In the end, "Twin Peaks" was done in by the same demon that killed Laura
Bob did it, although he probably kept the show alive, too.
It was the "Who killed Laura Palmer?" craze that drew the masses into the
exceptional Mark Frost-David Lynch ABC serial on Thursdays last spring, and it
was the drawn-out manner in which that story line played out on Saturdays this
season that turned the masses away.
ABC has announced that last Saturday's episode will be the last on the air
for a while. To most people, however, "Twin Peaks" dies long ago. Sadly, it
just sort of disappeared.
If recent form holds, Saturday's "Twin Peaks" episode will finish mired
among the worst of the Fox shows and NBC's wretched "Sunday Best" at the bottom
of the weekly Nielsen ratings. Nobody was watching.
The network said it will honor its commitment for the full season of 22
episodes and it likely will find a harmless time slot at some uncritical
juncture in the season to put the remainder on the air.
But it's time to wake up and smell the coffee: "Twin Peaks" is dead,
deader than Laura Palmer, deader than disco. Cue the dancing dwarf. Wrap it
in plastic and cast it adrift. Look for it to wash up someday in cable
rerun-land, somewhere between Walla Walla and One Eyed Jacks. But, barring an
unforeseen resurrection, this cherry pie is baked.
True devotees knew all along that solving Laura Palmer's murder was
irrelevant to enjoying the show. The network, however, seized upon it as a
selling point to build its audience. That set up unrealistic expectations and,
as the surreal story line drifted on, popular support drifted off.
Blame Bob, ABC's Bob
If learning the true identity of Bob -- the evil inside us all, and
particularly Leland Palmer -- killed "Twin Peaks," there was an accomplice --
another Bob, as it were, in ABC Entertainment President Bob Iger.
Banishing "Twin Peaks" to Saturday nights, along with the also-acclaimed-
but-low-rated "China Beach," was probably an earnest compromise for ABC. But
it amounted to a death warrant for the programs, which already were living on
borrowed time by Nielsen standards.
It enabled ABC to renew the series, critical successes with marginal
popularity, because nobody watches ABC on Saturdays. But it also doomed the
shows -- because nobody watches ABC on Saturdays. Not surprisingly, neither
survived its transplant.
Fans of "Twin Peaks" and "China Beach" have lives, thank you, lives that
aren't worth rearranging for the sake of a TV show, even a really good one.
Even one as good as "Twin Peaks."
What few viewers remained were further put off by its frequent
pre-emptions this winter.
Off to the Realm of Scholars
It's a shame, because there was unprecedented care taken in making "Twin
Peaks" interesting to watch, to listen to, to study. Scholars will be writing
dissertations on the series for years to come.
One example of the loving detail that so distinguished "Twin Peaks" was
the "Invitation to Love" soap opera that played out in the background last
spring. Everyone in the town of Twin Peaks seemed to be captivated by it. It
was said to have its own story line, although it was little more than scenery
for the real program.
As rare and wonderful as such quality and lavish attention was for a TV show, the soap opera eventually was forgotten by the townspeople. Nobody seemed
to be watching it, at least, and nobody talked about it.
Sadly, it just sort of disappeared.