Nowadays, it’s always worth checking out a new TV series online (especially a US show) before committing yourself to watching something that, only one or two seasons in, could suddenly vanish from your screen, a victim of the studio losing confidence in it, or deciding that the ratings are not impressive enough.
I’ve lost track of the number of interesting, inventive shows that have ceased to exist in this irritating manner over the last few years.
Sometimes it’s simply a case of shows like promising, high-tech conspiracy/Sci-fi thriller Flash Forward, or big budget alien invasion series The Event being canceled hallway through their run.
Or if you’re lucky, producers get advanced warning of the impending demise of a series, and in the case of Joss Whedon‘s intriguing Dollhouse, are able to tie up any loose ends with a couple of hastily written episodes before the corporate axe falls.
Twin Peaks was to have a slightly different fate however.
While the original series gained popular and critical acclaim, ABC studios repeatedly insisted that David Lynch reveal the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer at the end of the first season.
This went against the idea that Lynch had at the start, originally intending that the identity of Laura’s killer would remain a mystery.
The result of this was the show lost it’s way slightly during season two, including too many side plots which, despite some interesting ideas, detracted from the intricate main storyline.
Because this was never going to be any normal murder investigation, even from the beginning.
And it’s not only the idiosyncratic Agent Cooper who is conscious of the differences in Twin Peaks, as we find when The Bookhouse Boys (Harry, Hawk, and Big Ed Hurley, played by another Lynch regular, Everett McGill) tell him about the history of the area.
Big Ed isn’t any stranger to strangeness, being married as he is, to Nadine Hurley, (Wendy Robie, in a truly unhinged performance) who provides many of the show’s comedy moments.
Here is one of her typical scenes.
The “darkness” in the woods that Harry talks about is hinted at by many of the characters, most notably The Log Lady and Major Briggs who, we discover, has a lot more information than he is at liberty to reveal.
This is one of numerous mentions of Owls, and “their” appearance heralds the arrival of the supernatural element of the show.
The first time we are made aware of this is early on, during Cooper’s dream.
This scene is also the first time that we hear about Bob and Mike, the One Armed Man (not to be confused with – or more likely, most definitely intended to be confused with – Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson, two of Laura’s high school friends)
…and then later on, when Cooper has his first visit from the giant (no, really, he’s a giant), the significance of the Owls is reinforced.
This otherworldly undercurrent is what saves the later episodes, building to an utterly riveting climax to the series which, although bizarre and unconventional, even by Lynch’s standards, is still one of the most memorable pieces of television ever.
In my final post on The Best TV Show Ever, I will give you a few more tasters to tempt you into the world of Twin Peaks, and hopefully remind those of you who have already been there why you loved it in the first place.
Don’t touch that dial…