KYLE MACLAUGHLIN, MICHAEL ONTKEAN
Kyle MacLaughlin, left, and Michael Ontkean on Twin Peaks ABC / Getty Images

There's One Big Difference Between the Original Twin Peaks and the Reboot

Oct 06, 2014

When Twin Peaks debuted in 1990 on ABC, it was truly one-of-a-kind. Now, however, it's going to be two-of-a-kind: Showtime has announced that they'll be bringing back Twin Peaks for nine new episodes in 2016, with original creative team David Lynch and Mark Frost.

Still, in at least one way, the original run of the groundbreaking show will remain unique.

As TIME's James Poniewozik pointed out Monday in explaining why the reboot news should be exciting rather than anxiety-provoking, "TV doesn't need Twin Peaks anymore." These days, cable TV — especially premium networks like Showtime — is full of weird, ambitious, artistic fare. It's cool, but not all that crazy, to imagine that Showtime might bring back Twin Peaks. On the other hand, the show's original debut was not just cool but also a major break with the rest of what was going on with television. Remember, Twin Peaks was on network primetime. Its direct time-slot competition was Cheers.

A Twin Peaks on Showtime won't necessarily be better or worse than one on ABC — we'll have to wait till 2016 to find out — but it can't be as daring an idea.

As TIME's Richard Zoglin put it in his Apr. 9, 1990, take on the show:

In outline, ABC's heralded new series Twin Peaks sounds like an amalgam of familiar TV genres. A touch of true-crime docudrama, a dash of Columbo, a jot of Knots Landing. But in the darkly idiosyncratic world of director David Lynch, terms like murder mystery and soap opera don't begin to tell the tale. Twin Peaks, which debuts Sunday as a two-hour movie, is like nothing you've seen in prime time -- or on God's earth. It may be the most hauntingly original work ever done for American TV.

It is also something of a miracle. Imagine: one of the world's most perversely offbeat movie directors persuades ABC to let him try a prime-time series. He shoots a pilot with virtually no interference. The network bigwigs look at the result, realize that it will probably befuddle many viewers, then decide to air it anyway. The programmers even consider -- horrors! -- showing the two-hour pilot without commercials. (Cooler heads prevail; the show will have ads, though fewer than usual.) It's enough to restore one's faith in television.

Read Richard Zoglin's original 1990 story about Twin Peaks, free of charge, here in TIME's archives: Like Nothing on Earth

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