Category Archives: TV

Twin Peaks: The Return, “2016, Twin Peaks, & which characters are probably back”, & the perils of prediction

Twin Peaks The Return

Well, that’s that for Season 3 of Twin Peaks (subtitled The Return). That could even be that for Twin Peaks, full stop, but let’s hope not. Instead let’s time travel to 2014 when I first tried to predict what might be in store from the new season, and see where I got it right (and where I screwed up!). Sections in italics, like this, will be my commentary on what my past self thought. This article will be utterly riddled with spoilers, so if that bothers you, leave it alone!

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)

The peculiar heart of Twin Peaks & the character most likely to talk about coffee, cherry pie or Douglas firs, only Audrey Horne competes with him for the title of most popular Peaks character. The infamous cliffhanger with Coop trapped in the Black Lodge will be the first thing fans will want to see resolved, & while Lynch seems likely therefore to tease the fans a bit, there are also indications that he doesn’t intend to keep him in the Lodge forever, with plans for the aborted third season apparently revolving around Garland Briggs working with the Sheriff’s department to save him, & scenes released as part of Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces expanding on the circumstances of his imprisonment as well as showing the immediate aftermath of his evil double’s bathroom freakout (Dr. Hayward puts him to bed, apparently, which is an extremely poor decision for a patient with a head wound). MacLachlan has also recently tweeted pictures of himself having lunch with David Lynch, who obviously adores the actor, given his nipple-baring appearances in both Dune & Blue Velvet. Obviously MacLachlan has aged more naturally than the rather eerie “25 Years Later” makeup from his dream sequence – perhaps they’ll ignore that discrepancy; maybe we’ll even see a strange situation whereby he’s made up to make his aging look less natural. But then, if we believe the “25 Years Later” subtitle from the International Version of the Pilot, then we know Cooper remains in the Black Lodge until at least 2014, & there’s no reason other than fan backlash that the writers can’t force him to stay there indefinitely. In that case, Cooper’s doppelgänger could still appear in the new episodes, but I find the doppelgänger’s reappearance unlikely – for one thing, it’s a bit of a cheesy plot, & the idea of BOB-as-Coop escaping detection for twenty-five years stretches probability. However, I also think MacLachlan is unlikely to be the main character like in the old show – I can see him with a rôle roughly the size of that he played in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Probability of return: 9/10

Easy peasy, come on. 1 point

FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch)

Partially deaf & fully eccentric, David Lynch’s increasingly frequent appearances as Gordon Cole are probably either the unintended result of a silly joke, or a long-term plan to score a kissing scene with Mädchen Amick. Either way, David Lynch never seemed to me to be fully committed to playing Cole, & I doubt the character will even be referenced twenty-five years from the date he headed the investigation into Laura’s murder. Probability of return: 3/10

Well, I couldn’t be wronger here. Gordon Cole became one of the few regulars in Twin Peaks: The Return‘s shifting cast list. Lynch clearly doesn’t mind acting as much as I thought. 0 points

FBI Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer)

Almost the sarcastic & aggressive polar opposite of Agent Cooper, Albert Rosenfield was later revealed to share Coop’s sense of spirituality. Despite his limited number of appearances, the character was always memorable, & Miguel Ferrer’s arrogant delivery was a career highlight for a man who once played drums for Keith Moon (for some reason). On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for the character to have hung around Twin Peaks when he loathes the town, unless it’s to rescue Cooper. Probability of return: 3/10

Wow, see above. One thing I did get right is that there’s little reason for Rosenfield to hang around Twin Peaks. I just didn’t predict how little of the new Twin Peaks would take place in Twin Peaks. Glad we got this little extra bit of Rosenfield before Ferrer passed away. 0 points

FBI Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie)

I don’t think anyone really knows what Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was getting at with Phillip Jeffries’ disappearances, shunted back & forth between Philadelphia & Buenos Aires. Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces gives him about double the screen time, but all we learn is that his appearance causes the shit to come out of the ass of a hotel guest. There’s a compelling mystery surrounding Agent Jeffries, but will they be able to get David Bowie again? Probability of return: 3/10

I’ll split the difference here. I said it was unlikely for Bowie to return, and I was sadly right, but we did get more of Jeffries – as a kettle. 0.5 points

FBI Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak)

Another Fire Walk With Me character, & one who exists only to fill in for Cooper, since Kyle MacLachlan felt his small part in the film was too large, & opted to take a tiny one instead. The film’s depiction of Chester Desmond investigating the Teresa Banks murder creates internal inconsistencies, but the character is an intriguing counterpart to Cooper – Twin Peaks rip-off/homage Deadly Premonition features an FBI main character who seems to be modelled after Desmond rather than Coop – & his Jeffries-like disappearance in the film is another intriguing mystery. On the other hand, it’s possible that he actually doesn’t exist at all, & is merely a representation or other identity for Cooper, a narrative device Lynch also uses in Lost HighwayMulholland Drive. Probability of return: 3/10

Chester Desmond did, pleasingly, get a reference in the new series though. 1 point

FBI Special Agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland)

If Chester Desmond exists as a topsy-turvy Cooper, then Sam Stanley is a topsy-turvy Albert with a mild & humble persona. Again, the character probably wouldn’t have been introduced if a last-minute rewrite of the Teresa Banks investigation hadn’t been necessary, & Kiefer Sutherland would probably be too expensive these days for the character’s return to be worth it. Probability of return: 2/10

Sutherland was a bit busy with 24: Live Another Day and MGSV. 1 point

FBI Agent Roger Hardy (Clarence Williams III)

The agent responsible for Cooper’s suspension, the character made few appearances & was seemingly the only FBI agent with no memorable eccentricity. Internal affairs must be a boring division. Probability of return: 2/10

I think this might have been the easiest guess I made. 1 point

DEA Agent Denise Bryson (David Duchovny)

A trans woman who assists Cooper during his suspension, David Duchovny went on to achieve much greater fame as an FBI agent in The X-Files, a show which probably owed something to Twin Peaks. Duchovny, like Kiefer Sutherland, would probably be too expensive now to be worth bringing back, & the character, while likable & competent, never did much of note plot-wise. Probability of return: 2/10

Duchovny most certainly did make a return, and on the same night as his X-Files costar appeared in American Gods playing a man (sort of). Most of Twin Peaks‘ actors seemed really keen to return to it, even those who’ve gone on to much greater fame, which is really nice (but see below). 0 points

Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean)

Misleadingly given second billing in every episode of the series, Michael Ontkean played the kind & dependable Sheriff of Twin Peaks, who refreshingly didn’t clash with the FBI agent sniffing around his town. Sheriff Truman played a useful Watson to Cooper’s bizarre Holmes, & provided needed exposition, especially in the pilot episode, but was never given interesting subplots of his own beyond his secret relationship with Josie, who is now trapped in a drawer handle in any case. If he returns to the show at all, I picture him having retired to make way for a new Sheriff; probably, like Deer Meadow’s Sheriff Cable, that new Sheriff’s techniques & demeanor will contrast with Truman’s. Probability of return: 5/10

I got this right, but the way Robert Forster appears as Sheriff Frank Truman in the new episodes gives the feel of a hurried rewrite. Sadly Michael Ontkean just didn’t feel like doing any new episodes, and he’s missed. The new Sheriff’s techniques & demeanor certainly don’t contrast with Truman’s! 1 point

Deputy Tommy “The Hawk” Hill (Michael Horse)

The competent one out of Sheriff Truman’s two deputies, Hawk was visible in the pilot episode for about two seconds, but later in the series he would almost always appear in scenes involving the Sheriff’s Department. Michael Horse speaks fondly of Twin Peaks, citing Hawk as a positive portrayal of Native American people onscreen, but the character is still something of a stereotype, & was never given even a small subplot of his own; besides which, Horse has largely retired from acting to focus on painting. Probability of return: 4/10

Happy to have gotten this one wrong, & that Hawk is given quite a lot more to do in the newer episodes! 0 points

Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz)

The incompetent one out of Sheriff Truman’s two deputies, Andy was one of Peaks‘ few pure comic relief characters. His on-off relationship with Lucy, fatherhood rivalry with Dick Tremayne, & propensity for amusing injuries wouldn’t have been out of place on a crap sitcom, but his purity of heart & increasing bravery in the line of duty deepened his character somewhat. I picture him as a devoted husband & father, & while that doesn’t sound terribly dramatic, the possibility that the child is Tremayne’s exists in the background, along similar lines to Ben Horne’s fathering Donna. Probability of return: 6/10

Yep, but after having seen Michael Cera’s turn as Wally Brando I’m confident that Andy’s the father. 1 point

Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson)

Lucy’s distinctive voice & dreamy-yet-grounded personality made her instantly memorable, & she often seemed more of an asset to the Sheriff’s Department than Deputy Andy did. Kimmy Robertson has also remained active with, for instance, the Twin Peaks festival, even if she has aged terribly. Also, with Twin Peaks‘ return, we’re presumably going to be introduced to a whole new generation of characters, otherwise the show will be nothing but a bunch of old people reminiscing about the early 90s, & since Lucy is the only character to become pregnant during the show’s original run, it seems logical for her child, now grown-up, to feature in the new episodes. Probability of return: 6/10

Yes, and yes, her child did indeed feature in (one of) the new episodes. 1 point

Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan)

Possible biological father to Lucy’s child & insufferable snob, Dick Tremayne is neither fondly remembered nor involved in any important storylines, though with his job at Horne’s Department Store it’s just possible he’s aware of the sex ring operated out of it. Even if the new episodes do continue the fatherhood drama of the second season, Dick doesn’t seem to me like the type to stick around Twin Peaks, especially if there’s a risk of responsibility. Probability of return: 2/10

Headcanon: Tremayne left Twin Peaks, to go and be a snob elsewhere. I’d find it cool if it got worked into the show somehow. 1 point

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)

Twin Peaks‘ central character despite having died before the pilot episode, Laura’s murder drives the show even after it has been solved. David Lynch was so fond of Laura Palmer he made her the main character in the prequel film as well as getting his daughter to write a spin-off novel about her, & was so fond of Sheryl Lee he brought her back repeatedly, in dream sequences, tape recordings, old video footage, & finally as Laura’s identical cousin Maddy Ferguson. Earlier this year he filmed new scenes with Sheryl Lee in character as a dead Laura Palmer in the interview piece Between Two Worlds, & according to Lee he even planned to have her play a third character in Season Three. Sheryl Lee has always been proud of her Twin Peaks work, especially Fire Walk With Me, & it seems incredibly unlikely that she won’t make some sort of appearance, even if it’s just hanging out at the Black Lodge; however, while Maddy is also shown within the Lodge, I imagine Maddy will be ignored in favour of Laura. Probability of return: 10/10

Correct! Not until the very end, though. 1 point

Leland Palmer (Ray Wise)

Laura’s father & (spoilers!) murderer, Ray Wise has to be given credit for giving one of the very strongest performances in a show just full of them. While the character dies in custody after his arrest, he is shown in the Black Lodge along with a number of his victims, & Ray Wise also reprised the character for Between Two Worlds. Probability of return: 7/10

Yep, just briefly. 1 point

Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie)

Sarah’s emotional reaction upon realising her daughter is probably dead was one of the key scenes in the pilot, & her character only became more tragic from there with the revelation of her husband’s guilt for that murder & his subsequent death. Grace Zabriskie in Between Two Worlds plays her as a broken woman & it’s easy to imagine the new episodes dealing with the impact of the abuse & death within her family. Probability of return: 8/10

