Wednesday, February 21, 2024

“Twin Peaks: The Return” Ends in Dust with No Resolution Amid Very Expensive Incoherence


Yes, I watched all 18 hours of “Twin Peaks: The Return” in real time. To paraphrase Albert Brooks from Lost in America, I want those 18 hours back.

Well, 17. Part 8 was very unusual and magical. But the rest of “Twin Peaks” season 3 as some call was one of the great cons in entertainment history.

There was no plot, no story, nothing that connected any of it. It was like a cynical bet made by people who thought, Just shove whatever you want on the screen and people will buy it.

Alas, the ratings indicated that no one bought it. The show didn’t crack the top 150 cable shows on most Sundays. So what if some watched it later in the week? No one cared. No one could makes heads or tails of it. The people who said they got it hoped they did. But they couldn’t have. There was nothing there.

Some of the strands of plot lines were wrapped up sloppily over the last couple of weeks. When so called characters– people who’d appeared out of nowhere– ran their course, they were just eliminated– shot, electrocuted, vanished into the ether.

The original “Twin Peaks” was a 13 arc about the mysterious murder of Laura Palmer, a high school girl who left behind a sketchy journal. The local sheriff couldn’t handle the case, so the FBI in the form of Agent Dale Cooper came to investigate the case. That was 26 years ago. For a while it was fun until it was apparent that all the kooky types in town were just kooky, and there were no clues. This would not be “Murder, She Wrote.”

By the second season, the supernatural was to blame, which meant anything was possible and nothing had to make sense. Laura’s killer turned out to be her father, who’d been possessed by the Devil. And his name was Bob. In the final episode, Bob took over Agent Cooper and put Joan Chen in a doorknob. Everyone was grateful the whole thing ended.

So what to do now? David Lynch and Mark Frost had 25 years to plot a sequel. They went to Showtime, which balked at the price. Lynch announced he couldn’t do the show he wanted. He rallied public sentiment for an 18 episode show. Showtime caved: they wanted prestige. But Lynch never showed them what he was doing. If he had, the whole thing would have been stopped.

We waited 18 weeks for an explanation of the two Coopers and got none. Audrey– who only arrived in the last few episodes– was left screaming at a mirror. We never learned who Billy was– and we never cared. We never learned what Ashley Judd was doing, or what the buzzing was in Horne’s office. There was no point to stories involving Harry Dean Stanton, Matthew Lillard, Amanda Seyfried. The few characters who returned from the original show were just ornamental.

It was grueling, to say the least. My favorite people besides Kyle MacLachlan (I give him credit for trying, hard) were Robert Forster, Don Murray, and Naomi Watts. I’m sure they had no idea what was going on, but they really invested in “Twin Peaks.” I thank them for making it a little easier to put up with the most bull I’ve seen on TV.

If only Frost and Lynch had written a real story for all these people, something that didn’t eat itself as it became more and more ridiculous. Imagine if there had been another weird murder in “Twin Peaks” with echoes of Laura Palmer’s story. Everyone could have been involved. Instead, they just screwed the pooch.

RIP Miguel Ferrer and Catherine Coulson. And I never want to hear that music again.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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