The mystery of Twin Peaks continues

The cast of Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch, includes (above from left) Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan and Dana Ashbrook.
The cast of Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch, includes (above from left) Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan and Dana Ashbrook.PHOTO: NYTIMES
The cast of Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch (above), includes Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan and Dana Ashbrook.
The cast of Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch (above), includes Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan and Dana Ashbrook.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Cult series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost pick up the narrative 25 years after Laura Palmer's murder

Twin Peaks was groundbreaking when it first aired in 1990, popularising the surreal style of movie maestro David Lynch, which combines genres such as the crime drama with elements of the supernatural, macabre and absurd.

The story - a small-town murder mystery that evolves into a supernatural head-scratcher - was nothing short of TV phenomenon in the 1990s; its enigmatic narrative and arresting visuals and soundtrack made it one of the top-rated shows of 1991 before its audience shrunk and it was cancelled the following year.

But the acclaimed series went on to amass a cult following, making the fresh batch of episodes that debuted in the United States yesterday one of the most anticipated reboots of 2017. (The release date in Singapore has not yet been announced.)

The notoriously secretive Lynch and series co-creator Mark Frost furnished few details about the new season, but the former offered a taste of what was to come while speaking to The Straits Times and other press in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Lynch, 71, is his characteristically weird and cryptic self as he makes a surprise appearance at a question- and-answer session with returning cast members such as Kyle MacLachlan, who reprises his role as the quirky federal agent sent to the town of Twin Peaks to investigate the bizarre murder of popular student Laura Palmer.

Delivered in his hypnotic, syntactically idiosyncratic voice, the director's statements are mostly vague, often dispensing with the pretence of even trying to directly answer queries about the new 18 one-hour episodes, which pick up the narrative 25 years after Palmer's murder and the subsequent disappearance of MacLachlan's character.

Instead, he both delights and vexes reporters with non-sequiturs such as "I hear heroin is a very popular drug these days" and "I love Laura Dern". Dern is one of the new members of the star-studded cast, which includes Naomi Watts and Jennifer Jason Leigh, along with Madchen Amick, David Duchovny and many of the original actors.

Asked what fans can expect in terms of his directing style in these new episodes, Lynch - who was also behind the canonical films Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Drive (2001) - says they will be "just the same as all the others".

"I see it as a film. And a film, in parts, is what people will experience. It was a joyful experience. This word 'expect' is a magical word. People expect things and their expectations are met, hopefully, when they see the thing."

He also explains why he decided to revisit the tale, which airs on the Showtime network in the US.

"I love this world of Twin Peaks and I often thought about what might be happening. It was Mark (Frost) who contacted me, many years ago now, and asked if I wanted to go back into that world. We met and talked. And that's what got us going again for this one."

The reclusive Lynch - who lives in Hollywood and has a four- year-old daughter with wife and actress Emily Stofle, 39, as well as three adult children from three previous relationships - then co-wrote the scripts over Skype with Frost, 63, who is based in Ojai, California.

But he swats away a query about why he briefly left the project in 2015, tweeting at the time that "after one year and four months of negotiations, I left because not enough money was offered to do the script the way I felt it needed to be done". He is rumoured to have been given carte blanche when he returned and refuses to discuss the issue now.

He does shed light, however, on why the original series ended after only two seasons.

"What killed Twin Peaks originally", he explains, was that "'Who killed Laura Palmer?' was a question that we never really wanted to answer - that was the goose that laid these golden eggs.

"And, at a certain point, we were told to wrap that up and it never really got back going after that."

Will this third season be a one-off or will there be more? "Before, I said I wasn't going to revisit it and I did. (So) you never say no. But right now, there's no plan for anything more."

At the world premiere of the new instalment in Los Angeles last Friday, Showtime president David Nevins implored guests not to reveal any details about the first two hours they would watch because Lynch, who directed all the episodes, wants viewers to experience it for themselves.

Just before the theatre lights dimmed, the film-maker himself stepped on stage and delivered an odd, but evocative monologue that set the scene for what follows.

"I love trees," he began, an opener that elicited titters for its sheer Lynchianness.

"Tonight, we're going to a place where the trees are primarily Douglas firs," he continued.

"If we're very quiet, we can hear the rustling needles as we move through the forest, getting closer and closer. And now, we're here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'The mystery of Twin Peaks continues'. Print Edition | Subscribe