“dealing with the impact of the abuse & death within her family”. God, and how. 1 point

Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle)

Laura’s naïve but loyal best friend, Donna had a complex & interesting personality, & it would have been interesting to really see the traumatic impact Laura’s death would have had on her. Unfortunately, her character was given some pretty stupid plotlines, & shared with James Hurley the worst dialogue in the show. Behind the scenes Lara Flynn Boyle was demanding & seemingly jealous of Sherilyn Fenn’s popularity as Audrey; she declined to appear in the prequel film, where Donna was portrayed, more weakly in my opinion, by Moira Kelly. Given this, Boyle seems likely to turn down appearances in the new episodes – if offered – & to me it seems even less likely that Kelly will be offered the part. Besides, Donna seems like she’d probably be the type to leave Twin Peaks & its traumatic associations behind. Probability of return: 4/10

Thought so. Still wonder what Donna’s up to, though. 1 point

Dr. Will “Doc” Hayward (Warren Frost)

Donna’s father & almost a second father to Laura, Doc Hayward was another of the many kind & gentle inhabitants of Twin Peaks. Played by Mark Frost’s father Warren Frost, the character may have gone to prison after the last episode for the manslaughter of Benjamin Horne. On the other hand, I’m not the first fan to point out that Doc Hayward appears, not in custody & not at all shaken up, during the last scenes with the evil Coop, which might indicate that Ben’s head wound wasn’t as nasty as it looked. Probability of return: 5/10

Warren Frost managed to film one scene as Doc Hayward before passing away. It’s really sad how much of the cast have died, before or during the filming of the new episodes. 0 points

Eileen Hayward (Mary Jo Deschanel)

Donna’s wheelchair-bound mother, Eileen Hayward made infrequent appearances on the show until towards the end of its run, when Donna discovers a past affair between Eileen & Ben Horne, during which Donna may have been conceived. Probability of return: 4/10

No Eileen. 1 point

Harriet & Gersten Hayward (Jessica Wallenfels & Alicia Witt)

Donna’s two younger sisters, Harriet, who was in her early teens in 1989 & writes poetry; & Gersten, who was pre-teen in 1989 & plays piano, seem to have been forgotten by most of the Twin Peaks staff, appearing rarely even in scenes set in the Hayward household. Mind you, many characters who were extremely minor later became more prominent, & as with Lucy’s son or daughter, the show will probably need more young-ish characters. Probability of return: 3/10

It was a bit cheeky of me to list these two as the same character, wasn’t it? It didn’t work out very well for me as, while Harriet’s nowhere to be seen, a grown-up Gersten’s having an affair with Steven, which isn’t wise considering the kind of man he is. 0.5 points

James Hurley (James Marshall)

Boyfriend of both Laura Palmer & Donna Hayward, James is frequently mocked by fans for his lack of charisma, bizarre singing voice, & for being central to Season Two’s worst subplot. The last that is seen of James, he is leaving Twin Peaks on his motorcycle, as he has frequently threatened to do, & it is unlikely that he will ride back into town, especially since Marshall is now more focused on his music career. Probability of return: 4/10

Marshall certainly is focused on his music career, and he’s clearly a great sport! Two of my favourite scenes from the new episodes. I still do wonder what motivated him to ride back into town, though. 0 points

Evelyn Marsh (Annette McCarthy)

Wealthy older woman living in a town outside of Twin Peaks, Evelyn Marsh’s seduction of James Hurley & elaborate murder schemes wouldn’t have been out of place in some Gothic potboiler or stage melodrama. While Evelyn, unlike her husband Jeffrey or lover Malcolm, survives Twin Peaks‘ worst subplot, there is no reason the writers would seek to remind viewers of her existence, especially when she doesn’t even live in Twin Peaks. Probability of return: 1/10

I considered this even less likely than the return of FBI Agent Roger Hardy. 1 point

“Big” Ed Hurley (Everett McGill)

Gas station (or “gas farm”-?) owner & apparent cowboy, James’ uncle Ed is one of Twin Peaks’ decent sorts, engaging in a secret affair with Norma that is, in fact, rather blameless, since Ed’s spouse is abusive & Norma’s, in prison. Ed & Norma’s scenes together were some of the sweetest & most tender in the series, & the amnesia-love-triangle-divorce plot with Nadine still has yet to be resolved. Probability of return: 8/10

“the amnesia-love-triangle-divorce plot with Nadine still has yet to be resolved”. Well, not any more! 1 point

Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie)

Super-strong wife of Ed Hurley & would-be inventor of the silent drape runner, Nadine attempted suicide, woke from her coma with amnesia, & engaged in an affair with Mike. While the whole plotline was thoroughly silly, there is perhaps scope for examination of why she has super-strength, & the question remains unresolved as to whether Ed ever finalised his divorce from her. Probability of return: 7/10

Digging herself out of the shit! Well, good for you Nadine. 1 point

Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton)

Owner of the Double R diner, mother figure to Shelly, & former beauty queen Norma always struck me as perhaps Twin Peaks’ kindest resident, & it is all the more heartbreaking that the world seems to conspire against her. I can see her continuing to run the Double R until her death – whereupon Shelly will perhaps inherit it. Probability of return: 8/10

And Peggy Lipton still looks so good! You could take her & Shelley for sisters in the new episodes. 1 point

Henry “Hank” Jennings (Chris Mulkey)

Career criminal, husband of Norma, & thoroughly nasty piece of work, Hank usually does a good job of looking sweet & devoted in front of Norma. Given that he is in prison prior to the start of the show, & might be headed back there, crippled from a beating by Nadine, after its end, his return is less likely than that of his wife; however, there could be a nice embittered revenge angle to be exploited there. Probability of return: 7/10

According to The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Hank was killed in prison. That’s not a great loss to the world. 0 points

Vivian Smythe “M.T. Wentz” Niles (Jane Greer)

Norma’s rather bitchy mother worked as a food critic under the name M.T. Wentz. Given Jane Greer’s 2001 death, & the character’s relative unimportance, Vivian will probably have passed away in the time between old & new Peaks, if she is referenced at all. Probability of return: 1/10

Well yeah. 1 point

Ernie “The Professor” Niles (James Booth)

Vivian’s husband & a criminal associate of of Hank’s, Ernie is sent in to Dead Dog Farm wearing a wire; when it is discovered he becomes Jean Renault’s hostage; Jean agrees to a hostage exchange for Cooper, with Ernie last seen being returned to police custody. Due to his cooperation he was probably allowed to go free, whereupon he would have left town with Vivian. Given James Booth’s 2005 death, the character, who is as old if not older than Vivian, can likely be assumed to have died while Twin Peaks was off-air. Probability of return: 1/10

Again. 1 point

Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham)

Norma’s former nun sister Annie falls in love with Cooper, which Windom Earle takes advantage of as part of his plan to gain access to the Black Lodge. The programme shows Cooper sacrificing himself to save her, & a deleted scene from the film had her waking up in hospital with a message about the evil Coop. While the character does not feel fully fleshed-out, & is something of a substitute love interest after Audrey, her centrality to Cooper’s ongoing plot means there is a good chance of her playing some kind of part in the pick-up of the plot. Probability of return: 7/10

Surprisingly, no. Coop’s love interest is now apparently Diane, with Annie never even addressed. 0 points

Thadilonius “Toad” Barker (Kevin Young)

Recurring patron of the Double R Diner, Toad seems to exhibit something of a manchild-ish quality, with poor impulse control leading him to steal food from the kitchen. Improbably enough, Toad was written into Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but even so, there seems a low chance of his character returning again. Probability of return: 4/10

I got this right, although one thing I got wrong is that the Toad of Fire Walk With Me, a skinny chef, is a different character from the overweight patron. Two Toads. What are the odds? 1 point

Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick)

Double R waitress & secret lover of Bobby, Shelly Johnson was another Twin Peaks character to achieve early popularity, & her sweetness & beauty combined with her horrible marriage to abusive Leo Johnson lends her an angelic quality. In her 2007 appearance in the interview piece A Slice of Lynch, David Lynch seems enraptured by her, especially the kissing scene they shared. Regardless of whether Leo Johnson survived the spider trap set for him by Windom Earle, Mädchen Amick, who still looks beautiful, is likely to play a major part in the new episodes. Probability of return: 9/10

Yep. 1 point

Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re)

Abusive husband & low-level criminal Leo Johnson was perhaps the show’s most unpleasant character, although he suffered severe decay in the second season, where he seemed to be treated as an ineffectual joke character. He is last seen in a frankly ridiculous trap Windom Earle has set involving a tank of tarantulas which, while certainly unpleasant, would be unlikely to kill anyone in real life. Probability of return: 5/10

Presumably the tarantulas killed him, or some other more realistic fate befell him. 1 point

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)

Sexy teen femme fatale, & likely the second-most popular character after Dale Cooper, Audrey’s initially significant rôle in the series became diminished after her intended love plot with Coop was vetoed, & Sherilyn Fenn declined to appear at all in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. She took a starring rôle in the flop Boxing Helena, by Jennifer Chambers Lynch – daughter of David & author of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. It is possible that Audrey Horne died in the bank explosion engineered by Thomas Eckhardt to kill Andrew Packard; however, were there to have been a third season, Audrey was to have been revealed to have survived. David Lynch obviously remained interested in the character of Audrey, conceiving Mulholland Drive as a pilot for an Audrey-centric spinoff. This indicates perhaps that her return is unlikely, since Lynch obviously imagines her leaving Twin Peaks for Hollywood or elsewhere, & Sherilyn Fenn has notably aged poorly. Probability of return: 6/10

Audrey came back, eventually. What’s up with her scenes, though? 1 point

Johnny Horne (Robert Bauer)

Audrey’s mentally handicapped brother, often looked after by Dr. Jacoby &, before her death, Laura Palmer. Like Donna’s younger sisters, Johnny occasionally seemed to have been forgotten entirely by the writers, & was portrayed by a different actor (Robert Davenport) in his first appearance. Probability of return: 4/10

And now a third actor’s played Johnny. 0 points

Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer)

Starting out as the show’s big nasty baddie, Laura’s presumable killer in many people’s heads prior to the reveal, Ben Horne later experienced financial setback, then brief insanity, followed by a resolution to do only good. While it is possible that he dies in the final episode, there is evidence suggesting he didn’t, as discussed under Doc Hayward’s entry above. Parts of Ben Horne’s arc, notably the Civil War madness, were handled poorly, but still there is definite potential in seeing, 25 years on, how his devotion to good has worked out, & Richard Beymer has aged admirably, too. Probability of return: 7/10

I really liked the new Ben Horne scenes. 1 point

Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly)

Ben’s shorter & even sleazier younger brother never got to step out of his brother’s shadow in the series’ original run, but there were hints towards such a storyline towards the end, as he never seemed on board with Ben’s new devotion to goodness, & tried to take control of Ben’s affairs during his temporary insanity. Probability of return: 6/10

Yes. What did he find in the woods, though? 1 point

Sylvia Horne (Jan D’Arcy)

Ben Horne’s wife, who is so scarcely a presence in the show that, the first time I watched, I forgot I had ever seen her, & assumed that Audrey Horne’s mother was most likely dead. If Ben Horne returns, & remains good, then Sylvia will likely get to play a small part again, though I wonder that she has yet to divorce him. Probability of return: 5/10

I got this one wrong. What an unpleasant scene! 0 points

John Justice Wheeler (Billy Zane)

