How TV’s strangest detective was born

“One of the things that really signal in David’s work” said Frost, “is his ability to get past the narrative convention of storytelling. Very frequently in film and television, people will use an emotion not to convey an emotion but to convey a plot point or a story point. They’ll say there’s grief, we understand that, let’s move on, and what David is really superb at is staying with that emotion and letting it become as real as possible, and many people find that very uncomfortable. That’s why, to me, David’s style is actually very real and very realistic.”

Despite initially running for just two seasons before it was cancelled, Twin Peaks was hugely influential on the TV shows that followed it. Echoes of its surreal nature, alternate realities, idiosyncratic characters and use of dream sequences can be seen in everything from The X-Files, Lost and Fargo to The OA, The Leftovers and The Sopranos

It inspired a legion of devoted fans, whose loyalty would see it return first as a film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, and then for a third series in 2017 to capitalise on its popularity.

And at the heart of it lies Agent Dale Cooper, with all his enthusiasms and eccentricities, a reflection of David Lynch himself. 

As Kyle MacLachlan told the Guardian in 2020: “I added a lot of David’s traits in playing him, whether that was vocalisations or particular phrases David says. Really, Dale Cooper is David, not me.”

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