Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

Post by Mr. Reindeer »

I pretty much agree with all of that. I’m probably more upset about Annie never coming up again (again, big Ben Linus fan here). Felt like a real missed opportunity.

I often wonder how Stephen King felt about that last season. He was a big fan of the show, then really clammed up right around the time the show started blatantly ripping off The Stand.

The explanation for the Whispers is fine (people had guessed it as early as season 1, it fits and could have been suitably creepy if handled well). It just sucks how it was literally explained in one sentence of exposition, like they were checking boxes at that point. I had an idea for season 6 where all the characters at the Incident site in the season 5 finale would have died in 1977, and would then be “haunting” the Island as the Whispers, influencing events over the years (including events involving themselves in the earlier seasons, which would be revisited from their new perspective). I guess the show didn’t want to go that dark, but I still kind of wish we’d gotten something like that.

I agree on “Ji Yeon.” That one really ticked me off and displayed the writers’ worst impulses. Jerking the audience around just for the sake of it with no good story or character reason.

Also agree that the finale is great but most of season 6 is mixed, and that the show would have benefited from revealing the purpose of the flash sideways sooner and actually dealing with the emotional element as opposed to the “mystery box” storytelling.

Sorry for derailing the thread, everyone!
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Jonah
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I'm fine with the Whispers, though I feel they actually should have left it unanswered and ambiguous. They had no problem leaving other things unaddressed and this should have been simply because it was so clearly going to go another way -
Spoiler:
I think they first came up with the ghost idea, then had another idea for a long time, then went back to the first idea, something like that. It was so connected to the Others for so long it seems clear to me they were going to connect it to time travel or something else related to them. The ghost answer "kind of" works for them, but not really.
I think for something like that where one answer leads to a lot of "but what about?" and it's clear there could be two answers it would have been better to leave it unanswered. But as you said, it's really the way they did it. It's like "come over here and let me give you the answer, ok that's what it is, now bye".

I always wondered why Stephen King stopped talking about the show. I know I posted more in detail about that somewhere, maybe on here, or somewhere else. But basically he stopped after Season 3, I think, but the way he described his sequel to the show (called "The Hunted Ones") in his novel "Under the Dome" makes it clear he watched some or all of Season 4 and seemed to be into the premise of them being hunted off the island. But I believe he stopped commenting publicly after Season 3. Maybe he just gave up on it and never saw Season 6. I think he blows hot and cold on television shows (but then we all do sometimes) - he's currently raving about "Big Sky" and saying it's Emmy-worthy, when most people (including me) think that show has some serious issues. I like some stuff about it, but some of it is pretty bad. He also sent out a big tweet about Twin Peaks coming back - but then never mentioned it again, which makes me think he didn't really dig the Return but liked the original show, though don't think I've ever seen him discuss it in detail. (Ha! I managed to bring the thread back to TP! :lol:)
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LateReg
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah wrote: Wed Apr 28, 2021 6:30 am Did the backlash (fully) happen in 1991 though? I know it was building then (people were annoyed the killer wasn't revealed end of Season 1, then Season 2 premiere, then the dip in quality, but I think there was still enough goodwill to maybe turn it around what with COOP and 10 million viewers tuning in in June for Episodes 28/29, that they could have reversed things in Season 3). I thought the backlash really only exploded in 1992 after FWWM? And even then I think that was down to the first 30 minutes of the movie and the fact that the rest was a prequel. I think audiences would have been more on board with the story continuing. That - along with a lighter tone - is seemingly what they wanted: for the story to continue. I actually think it would have been good and a return to form - I'm not so sure they would have gone with the pharmacist angle for sure, that was just one of many ideas being tossed around, and I think back when they thought they might be getting renewed. By the time COOP rolled around, Lynch and Frost seemed really aware of how dire the situation was and were appealing to be renewed, which makes me think Frost at least would have tried to turn things around bigtime (though what Lynch would have done is anyone's guess).
I haven't had a chance to read through all of this thread - and I do intend on reading it all, including all the Lost stuff - but I just wanted to comment on this for now.