John Justice Wheeler, like Annie Blackburn, is a suspiciously perfect replacement love interest written in after the veto of the Coop/Audrey relationship. Given his departure from the series in his private ‘plane, it seems unlikely that he will return even if Audrey does, & we probably wouldn’t expect her to have spent her entire life with her first love. Probability of return: 3/10

So long, John. Will we ever get to learn what became of you? 1 point

Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook)

Boyfriend of Laura, boyfriend of Shelly, & criminal associate of both Mike Nelson & Leo, Bobby Briggs, from an unlikable start, grew into one of the show’s most complex characters, with The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer & Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me depicting his cynicism & occasional cruelty as coming from a vulnerability & sense of sweetness wounded by the effects of addiction & promiscuity. It would be both fascinating & painful to see where the character has wound up 25 years on, especially given his attempts to smarten himself up later in the show’s run. Probability of return: 8/10

Fascinating, but pleasantly unpainful. Proud of Bobby. 1 point

Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis)

Bobby’s caring if conservative father & a major in the air force, Major Briggs was one of the characters to be fleshed out in the second season after extremely minor appearances in the first. The plotlines in Season Two involving secret military UFO projects seemed to pre-empt The X-Files, & his speech to Bobby regarding his dream was one of the programme’s most tear-jerking moments. Unfortunately, since Davis died in 2008, the character is unlikely to return – one hopes Bobby remembers him fondly. Probability of return: 1/10

I suppose this one’s a half-point, since he’s now a blobby version of his own head. 0.5 points

Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart)

Major Briggs’ wife & Bobby’s mother Betty was never given much to say in the show; she & Garland seemed to love one another deeply, & she would usually agree with his sentiments regarding Bobby’s upbringing. Probability of return: 6/10

Was 6/10 a typo there? 0 points

Pete Martell (Jack Nance)

One of Lynch’s favourite actors, Jack Nance, played the patient & long-suffering Pete, husband of Catherine & discoverer of Laura’s body. The final episode implies, but does not confirm, that Pete is killed in a bank explosion; since Jack Nance passed away in 1996, this will likely be accepted as the character’s final fate, but one hopes to see him commemorated somehow. Probability of return: 1/10

Certainly commemorated, and the sort-of appearance that he did make was brilliantly done. The Secret History of Twin Peaks confirms the bank vault explosion to have killed him. 1 point

Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie)

Gleeful, soap opera-ish villain & wife of Pete Martell, the apotheosis of Catherine’s scheming was to fake her own death & return as an East Asian man. Piper Laurie, at 82, is still going strong, but one wonders what the character can still be given to do on the show. Probability of return: 6/10

Sadly, nothing. Piper’s still going strong, though! 0 points

Andrew Packard (Dan O’Herlihy)

Brother of Catherine & husband of Josie, Andrew Packard was assumed to have died before the start of the show, but it was later revealed that he faked his own death, trying to get the upper hand in a struggle with his business rival/partner Thomas Eckhardt. Eckhardt conspired to kill Packard once & for all with a bomb placed in the bank vault, & it is likely that the attempt succeeded – however, this was never definitively shown to be the case. Probability of return: 2/10

That’s right. 1 point

Josie Packard (Joan Chen)

The first character to appear in the pilot episode, & the most beautiful woman in the state according to her lover Sheriff Truman, Josie was slowly revealed to be living a double life, with a dark past involving Chinese organised crime. Some would say that this past eventually caught up with her when she literally died of fear in a room of the Great Northern Hotel, but her soul was shown trapped in a drawer-handle, & it would be extremely interesting – & really very David Lynch – to show her spirit still trapped there. Probability of return: 4/10

Well, we did see a little tiny bit of Josie technically. 1 point

Dell Mibbler (Ed Wright)

Manager of the bank in which Andrew Packard, Pete Martell, & Audrey Horne may have met their deaths at the hands of Thomas Eckhardt, Mr. Mibbler is one of a great number of decrepit old men in Lynch’s filmography. The shot of the character’s glasses flying through the air after the bank explosion was likely designed to confirm his death, although it is peculiar that this was given more priority than confirming the deaths of Andrew, Pete, or Audrey, when Mibbler had only been introduced earlier that episode. In any case, actor Ed Wright passed away in 1995, further cementing the likelihood of Mibbler’s death. Probability of return: 1/10

1 point

Ronette Pulaski (Pheobe Augustine)

Friend/fellow-victim of Laura’s, Ronette survived the night of Laura’s murder before falling into a coma. She features more rarely than one might expect, given her importance as a friend to Laura & witness of her murder. Some believe that she makes an appearance, along with Laura Palmer, at the Black Lodge-like Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive, which could indicate that she has died &/or become trapped in the Lodge in the time since her last appearance in Twin Peaks. Probability of return: 3/10

Again, we did get brief archival glimpses of Ronette, earning Phoebe Augustine a credit under the new series’ idiosyncratic credits system. 1 point

Mike “Snake” Nelson (Gary Hershberger)

Initially a criminal associate of Bobby Briggs, & briefly a boyfriend of Donna Hayward, Mike seems to go straight to an extent later on, focusing more on his school life & his romance with Nadine Hurley, who has mentally regressed to the age of eighteen. While Mike is introduced with the same apparent significance as major teen characters such as Bobby Briggs, he appears very rarely until Nadine falls in love with him, with his most memorable moment coming when he whispers into Bobby’s ear “what an experienced woman with super-strength can do”, causing Bobby to react loudly. Probability of return: 3/10

He now owns his own business, and turns down Steven for a job! 0 points

Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn)

Laura’s psychiatrist Dr. Jacoby has a near-obsessional interest in Hawaii & was considered a key suspect in Laura’s murder early on. Russ Tamblyn, best known for West Side Story, has recently made small appearances in Drive & Django Unchained, though for me the character’s return in new episodes would stretch credibility: why hasn’t he moved to Hawaii yet, since he loves it so much? Probability of return: 5/10

Didn’t see that coming, did I? 0 points

Mayor Dwayne Milford (John Boylan)

Mayor Dwayne Milford started appearing regularly in the second half of the show’s run, after a brief appearance in the pilot. His Statler-&-Waldorf grump act with his brother Dougie came to an abrupt end with Dougie’s death, & his character likely died of old age, like his actor John Boylan did in 1994. Probability of return: 1/10

1 point

Lana Budding Milford (Robyn Lively)

Supposed nymphomaniac & black widow serial killer – possibly accidentally – Lana married both Milford brothers one after another. The character isn’t well-remembered by fans & had an improbable Southern accent. Probability of return: 2/10

She was only in that town for fifteen minutes. 1 point

Emory Battis (Don Amendolia)

Emory Battis works at Horne’s Department Store, recruiting girls into a prostitution ring over the border at One-Eyed Jack’s. His most memorable appearance was when Audrey Horne blackmails him into a job on the perfume counter. Probability of return: 3/10

1 point

Nancy O’Reilly (Galyn Görg)

Blackie’s sister & the only member of the criminal family who run One-Eyed Jack’s to survive the series, Nancy is last seen overpowered but not killed by Cooper when she attacks him with a knife during Audrey’s rescue. Probability of return: 2/10

1 point

Roadhouse Singer (Julee Cruise)

Julee Cruise’s performances onstage at the Roadhouse were among the signature scenes of Twin Peaks, & David Lynch has rarely made films without similar scenes. Credited as Roadhouse Singer, Julee Cruise co-composed her songs & included them on her own solo albums, making it unclear as to whether she was playing herself***. Probability of return: 7/10

I wondered whether “Roadhouse Singer” would be the final act to be shown playing the Roadhouse. 1 point

Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman (Catherine E. Coulson)

The Log Lady is often used almost as a mascot for the series: in syndication, new introductions by The Log Lady were recorded for every episode, & it is very rare for Twin Peaks parodies not to include her. Known for her wisdom & closeness to the forest, it is nonetheless difficult to pin down a time she ever did anything useful on the show. Probability of return: 9/10

Really impressive how many actors struggled through illness just to put in appearances on the new episodes. Shows you how much loyalty the show earned. 1 point

Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh)

Evil counterpart to Dale Cooper, seeker of arcane magical knowledge, master of disguise, & replacement villain after the early reveal of Laura’s killer, Windom Earle was brought in to give the show direction again, & while he achieved that to some extent, his personality & portrayal was reminiscent of a villain from the 60s Batman, resulting in a campy feel that didn’t suit the show. He is last seen trapped in the Black Lodge by BOB, his soul stolen, but many characters have been depicted within the Black Lodge, after their deaths or otherwise, so it is only good taste keeping him from making an appearance in that context. Probability of return: 3/10

Not even mentioned. 1 point

Killer BOB (Frank Silva)

Twin Peaks’ Big Bad, & the evil spirit possessing Leland during his acts of incest & abuse. While Frank Silva passed away in 1995, Killer BOB, unlike all other characters whose actors have died, is still very likely to play a part in the new episodes. There are a number of ways this could be achieved: they could cast a lookalike actor; or go Doctor Who & have BOB change his form to look completely different (he’s a spirit after all); they could choose not to have him “appear” in his true form, but only through possessed characters – such as the evil Cooper; or they could only hint at his presence with owls, ceiling fans, &c. – done right, it could be even creepier than having him appear in person. Probability of return: 10/10

Evil Cooper. Although how much control did BOB really have? 1 point

The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson)

Along with The Log Lady, the small dancing man in the red suit is a staple of Twin Peaks parodies & homages. However, unlike his servant Killer BOB, The Man From Another Place is not necessary for the story’s continuation: he has never worked directly to influence events in Twin Peaks, & is a very abstract character whose rôle could easily be fulfilled by other characters from the spirit world. Michael J. Anderson already looked aged in Mulholland Drive in 2001, & while I’m sure Anderson would be keen to return, I can’t help but think that the character’s mystique would be diminished by the realisation that he is not an eternal spirit, but ages at just the same rate as regular humans. However, as with Killer BOB above, there is no reason the spirit needs to keep the same form. Probability of return: 4/10

Nope, he’s a tree now. 0 points

Phillip “One-Armed MIKE” Gerard (Al Strobel)

One-armed shoe salesman Phillip Gerard, possessed by the spirit One-Armed MIKE, turned out to be a handy ally against Killer BOB, his former associate. MIKE cut off his evil arm after seeing the face of God, though the arm continues to exist in the form of The Man From Another Place. As useful as the character was to the heroes during the show’s original run, I wonder how likely the spirit-possessed shoe salesman is to have stuck around in Twin Peaks. I wish him all the best. Probability of return: 4/10

0 points

Señor Droolcup, The Elderly Bellhop (Hank Worden)

Nicknamed “Señor Droolcup” by Albert Rosenfield, The Elderly Bellhop is a character of ambiguously spiritual nature, who may in fact be “one and the same” as The Giant. It’s also possible that the character is The Giant’s familiar. In any case, since Hank Worden passed away in 1992, The Elderly Bellhop specifically is unlikely to return, though the spirit of The Giant might well. Probability of return: 2/10

I got this right, and I got it right about The Giant, or “Fireman”. 1 point

The Giant (Carel Struycken)

Seemingly benevolent spirit with apparent ties to The Elderly Bellhop & the White Lodge, The Giant first appeared in the Season Two premiere assisting a wounded Dale Cooper. Probability of return: 6/10

As “Fireman”, or ???????. 1 point

Pierre & Mrs Tremond, the Chalfonts (Austin Jack Lynch & Frances Bay)

Mrs Tremond – or Mrs Chalfont – & her grandson Pierre first appeared in the second season but were never given any significant material despite their apparently supernatural nature & obvious link to the spirit world. Both characters appear in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – wherein Pierre wears a mask to disguise the replacement of Austin Jack Lynch, son of David, with Jonathan J. Leppell – but again, neither of them does anything significant. With Frances Bay’s 2011 death, & the fact that Austin Jack Lynch will be 33 by the time of the new episodes, these characters are likely to remain forever ambiguous. Probability of return: 2/10

No indeed, but we met an Alice Tremond, who bought her house from Mrs Chalfont. Something’s up. 1 point

Total: 44.5/62, which isn’t too bad. One thing I didn’t expect was how much loyalty the new episodes had to even the plot aspects of the old show that I never got the impression sat right with Lynch or Frost, or seemed ephemeral which they could have chosen to simply ignore. They usually didn’t, while also making a show that was tonally very, very different.

