original series left fans with many mysteries to ponder, mainly ones concerning the supernatural aspects of the show. Just what were BOB and the Little Man? Are they spirits? Aliens? Alien spirits?? And how are all these things related to owls exactly? While peeling away new layers of the mythology of the series is something fans have been craving for 25 years, at the same time, it is that very mystery that is so alluring.
If they explain too much, they run the risk of ruining the mystique of the series. So please, Lynch and Frost, don’t pull a George Lucas on us, and make up midi-chlorians to explain how the Force works in scientific terms. Answer just enough to satisfy, but not enough to over explain what doesn’t really need explaining.
4) Explain What Happened to Non-Returning Characters
Although the majority of the original cast is coming back for the new series, a handful of very important faces won’t be back. Namely, Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Truman, Piper Laurie as Catherine Martell, Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward, and Heather Graham as Annie Blackburn. One or two of these characters may be recast, but if not, then the show owes fans an explanation as to what exactly happened to them after the last series ended.
This also goes for actors who have passed on since the classic series ended, like Jack Nance (Pete Martell) and Don Davis (Major Briggs). Yes, the actors might have passed on, but fans deserve to know what happened to the characters, since they were key ingredients to the show. I should note, the fate of Pete Martell was revealed in Mark Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks, but it should be mentioned on the new show for fans who have not read the book.
5) Keep the Timeless Quality
One of the reasons the original show still works so well, even to newer, younger viewers, is its timeless quality. Even though the series was ostensibly set in 1989, there are very few pop culture references that hit you over the head with the time period that it was made in. Compare Twin Peaks to another show that premiered the same year, Beverly Hills 90210 — that show is filled with pop culture references, music, and hairstyles that dated it almost instantly. In comparison, the world of Twin Peaks always seemed frozen in a much earlier time.
The music, the aesthetic, even much of the fashion and hairstyles seem straight from the 1950s/early ’60s. (well, except for Dana Ashbrooks’ Bobby Briggs, who screamed early ’90s Seattle grunge scene). The timeless quality is a big part of what made Twin Peaks resonate so much back in the day, and it should be preserved. Now, they shouldn’t go overboard — we should see computers and cell phones and such — but the last thing Peaks fans want is hearing the characters talk about current pop culture. In Twin Peaks, time should be standing still.
What do you think the new Twin Peaks needs to succeed again? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.
Images: CBS / Showtime