I’ll be waiting for your call.
Just because Twin Peaks as we know it is coming to an end this weekend – there are no plans, past or present, for a fourth season, though there is a novel by co-creator Mark Frost, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, out in October – I think we all know nothing’s really going to come to an end. We should be expecting an ambiguous nexus point rather than a stone-solid resolution in the season’s final minutes; after all, the last time Lynch and Frost “ended” the series, with Dale’s return from The Black Lodge, it was more of a dark beginning than anything else. Granted, that finale wasn’t planned as the series finale it served as for a quarter-century (it was written and shot before the series was officially cancelled), but even if it had been I suspect we would have gotten the same thing. Lynch doesn’t like definitive endings any more than he likes traditional plotting, his art has always had a strong participatory element, it invites different interpretations from different people with no certainties which, if any of them, are correct. There are mysteries from the series’ first run we’re still pondering all these decades later, and with everything season three’s thrown at us already, no doubt we’ll be pondering it for decades to come.
The main storyline, however, is indeed coming to a close. But that by no means shuts the door on the Twin Peaks universe, which is richer and more pregnant with possibility than any other series in the history of television. There aren’t hundreds of episodes, but there are hundreds of directions and genres into which the world can wind, tangential spinoffs that won’t affect the main storyline but will still satiate the impending Owl-sized void in our DVRs.
To that point, I’ve brainstormed 17 potential Twin Peaks spinoffs (plus some honorable mentions), and I want you to know, Lynch/Frost Productions and Showtime executives, that I’m available for longer conversations. Seriously, I got nothing but time once The Return is done.
The Bookhouse Boys – What we know: according to Mark Frost’s novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks, the most remarkable team of Bookhouse Boys existed in 1968 when the members were the same as the starting lineup of the high school football team: Frank Truman, Harry Truman, Ed Hurley, Tommy “Hawk” Hill, Hank Jennings, Toad Barker, and Jerry Horne. Additionally, Ben Horne was the team manager and Pete Martell was their biggest booster, so both have suspected ties to the organization as well. Whoever was on the squad, they were mentored by original BBs Frederick Truman, Frank and Harry’s father, and Carl Rodd. So what you’ve got here is a late-60s-set high school football drama/mystery series that plays like Friday Night Lights meets The Hardy Boys, with an added dose of Lynchian intrigue. Throw in supporting characters like young Norma, Nadine, Doc Jacoby and Margaret Lanterman, and you’ve beaten Riverdale at its own game.
West Twin Peaks – The town sign tells us that Twin Peaks is no hidden hollow, it’s a bustling mid-size community of some 51,000+ inhabitants, which would mean it would most likely have more than one high school. Thinking about things that way, you realize mostly the characters we’ve seen, especially in seasons 1 and 2, are really just upper-middle-class white folk, doctors and lawyers and businessmen, and their thin and pretty offspring. Sure, there’s James, but he’s the exception that proves the rule: even the “poor” of Twin Peaks are good-looking white kids. So while all these bougie suburbanites were being tormented by owls and dancing dwarves, what was going on across the tracks, on the side of town where there are no picket fences, no pristine innocence to shatter? I don’t have an answer to that question, which is exactly why the idea is so ripe for exploration.
Pearl Lakes – When he was just a young boy, no more than eight years old, young Leland Palmer was taken over by BOB one fated summer while his family was vacationing at Leland’s grandfather’s house on Pearl Lakes just outside of Twin Peaks. Imagine a cross between The Omen and Dexter, a young boy struggling with demonic possession and the first outward manifestations of the evil inside him. This series would have the one thing Twin Peaks never did, a creepy child main character.
Convenience Store – In the original series, MIKE the one-armed man mentions that at one point he and BOB were partners-in-crime, tearing across the dimensional landscape claiming souls left and right, a supernatural killing team, until MIKE had a change of conscience and chopped off his left arm to escape his bond with BOB. Once partners, they now became hunter and hunting-hunted, MIKE the former looking to stop BOB the latter from continuing his murderous ways. This is a fascinating interwoven pair of character arcs and perfect for a very dark, very violent spin on The Fugitive which – by the by – is the inspiration for MIKE’s human name, Phillip Gerard; a character of the same name is the detective pursing Dr. Richard Kimble in the mentioned classic TV series.
The B.R.T.F. – The X-Files obviously borrowed a lot from Twin Peaks (including David Duchovny) so I say Twin Peaks returns the favor with this 70s-era series tracking the standalone cases of young Agents Gordon Cole and Phillip Jeffries that add up to the overarching Blue Rose storyline. Throw in supporting roles for Albert Rosenfield and, if the series lasts four or more seasons, Junior Agents Dale Cooper and Chet Desmond, and you’ve got a kooky, creepy, heady prequel series most in-line with the original series of anything on this list.
On the Road with Wally Brando – This one writes itself. A Kung-Fu for millennials, this series would capture the travels, trials, travails, loves, and life lessons of the titular character as he crisscrosses this beautiful country searching for his dharma and realizing it’s the search, in fact, that is the destination. Only feasible if Michael Cera stars.
Twin Peaks: The Secret History/The Final Dossier – I’ve mentioned both these novels already, and though I can’t speak for the second as it’s yet to be released, the first is chockful of anecdotes and tales that could easily be adapted into limited series or even films. This, of course, would be the only truly canon adaptation, and would require the participation of a few original cast members.