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Stranger Things 2, Stranger Things II, & Arabic vs. Latin

Stranger Things 2

I’ve just quite enjoyed watching Netflix’s Stranger Things 2, though I can’t help but feel that I’d enjoy the series more if it would make more of an effort to be its own thing, and stop beating you around the head with homages to 80s cinema. That indebtedness to cultural reference begins right with the title. Ordinarily, a new season of a TV show doesn’t have a new title, but Stranger Things isn’t influenced by other TV shows, only by movies. So the pulsing Carpenter-esque score and neon logo of the original is supplemented with a “2”, to give you the feeling you’re sitting down in anticipation of some kick-ass, 80s-vintage sequel movie.

Except…that’s really not how it would be, at all. Nowadays, everyone knows that the second movie in a series is called [Original Title] 2, and maybe with some kind of subtitle, though that format’s actually been going out of fashion for a while, with sequels like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron going simply for a subtitle, while others like Rocky Balboa, Rambo, Jason Bourne, Logan, Leatherface and Jigsaw decide that the main character’s name alone is sufficient, even where it’s confusing.

But people in the 80s likely wouldn’t recognise a big fat number 2 as the dominant sequel numbering format, either. Have a look at some of the sequel films of the 70s & 80s: The Godfather, Part II; French Connection II; Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Exorcist III; Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky VSuperman IISuperman IIISuperman IV: The Quest for Peace; Friday the 13th Part II, Friday the 13th Part III, Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes ManhattanJason Goes to Hell: The Final FridayJason XFaces of Death II, Faces of Death III, Faces of Death IV, Faces of Death V, Faces of Death VI; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryPsycho IIPsycho IIIPsycho IV: The Beginning; Porky’s II: The Next DayThe Hills Have Eyes Part II; Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III; The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part IIIEvil Dead IIRevenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation, Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in LoveGhoulies IIGhoulies III: Ghoulies Go to CollegeGhoulies IVPhantasm II, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, Phantasm IV: Oblivion; Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, Hellraiser V: Inferno, Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker, Hellraiser VII: Deader, Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld, Hellraiser IX: RevelationsThe Fly II; Ghostbusters II; Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III. There’s a trend here for Roman numerals, perhaps because they lend your (quite possibly trashy) sequel a touch of class, perhaps because they’re familiar from Superbowl numbering (which only ever took one short break from Romans, for Superbowl 50); or, most likely, because everyone else was doing it. This extended to the biggest franchise of the time, Star Wars, which may have been screwy by starting its numbering at four, but nonetheless ran through Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi before reaching Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

With a small number of exceptions, running basically only to Jaws 2, Mad Max 2: The Road WarriorPolice Academy 26 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 25, it was like this all throughout the 1980s, and it wasn’t until the dawn of the 1990s that Arabic numerals started to take over from Roman: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987), Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989), Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990), Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991); Fright Night Part 2 (1988); Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998); Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); RoboCop 2 (1990), RoboCop 3 (1993); Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990); Troll 2 (1990), Troll 3 (1993); Child’s Play 2 (1990), Child’s Play 3 (1991); Predator 2 (1990); Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003); ALIEN³ (1992); Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Home Alone 3 (1997), Home Alone 4 (2002). Maybe this was due to greater audience familiarity with that more practical numbering system, which wouldn’t see audiences getting distracted trying to figure out what number Friday the 13th Part VIII really translated to. But then again, they were probably all just playing follow the leader. Some series even started out using Roman then switched to Arabic in the late-80s or 1990s: there was 1981’s Halloween II, then 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch before we got 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael MyersMeatballs Part II (1984), Meatballs III: Summer Job (1986), then Meatballs 4 (1992); Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988) and Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993).

And you have to feel sorry for the really confused Texas Chainsaw series, which managed to take a step backwards in following up 1986’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with 1990’s Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, as did Death Wish, moving from 1982’s Death Wish II to 1985’s Death Wish 3 and 1987’s Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, then backtracking for 1994’s Death Wish V: The Face of Death. For the most part, though, switching to Arabic was a permanent decision, and it was always Latin to Arabic, never vice versa. Looking at how many of the movies listed here have been invoked by Stranger Things, you might think they’d think pay closer attention. But it’s too late now for them to try Stranger Things III.

Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, & Walter White the super-villain

Breaking BadIF YOU HAVEN’T been watching Better Call Saul then, you know, you should really get on that. With Season 3 it seems Netflix have finally taken heed of what I’m always saying in idle conversation, which is that rather than release new seasons of their shows in giant, intimidating chunks, they ought to release them one episode per week: all the flexibility and convenience of streaming, without losing the water-cooler “What did you think of this week’s? What’ll happen next week?” that comes with traditionally broadcast television.

But if you haven’t already watched Breaking Bad then you might miss out a little bit with Better Call Saul; that said, who hasn’t watched Breaking Bad, right? Well, I hadn’t until last year, which I’m sure would shock many on the Internet but, look, there’s just too much good TV, OK? Rather edgily of me, I didn’t find Breaking Bad to be the very greatest TV show ever made; more of a very tight soap opera for people who would turn up their nose at soap opera. Far from the devastating, multilayered understanding of socioeconomic forces at every level demonstrated by The Wire, Breaking Bad rather lazily concludes that Albequerque’s drug problem is the result of a handful of bad eggs and a comic-book supervillain.

Of late plenty of shows have existed in the middle of the Venn diagram between the superhero-movie boom and the gritty drama boom: Heroes, Arrow, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham, Daredevil, Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage et cetera, all take the opposite approach to their larger-than-life big-screen counterparts and seemingly do their damnedest to convince us we’re not really watching a show about superheroes (or supervillains) at all. And Breaking Bad does it so successfully that you’re more likely to see it compared to The Sopranos and The Wire than any of those superhero shows.

But really, when you break it down, here’s what you have: a character named Walter White who is, by day, a mild-mannered chemistry teacher but, following a freak diagnosis of lung cancer likely caused by exposure to deadly lab chemicals he becomes a supervillain by night, using his exaggerated scientific supergenius to craft elaborately implausible plans that nevertheless almost always go off without a hitch. For this second life, he adopts a new persona, taking on the thematically-appropriate name “Heisenberg” and assuming a (rather lazy) supervillain costume for the purpose. He has a younger, comic-relief sidekick in Jesse who, lacking book-smarts, is forever being scolded and lectured by Walter like they’re Pinky and the Brain. All this while, by the way, “Heisenberg” is being tracked by the closest thing Breaking Bad has to a superhero: the DEA’s Hank Schrader who is, unbeknownst to him, Heisenberg’s brother-in-law.

Along the way, Walter/Heisenberg acquires a Lex Luthor-esque Bald of Evil and, later, a Beard of Evil to go with it.

Later on, Heisenberg will even get to have his own evil lair in the form of a super-sophisticated meth lab hidden under an industrial laundromat. It’s granted to him by another villain, one who is even higher up the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. However, just like the frequent Enemy Civil Wars among Batman’s Rogues Gallery, Heisenberg can’t take being No. 2 in town for long and hatches a plan to blow that other supervillain up, which coincidentally leaves him looking exactly like Two-Face, albeit only for moments before he dies.

And, after clearing a few initial moral hurdles, Heisenberg has a great time ruling Albequerque (another point about comic-book supervillains their ambitions rarely stretch outside of their home turf, be it Gotham City, Metropolis, Hell’s Kitchen or, in this case, ABQ) but, whether the bad guy gets to rule for five minutes, two weeks, or a thousand years, they’re always defeated in the end, and so it is with Heisenberg, defeated by that humblest of all God’s creations, the common cancer. Thus ended his reign of terror…until we find out he was using Lazarus Pits, or was a Doombot all along, or something.

Steven Moffat, Chris Chibnall, & the evolution of the Doctors

Twelve DoctorsAT THE time of writing, the biggest current news in pop-cultural circles is Steven Moffat’s imminent departure from Doctor Who. Well, I say “imminent”; in truth, there’s going to be a two-year wait, with a 2016 devoid of Doctor Who save for one Christmas special, then in 2017 Moffat promises his most blockbustery season ever. But then, after all of that’s over, the showrunner position will be taken over by Chris Chibnall, best known for his series Broadchurch, starring former Doctor Who David Tennant, though he’s also written a series of basically-alright to pretty-good episodes for Doctor Who & its anagrammatic spinoff Torchwood.

So, it’s basically good news for the show; or, rather, it might well be good news for the show two-&-a-half years down the line from now. It isn’t that Moffat is a bad writer so much as that he’s a writer who cannot help but believe his own hype. Back in the olden days, the Moffat episode used to be the highlight of the season. As showrunner he was overly reliant on big concepts, shocking reveals, & twisty little twists, at the cost of any sense of character or consistency. Even his comparitively reined-in moments as showrunner were still full of absurd theatrics; Series 9 was some of his strongest work since Series 5 which, although it isn’t saying that much, is saying something at least, & I hope he continues to contribute excellent, sculpted episodes to the series; ones that have had time to be polished & revised & hopefully passed through a script editor &, most of all, episodes which will have a direction, because the show as a whole will have a direction, & episodes flatly out of character will be rejected, or polished up until they’re in character.

Character was his big problem. When he first took over, introducing a new Doctor (Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith) & new companion (Amy Pond), the issue wasn’t glaringly obvious. They were extremely grating personalities, the both of them; Eleven a big show-offy baby, the sort of dullard who gurns “I’m mad, me!”, while Amy was tiresomely selfcentred & plainly an object of worship for Moffat, about whom it would be putting it lightly to say has issues writing women. But they were consistent. It was at least possible for me to write this paragraph on them. Their respective replacements, Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor & Clara Oswald, are, the pair of them, enormous voids where character ought to go. She’s probably the most likeable female character he’s ever written, which translates as her not being some sort of perma-quipping shrew whose main trait is reminding you she’s female eight times per sentence. Clara’s just a nothing, marginally preferable, & Jenna Coleman deserves much praise for her hard work in making the character so charming, so memorable. Twelve, meanwhile, is like a random Doctor machine: he might waves his arms & babble like Eleven, or he might turn around all no-nonsense & arrogant, like Jon Pertwee’s Three, or he might be obnoxious to the point of genuine cruelty like Colin Baker’s Six. He might do anything in the world except, possibly, to resemble Peter Davison’s shy, kind Five, but time will tell on that one too.

