May the Giant Be With You: Twin Peaks Season Two, Episode One and the Television Auteur

Article


Hallam, L. 2016. May the Giant Be With You: Twin Peaks Season Two, Episode One and the Television Auteur. Senses of Cinema.
AuthorsHallam, L.
Abstract

The premiere of Season Two of Twin Peaks garnered some of the highest ratings of the series, with celebrated filmmaker and co-creator David Lynch stepping back into the director’s chair. Yet, within this episode many traditional television conventions are flouted, and in response the following week the ratings dropped dramatically. From its slow-paced opening scenes in which an old man admonishes the wounded, bleeding protagonist to drink his warm milk before it gets cold, followed by a vision of a giant speaking in riddles, this episode not only tested its audience’s patience but also seemed to set out to deliberately confuse them. In this essay I will explore how this episode is an example of auteur television, an episode in which the director expresses a consistency of style and theme that is similar to their other work, as well as examine how Lynch’s approach to televisual aesthetics has influenced the way that contemporary film directors have crossed over into the television medium. However, when taking into account the
differences in the two media of film and television notions of authorship, with regards to the position of the director, become complicated, especially when considering contemporary television and the rise of the showrunner as key creative force. Even when looking back at Lynch’s contribution to Twin Peaks it becomes clear that the series was deeply collaborative, with Lynch absent during parts of the filming. Yet, when examining the extensive material that has been written about Twin Peaks there is still a continuing tendency to place Lynch as the sole author. The placement of Lynch as author can be argued in relation to the episodes he directed (as will be explored below in relation to the first episode of Season Two), but cannot be attributed to him alone when considering the series as a whole. Finally, I will discuss how the figure of the television auteur has become a central element of television reception rather than production, an integral part of a viewer’s search for narrative meaning in a medium where complexity and mystery are now expected and enjoyed. Just as fans scrambled to uncover the many secrets and mysteries of Twin Peaks by looking to Lynch’s other works for answers, a similar process is experienced by fans of television shows existing today.

JournalSenses of Cinema
ISSN1443-4059
Year2016
PublisherSenses of Cinema Inc.
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)http://sensesofcinema.com/2016/twin-peaks/lynch-televison-auteur/
Publication dates
Print01 Jul 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Jul 2016
Accepted05 May 2016
Copyright information© 2016 Senses of Cinema
LicenseAll rights reserved
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