To be honest, I’m a little surprised David Lynch and Mark Frost are going there again. And a little worried. Twin Peaks was so far ahead of its time in its time, will it meet itself coming backwards when it returns as a Showtime series? Because of Twin Peaks, viewers weren’t put off by the mind-bending metaphysical and supernatural touches of shows like The X-Files and Lost. Because of Twin Peaks, we now watch dramas — whether The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad — with a scavenger-hunt eye out for portents and clues. What more can Twin Peaks offer to the medium it helped to change?
I wrote about Twin Peaks extensively when I was the TV critic for the old San Francisco Examiner. From the show’s premiere on April 8, 1990, to its cancellation after only 30 episodes (but a lot of doughnuts), I was under the show’s spell as both a critic and a fan. I wanted to link to some of those articles here, because they capture the sense of what it was like to watch Twin Peaks at the moment it became a cultural phenomenon. But, sadly, the Examiner is not digitally archived.
I do have hard copies, though, and if I can find a way to scan the oversized daily-paper clippings, I will. I did find one immediately scannable piece that I wrote for Image, the Sunday magazine published by the Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle (the two rival papers put out a joint Sunday edition, thanks to an operating agreement too complicated to get into here). I’m proud of this piece, and I don’t think I can write anything better about Twin Peaks right now, not having seen the show in 23 years. So here’s a scanned copy of that essay; if you’re reading on anything larger than a tablet, you’ll have to click and use your zoom in/out tool to adjust the image. It’s a little clunky, but it works.
I apologize for the use of “Chinese puzzle” in the subhead (which I didn’t write) and the use of “midget” instead of “dwarf” (my usage) to describe the Little Man; this was written in a less enlightened time. There are also some weird typographical errors in the original, with words randomly hyphenated where there should have been line breaks. Please ignore.
Now, please join me in the Wayback Machine. The dial is set for full immersion, as we travel back to Twin Peaks mania, 1990.
©Joyce Millman, The Mix Tape, 2014
“As the Parallel World Turns” ©The San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, 1990