Mixed signals from Showtime on the future of the Twin Peaks revival. On one hand, the cable network’s CEO David Nevins has said “I don’t think so…” and on the other, “the door’s always open to David Lynch…”
So Twin Peaks fans want to know: which is it?
Twin Peaks: The Return marked the triumphant return of the cult 1990s David Lynch series. It is an ambitious work, perhaps moreso than anything else in the director’s career (with the possible exception of Dune)—18 episodes of highly-complex story, marked by dazzling & at-times perplexing visuals. As Nevins recently pointed out, it was no small feat to put together:
This was a Herculean effort. I’m not sure if any director has ever done 18 hours in a row of a series… It’s remarkable what he achieved, fans are liking it and for me that’s what’s satisfying.
But are fan approvals alone enough to convince Showtime to invest in another season?
Twin Peaks: The Return has not created as many “traditional” Showtime views as perhaps the network was hoping for—but it has increased traffic significantly on Showtime’s streaming service:
It’s a way higher proportion of streaming than anything else. The second quarter has always been our weakest quarter and [operating income] was up 11 percent and you can assume that Showtime was up a higher percentage to drive that. That’s new subscriptions driven largely by Twin Peaks was the biggest factor in that. It did its job for being such an unusual show for us.
Another question is: would Lynch himself be willing to do another season? Nevins said that the show was “always intended to be one season”—but while him and the director have not had a formal conversation yet about continuing it, it is something that’s not off the table.
And here is an even broader question: can a series as (for lack of a better term) “arty” as Twin Peaks: The Return (and I would say it is far more avant-garde than the original) “survive” outside of the fanbase? Can a network like Showtime “afford” to support a continuing series that may not be as readily-accessible to the mainstream viewing public as, say, Ray Donovan (now on its fifth season)?
But: this is Twin Peaks, an icon. And we are talking about premium cable (“cable” for how much longer is a good question), which has been touted as the destination of quality television programming (as opposed to the broadcast networks).
If Showtime can’t support something like Twin Peaks by David Lynch…you know, what’s the point?