Twin Peaks: The stunning TV show about evil, darkness and cherry pie returns after 25 years...


'That gum you like is going to come back in style.' For the uninitiated, an unremarkable sentence. For fans of Twin Peaks, this line alone is enough to prompt unbridled excitement. When David Lynch tweeted it a couple of years ago, fans finally had confirmation that their favourite TV show was coming back, 25 years after it had been cancelled.

Sometimes, TV reviewers are prone to hyperbole. How many now think of Lost as the best TV show of its generation? Does anyone really think Frasier was better than Cheers? And so on...

Every now and then, though, the hype matches up to the real thing. In 1990, hype wouldn't accurately describe the feverish speculation that surrounded Twin Peaks. All-out mania for the TV show descended after the brilliant first series.

Although the show's popularity could never last – especially when a key plot point was resolved midway through the second season – Twin Peaks became known as one of the cult classics of TV. Never have cherry pie and coffee seemed so appealing.

Last shown on TV in 1991, there was a poorly received feature film in 1992 and then it all went quiet.

That is until this weekend. Twin Peaks is back and fans of the original show are brimming with excitement at the possibility of one of the most original and exciting TV stories ever is finally back on our screens.

But what made it so popular? And why should you watch it?

Twin Peaks was based around the investigation into the murder of school girl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is brought in to assist the wonderfully named local Sherriff, Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean). Cooper's penchant for quoting eastern philosophy and the occasional line from St Augustine makes him one of the quirkiest characters ever to be the protagonist of a major TV series.

The show follows the investigation in a dizzying mixture of comedy, thriller, noir and sci-fi. The genuine debt owed to Twin Peaks by many subsequent TV smash hits is obvious. But more than its style, the way in which it depicts small town life is arresting.

Co-creator and Director David Lynch has long examined the darkness that lurks at the edge of polite American small-town life. In films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive he explores it. In Twin Peaks, it finds its fullest expression.

Set in a small town in the Pacific North West enveloped by woods, the story not only deals with the darkness in people, it also looks at malign spiritual influences from outside that cause us to damage and hurt each other.

Just because there's a white picket fence and a seemingly 'close knit community' Twin Peaks isn't immune from the violence that haunts much of the globe. The Lynchian twist is that we're never left quite sure how much of that violence is caused by supernatural elements and how much is down to human evil.

After the resolution of the murder storyline, some fans became disillusioned with the sprawling second season which brought in a range of early career performances from future superstars like David Duchovny, Heather Graham and Billy Zane.

Those cameos and the appearance of a new anti-hero brought renewed vigour to the storyline, but it wasn't enough. The feature film prequel featuring David Bowie and Kiefer Sutherland as FBI agents failed to capture the imagination, and Twin Peaks was dead. The series was cancelled and may have faded into obscurity if not for the obsessiveness of fans who loved it's unique aesthetic, wonderful music and other-worldly charm.

After many years of denying that it would happen, though, Twin Peaks is back and will premier this Sunday on Showtime in the US (Sky Atlantic in the UK). Such is the anticipation that special screenings and parties are planned.

What is it, then, that makes it such an enduring show?

There are three things. Firstly, we all intuitively have a sense that Lynch is right – there is an almost inexplicable amount of evil in the world. To see that examined intelligently on screen is pretty rare.

Secondly, the story has deeply compelling heroes. The law enforcement community of Twin Peaks, along with a number of townspeople regularly put themselves in harms way to protect their fellow citizens. Good stories need a hero (and the lack of one marks Lynch's more bleak work, such as Inland Empire). More than that, we are drawn to hope and goodness and the fight against evil.

Thirdly, it's a great story. There are twists, turns and surprises round every corner. We are built to respond to narrative. Twin Peaks has a story which works on the surface level as well as that deeper allegory about evil.

I'm delighted it's back after 25 years and can hardly wait to see what the new season has to offer. As another one of those many memorable lines from the original show went... 'It's happening again!"

Follow Andy Walton on Twitter @waltonandy