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The return of ‘Twin Peaks’ – how to get the best from the new series

Written by
Tom Huddleston

Twenty-six years since its initial run, David Lynch’s game-changing murder-soap-thriller-fantasy ‘Twin Peaks’ returned to TV screens this weekend with the first two instalments of an 18-episode run. Screening on Sky Atlantic in the UK, the series kicked off at 2am on Monday, concurrent with the US launch. But they’ll both air again this evening for non-night owls, and are already available to stream. Our resident ‘Twin Peaks’ expert Tom Huddleston offers a few tips on how best to enjoy the new series.

1. Be realistic

At 71, David Lynch is no longer the upbeat upstart who made unusual but approachable works such as ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘Wild at Heart’ and the original ‘Twin Peaks’. In old age, he’s cycled back to his roots in the American avant-garde: his last film, 2006’s ‘Inland Empire’, was his most idiosyncratic since his DIY 1977 debut ‘Eraserhead’. Anyone coming to the new ‘Twin Peaks’ expecting aw-shucks comedy and lashings of cherry pie is going to be disappointed. It’s funny, when it wants to be – but this is most definitely not comfort viewing.

2. Be patient

The new ‘Twin Peaks’ doesn’t care if you like it; it is entirely itself and nothing else. This approach results in some of the most mind-blistering moments you’ll ever see on TV, indelible images of shock, horror and unearthly loveliness. But it also means that not everything happens when you think it’s going to, at the speed at which modern television usually operates. In simple terms: it can be slow. It’s not boring, it’s not teasing, it’s just taking its sweet time. Go with it.

3. Don’t expect all the answers

This should go without saying for anyone familiar with David Lynch’s work, but seriously, expecting all this to make sense is a futile exercise. Sure, some of the threads in the opener will doubtless be tied up – there are still 16 instalments to go, after all. But others are destined to hang loose indefinitely, and worrying about them won’t help. This is not – nor is it intended to be – a rational experience. And on that note...

4. Savour the sensation

You could be a ‘Twin Peaks’ superfan who lives on doughnuts and does one-armed cosplay every weekend. You may have never seen the show before. At the most basic level, it doesn’t really matter – as long as you open yourself up. Like all of Lynch’s best work, these first two episodes are a rollercoaster of emotion, from shock and terror to nostalgia, sadness and little hints of joy. There are scenes you’ll love, others you’ll hate, others you’ll likely find completely tedious and baffling. That’s kind of the point. 

5. Know your Lynch

This isn’t a dealbreaker, but fans of the director’s work are going to get a different, arguably richer experience to complete newbies. Obviously it helps to know ‘Twin Peaks’, particularly the heartbreaking spin-off movie ‘Fire Walk With Me’, both of which do inform the plot here (such as it is). But there are also callbacks to Lynch’s art, his photography, his music, his meditation and every single film he’s directed: the fleshy sculptures of ‘The Grandmother’ and ‘Eraserhead’, the sexual deviance of ‘Blue Velvet’, the louche criminality of ‘Wild at Heart’, the aggressive surrealism of ‘Inland Empire’. One metallic freakout in a glass cube even resembles the interlocking industrial grandeur of ‘Dune’. What’s not quite present – yet – is the deep emotional rawness of ‘The Elephant Man’, but let’s see what the next 16 hours have in store.

Brush up with our in-depth A-Z of ‘Twin Peaks’.

Londoners – tickets to this year’s Twin Peaks UK Festival are now on sale.

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