Showtime followed up the announcement of the return date for Twin Peaks today with a Television Critics Association (TCA) panel featuring a surprise Q&A session with creator David Lynch, followed by a separate panel with cast members Kyle MacLachlan (Special Agent Dale Cooper), Laura Dern (who's playing an unknown new character), Robert Forster (Sheriff Frank Truman), Madchen Amick (Shelly Johnson) and Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran).
Showtime's David Nevins introduced Lynch for an enigmatic, 15-minute grilling, during which he shared some context about the upcoming 18-episode series ... but no real details about plot or story genesis.
Lynch confirmed that it was co-creator Mark Frost who approached Lynch years ago about returning to their mysterious Pacific Northwest town. They got together at the famed Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood and kickstarted the process.
When the deal with Showtime was locked, Lynch said that the pair worked via Skype. "Mark lives in Ojai and I live in Hollywood, so we would write that way."
As to how their collaboration worked 25 years later, Lynch offered that "Mark is very smart. We're both strong but both different. We each understand the other's things. It's a good combo for Twin Peaks."
One thing Lynch did confirm about story is that Frost's recently released in-world novel, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, was solely Frost's project and had no bearing on the new series. "That is Mark's book. I have never read it and I don't want to. He has his own ideas of the history, and I have my own."
If there was anything gleaned about what to expect in terms of character or narrative, you might want to re-watch the 1992 movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, because Lynch offered that, "I could say the story of Laura Palmer's last seven days is very much important for this."
Asked how it was returning to the same locations to shoot the new series, Lynch said it was "Both the same and different. Go back to any town 25 years later and many things are different and somethings you feel are the same." But the director was effusive about reuniting with his cast and crew. "A joyful, fantastic trip with great crew and cast."
Asked if he felt the burden of expectations surrounding this project, he quipped, "I'm too in the middle of it, and I don't get out much. Expect is a magical world, and I hope it's met when they see the thing."
Even the daunting aspect of directing all 18 episodes didn't seem to faze him. "First, it was just the same as all the others. I see it as a film, and a film in parts is what people will experience. There is no worst part [of directing]. I love all aspects of the process, even pre-production. It's really thrilling to have ideas and to realize those ideas. There are thousands of elements and a thrilling process to get them together."
As for the falling out with Showtime that almost killed the project last year, Lynch declined to give any details about what caused the impasse but was enthusiastic about working with Nevins and the rest of the network executives. "I love working with them. I'm very happy at being at Showtime."
When asked if there could be future stories about Twin Peaks after these 18 episodes, Lynch said, "Before I said I wasn't going to revisit it, and I would never make more. Never say never, but there's no plans for now."
Twin Peaks commences on May 21 with a two-hour premiere on Showtime.