I don't think there's a chance a 1991 season 3 would have resurrected the viewership. There's all sorts of evidence that the direction of the series was alienating viewers, thanks to its slow pace, supernatural occurrences and abstractions. They were angry the mystery wasn't being solved, but then gave up on it as soon as it was revealed. As I'm sure you already know, at the time even some of the best episodes - now considered some of the greatest episodes of anything ever - were dismissed. People simply were not ready for the show. And this isn't my personal opinion, but rather something I was recently reminded of during a random Rotten Tomatoes check, where I noticed that the overall Twin Peaks score plummeted to an 82% or so. The reason is because a whole lot of vintage reviews were added to Season 2 - actual, honest-to-goodness reviews from the time the show aired, either at the beginning of season 2 or near its end, directly from newspaper sources from across the country, often photocopied directly from the newspaper page. It's fascinating fun to read through them and see all the things that were so alien even to a lot of critics back then. There's a whole lot of "you can't do that!" going around in those reviews, talk of how much of a letdown Killer BOB was, talk of how much of a mess the Season 2 finale was, of how they needed to solve the murder at the end of the first season, etc. I think it's safe to say that it's a good indication that even if the series regained the consistency of the first season, as long as it was still delving into slower pacing (a gunshot Coop watching the waiter enter and exit the hotel room in the first episode of season 2 pretty much alienated most people from the start), longform mysteries, or supernatural, black lodge stuff (this is not what the pilot promised), that viewers were not truly open to it at the time.
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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It is crazy, going through the alt.tv.twin-peaks archive, to read contemporaneous reviews of Episode 29 by fans who were absolutely disgusted by what I consider to be possibly the best hour of scripted television ever! Not to keep going back to Lost, but there is something about the “puzzle box” format (which I believe TP pioneered) that makes people feel entitled to answers, and wildly disillusioned when it turns out that’s not what the show is interested in. Abstraction seems to be much more acceptable in film than in television, both in 1991 and to this very day. I guess because a TV show is a bigger investment in time. But it’s really disappointing how shallow people’s appreciation levels are.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Maybe some of it was just passive aggressiveness due to the fact that they knew the show wasn't gonna come back (of the "You wanna do this to me?! Well, SCREW YOU!!!" kind :) ), and they were furious because not only were they denied any kind of closure pretty much across the board, they were stuck in that hellish limbo with Cooper for all eternity. Myself, I was first and foremost sad that it had to end and emotionally ruined by how it ended (I was able to fool myself we'll get a continuation - beacause, ya know, they just CANNOT do THIS to us - for a couple of months after I've seen the finale), but I recognized the genius that is that final episode at once, even at the age of not-quite 11...
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Agent Earle wrote: Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:56 pm Maybe some of it was just passive aggressiveness due to the fact that they knew the show wasn't gonna come back (of the "You wanna do this to me?! Well, SCREW YOU!!!" kind :) ), and they were furious because not only were they denied any kind of closure pretty much across the board, they were stuck in that hellish limbo with Cooper for all eternity. Myself, I was first and foremost sad that it had to end and emotionally ruined by how it ended (I was able to fool myself we'll get a continuation - beacause, ya know, they just CANNOT do THIS to us - for a couple of months after I've seen the finale), but I recognized the genius that is that final episode at once, even at the age of not-quite 11...
Somehow, that does not surprise me about you, Earle. :D
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Jonah
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I can understood people wanting answers to who killed Laura Palmer when it was set up as a murder mystery and heavily billed as one with that slogan. But I'm not sure what answers they wanted in Episode 29. Just for Coop to rescue Annie and get out? I can understand them wanting a conclusion to the cliffhanger of Coop at the mirror - we all did for 25 years! But did they know then for sure the show was definitely not coming back/cancelled? If so, I suppose I can understand frustration at it being left on a cliffhanger. In terms of resolution, I really think it depends on the type of story it is, and how it's being billed. ABC was always promising "tonight's episode answers 5 questions!" for LOST, for example. And I've heard they did the same with "Twin Peaks", promising the killer would be revealed in Episode 7 and then again in the Season 2 premiere. That, coupled with the fact that general audiences tuning in may or may not be familiar with Lynch or more abstract movies, and were used to perhaps the killer being revealed in "Murder She Wrote" or what have you, and then being constantly told by the network in ads that played constantly to expect answers sort of led to a lot of frustration and a feeling of being ripped off, moreso than if these people had bought a ticket to see "Inland Empire". So in those circumstances I can understand people feeling entitled to answers, but I don't really understand general entitlement or huge fan backlash which I see constantly taking place on the internet, hyped up shows like GOT and then frustrated fans. Even if they're not moaning about a lack of answers, even if the show isn't a puzzle box format, it seems people's expectations are always raised to some extent and usually knocked. I don't understand that (outside of marketing/promises in advertisements/not being set up by the story itself to expect an answer).
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Here’s one example: https://alttvtwinpeaks.com/ep28/1991061 ... one-148437

I’ll say that this wasn’t necessarily emblematic of the overall immediate reaction (which seems to be positive-ish). But it’s crazy to me that this was anyone’s takeaway from E29.
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Jonah
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I wonder if that person would later be one of the ones complaining about LOST or GOT.

