As the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun. For fans of Twin Peaks, that may not be a bad thing. More than 25 years after Twin Peaks aired its disorienting final episode, the show is slated to return, with new episodes airing on Showtime. Twin Peaks is the latest in a recent wave of TV revival series, which now includes everything from Full House to The X-Files. But for those who’ve spent years pondering questions that would seemingly never be answered after the show’s cancellation, Twin Peaks may be the most exciting reboot of them all.
The new episodes are set to premiere Sunday, May 21, at 9 p.m. What exactly can viewers expect from the new season? Although the show’s creators have been characteristically evasive — David Lynch is helming the project, after all — they have let a few things slip. Here is everything we know so far.
Familiar places, and old faces
In the run-up to the premiere, the show’s creators have still let out very little information, only offering a series of low-key, cryptic teasers.
The latest teaser, titled It Is Happening Again was released May 11 and featured a series of brief shots of familiar characters from the original series returning for the new season. The teaser closes with a shot of Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper once more.
A previously released trailer, which landed May 4, shows glimpses of several characters, including Deputy Hawk and Sarah Palmer.
The first teaser, released in late April, consists of a series of brief shots of iconic locations from the show’s original run, including the sheriff’s department and the otherworldly Red Room. While these teasers don’t reveal much — if anything — about the plot for the new season, they may at least sate the thirst of fans eagerly awaiting the May 21 premiere.
Getting the gang back together
Twin Peaks was one of the earliest example of auteur-driven television, and much of its iconic style came from the two men in charge: writer Mark Frost and director David Lynch, who are spearheading the revival. According to Frost, the idea came about while they were having lunch, reflecting on how Twin Peaks laid the groundwork for the current age of television. Lynch and Frost later took to Twitter in October 2014 to hint that a revival was imminent.
Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style! #damngoodcoffee
— David Lynch (@DAVID_LYNCH) October 3, 2014
Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style.#damngoodcoffee
— Mark Frost (@mfrost11) October 3, 2014
Fans of Lynch’s work should be especially thrilled; the director’s last major work was 2006’s Inland Empire. That said, his involvement in Twin Peaks seems to extend beyond the director’s chair. A teaser released in December indicated that Lynch will reprise his role as FBI director Gordon Cole. The teaser consists entirely of Cole eating a donut, but, to be fair, it looks like a damn good donut.
In addition, most of the cast from the original run will return for the new season. One of the first cast members to announce his return — and probably the most important — was Kyle MacLachlan, who played special agent Dale Cooper. MacLachlan announced his involvement on Twitter, with a wink and a nod to his character’s love of coffee.
Better fire up that percolator and find my black suit :-) #Twinpeaks
— Kyle MacLachlan (@Kyle_MacLachlan) October 6, 2014
Showtime also recently released a new teaser starring MacLachlan. Although short and not particularly revealing, it does give fans a glimpse of an older Agent Cooper amid a woodsy montage.
Showtime has since released the complete cast list for the new season, confirming that most of the cast will be back. Among them are Sheryl Lee, who played the murdered prom queen Laura Palmer, Ray Wise, who played Laura’s father Leland, Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne, and Dana Ashbrook, who played Laura’s ex-boyfriend Bobby Briggs.
Notably absent are Lara Flynn Boyle, who played Laura’s best friend Donna Hayward, and Michael Ontkean, who played sheriff Harry S. Truman. Another noteworthy omission from the cast list? Heather Graham, who played Cooper’s love interest Annie Blackburn in the second season.
Almost as exciting as the returning cast members are the new additions, including some big names and frequent Lynch collaborators. Naomi Watts, who starred Lynch’s acclaimed film, Mulholland Drive, is one of the most noteworthy add-ons.
Another Lynch alumna coming to Twin Peaks is Laura Dern, who appeared in his films Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Inland Empire.
Other newcomers include Michael Cera, Ernie Hudson, Ashley Judd, and Brett Gelman.
Interestingly, there are also some musicians in the cast: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, and singer-songwriters Sharon Van Etten and Sky Ferreira. Unfortunately, there has been no indication yet what sorts of roles any of the cast will be playing.
Speaking of music, composer Angelo Badalamenti, who composed the score for the original series, will be scoring the new episodes as well. In September, Showtime released a teaser featuring Badalamenti playing Laura Palmer’s Theme, a creepy, synth-heavy song that was frequently used throughout the show’s original run.
What’s it all about?
Not surprisingly, this is the biggest mystery. The only thing Frost and Lynch have confirmed about the story is that it will be set roughly 25 years after the show’s original run, which makes sense as the cast has aged since then. Frost has said that the new episodes will continue the storylines left open, and that the passage of time will be important. Keen viewers might remember that in the finale of season 2, an important character told Agent Cooper that she would see him again in 25 years. Whether the showrunners planned this all the way back in ’91 is a mystery — it could very easily be a coincidence.
Showtime has put out some videos which give a sense of the show’s tone, if not the plot. The short clip features a man talking about the importance of location before unveiling the iconic Twin Peaks sign.
Another promotional video features several cast members talking about the experience of reuniting, and what viewers can expect. They do not offer much beyond platitudes, though Miguel Ferrer claims it is a big story where big things happen.
How many episodes? When does the season start?
Showtime refers to the new Twin Peaks season as a “limited series,” but just what does “limited” mean? Back in October 2014, when the revival was announced, Variety reported that the showrunners were planning nine episodes. More recently, however, several cast members have indicated that there will be 18 episodes. Wise said as much, according to Indiewire’s Ben Travers.
— Ben Travers (@BenTTravers) July 23, 2016
Showtime executive David Nevins has stated that the episodes will begin with a two-hour premiere on May 21. Nevins has also indicated that the show may not follow a traditional release pattern of one episode per week, according to a presentation given at the Television Critics Association, and that the new season will consist of 18 hour-long episodes. Nevins even when so far as to call the forthcoming installment “the pure-heroin version of David Lynch.”
Will the new season be the first of many? Speaking to the TCA, Nevins said that the season is intended to be a “close-ended, one-time event.” After waiting more than two decades, fans may be fine with whatever they can get.
That’s what we’ve got so far, but stay tuned as we’ll be updating this post regularly leading up to the big day.
Updated 5-11-2017 by Rick Marshall with a new teaser trailer.
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