It’s particularly irritating since, whether by design or fortune, there was a pretty clear progression from Christopher Eccleston’s shellshocked Nine, through David Tennant’s arrogant-but-cool Ten, to Matt Smith’s enthusiastic-to-the-point-of irritation Eleven. When Moffat added John Hurt’s scary, dogmatic War Doctor to the mix the progression made even more sense (we previously assumed Nine had fought the Time War), & allowed us to trace that character arc back even to Paul McGann’s lovely-but-underused Eighth Doctor. It was the story of a man destroyed by the horrors of war, & eventually redeemed by the power of kindness. You can call that trite if you like but the series never spelled it out or dwelt on it. It was just there if you looked for it. Then after Eleven’s long life & somewhat affecting death on Trenzalore, Twelve popped up &, despite a telephone cameo by Matt Smith in Twelve’s first episode assuring Clara he was still the same man, he proceeded to unlearn every lesson he’d learned. It wasn’t so much that his indifference to his friends, his petulance, or his intolerant attitude to soldiers (didn’t Eleven mourn The Brigadier, one of the best friends he’d ever had?) were traits difficult to swallow in an alien, but that they were traits difficult to swallow in this alien, the one we’d supposedly got to know.

Twelve’s characterisation, while unstable at the best of times, seemed to be intended to hark back to William Hartnell’s First Doctor, a big old space grouch who wouldn’t listen to you. But, regenerating into Patrick Troughton, then Jon Pertwee then Tom Baker, his haughty attitude to humans seemed to get chipped away at the more time he spent among them, culminating in Five who was just a lovely bloke & clearly the one you’d most want to be friends with of them all. It was the same process; “Alien becomes human”, & while I’m even less convinced it was intentional back then it was no less satisfying or heartwarming. With Colin Baker’s Six & Sylvester McCoy’s Seven I don’t think there’s any in-story rationale for their personalities; they were just directions the producers wanted to try out. But that’s more to be expected back then; continuity was just a suggestion & there weren’t any DVD box sets or marathons, so who cared if your dad told you some bloke from ten years ago was ten times better?

Nowadays we like our shows as Dickensian mammoths, please, with plotlines that take years to build & sets of characters who are really just one hundred tragic heroes, with their tragedies all interlaced. Or at the very least we like to get to know our characters, which demands that they not walk all over the life lessons we’ve watched them go through. It’s why Russel T. Davies made up the Time War as a backstory for quite why Nine was so brusque; he didn’t just regenerate on the wrong side of bed like Six did. So, where does that leave Doctor Number Twelve? Chibnall can retire him & start afresh if he likes, like RTD & Moffat before him, or he can nobly inherit that mess & try to make something of it. He can turn Twelve from a wasted opportunity into the classic character Capaldi deserved, maybe, if he just works hard at giving him a bit of consistency. But there’s two & a half years to go, & anything could happen, more or less.

2016, Twin Peaks, & which characters are probably back

twin peaks

“That gum you like is going to come back in style.” Two simultaneous tweets by David Lynch & Mark Frost announced the return of Twin Peaks in 2016. I’ve been wrong before, but signs are good all around: Frost/Lynch are to write all of the episodes, of which there are only nine – the same number as in the excellent Season One (once you realise the pilot was the length of two episodes), & the number of episodes Season Two should have lasted, before it plunged downhill with the reveal of Laura’s killer; David Lynch is to direct all nine of those; by 2016, it’ll be twenty-five years since Laura Palmer said “I’ll see you again in twenty-five years”*. Could Lynch & Frost have planned a 25-year hiatus all along? It’s unlikely, but it’s just about possible. Or perhaps they just saw that the time is right for Twin Peaks to share the airwaves with all the serious, high-quality television shows it helped to make possible. As near-perfect as the first half of Twin Peaks was, I’ve always rather suspected that Frost, & especially Lynch, would have made a darker, more adult show, with more sexuality & violence, if they could. The prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, bears this out, which is too bad for those fans who found it lacked the surreal humour of the TV show, since I rather expect the new episodes to take full advantage of the more relaxed approach to censorship on American television these days.** The new episodes will have hard work gaining acceptance as a worthy followup to perhaps the best television programme ever created, & I can’t imagine it’s easy writing in what returning characters have been doing for 25 years without it sounding like pure Expospeak, but I can’t imagine that David Lynch would come back to the show unless he believed in the project – it’s eight years since his last film, & 30 years since the first & last time he took work he wasn’t artistically invested in. Mark Frost wrote Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, so his commitment to the project doesn’t say quite as much, but still I tend to doubt that he’d knowingly make bad Twin Peaks even if it is where the money is.

Mind you, it’s a different story with actors. Actors will appear in any old piece of shit, especially if they get to return to a celebrated & distinctive character. For most of the core cast – by which I mean characters introduced in the first season, ignoring the parade of special guest stars in Season Two – Twin Peaks is their signature rôle. So who’s likely to return in 2016, then? There’s an exhaustingly large amount of characters, each of whom must have at least a few fans who’d be disappointed by their absence, so I thought I’d quantify how probable each character is to appear in 2016. Characters who have already been definitively killed onscreen have been skipped, unless I think they have a reasonable probability of appearing nonetheless. Spoilers follow but yeah, duh.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)

The peculiar heart of Twin Peaks & the character most likely to talk about coffee, cherry pie or Douglas firs, only Audrey Horne competes with him for the title of most popular Peaks character. The infamous cliffhanger with Coop trapped in the Black Lodge will be the first thing fans will want to see resolved, & while Lynch seems likely therefore to tease the fans a bit, there are also indications that he doesn’t intend to keep him in the Lodge forever, with plans for the aborted third season apparently revolving around Garland Briggs working with the Sheriff’s department to save him, & scenes released as part of Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces expanding on the circumstances of his imprisonment as well as showing the immediate aftermath of his evil double’s bathroom freakout (Dr. Hayward puts him to bed, apparently, which is an extremely poor decision for a patient with a head wound). MacLachlan has also recently tweeted pictures of himself having lunch with David Lynch, who obviously adores the actor, given his nipple-baring appearances in both Dune & Blue Velvet. Obviously MacLachlan has aged more naturally than the rather eerie “25 Years Later” makeup from his dream sequence – perhaps they’ll ignore that discrepancy; maybe we’ll even see a strange situation whereby he’s made up to make his aging look less natural. But then, if we believe the “25 Years Later” subtitle from the International Version of the Pilot, then we know Cooper remains in the Black Lodge until at least 2014, & there’s no reason other than fan backlash that the writers can’t force him to stay there indefinitely. In that case, Cooper’s doppelgänger could still appear in the new episodes, but I find the doppelgänger’s reappearance unlikely – for one thing, it’s a bit of a cheesy plot, & the idea of BOB-as-Coop escaping detection for twenty-five years stretches probability. However, I also think MacLachlan is unlikely to be the main character like in the old show – I can see him with a rôle roughly the size of that he played in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Probability of return: 9/10

FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch)

Partially deaf & fully eccentric, David Lynch’s increasingly frequent appearances as Gordon Cole are probably either the unintended result of a silly joke, or a long-term plan to score a kissing scene with Mädchen Amick. Either way, David Lynch never seemed to me to be fully committed to playing Cole, & I doubt the character will even be referenced twenty-five years from the date he headed the investigation into Laura’s murder. Probability of return: 3/10

FBI Special Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer)

Almost the sarcastic & aggressive polar opposite of Agent Cooper, Albert Rosenfield was later revealed to share Coop’s sense of spirituality. Despite his limited number of appearances, the character was always memorable, & Miguel Ferrer’s arrogant delivery was a career highlight for a man who once played drums for Keith Moon (for some reason). On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for the character to have hung around Twin Peaks when he loathes the town, unless it’s to rescue Cooper. Probability of return: 3/10

FBI Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie)

I don’t think anyone really knows what Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was getting at with Phillip Jeffries’ disappearances, shunted back & forth between Philadelphia & Buenos Aires. Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces gives him about double the screen time, but all we learn is that his appearance causes the shit to come out of the ass of a hotel guest. There’s a compelling mystery surrounding Agent Jeffries, but will they be able to get David Bowie again? Probability of return: 3/10

FBI Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak)

Another Fire Walk With Me character, & one who exists only to fill in for Cooper, since Kyle MacLachlan felt his small part in the film was too large, & opted to take a tiny one instead. The film’s depiction of Chester Desmond investigating the Teresa Banks murder creates internal inconsistencies, but the character is an intriguing counterpart to Cooper – Twin Peaks rip-off/homage Deadly Premonition features an FBI main character who seems to be modelled after Desmond rather than Coop – & his Jeffries-like disappearance in the film is another intriguing mystery. On the other hand, it’s possible that he actually doesn’t exist at all, & is merely a representation or other identity for Cooper, a narrative device Lynch also uses in Lost HighwayMulholland Drive. Probability of return: 3/10

FBI Special Agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland)

If Chester Desmond exists as a topsy-turvy Cooper, then Sam Stanley is a topsy-turvy Albert with a mild & humble persona. Again, the character probably wouldn’t have been introduced if a last-minute rewrite of the Teresa Banks investigation hadn’t been necessary, & Kiefer Sutherland would probably be too expensive these days for the character’s return to be worth it. Probability of return: 2/10

FBI Agent Roger Hardy (Clarence Williams III)

The agent responsible for Cooper’s suspension, the character made few appearances & was seemingly the only FBI agent with no memorable eccentricity. Internal affairs must be a boring division. Probability of return: 2/10

DEA Agent Denise Bryson (David Duchovny)

A trans woman who assists Cooper during his suspension, David Duchovny went on to achieve much greater fame as an FBI agent in The X-Files, a show which probably owed something to Twin Peaks. Duchovny, like Kiefer Sutherland, would probably be too expensive now to be worth bringing back, & the character, while likable & competent, never did much of note plot-wise. Probability of return: 2/10

Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean)

Misleadingly given second billing in every episode of the series, Michael Ontkean played the kind & dependable Sheriff of Twin Peaks, who refreshingly didn’t clash with the FBI agent sniffing around his town. Sheriff Truman played a useful Watson to Cooper’s bizarre Holmes, & provided needed exposition, especially in the pilot episode, but was never given interesting subplots of his own beyond his secret relationship with Josie, who is now trapped in a drawer handle in any case. If he returns to the show at all, I picture him having retired to make way for a new Sheriff; probably, like Deer Meadow’s Sheriff Cable, that new Sheriff’s techniques & demeanor will contrast with Truman’s. Probability of return: 5/10

Deputy Tommy “The Hawk” Hill (Michael Horse)

The competent one out of Sheriff Truman’s two deputies, Hawk was visible in the pilot episode for about two seconds, but later in the series he would almost always appear in scenes involving the Sheriff’s Department. Michael Horse speaks fondly of Twin Peaks, citing Hawk as a positive portrayal of Native American people onscreen, but the character is still something of a stereotype, & was never given even a small subplot of his own; besides which, Horse has largely retired from acting to focus on painting. Probability of return: 4/10

Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz)

The incompetent one out of Sheriff Truman’s two deputies, Andy was one of Peaks‘ few pure comic relief characters. His on-off relationship with Lucy, fatherhood rivalry with Dick Tremayne, & propensity for amusing injuries wouldn’t have been out of place on a crap sitcom, but his purity of heart & increasing bravery in the line of duty deepened his character somewhat. I picture him as a devoted husband & father, & while that doesn’t sound terribly dramatic, the possibility that the child is Tremayne’s exists in the background, along similar lines to Ben Horne’s fathering Donna. Probability of return: 6/10

Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson)