In the midst of his complaints, I did pick out some interesting tidbits, though. So they knew a movie was forthcoming but the show was cancelled? Interesting. Another reason people were probably geared up early on to expect FWWM to directly follow on from that cliffhanger.

Does he/she make a good point about Bob no longer needing a host yet taking over Coop? Or is that coming from nowhere? I'm not sure if the show spelled out that he no longer needed a host unless it was the ending of Episode 27 that implied that.

Interesting too that people apparently predicted what the last shot of the series would be.
I don't always need television shows with red curtains in the woods or magic islands - but it helps!
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I'm fairly sure that the major issues viewers had with episode 29 had to do with its abstraction. After it takes its time and sets up numerous cliffhangers and then gets to the moment everyone might have been waiting for -- Agent Cooper facing down the forces of evil -- the plot essentially disappears in favor of a purely visceral, abstract (and horrific) experience for 15 minutes -- time that could have been spent on more story or tying up loose ends. It's just easy to forget how out of the ordinary anything other than plot-based TV was (and remains). So it doesn't so much matter what specific answers people were hoping for -- it's more so that the majority of viewers are trained to better respond to something/anything plot-based rather than whatever the hell episode 29 becomes.
Last edited by LateReg on Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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LateReg wrote: Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:01 pm I'm fairly sure that the major issues viewers had with episode 29 had to do with its abstraction. After it sets up numerous cliffhangers and then gets to the moment everyone might have been waiting for -- Agent Cooper facing down the forces of evil -- the plot essentially disappears in favor of a purely visceral, abstract (and horrific) experience for 15 minutes -- time that could have been spent on more story or tying up loose ends. It's just easy to forget how out of the ordinary anything other than plot-based TV was (and remains). So it doesn't so much matter what specific answers people were hoping for -- it's more so that the majority of viewers are trained to better respond to something/anything plot-based rather than whatever the hell episode 29 becomes.
Agreed, and the slow-paced bank scene didn’t help either (as evidenced anecdotally by the one review I linked, and I’m sure others). I can recall the experience of watching finales of shows I loved, watching the seconds and minutes ticking by, and thinking, “We’re spending precious time on THIS?!” So I can relate to that.

Although of course, I’ve loved that bank sequence and everything else in E29 since I first laid eyes on it (admittedly, well after 1991).
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Jonah
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I did feel a bit that way myself during Part 18 of The Return - like, "What about Audrey and everyone else? How are they going to wrap this up when there's only a few minutes left?"
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah— Came across this old post and thought of you. ;)

https://alttvtwinpeaks.com/ep25/1991040 ... ks)-150277
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I have watched Twin Peaks for the first time in 2010, after having seen all of Lynch's feature films (besides FWWM), and almost everything else of his I could find back then. For me, E29 was immediately brilliant, and I couldn't have thought of a better ending. (Actually, even though I'm an absolute fan of The Return, at the same time I'm kind of sad that E29 is no longer the ending.) A few weeks later, I watched FWWM and, needles to say, was absolutely moved by it.

However, there was a moment when I had stopped watching the series for a while. For some reason, I was forcing myself to watch it once a week, and then started losing interest a bit sometime before the killer was revealed. Eventually, I did continue, and pretty soon got hooked; I switched to watching one episode per day right until the end.

(I have been noting everything I watch since 2006, so I will check after which episode exactly did my pause occur, and how long did it last.)

When I watched the series for the second time (many years later, after The Return), I found it overall even more enjoyable than the first time.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I also watched the original series years after it had been completed. I think that viewing it that way is inevitably a somewhat different experience from those who watched week to week and invested over a year of their lives in it, as opposed to the scant few weeks it took you or I to watch. As a regular viewer of a show, there’s some sense of entitlement that inevitably develops (I’m guilty of this too, even as I try to consciously fight it). You feel a sense of ownership over a show you watch for multiple seasons, in a way you don’t with a two-hour movie or even a show you binge in a week or two. You develop certain expectations. The thing with Lynch is, expectations are best left at the door. Other than expecting the work to be brilliant, challenging and completely unpredictable, I never go in with any expectation. But if people wanted a traditional “finale” from E29, I can understand the frustration.

And I agree, I always felt E29 was a perfect ending (although I have a pretty sick sense of humor). I know Lynch never liked it as an ending though, and I’m happy to have the also-great P18 ending as his “true” ending (at least for now).
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