Twin Peaks returned to the television Sunday night after a 26-year absence, following two years of production and months of promotion that included little-to-no actual footage from the new season. More than two years after the return was first announced and a year later than its planned premiere in 2016, Agent Cooper, Laura Palmer, the Black Lodge and other iconic aspects of the series finally made an official return to television.
The two-hour premiere of the Twin Peaks limited series, directed by series co-creator David Lynch, has been mostly positive: Yes, it was weird, and yes it was slow, but it certainly was keeping with the Twin Peaks tradition, as well as giving Lynch fans an unvarnished look at the director’s vision, for the first time in many years, and drawing a positive reaction among the enthusiastic community of longtime Twin Peaks fans. And the new series has been a boon for Showtime as well.
The debut of the Twin Peaks limited series led Showtime to gain both its largest single day and weekend of streaming signups in its history, Deadline reported Monday. UPDATE: The actual ratings, as Deadline reported on Tuesday, were softer by comparison, with some 506,000 viewers tuning in for the show's two-part premiere (snagging a 0.2 rating among Adults 18-49).
Part of the signups for Showtime Anytime and Showtime On Demand were no doubt driven by the network making the 3rd and 4th episodes of the series available to streaming subscribers immediately after the first two hours aired on Sunday night. The third and fourth episodes will air on Showtime next Sunday. According to the network's president and CEO, David Nevins:
“In the world that we live in now, offering original programming that attracts new subscribers is our primary business objective... By that standard, the Twin Peaks premiere is the biggest single-night driver we’ve ever had.”
While the ratings for the new series won’t be released until Tuesday, the return of Twin Peaks can be called an unqualified success. It trended across social media, and critics and audiences had mostly positive things to say about the initial episodes. Running the premiere with only one advance screening for critics, and so little early release of footage, was a big risk, but it appears to have paid off.
Twin Peaks may not be the same cultural phenomenon today that it was in upon its debut in 1990 -- it’s a different time, and a different cultural and media environment, and very different economics.
Twin Peaks: The Return will continue to air on Sunday nights @9pm on Showtime.
Update Source: Deadline