Lucy’s distinctive voice & dreamy-yet-grounded personality made her instantly memorable, & she often seemed more of an asset to the Sheriff’s Department than Deputy Andy did. Kimmy Robertson has also remained active with, for instance, the Twin Peaks festival, even if she has aged terribly. Also, with Twin Peaks‘ return, we’re presumably going to be introduced to a whole new generation of characters, otherwise the show will be nothing but a bunch of old people reminiscing about the early 90s, & since Lucy is the only character to become pregnant during the show’s original run, it seems logical for her child, now grown-up, to feature in the new episodes. Probability of return: 6/10

Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan)

Possible biological father to Lucy’s child & insufferable snob, Dick Tremayne is neither fondly remembered nor involved in any important storylines, though with his job at Horne’s Department Store it’s just possible he’s aware of the sex ring operated out of it. Even if the new episodes do continue the fatherhood drama of the second season, Dick doesn’t seem to me like the type to stick around Twin Peaks, especially if there’s a risk of responsibility. Probability of return: 2/10

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)

Twin Peaks‘ central character despite having died before the pilot episode, Laura’s murder drives the show even after it has been solved. David Lynch was so fond of Laura Palmer he made her the main character in the prequel film as well as getting his daughter to write a spin-off novel about her, & was so fond of Sheryl Lee he brought her back repeatedly, in dream sequences, tape recordings, old video footage, & finally as Laura’s identical cousin Maddy Ferguson. Earlier this year he filmed new scenes with Sheryl Lee in character as a dead Laura Palmer in the interview piece Between Two Worlds, & according to Lee he even planned to have her play a third character in Season Three. Sheryl Lee has always been proud of her Twin Peaks work, especially Fire Walk With Me, & it seems incredibly unlikely that she won’t make some sort of appearance, even if it’s just hanging out at the Black Lodge; however, while Maddy is also shown within the Lodge, I imagine Maddy will be ignored in favour of Laura. Probability of return: 10/10

Leland Palmer (Ray Wise)

Laura’s father & (spoilers!) murderer, Ray Wise has to be given credit for giving one of the very strongest performances in a show just full of them. While the character dies in custody after his arrest, he is shown in the Black Lodge along with a number of his victims, & Ray Wise also reprised the character for Between Two Worlds. Probability of return: 7/10

Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie)

Sarah’s emotional reaction upon realising her daughter is probably dead was one of the key scenes in the pilot, & her character only became more tragic from there with the revelation of her husband’s guilt for that murder & his subsequent death. Grace Zabriskie in Between Two Worlds plays her as a broken woman & it’s easy to imagine the new episodes dealing with the impact of the abuse & death within her family. Probability of return: 8/10

Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle)

Laura’s naïve but loyal best friend, Donna had a complex & interesting personality, & it would have been interesting to really see the traumatic impact Laura’s death would have had on her. Unfortunately, her character was given some pretty stupid plotlines, & shared with James Hurley the worst dialogue in the show. Behind the scenes Lara Flynn Boyle was demanding & seemingly jealous of Sherilyn Fenn’s popularity as Audrey; she declined to appear in the prequel film, where Donna was portrayed, more weakly in my opinion, by Moira Kelly. Given this, Boyle seems likely to turn down appearances in the new episodes – if offered – & to me it seems even less likely that Kelly will be offered the part. Besides, Donna seems like she’d probably be the type to leave Twin Peaks & its traumatic associations behind. Probability of return: 4/10

Dr. Will “Doc” Hayward (Warren Frost)

Donna’s father & almost a second father to Laura, Doc Hayward was another of the many kind & gentle inhabitants of Twin Peaks. Played by Mark Frost’s father Warren Frost, the character may have gone to prison after the last episode for the manslaughter of Benjamin Horne. On the other hand, I’m not the first fan to point out that Doc Hayward appears, not in custody & not at all shaken up, during the last scenes with the evil Coop, which might indicate that Ben’s head wound wasn’t as nasty as it looked. Probability of return: 5/10

Eileen Hayward (Mary Jo Deschanel)

Donna’s wheelchair-bound mother, Eileen Hayward made infrequent appearances on the show until towards the end of its run, when Donna discovers a past affair between Eileen & Ben Horne, during which Donna may have been conceived. Probability of return: 4/10

Harriet & Gersten Hayward (Jessica Wallenfels & Alicia Witt)

Donna’s two younger sisters, Harriet, who was in her early teens in 1989 & writes poetry; & Gersten, who was pre-teen in 1989 & plays piano, seem to have been forgotten by most of the Twin Peaks staff, appearing rarely even in scenes set in the Hayward household. Mind you, many characters who were extremely minor later became more prominent, & as with Lucy’s son or daughter, the show will probably need more young-ish characters. Probability of return: 3/10

James Hurley (James Marshall)

Boyfriend of both Laura Palmer & Donna Hayward, James is frequently mocked by fans for his lack of charisma, bizarre singing voice, & for being central to Season Two’s worst subplot. The last that is seen of James, he is leaving Twin Peaks on his motorcycle, as he has frequently threatened to do, & it is unlikely that he will ride back into town, especially since Marshall is now more focused on his music career. Probability of return: 4/10

Evelyn Marsh (Annette McCarthy)

Wealthy older woman living in a town outside of Twin Peaks, Evelyn Marsh’s seduction of James Hurley & elaborate murder schemes wouldn’t have been out of place in some Gothic potboiler or stage melodrama. While Evelyn, unlike her husband Jeffrey or lover Malcolm, survives Twin Peaks‘ worst subplot, there is no reason the writers would seek to remind viewers of her existence, especially when she doesn’t even live in Twin Peaks. Probability of return: 1/10

“Big” Ed Hurley (Everett McGill)

Gas station (or “gas farm”-?) owner & apparent cowboy, James’ uncle Ed is one of Twin Peaks’ decent sorts, engaging in a secret affair with Norma that is, in fact, rather blameless, since Ed’s spouse is abusive & Norma’s, in prison. Ed & Norma’s scenes together were some of the sweetest & most tender in the series, & the amnesia-love-triangle-divorce plot with Nadine still has yet to be resolved. Probability of return: 8/10

Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie)

Super-strong wife of Ed Hurley & would-be inventor of the silent drape runner, Nadine attempted suicide, woke from her coma with amnesia, & engaged in an affair with Mike. While the whole plotline was thoroughly silly, there is perhaps scope for examination of why she has super-strength, & the question remains unresolved as to whether Ed ever finalised his divorce from her. Probability of return: 7/10

Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton)

Owner of the Double R diner, mother figure to Shelly, & former beauty queen Norma always struck me as perhaps Twin Peaks’ kindest resident, & it is all the more heartbreaking that the world seems to conspire against her. I can see her continuing to run the Double R until her death – whereupon Shelly will perhaps inherit it. Probability of return: 8/10

Hank Jennings (Chris Mulkey)

Career criminal, husband of Norma, & thoroughly nasty piece of work, Hank usually does a good job of looking sweet & devoted in front of Norma. Given that he is in prison prior to the start of the show, & might be headed back there, crippled from a beating by Nadine, after its end, his return is less likely than that of his wife; however, there could be a nice embittered revenge angle to be exploited there. Probability of return: 7/10

Vivian Smythe “M.T. Wentz” Niles (Jane Greer)

Norma’s rather bitchy mother worked as a food critic under the name M.T. Wentz. Given Jane Greer’s 2001 death, & the character’s relative unimportance, Vivian will probably have passed away in the time between old & new Peaks, if she is referenced at all. Probability of return: 1/10

Ernie “The Professor” Niles (James Booth)

Vivian’s husband & a criminal associate of of Hank’s, Ernie is sent in to Dead Dog Farm wearing a wire; when it is discovered he becomes Jean Renault’s hostage; Jean agrees to a hostage exchange for Cooper, with Ernie last seen being returned to police custody. Due to his cooperation he was probably allowed to go free, whereupon he would have left town with Vivian. Given James Booth’s 2005 death, the character, who is as old if not older than Vivian, can likely be assumed to have died while Twin Peaks was off-air. Probability of return: 1/10

Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham)

Norma’s former nun sister Annie falls in love with Cooper, which Windom Earle takes advantage of as part of his plan to gain access to the Black Lodge. The programme shows Cooper sacrificing himself to save her, & a deleted scene from the film had her waking up in hospital with a message about the evil Coop. While the character does not feel fully fleshed-out, & is something of a substitute love interest after Audrey, her centrality to Cooper’s ongoing plot means there is a good chance of her playing some kind of part in the pick-up of the plot. Probability of return: 7/10

Thadilonius “Toad” Barker (Kevin Young)

Recurring patron of the Double R Diner, Toad seems to exhibit something of a manchild-ish quality, with poor impulse control leading him to steal food from the kitchen. Improbably enough, Toad was written into Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but even so, there seems a low chance of his character returning again. Probability of return: 4/10

Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick)

Double R waitress & secret lover of Bobby, Shelly Johnson was another Twin Peaks character to achieve early popularity, & her sweetness & beauty combined with her horrible marriage to abusive Leo Johnson lends her an angelic quality. In her 2007 appearance in the interview piece A Slice of Lynch, David Lynch seems enraptured by her, especially the kissing scene they shared. Regardless of whether Leo Johnson survived the spider trap set for him by Windom Earle, Mädchen Amick, who still looks beautiful, is likely to play a major part in the new episodes. Probability of return: 9/10

Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re)

Abusive husband & low-level criminal Leo Johnson was perhaps the show’s most unpleasant character, although he suffered severe decay in the second season, where he seemed to be treated as an ineffectual joke character. He is last seen in a frankly ridiculous trap Windom Earle has set involving a tank of tarantulas which, while certainly unpleasant, would be unlikely to kill anyone in real life. Probability of return: 5/10

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn)

Sexy teen femme fatale, & likely the second-most popular character after Dale Cooper, Audrey’s initially significant rôle in the series became diminished after her intended love plot with Coop was vetoed, & Sherilyn Fenn declined to appear at all in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. She took a starring rôle in the flop Boxing Helena, by Jennifer Chambers Lynch – daughter of David & author of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. It is possible that Audrey Horne died in the bank explosion engineered by Thomas Eckhardt to kill Andrew Packard; however, were there to have been a third season, Audrey was to have been revealed to have survived. David Lynch obviously remained interested in the character of Audrey, conceiving Mulholland Drive as a pilot for an Audrey-centric spinoff. This indicates perhaps that her return is unlikely, since Lynch obviously imagines her leaving Twin Peaks for Hollywood or elsewhere, & Sherilyn Fenn has notably aged poorly. Probability of return: 6/10

Johnny Horne (Robert Bauer)

Audrey’s mentally handicapped brother, often looked after by Dr. Jacoby &, before her death, Laura Palmer. Like Donna’s younger sisters, Johnny occasionally seemed to have been forgotten entirely by the writers, & was portrayed by a different actor (Robert Davenport) in his first appearance. Probability of return: 4/10

Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer)

Starting out as the show’s big nasty baddie, Laura’s presumable killer in many people’s heads prior to the reveal, Ben Horne later experienced financial setback, then brief insanity, followed by a resolution to do only good. While it is possible that he dies in the final episode, there is evidence suggesting he didn’t, as discussed under Doc Hayward’s entry above. Parts of Ben Horne’s arc, notably the Civil War madness, were handled poorly, but still there is definite potential in seeing, 25 years on, how his devotion to good has worked out, & Richard Beymer has aged admirably, too. Probability of return: 7/10

Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly)

Ben’s shorter & even sleazier younger brother never got to step out of his brother’s shadow in the series’ original run, but there were hints towards such a storyline towards the end, as he never seemed on board with Ben’s new devotion to goodness, & tried to take control of Ben’s affairs during his temporary insanity. Probability of return: 6/10

