The SportsTalk Shop: “Twin Peaks: The Return”

Most people who know me would probably label me as a “sports guy.”  I work in sports, I write about sports, I interview sports personalities…and when I’m home, I’m reading about and/or watching–when my son lets me have the remote–sports.  It’s pretty much what I’ve wanted to do with my life since I was very little.

But for once here at “The Shop,” I’m going to break my own mold and actually talk about a small part of my personality that was actually sparked by a quirky, landscape-changing television show from decades ago.  A program that, not coincidently, is returning to television this month.

The program is “Twin Peaks.”

Twin Peaks

Granted, I’m well aware that most people who were around when this show initially aired probably have a negative view of this show.  First, it was bizarre and cerebral, and if you don’t have the patience or a predilection to give a television program time to evolve, “Peaks” would probably not be for you.

Secondly, people assumed that it was a traditional mystery story—one that would reveal its penultimate puzzle, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” in a standard way, and in a short amount of time.  Instead, the mystery carried over into its second season, slowly losing fans who grew tired of every episode ending with a new cliffhanger—never fully answering the primary question that kept people coming back each week.   Ironically, the original show’s fate was sealed when its original broadcast network forced the show’s creators (David Lynch & Mark Frost) to reveal/capture/kill off Laura’s chilling killer…only to see its ratings (along with frequent network scheduling changes) plummet, forcing the cancellation of the show.

Until now.

It was truly groundbreaking television—one that has inspired many of today’s most popular directors, writers and movie/TV creators in a current climate more forgiving of people who like to “break the mold.” And, as someone who spent two years of my childhood following along with the “Twin Peaks” mysteries, the cliffhangers (naysayers called it ‘teases’) and all the twists and turns, it did inspire me to learn more about the film industry and put together a few short experimental films of my own.  It also taught me to think beyond the norm, don’t be afraid to try new things, and, for heaven’s sake, don’t ever take a single critic’s opinion too seriously.

The show holds a special place in my own personal history—and now, for a “limited run,” it’s back.

I don’t work on commission, so I can honestly say, with no personal gain, do yourself a favor and add Showtime to your RCN digital package if you don’t already subscribe. It is sure to be a very entertaining 18-episode run that will culminate with an early September finale.

But first, a few warnings!

Don’t expect instant gratification…don’t expect everything to be clearly presented to you…and by all means, give yourself time to let everything soak in and don’t make a quick opinion of the show—like many people do—mere minutes into watching it.  It’s been years since I first watched the program but I’ve kept coming back to it many times for its freshness and its creativity in its presentation.  I’ve given lectures on it when teaching college and high school radio/TV/film appreciation courses and I always find something new each time I go back and revisit the “Twin Peaks” television program and movies.

It’s been refreshing to hear younger viewers discover, watch and enjoy this show over the years…and I enjoy discussing other people’s views of the show—whether they understood its many otherworldly elements, or not.

Surely, not everyone will love it…and most certainly many viewers won’t necessarily ‘get it’… at least not right away.  But here we are, more than 26 years after the show went off the air. And it’s still something that is very fresh in my mind—both in terms of its creativity, its boldness and, for at least a little while, its inspiration.

The fact that demand has forced the show’s original creators to pick up the series where it left off almost three decades later, enforces something that I realized some time ago. Creating a different mold, doing things that may seem bizarre to some initially, or by going about things the “wrong way” (inside joke to the original series’ final episode intended) when developing something…might be the best possible thing you could ever do.

So as we approach the “debut” of the show’s return, here are a few pressing questions/issues I am most curious about…

SPOILER ALERT:  If you have not seen the original “Twin Peaks,” I suggest you binge watch Seasons One and Two (29 episodes total) through On-Demand, as continued reading will reveal major plot points.  You have plenty of time to get caught up on these episodes to gain an understanding of what this show is about.  Watching the full-length movie “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (a prequel to the series) is also available, although you really should watch the television episodes first to “get” the hidden storylines woven throughout the film. 

  • How will the “good” Agent Cooper “get back” to Twin Peaks?

Will this be revealed in the initial episode, or will this quest be the plot that drives the entire Season Three?

  • Where’s Annie?

Even die-hard “Peaks freaks” must admit episodes 10-16 in Season Two are not the strongest of the series, but the Annie Blackburn story arc was one worth watching—leading to the grand series cliffhanger than fans have waited 27 years to see resolved.  However, Heather Graham, who portrayed Annie, is not listed in the show’s actor credits, so how can this question be resolved without this key figure on board?

  • What about Catherine?

Piper Laurie’s Catherine Martell was not one of the major characters as the show plotlines unfolded, yet Lynch has tried very hard to bring back nearly all of the shows initial leading characters (save Lara Flynn Boyle—who reportedly did not get along with certain cast members and Joan Chen—who ask to be written off the show during season two, a move she later regretted).  Laurie has always been a huge fan of Lynch and reportedly was shocked she was not asked to return.  But fans will remember she was already thought to be dead once during the show’s initial run (her name was taken out of the credits) only to return as another character…might history repeat itself?

  • How did Audrey Horne survive?

One of the Season Two cliffhangers involve a number or characters being blown up in a bank—nearly all of the actors portraying those characters have since passed, and the fictional reasoning for their characters’ fate is that they perished in the blast.  However, Audrey’s character (Sherilyn Fenn) is said to figure prominently in Season Three, so how does Lynch explain her return?

  • What about BOB?

One of the show’s key “bad guys” also died in 1995.  It’s hard to believe the series’ main story arc can continue without this central character’s image that was so engrained in the Peaks mythology.  Do they use stock footage of him?  Do they find a look-alike actor to portray him?  Does another character take his “role?”  Of course, this new season is said to contain several characters who died during the series—how these characters get driven back into the new episodes will be an intriguing issue to see resolved.

“Twin Peaks: The Return” premiers at 9pm on May 21 on Showtime.

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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