Pop Culture #663

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Pop Culture #663

The new season of Twin Peaks starts on Stan May 22nd with the first four episodes airing in a block, and it’s still safe to say we have no idea what’s in store. Well, that’s not entirely true: there’s been some cast photos released – some have aged well, others have not – and we know there’s a lot of other big names involved. We can also assume that if they’re showing the first four episodes in a row, it’s probably something of a slow burn, which should be no surprise coming from David Lynch. But what kind of slow burn?

For all we currently know the entire original cast could die two minutes in, or be dead already, or not appear until the end of episode four, or not appear at all aside from dream sequences, or… well, pretty much anything. Which is a strange position for a television series in 2017: despite what pretty much every website and still-running magazine would like to have you believe, pretty much everything they have to say about an upcoming series comes to them via the production company and their PR minions.

So when we’re told that a major character is returning, or that a series is going off in a new direction, or that someone dies, or lives, or is trapped under a bus for three weeks, it’s because the publicists want you to know that. And they want you to know that because in the insanely crowded marketplace that is modern television and movies, the idea of keeping something back is firmly out of favour. You, the viewing audience, are very busy people, and if a movie or series doesn’t look exactly like something you’re interested in you’re not going to stick around.

If you’ve ever wondered why movie trailers seem to give everything away – up to and including scenes that are obviously from the end of the film – it’s because while you might be someone who likes to go into a movie unaware of the big twists, most of the people around you aren’t going to pay big money and take hours out of their day unless they have a pretty good idea that they’re not going to be wasting their time and money.

And while television costs less in terms of time and money, that cost is still there in the form of all the other good shows you’re missing out on by taking a chance on something new. How many shows are there that are out there that you know are good and you’d really like to watch but haven’t yet caught up with? That’s what new shows are competing against, and the way they do that is by making sure you know all the good things there is to know about this particular new show.

So the idea of going into a show blind – the idea that perhaps a mystery might just be part of the fun of a show – is pretty much dead: even the shows that are built around big mysteries and shock twists make sure to let you know that they’re shows about big mysteries and shock twists. But Twin Peaks really is a mystery: for all we currently know it could be wall-to-wall shock twists or contain no suspense at all and just be about a bunch of older folk going about their daily lives. That’s the real mystery: that’s why it’s so exciting to have it back.

Written by Anthony Morris