Sylvia Horne (Jan D’Arcy)

Ben Horne’s wife, who is so scarcely a presence in the show that, the first time I watched, I forgot I had ever seen her, & assumed that Audrey Horne’s mother was most likely dead. If Ben Horne returns, & remains good, then Sylvia will likely get to play a small part again, though I wonder that she has yet to divorce him. Probability of return: 5/10

John Justice Wheeler (Billy Zane)

John Justice Wheeler, like Annie Blackburn, is a suspiciously perfect replacement love interest written in after the veto of the Coop/Audrey relationship. Given his departure from the series in his private ‘plane, it seems unlikely that he will return even if Audrey does, & we probably wouldn’t expect her to have spent her entire life with her first love. Probability of return: 3/10

Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook)

Boyfriend of Laura, boyfriend of Shelly, & criminal associate of both Mike Nelson & Leo, Bobby Briggs, from an unlikable start, grew into one of the show’s most complex characters, with The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer & Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me depicting his cynicism & occasional cruelty as coming from a vulnerability & sense of sweetness wounded by the effects of addiction & promiscuity. It would be both fascinating & painful to see where the character has wound up 25 years on, especially given his attempts to smarten himself up later in the show’s run. Probability of return: 8/10

Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis)

Bobby’s caring if conservative father & a major in the air force, Major Briggs was one of the characters to be fleshed out in the second season after extremely minor appearances in the first. The plotlines in Season Two involving secret military UFO projects seemed to pre-empt The X-Files, & his speech to Bobby regarding his dream was one of the programme’s most tear-jerking moments. Unfortunately, since Davis died in 2008, the character is unlikely to return – one hopes Bobby remembers him fondly. Probability of return: 1/10

Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart)

Major Briggs’ wife & Bobby’s mother Betty was never given much to say in the show; she & Garland seemed to love one another deeply, & she would usually agree with his sentiments regarding Bobby’s upbringing. Probability of return: 6/10

Pete Martell (Jack Nance)

One of Lynch’s favourite actors, Jack Nance, played the patient & long-suffering Pete, husband of Catherine & discoverer of Laura’s body. The final episode implies, but does not confirm, that Pete is killed in a bank explosion; since Jack Nance passed away in 1996, this will likely be accepted as the character’s final fate, but one hopes to see him commemorated somehow. Probability of return: 1/10

Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie)

Gleeful, soap opera-ish villain & wife of Pete Martell, the apotheosis of Catherine’s scheming was to fake her own death & return as an East Asian man. Piper Laurie, at 82, is still going strong, but one wonders what the character can still be given to do on the show. Probability of return: 6/10

Andrew Packard (Dan O’Herlihy)

Brother of Catherine & husband of Josie, Andrew Packard was assumed to have died before the start of the show, but it was later revealed that he faked his own death, trying to get the upper hand in a struggle with his business rival/partner Thomas Eckhardt. Eckhardt conspired to kill Packard once & for all with a bomb placed in the bank vault, & it is likely that the attempt succeeded – however, this was never definitively shown to be the case. Probability of return: 2/10

Josie Packard (Joan Chen)

The first character to appear in the pilot episode, & the most beautiful woman in the state according to her lover Sheriff Truman, Josie was slowly revealed to be living a double life, with a dark past involving Chinese organised crime. Some would say that this past eventually caught up with her when she literally died of fear in a room of the Great Northern Hotel, but her soul was shown trapped in a drawer-handle, & it would be extremely interesting – & really very David Lynch – to show her spirit still trapped there. Probability of return: 4/10

Dell Mibbler (Ed Wright)

Manager of the bank in which Andrew Packard, Pete Martell, & Audrey Horne may have met their deaths at the hands of Thomas Eckhardt, Mr. Mibbler is one of a great number of decrepit old men in Lynch’s filmography. The shot of the character’s glasses flying through the air after the bank explosion was likely designed to confirm his death, although it is peculiar that this was given more priority than confirming the deaths of Andrew, Pete, or Audrey, when Mibbler had only been introduced earlier that episode. In any case, actor Ed Wright passed away in 1995, further cementing the likelihood of Mibbler’s death. Probability of return: 1/10

Ronette Pulaski (Pheobe Augustine)

Friend/fellow-victim of Laura’s, Ronette survived the night of Laura’s murder before falling into a coma. She features more rarely than one might expect, given her importance as a friend to Laura & witness of her murder. Some believe that she makes an appearance, along with Laura Palmer, at the Black Lodge-like Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive, which could indicate that she has died &/or become trapped in the Lodge in the time since her last appearance in Twin Peaks. Probability of return: 3/10

Mike “Snake” Nelson (Gary Hershberger)

Initially a criminal associate of Bobby Briggs, & briefly a boyfriend of Donna Hayward, Mike seems to go straight to an extent later on, focusing more on his school life & his romance with Nadine Hurley, who has mentally regressed to the age of eighteen. While Mike is introduced with the same apparent significance as major teen characters such as Bobby Briggs, he appears very rarely until Nadine falls in love with him, with his most memorable moment coming when he whispers into Bobby’s ear “what an experienced woman with super-strength can do”, causing Bobby to react loudly. Probability of return: 3/10

Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn)

Laura’s psychiatrist Dr. Jacoby has a near-obsessional interest in Hawaii & was considered a key suspect in Laura’s murder early on. Russ Tamblyn, best known for West Side Story, has recently made small appearances in Drive & Django Unchained, though for me the character’s return in new episodes would stretch credibility: why hasn’t he moved to Hawaii yet, since he loves it so much? Probability of return: 5/10

Mayor Dwayne Milford (John Boylan)

Mayor Dwayne Milford started appearing regularly in the second half of the show’s run, after a brief appearance in the pilot. His Statler-&-Waldorf grump act with his brother Dougie came to an abrupt end with Dougie’s death, & his character likely died of old age, like his actor John Boylan did in 1994. Probability of return: 1/10

Lana Budding Milford (Robyn Lively)

Supposed nymphomaniac & black widow serial killer – possibly accidentally – Lana married both Milford brothers one after another. The character isn’t well-remembered by fans & had an improbable Southern accent. Probability of return: 2/10

Emory Battis (Don Amendolia)

Emory Battis works at Horne’s Department Store, recruiting girls into a prostitution ring over the border at One-Eyed Jack’s. His most memorable appearance was when Audrey Horne blackmails him into a job on the perfume counter. Probability of return: 3/10

Nancy O’Reilly (Galyn Görg)

Blackie’s sister & the only member of the criminal family who run One-Eyed Jack’s to survive the series, Nancy is last seen overpowered but not killed by Cooper when she attacks him with a knife during Audrey’s rescue. Probability of return: 2/10

Roadhouse Singer (Julee Cruise)

Julee Cruise’s performances onstage at the Roadhouse were among the signature scenes of Twin Peaks, & David Lynch has rarely made films without similar scenes. Credited as Roadhouse Singer, Julee Cruise co-composed her songs & included them on her own solo albums, making it unclear as to whether she was playing herself***. Probability of return: 7/10

Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman (Catherine E. Coulson)

The Log Lady is often used almost as a mascot for the series: in syndication, new introductions by The Log Lady were recorded for every episode, & it is very rare for Twin Peaks parodies not to include her. Known for her wisdom & closeness to the forest, it is nonetheless difficult to pin down a time she ever did anything useful on the show. Probability of return: 9/10

Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh)

Evil counterpart to Dale Cooper, seeker of arcane magical knowledge, master of disguise, & replacement villain after the early reveal of Laura’s killer, Windom Earle was brought in to give the show direction again, & while he achieved that to some extent, his personality & portrayal was reminiscent of a villain from the 60s Batman, resulting in a campy feel that didn’t suit the show. He is last seen trapped in the Black Lodge by BOB, his soul stolen, but many characters have been depicted within the Black Lodge, after their deaths or otherwise, so it is only good taste keeping him from making an appearance in that context. Probability of return: 3/10

Killer BOB (Frank Silva)

Twin Peaks’ Big Bad, & the evil spirit possessing Leland during his acts of incest & abuse. While Frank Silva passed away in 1995, Killer BOB, unlike all other characters whose actors have died, is still very likely to play a part in the new episodes. There are a number of ways this could be achieved: they could cast a lookalike actor; or go Doctor Who & have BOB change his form to look completely different (he’s a spirit after all); they could choose not to have him “appear” in his true form, but only through possessed characters – such as the evil Cooper; or they could only hint at his presence with owls, ceiling fans, &c. – done right, it could be even creepier than having him appear in person. Probability of return: 10/10

The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson)

Along with The Log Lady, the small dancing man in the red suit is a staple of Twin Peaks parodies & homages. However, unlike his servant Killer BOB, The Man From Another Place is not necessary for the story’s continuation: he has never worked directly to influence events in Twin Peaks, & is a very abstract character whose rôle could easily be fulfilled by other characters from the spirit world. Michael J. Anderson already looked aged in Mulholland Drive in 2001, & while I’m sure Anderson would be keen to return, I can’t help but think that the character’s mystique would be diminished by the realisation that he is not an eternal spirit, but ages at just the same rate as regular humans. However, as with Killer BOB above, there is no reason the spirit needs to keep the same form. Probability of return: 4/10

Phillip “One-Armed MIKE” Gerard (Al Strobel)

One-armed shoe salesman Phillip Gerard, possessed by the spirit One-Armed MIKE, turned out to be a handy ally against Killer BOB, his former associate. MIKE cut off his evil arm after seeing the face of God, though the arm continues to exist in the form of The Man From Another Place. As useful as the character was to the heroes during the show’s original run, I wonder how likely the spirit-possessed shoe salesman is to have stuck around in Twin Peaks. I wish him all the best. Probability of return: 4/10

Señor Droolcup, The Elderly Bellhop (Hank Worden)

Nicknamed “Señor Droolcup” by Albert Rosenfield, The Elderly Bellhop is a character of ambiguously spiritual nature, who may in fact be “one and the same” as The Giant. It’s also possible that the character is The Giant’s familiar. In any case, since Hank Worden passed away in 1992, The Elderly Bellhop specifically is unlikely to return, though the spirit of The Giant might well. Probability of return: 2/10

The Giant (Carel Struycken)

Seemingly benevolent spirit with apparent ties to The Elderly Bellhop & the White Lodge, The Giant first appeared in the Season Two premiere assisting a wounded Dale Cooper. Probability of return: 6/10

Pierre & Mrs Tremond, the Chalfonts (Austin Jack Lynch & Frances Bay)

Mrs Tremond – or Mrs Chalfont – & her grandson Pierre first appeared in the second season but were never given any significant material despite their apparently supernatural nature & obvious link to the spirit world. Both characters appear in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – wherein Pierre wears a mask to disguise the replacement of Austin Jack Lynch, son of David, with Jonathan J. Leppell – but again, neither of them does anything significant. With Frances Bay’s 2011 death, & the fact that Austin Jack Lynch will be 33 by the time of the new episodes, these characters are likely to remain forever ambiguous. Probability of return: 2/10

*In 2016, it’ll be twenty-five years since 1991 when the public first heard the line. All of the show & most of Fire Walk With Me takes place in 1989, so the new episodes will likely be set in 2014.

**The fantastic Spartacus: Blood and Sand, for instance, was almost nothing but gore, tits, & willies. I’m not saying Twin Peaks should be quite as brainless, but it’s nice to think that the writers will, this time, be less constrained in terms of what they can depict.