The Darling Buds of Jerry – This is the most “traditional” series on the list, just a regular old half-hour workplace sitcom, but centered around the budding (pun intended) cannabis-growing business of Jerry Horne. Yeah, yeah, Netflix just released Disjointed, basically the same thing but starring Kathy Bates, but with all due respect, her character is no Jerry Horne, whose passions for food, forests, and some funky stuff is an equation that adds up to comedy kush (that’s good, if you don’t know). Bonus points if you can get Charlene Yi as Ruby (depending on what happens to her in season 3) to co-star as Jerry’s put-upon, practical-but-addled personal assistant.
Upright Autumn Bird – Another idea pilfered from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. The title is the translation of the name Li Chun Fung, which is the actual name of the woman we know as Josie Packard. According to the novel, before coming to Twin Peaks, Josie/Li was the beautiful daughter of a powerful Triad member who ran her own highly-successful prostitution and drug rings, and moonlighted as a high-fashion model, all before the age of 20. Eventually she becomes a Triad member herself, betrays and murders her father, and haa a death order issued against her by the very organization of which she is a part. Sounds like Alias as reimagined by Shonda Rimes, and I love it.
The Files of Young Dale Cooper, Special Agent – Every great man has a not-so-great beginning, and this is Cooper’s, tracing his life from when he first entered the Bureau through to the Catherine Earle fiasco. Along the way he’s mentored by Windom Earle, his partner, and reflects on what he learns in a pocket diary always on his person. The finale of this five-season series would end with Cooper in the hospital recovering from his gunshot wound; Gordon Cole gives him a microcassette recorder since he can’t write his thoughts at the moment (owing to the wound) and introduces him to an assistant to help him keep things organized while he’s out for the count. We all know who this assistant is.
Brotherhood – A Casino-set absurdist drama starring Rodney and Bradley Mitchum holding their own as old-school Vegas bosses trying to build an empire on Fremont Street in a new-school Vegas, personified by the flashy, youth-oriented Strip. Supporting cast must include Sandie, Mandie, and most definitely Candie.
Buenos Aires – The most fascinating aspect of the Phillip Jeffries scene in Fire Walk With Me didn’t actually make it into the final film. All we see is Phillip in Philadelphia, what was omitted was where he comes from. In The Missing Pieces, a collection of clips cut from the film, we see Phillip after he disappears from the Bureau offices pop up again in a hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In a subsequent interview with Robert Engels, who co-wrote the film with Lynch, we learn that there was another scripted scene of Phillip entering the hotel before his impromptu trip to Philly, and furthermore, he was meant to be down there with Windom Earle and Judy, who is Josie’s twin sister. Why they were there, we don’t know; if they were there working together or in opposition to each other, we don’t know; and how Judy factors into any of this, we only have vague assumptions. If Fantasy Island has been a spy-thriller, it might have looked like what I imagine Buenos Aires could be, and bonus, there’s gotta be a way to make this series a spinoff of Upright Autumn Bird.
The Rip Roarin’ Renaults – Back during Prohibition, Twin Peaks’ favorite family of felons started down their dark path by bootlegging liquor across the Canadian border. If you like old-timey car chases, family crime sagas, and exaggerated French accents, this is the series for you. And yeah, the catchphrase of Renault patriarch Jean-Jacques is definitely gonna be, “Bite the bullet, baby.”
The Roadhouse Presents: Down at The Bang-Bang Bar – a live music series from the fabled venue; think Twin Peaks City Limits.
The $100,000 Tibetan Rock Throw – a game show hosted by Kyle MacLachlan in which contestants play a version of “20 Questions” by throwing rocks at TP cast members.
Lost Girls – Here we take Twin Peaks’ two most famous missing residents – Donna Hayward and Annie Blackburne – and concoct a reason for them to have left town nearly 30 years ago and still be travelling together, perhaps fleeing bad Coop and Ben Horne, the latter of whom was revealed to be Donna’s biological father in the season two finale. Me personally, I’d make them lovers on the run now settled in rural Canada running a Sunglasses Hut when dark forces – possibly Black Lodge bounty hunters – come for them.
Judy, Judy, Judy – Two-hour broadcasts, three times a week, 52 weeks a year of nothing but an extreme close-up of a screaming monkey cast in strobing neon blue accompanied by the sound of static. The monkey is voiced by Heather Graham.
Bonus: Do them all as an anthology series with multiple-narrative-arcs within seasons – 3 episodes of a story here, 5 here, 1 here, a jumbled puzzle of plot that’s perfectly Lynchian in design.
Honorable Mentions: The Mill (80s-style primetime soap opera); Donut Disturb (Bed-&-Breakfast-set dramedy); Jacks’ Jills (Red Shoes Diaries-esque erotic anthology series); Milford & Milford (buddy-brother investigative comedy); Audrey & Billy & Tina & Charlie (swinging sex-farce); Dr. Amp’s Hour of Empower (talk show); Fat Trout Tales (observational-humor comedy anthology narrated by Cyril Pons).
So, there you have it. Keep in mind, though, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I could have done 20 more of these with enough time, so fill in the gaps yourself and sound off on Twitter your best ideas for #TwinPeaksSpinoffs. And enjoy the finale this Sunday!