We live in a golden age of television. The new content has been amazing. Seemingly impossible crossover content from fantasy novels and superhero comics have been brought to life on the big and small screens. And sometimes, an old favorite gets taken off the shelf, dusted off, and put back into circulation as a “reboot”. In just the last few years of reboots, there have been the good (Westworld), the bad (Heroes1) and the ugly (X-Files). But if I may allow myself to be biased, few reboots have been as eagerly awaited as Twin Peaks.
Not just eagerly, but long awaited. Plenty of TV series get a reboot decades later, but usually reimagined for a modern telling, with new characters and new stories. It’s virtually unheard of to pick up the same storyline and the same characters over two decades later. But there is one franchise that has recently had a reboot of this nature. One that Twin Peaks fans might be able to learn something from, as we count down the final weeks, days, and hours until the premiere of Season 3. Not a TV series, but a series of movies: Star Wars.
Now for our purposes, I’m going to ignore the Star Wars prequels. We’ll just pretend they didn’t happen, OK? In fact, let’s all just bask in the glow of that alternate reality for a bit.. Hmm.. Nice.. And yes, Star Wars has had all sorts of other content over the years, cartoons and what not, but we’re just going to concern ourselves with the primary storyline as presented in the movies.
The final episode of Twin Peaks aired on June 10, 1991. The first episode of Season 3 will be May 21, 2017. A gap of roughly 26 years. Return of the Jedi premiered on May 25, 1983. The Force Awakens premiered on Dec 18, 2015. A 32 and half year gap. Not so very different.
So let’s talk first about returning characters. After all, that’s the hook for us fans. Who amongst the over-40 crowd did not squeal, at least inwardly if not audibly, when Han Solo and Chewbacca walked down the ramp of the Millennium Falcon? Or when that hood was thrown back to reveal Luke Skywalker? Is this not exactly the feeling we get when we see Agent Cooper step forward out of the shadows in a familiar black suit, or see Gordon Cole munching on a donut? We’re all very excited to see some of our favorite actors / characters return.
That said though, only 37 of the 217 confirmed cast members (by my googled sources) are returning cast members. And since some of the characters they played are dead, the actual number of returning characters is even less than that. Much like The Force Awakens, where only the three primary human heroes and a handful of supporting non-humans are carryovers from the original movies. In fact, in the Star Wars reboot, these characters are largely returning in supporting roles or merely appearing as cameos. The Force Awakens is a reboot that continues the story that played out years ago, but the torch is very clearly being handed off to a new generation.
In light of this, might we be getting our hopes up a bit much in the Twin Peaks fan community? When I watch the latest teaser trailer featuring Big Ed, Carl Rodd, Deputy Andy, Hawk and Sarah Palmer, I can’t help but think about how incredibly old they all look. David Lynch has always liked to feature young, hot women and young, dashing men. And I’m sure Showtime wouldn’t mind that either. They need this show to appeal to more than just us obsessive nostalgia buffs. Appeal, as in sex appeal.
We already have a hint from the Secret History that this season may be viewed through the lens of a new, young FBI agent. When a story picks up after a generation has passed, it’s somewhat to be expected that it will pick up with the next generation. A good chunk of the original cast were high school students or younger in the original series. Now they’re going to be the town leaders, the owners of the businesses, the parents with their own kids in school.
However, most of the advertisement and buzz around the new season of Twin Peaks has centered on the returning cast, unlike The Force Awakens. A core of 30+ main characters is more than a lot of TV shows carry. More than enough to support an 18-episode story arc. Hopefully we aren’t just being teased, or worse, lied to.
Our cast members are not only aging, some of them are dying off. Carrie Fisher already filmed her scenes for The Last Jedi before her passing in Dec. Likewise, Miguel Ferrer (Agent Rosenfield) and Warren Frost (Doc Hayward) both passed away in early 2017, with their parts of Season 3 already filmed. Just a coincidence there, I don’t think that portends of anything in particular.
But what of the fate of the characters in Season 3? The Force Awakens blew most fans away when Kylo Ren cut down his father. But in the Star Wars universe, that’s all part of the process for handing off to the next generation (remember Obi Wan Kenobi?). Might we too face the on-screen offing of one or two of our favorite characters, ala Han Solo?
In terms of plot, Star Wars gave birth to one of the great battles between creator and fans, one that can be summarized in one word: “Lucasing”. George Lucas had years to think about the original movies and tinker with the plot and ideas presented. He even added back in some “missing pieces” – sound familiar? But his cardinal sin was tinkering with what actually happened in the original movies, the classic example being that “Han shot first”.
Mark Frost released “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” last fall with the original promise that it would fill in the gaps between Season 2 and 3. But instead, it went the other direction and provided several backstories for many of our favorite characters. Backstories that re-wrote events and information presented in the show. Theories abound as to what this all could mean, from complete negligence, to meaningless puzzles, to parallel worlds. But could it be as simple (and awful) as Mark Frost codifying a little bit of retconning he and David Lynch have done for Season 3? Mark has repeatedly said in interviews and public appearances that “canon” is not a word he uses. I don’t know of many hard core Twin Peaks fans who don’t get their hackles up over that comment, at least as an initial visceral response.
Mark Frost has also promised “all will be revealed”, though at this point it occurs to me that he could be talking about his second book, not the upcoming season. Granted, Mark is only part of the team, but David is not all that keen on providing coherent plotlines with easily understood answers. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
With reboots, there is a tension between paying homage to the original story and telling a new story. The Force Awakens has been accused of being a rehash of A New Hope, but in many ways, that’s why it was successful. They recaptured the magic by replaying a good chunk of it. If we’re going to judge by box office success, they did the right thing.
For Twin Peaks, many clues have been dropped by the Secret History. There has been another murder. At least one. There’s a new FBI agent assigned by Gordon Cole to investigate. Definitely familiar. Or look at the way that in Mark’s history, everyone seems to take on the job of their parents before them. Repeating the past, perhaps? As if the town itself is not just timeless, it’s stuck in time somehow. For Twin Peaks however, a series that was cancelled for its bad ratings and lack of appeal to a more general audience, it might not be magic that’s being recaptured.
One last point. When the Star Wars franchise was purchased by Disney, it came with an infusion of money and influence. Disney knows how to market a movie, and they understand how to build and maintain a franchise. This is probably one of the best things that could have happened to Star Wars.
Likewise, Showtime is a pretty promising home for Twin Peaks to land. Showtime knows a thing or two about critically acclaimed TV series, with shows like Dexter and Homeland. They seem to be doing a good job creating a buzz for Twin Peaks. Teaser trailers, Entertainment Weekly spread, billboards, and most importantly, the secrecy. They may not understand David Lynch and his vision, it may have nearly come to metaphorical blows even, but they since have wised up and allowed him the space to bring about his vision. Once the series starts and some of the cats are finally let out of the bag, it will be interesting to see how they play their cards and keep that buzz alive.
There are a lot of parallels between these two reboots. It’s not often that a reboot like this come along, picking up the story after decades have passed. With the tight secrecy surrounding Twin Peas Season 3, there’s not much to go on for those of us trying to speculate on what might happen. I hope that by looking for possible answers in the recent reboot of the Star Wars movies, I’ve opened up some avenues worth exploring.
- Now me, I liked Heroes Reborn, but I know I’m outnumbered.