Okay, back to basics. What was “Twin Peaks” again?
“Twin Peaks,” produced by Paramount, was a two-season cult hit which premiered in April 1990 and is widely considered an early pioneer of the television revolution. Created in collaboration by writer Mark Frost and iconoclastic filmmaker David Lynch, “Twin Peaks” originally began as one of TV’s most common stories, scripted and unscripted alike — the investigation into the death of a young blonde woman. (Read or see “Gone Girl” for an illuminating take on this trope.)
So it was a crime procedural, then?
Furthest thing from it. “Twin Peaks” was quickly established as a quirky, mystery-laden, impossible-to-understand series, maybe even deliberately so. It was a show about a small town rocked by a tragedy, sure, but it was a tragedy maybe caused by evil spirits? It’s very hard to explain, which is why “The Simpsons” probably created the most accurate parody ever:
A lot of “Twin Peaks'” appeal was drawn not from the core mystery of Who Killed Laura Palmer? (for anyone who grew up with this show in their radar, that question is always rendered in caps). Instead, viewers got wrapped up in the show’s characters and idiosyncratic portrayal of small town life — perfect fodder for cult TV material.
So this got canceled over 24 years ago?
Yep. “Twin Peaks’s” second season finale aired on June 10, 1991; it was mourned by its core audience, but during the days of broadcast television domination, its ratings were considered not great. (You know, only 10 million live viewers.)
But it’s coming back?
Well, everything’s getting a second chance these days, and the fanbase has only grown over the years. People who weren’t even alive when the series originally premiered are discovering it via reruns or Netflix.
So Showtime hired David Lynch and Mark Frost to make more episodes of the show?
Um, that’s what we thought. Last October, Lynch, Frost and the network announced that there would be nine new episodes of “Twin Peaks” produced, for an early 2016 launch. When the news of its return broke last fall, it was a seismic event for television fans, even those who were never huge fans of the show’s original run.
So what’s the problem now?
Well, apparently David Lynch had never signed his contract for directing all nine episodes (as was promised he would, in the original announcement).
Wait, for six months now, Showtime has been saying that David Lynch will be directing the “Twin Peaks” revival… but he hadn’t signed the paperwork?
Seriously, we’re as confused as you are.
I mean, what the hell happened?
According to David Lynch’s publicly broadcasted statement (identical across Facebook and Twitter):
Dear Facebook Friends, Showtime did not pull the plug on Twin Peaks. After 1 year and 4 months of negotiations, I left because not enough money was offered to do the script the way I felt it needed to be done. This weekend I started to call actors to let them know I would not be directing. Twin Peaks may still be very much alive at Showtime. I love the world of Twin Peaks and wish things could have worked out differently.
So what is Showtime saying?
Within hours of Lynch’s postings, they had this official statement:
We were saddened to read David Lynch’s statement today since we believed we were working towards solutions with David and his reps on the few remaining deal points. SHOWTIME also loves the world of Twin Peaks and we continue to hold out hope that we can bring it back in all its glory with both of its extraordinary creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, at its helm.
Since then, no update. (Probably because everyone behind the scenes is frantically working to settle things.)
Okay. Well. What’s the problem?
Reports say that when Lynch said “not enough money was offered to do the script the way I felt it needed to be done,” it’s referring very specifically to Lynch’s interest in shooting on film and other production concerns that Showtime doesn’t want to fund. Without having a detailed budget breakdown, there’s no way of knowing if what he’s asking for is out of line. But the fact he feels strongly enough to quit over it indicates a pretty major discrepancy between what the two separate parties are hoping for.
What are the actors saying about all this?
Funny you should ask! Many seem quite upset by these developments, to the point where original series star Madchen Amick just rallied a wide assortment of the show’s cast to answer the question, “What is ‘Twin Peaks’ without David Lynch?”:
What has co-creator Mark Frost said?
So far, nothing. But remember, all that Lynch has said is that he won’t be directing. When we first started hearing rumors about Lynch’s contract a few weeks ago Showtime said in response that all the scripts were turned in.
And didn’t Lynch walk away once before?
Yep. He stepped out mid-way through Season 2. (The episodes following his departure are not necessarily embraced by fans.)
So what do people who aren’t involved with the show tend to think?
It’s a tough question, ultimately. Showtime made a very definitive mistake in pushing the series forward without all the pieces in place, but there’s still loud demand for the show to return. But in the age of auteur television, a show returning without its original auteur involved feels fundamentally wrong.
No matter what, we’ll keep investigating (and updating this post) while we wait for the truth to come out.