1991: ‘Twin Peaks’ Ends After a Two-Season Run
After its bold and often brilliant initial season, Twin Peaks seemed to care less about continuity, coherence and common sense than even its most fervent fans could accept. As the series progressed into a second season, subplots came and went with no rhyme or reason, and though the journey was intriguing to the very end (the very inconclusive end, that is), Twin Peaks — which ended its two-season run on this day in 1991 — wound up as a series that was headed nowhere fast, filling up space with digressions and distractions like a college student trying to fake his way through an essay test. The drawn-out chess game with Kenneth Welsh’s demonic Windom Earle, for example, made little sense dramatically — and, after a few moves, made no sense at all as an actual chess game.
But think, for a moment, about what Twin Peaks did right. The series, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, introduced a murder mystery — the serial killing of Sheryl Lee’s enigmatic Laura Palmer — that viewers and the media quickly inflated to “Who Shot J.R.?” proportions. Its slightly (or, in some cases, wholly) surrealistic characters, led by Kyle MacLachlan’s stoic and heroic Dale Cooper, made Twin Peaks the most unusual and puzzling TV series since The Prisoner, and its hefty helpings of intentional allusions, to everything from Laura and Double Indemnity to the lookalike-cousin concept from The Patty Duke Show and the one-armed man from The Fugitive, made it the subject of animated and lengthy scrutiny, everywhere from the lunch room to the classroom.
Even when it lost its way in terms of plot, Twin Peaks tried harder, and did more, than most weekly series on television. It gave as much emphasis to visual images and lighting, and to the musical score and sound effects, as it did to the scripts and performances.
—Excerpted from Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television’s 500 Biggest Hits, Misses and Events