How ‘Twin Peaks’ Got Lost, and Found Its Way Back

Now, more than a quarter of a century later, it’s back. Starting Sunday, May 21, a new, 18-hour chapter of “Twin Peaks” will begin on Showtime, this time with only Mr. Lynch in the director’s seat and much of the original cast returning.

Production for the revival, which took eight months, has been tightly wrapped, but Mr. Lynch described it as “exactly like a feature film.” Most of the cast members interviewed for this article said they received scripts for only their scenes and were forbidden to discuss their roles with journalists (or one another).

Without a peg to hang expectations on, the world of “Twin Peaks” in 2017 is, for Showtime, a gamble. The television world it paved the way for has evolved profoundly — not only have the show’s offspring raised viewers’ expectations, but connecting with deluged audiences has also become exponentially harder in the era of Peak TV.

Photo

Kyle MacLachlan in the show.

Credit
Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

“I can’t wait to see what ‘Twin Peaks’ is like in a social media universe, because quite honestly, I sort of remember it as if it was a social media phenomenon,” said Gary Levine, the president for programming at Showtime, who was the vice president for drama development at ABC when the show first aired. “It sort of felt like it was viral in some way back then.”

When the two-hour “Twin Peaks” pilot debuted on April 8, 1990, it garnered nearly 35 million viewers, becoming the highest-rated TV movie for that season and drawing critical praise in a prime-time era full of histrionic soaps (“Dallas” and “Knots Landing”) and sitcoms (“Cheers,” the show’s main competition when it started running on Thursdays; “The Golden Girls”; and “Night Court”). Centered on the murder of a homecoming queen, the…

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