'Twin Peaks': What the Critics Are Saying
David Lynch brought back his iconic series to Showtime and reviewers are finding it just as strange, funny and weird as the original.
After almost 26 years, David Lynch's Twin Peaks returned to TV Sunday.
Showtime aired the 2-hour premiere of the hotly anticipated third season as viewers were once again acquainted with the likes of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and the Palmer family and all the kooky goings-on in the fictional Washington town.
Early reviews clustered towards the cautious, primarily as Showtime and Lynch didn't make episodes available early to critics and embargoed reviews from those who had attended the L.A. premiere till after the first episode aired on Sunday in an attempt to hide plot details and ramp up anticipation.
THR's Daniel Fienberg was one of those cautious in his praise based off the first 2-hour episode. Despite his prior worries as to whether Lynch could handle directing and writing duties on 18 hours of TV after taking a decadelong break from behind the camera, Fienberg felt that the Twin Peaks revival had maintained the spirit of the original show and was still "a sensation that engulfs you" and is "a journey you take."
Fienberg added that Twin Peaks had all the weird, surreal moments you would expect but it all held together. "The thing that struck me most immediately about the premiere is how relatively cogent it was, with a clear emphasis on 'relatively.' What premiered on Sunday was as accessibly scary, disturbing and audaciously funny as many of the best parts of the original Twin Peaks," he added.
CNN's Brian Lowry was another not willing to proclaim that Twin Peaks a hit based off of 2 hours, but he was confident that the quality was such that it would "pique any fan's curiosity," although "casual viewers probably need not apply." Lowry referenced other current shows that veer towards the weird such as FX's Legion and Starz's American Gods but proclaimed that Twin Peaks was "how TV that dares to confuse is done."
James Poniewozik of The New York Times opened his review with the unsettling glass box that features in the first episode of Twin Peaks, suggesting the show "still has the ability to turn your TV into that box — a quietly menacing portal through which something horrifying or wondrous might burst at any moment." Poniewozik was another in the wait-and-see group of reviewers but saw lots of promise and "enough unshakable imagery to promise a few months of unsettled Sunday nights’ sleep."
The Guardian's Mark Lawson worried that "anyone coming fresh to the cult is likely to have been utterly bewildered. But they can take comfort that, by the end of the opening two episodes, both veterans and newbies will have been huddled together in Camp Bafflement." Lawson said there was lot in there to satisfy die-hard fans and also keep people who appreciate visual and musical style but "that the uncommitted may feel The Arm twitching towards the off switch at Lynch’s storytelling style."
Uproxx' Alan Sepinwall was far more effusive in his praise describing the first episode as "the work of a director in full command of his talents and his desires." Sepinwall admits he was a full Twin Peaks fanboy but said that first episode "The Return" "never felt like a brand cash-in — Lynch and Frost returning to their most famous creation for lack of other ideas — nor like a show that had no business existing outside its original time and space."
Of the negative reviews, Time's Daniel D’Addario was the most vociferous, headlining his review by describing Twin Peaks as "strange but not in a good way." D'Addario added that "the show, which derived its power from the aftermath of trauma in a small community, has chosen to tell a story that's odder and bigger — so big, in fact, that it has so far choked off what made Twin Peaks work all along."