In many ways, “Twin Peaks” is the daddy of “X-Files” and grand-daddy of “Lost”. I have finished watching the series, and so I can write a bit about it.
“Twin Peaks”, is a surreal thriller, serialized for the TV, by acclaimed writer and director David Lynch. The show is seemingly about the murder of teenager Laura Palmer, but eventually it becomes apparent that it’s about good and evil and the duality of everyone, wrapped in a paranormal way. In many ways, “Twin Peaks” is a lot like “Lost”: people who are not what they seem but are interconnected, deep mysteries, and paranormal elements that drive their fans into theory frenzy! “Twin Peaks” did it first: it put people into theory mode, it’s just that unfortunately for it, the Internet was not widespread at the time, and so much of the glory was lost in localized conversations (aka the “watercooler show“) rather than becoming an international phenomenon.
The first season was almost perfect. It was up to the point, interesting, haunting. I have nothing much more to say about the first season, it was that perfect.
I regard the second season being split into two phases: the Laura Palmer investigation, which is a continuation of the first season, and the aftermath after the killer is found. The first phase of the second season is not too bad, but it’s apparent that things started to get a bit haywire with the writers, David Lynch having very little involvement with the show, and ABC trying to drive the project. For example, the Harold Smith outdoors-phobic and Japanese investor subplots where useless and silly. But you haven’t seen silly yet. In the second phase, 90% of the plot is downright silly. From the pregnant Lucy and her two silly men, to James and rich lady subplot which had nothing to do with anything else, to James in general being portrayed like a man whore having the hots of four women in 15 days time while at the same time he’s supposed to be level-headed (remember, 1 episode is 1 day in the “Twin Peaks” world), to Josie becoming a maid (what the hell?), to Ben Horne becoming crazy and then sane again, to Leo getting controlled by a dog collar (!), to Nadine and mayor’s stupid subplots, to David Duchovny guest-starring and appearing in woman’s dresses. Twin Peaks had become a ridiculous show by that point.
I mean, the consensus is that “Twin Peaks” lost its audience because the killer was revealed, but the truth is, it’s lost its audience because the show lost the plot entirely, all by itself. I could barely sit through and watch the second season’s second phase. I would pause it every 10 minutes and go eat something, or check out my email, or go pee. I just couldn’t sit through an entire episode anymore. The only good episodes in the second season were the two final ones, and guess why: because David Lynch came back for these last two episodes, trying to fix the freaking mess the ABC writers left him with. But it was too late.
The truth is this: “Twin Peaks” should not have had more than 16-18 episodes. It should have ended when the murderer is revealed, and should have replaced some early unneeded subplots with some of the (rarely good) points found in the second phase, like the Lodges, Cooper getting possessed by BOB after Laura’s murderer dies, the army’s involvement & Major Biggs etc. And after the series’ run, the three movies should have been created, just like Lynch wanted it. Only one movie was shot at the end, because by that time, the peaksmania had died down, exactly because of that disastrous second phase, and so the movie didn’t do well in the box office. Maybe these movies should have been tele-movies.
In conclusion, “Twin Peaks” failed because no one could take the step “Lost” writers took with ABC in February 2007: to give an end to the series and not let it go on and on forever like that. If Lynch was to strike such a deal with ABC before he started shooting, then “Twin Peaks” could have become the ultimate series today (both TV and cinema). It’s a shame really.