***The jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott, however, was definitively billed as himself (“The Legendary Jimmy Scott”), which is peculiar since he appears in the Black Lodge, presumably as a spirit – then how can he be playing himself? In any case, Jimmy Scott’s death earlier in 2014 sadly prevents him from making any return appearance.

Doctor Who, shibboleths, & the name of The Doctor

sylvester mccoy

I’M NOT PARTICULARLY enjoying Series 8 of Doctor Who. “Listen” aside, episodes have been mediocre to terrible; the programme’s overall tone is muddled; it’s on too late; & fans now have to put up with the ridiculous notion that Earth’s moon is, & has always been, a bloody egg; &, furthermore, all of the big questions raised by 2013’s run of episodes appear to have been ignored. Where’s Gallifrey? Was The Curator really The Fourth Doctor? & what is The Doctor’s name?

The last one, at least, doesn’t actually need answering. Doctor Who head writer Steven Moffat would, I rather suspect, tell you that The Doctor must continue to be The Nameless; that there is an immense power in names, & that it is therefore imperative, for dramatic reasons, that that name not be revealed to the audience  whereupon it would lose that mystical power.

The entire conceit is rather an entertaining one, making a sly wink at a long-running aspect of Doctor Who fandom  Doctor Who is the name of the show, fans’ll say; if you refer to a character named Doctor Who  or worse, Dr. Who  then you must be talking about the villain from one of Toho’s more obscure monster films, & any official or semi-official source that gets this wrong must be a bit shit. In that way, it functions as something of a shibboleth  one can distinguish fans from non-fans based on whether they refer to the Time Lord as “The Doctor” or “Doctor Who”. Similar shibboleths exist in all sorts of fan circles – for instance, some hip-hop purists avoid the term “rap”, referring to the genre as “hip-hop”, the performers as “MCs”, & the vocal style as “MCing”. The avoidance of a phrase introduced by the Sugarhill Gang’s brilliant, but inauthentic, “Rapper’s Delight”, is used to indicate a familiarity with, & understanding of, hip-hop’s origins in New York block parties; & thus, to establish one’s credentials as a “true” fan.

The only problem when it comes to Doctor Who fandom is that the strict insistence that only the programme, & not the character, is named Doctor Who actually demonstrates ignorance rather than specialist knowledge. What is the name of The Doctor? Doctor Who. There’s a wealth of evidence, going all the way back to the earliest episodes: The Doctor has taken “Doktor von Wer” & “Quiquaequod” as aliases (German for “Doctor from Who” & Latin for “Whowhowho”, respectively); he has signed his name as “Dr. W” or, alternatively, as a question mark; his Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth incarnations all sported question marks on their lapels, while the Seventh had a whole sweater just riddled with them; The Seventh Doctor also carried an umbrella with a question-mark handle; The Third Doctor occasionally drove an absurd hovercraft called the Whomobile; when WOTAN in The War Machines requests to have “Doctor Who” brought to it, the order is understood; K-9 has responded to the question “Doctor Who?” with the answer “Affirmative!”, & given the robot dog’s inability to understand humour, K-9 must at least believe Doctor Who to be an accurate way of referring to The Doctor. & even if all of these characters  including The Doctor himself  are mistaken in believing “Doctor Who” to be the character’s name, then surely the programme itself is an objective source-? The character is referred to as “Doctor Who” in the title of the serial Doctor Who and the Silurians* & the episode “The Death of Doctor Who”; the on-screen credit for the character was either “Doctor Who” or “Dr. Who”, all the way up to Tom Baker’s final serial. With the programme’s return to television in 2005, the credit reverted to “Doctor Who”, which lasted until David Tennant’s first full episode. The result is that the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth & Ninth Doctors were never credited as playing “The Doctor” in their original runs. That’s without getting into merchandise, DVD packaging, &c.. So why, faced with this mountain of evidence, do fans continue to insist the character is not, & has never, been called “Doctor Who”? Pedantry, probably. People, nerds especially, like to be privy to secret knowledge. The irony is that in their assertion of superior fandom, they’re missing out on some very special secret knowledge indeed: the true name of The Doctor.

UPDATE: I originally wrote this essay before the broadcast of “In the Forest of the Night”, in which The Twelfth Doctor exclaims, “I am Doctor Idiot!”. If his name isn’t “Doctor Who”  or at least, if nothing comes after the “Doctor” part  then his exclamation wouldn’t make any sense; rather than “I am Doctor Idiot!”, parallelling “I am Doctor Who”, he’d have said “I am The Idiot!”, parallelling “I am The Doctor”, wouldn’t he?

*Somewhat surprisingly, the only TV serial to use the “Doctor Who and the…” title format; however, it has been used for scores of novels, audio adventures, comics, &c..

How I Met Your Mother, LOST, & when Driving Questions lose their drive

howimetyourmother

I DON’T NORMALLY bother with spoiler alerts for various reasons, but this one’s a bit of a special case, so here you are: I’ll be spoiling How I Met Your Mother inside-out & front-to-back in this essay.

The final episode of How I Met Your Mother, “Last Forever”, aired ages & ages ago Stateside, & just the other day on E4 over here. & it was, as any savvy fan should really have expected, just awful: sappy, pandering, & dumb, in a show that at its best could be surprisingly smart. Certainly HIMYM at its best was smarter than the show it never stopped getting compared to, Friends. & it’s easy to see why it did: the tightly-knit group of affluent 20something to 30something New Yorkers, the regular hangout, the ten-year run. But How I Met Your Mother‘s “How I met your mother” gimmick, for me, moved it away from 90s friendcoms* & gave it a feeling closer to 00s comicbook shows like LOST, Heroes, & their many less interesting imitators: the flashforwards, flashbacks, & flashsidewayses; the dozens of little clues; the slow building of a mythos of blue horns, yellow umbrellas, & pineapples; & always, the niggling sense that we’re not really building to anything at all, save disappointment.

But it wasn’t really disappointment that bothered me. The Driving Questions on programmes of this sort were classic misdirection; they wow the audience & draw them in, & when particularly well done, they might serve as a motor for the ongoing plot, but it’s not the Driving Question that an audience will stay for, or at least it shouldn’t be. Twin Peaks creators Mark Frost & David Lynch understood that & intended to hang the show on the mystery of Laura Palmer’s killer. Of course, executives forced them to play their hand early, & the show lost much of its audience once that revelation had been made. Mysteries are interesting – that’s why there are still hundreds of books & television programmes on subjects like Jack the Ripper or the Mary Celeste, mysteries which are unlikely ever to be solved. How often do we think about ships lost at sea for known reasons**? LOST‘s creators acknowledged a debt to The Prisoner, a great forerunner of all culty, genre-ish TV, but The Prisoner‘s Ontological Mystery was never solved. The 2009 remake had an idea about what might be going on, & it was naff, cliché – a good mystery spoiled. How I Met Your Mother‘s mystery was never even an interesting one to begin with: clearly The Mother was going to be just…a woman. Somebody. Some woman that Ted met at some point. When Gnarls Barkley first had a hit with “Crazy”, the singer’s identity was a secret. This caused much speculation, & ultimately the singer revealed himself to be…Cee-Lo, who wasn’t super well-known at that point. To many, Gnarls Barkley had just turned out to be a guy. Some singer guy. As he obviously was to begin with, but people were interested when he was a mystery. Literally, he put a bag over his head & became interesting, so of course it would be disappointing when he took off the bag. Mind you, disappointment wasn’t particularly the problem with the HIMYM finale, not like it was with the endings to LOST or another great Ontological Mystery, Life On Mars/Ashes to Ashes.

Rather, How I Met Your Mother‘s ending just feels unpleasant, The Mother dispatched offhandedly after nine seasons of buildup with no payoff. The divorce of Barney & Robin is the same: why bother so much with their wedding, then? What happened to the several seasons of character development that got us to this point?

…& therein lies the problem. How I Met your Mother‘s finale was, for the most part, written in 2006 during the second season, & Ted’s kids’ scenes were filmed back then too. It shows, because “Last Forever” could well have been a good ending back then, when Ted & Robin’s relationship was legitimately the focus of the show, before Barney was a Break-Out Character &, as such, subject to the very character development which was undone by the finale, before that character development allowed him & Robin to become the show’s Official Couple &, even more importantly, before Ted & Robin were shown, over & over again, not to work as a couple.

I understand that Ted’s children’s scenes had to be shot before their actors grew up, & it’s a damned shame, because Carter Bays & Craig Thomas couldn’t have known that their show would be so ridiculously successful & run for nine seasons. & while the tendency to run a show for as long as it remains profitable is harmful – Season Eight is practically unwatchable – HIMYM‘s later seasons changed, & most of that change was good. The characters got older, wiser, married, had kids; the pace was slower, there were fewer wacky mixups, nobody licked any more Liberty Bells; their fathers died, their relationships became strained, their careers made them drift apart. Most friendcoms portray an icky extended adolescence wherein people’s friendship circles never change, or shrink, or even grow; where their friends are not just like but ARE their family. The friends on Friends were on every episode of Friends. Imagine taking your five friends to a family funeral, or a family wedding, or a romantic getaway. It’s just…gross. How I Met Your Mother now seems like a big lie, because The Mother was misdirection, introduced just to die, ignored & ungrieved by her husband or her children, all so Ted can go off & mack on the woman he’s loved unrequitedly since forever. It’s an insult to The Mother. But it probably wouldn’t have felt like an insult at, say, the end of Season Two, or Season One, or, indeed, the pilot episode.

Well, of course if you write an ending before eight years of further storytelling then it won’t make any sense. If it still had made sense, then it would have meant those were eight years of awful storytelling, because people & situations change, & so they should. Bays & Thomas as sitcom writers have displayed both intelligence & wisdom – if occasional sentimentality – & I’m sure they could have changed the ending they had in mind to reflect everything else that had changed. It would have involved some improvising around the materials they had, but that’s about half of what TV writing is. Here’s someone managing it with about 1% of the resources Bays & Thomas had, & it puts the official ending in the shade. I rather suspect Bays & Thomas’ sticking to an irrelevant early-draft ending is nothing but the “LOST effect”: LOST was a huge hit, suffered a severe decline in audience figures, & picked up once it was announced an ending was in sight. The show had drifted much, & I think audiences needed to be reassured that someone was steering – indeed, that was the intent behind the announcement. But television writers aren’t psychic, after all, & why should we find it reassuring to know that we’re going to see an ending that might be irrelevant once it airs? Television’s ability to change & adapt is part of what makes it fun & exciting, whereas the cautious approach of HIMYM made a formerly fresh & experimental show look dated. It made it look like Friends, whose Ross & Rachel ending could easily have been planned during its second season, too.

However, I’ve said before, & maintain, that television is going through a golden age. & while the daring, often bleak, writing which exemplifies that is, currently, only really seen on dramas, I rather suspect it won’t be long before it seeps into sitcoms, too. Life is, of course, part drama & part comedy, & there is something melancholy about a decade-long chronicle of friendship drawing to a close. Perhaps the next big sitcom ending will reflect that, with something weighty. Certainly such an ending would be more respectful, both to the characters & to the audience, than “Fuck death, true love”, which felt a bit like happy music at a funeral: sometimes mourning is appropriate.

*friendcom, noun. A sitcom focused on a social group, often young urban professionals, reflecting a move away from the more traditional domcom. the friendcom is exemplified by the 1990s programmes Friends, Frasier, & Seinfeld. Coined 2014, C. Robshaw.

**unless the ship is named Titanic