Saturday Night Dead
Entertainment, March 8 1991
with many thanks to Jeffrey L. Schwartz
"We're in trouble, and we need help." With those words, spoken at a press
conference on the set of the Great Northern Hotel, David Lynch acknowledged
the grim news: Twin Peaks, the critically acclaimed, anemically rated prime-
time soap he created with Mark Frost, is out of business, and only public
support can save it from cancellation. On Feb. 15, ABC suspended Peaks from its
lineup, and said that it would air this season's six remaining episodes at
an unspecified date. Such a move usually portends doom for a series, so
Lynch and Frost are entreating fans to write to entertainment chief Robert
Iger and lobby ABC for a new time slot--preferably Wednesdays at 10 p.m., where
Equal Justice now airs. "Our audience doesn't stay home on Saturdays," says
Frost. "We'd like to be on a week night--that gives people a chance to talk
about it the next day at the office."
Fans have reacted swiftly and, of course, eccentrically. In Washington, D.C.,
a rally sponsored by the ad-hoc committee COOP (Citizens Opposing the
Offing of Peaks) drew over 200 people, many of them bearing owls, logs, eye
patches, and cherry pies; according to organizer H. Keith Poston, several
fans dressed in Saran Wrap as a sartorial tribute to the late Laura Palmer.
Since then, COOP's ranks have swelled to 5000 in seven cities. Peaks'
imperiled status has also roused Viewers for Quality Television, the
organization that aided successful write-in efforts to save Cagney & Lacey
and Designing Women. On Feb. 21, the group urged ABC to give the series
"more time to spin its unique web" and offered to assist fans in a
Last fall, Twin Peaks performed solidly on Saturdays--the episode that revealed
Laura's murderer ranked 44th in the Nielsens--but when the mystery ended,
producer-writer Harley Peyton admits, Peaks hit a mild creative slump
("We couldn't just have another homicidal maniac arrive in town the next day")
and after several preemptions, ratings plummeted. When Peaks returns, a
special may recap current plotlines, and Lynch will direct the season's
final hour--a showdown between Cooper and psychotic ex-FBI agent Windom
Earle ("Our cross between Hannibal Lecter and Soupy Sales," says Peyton) that ends
with a "phenomenal cliff-hanger.
If ABC cancels Twin Peaks, Lynch and Frost may sell the series to another
network or seek foreign financing; the show is already an enormous hit in
England, Italy, and Spain. In any even, Lynch will remain busy. This
spring, he'll co-write and direct On the Air, a "completely wacko" ABC
comedy pilot about television's early days, and French businessman Francis
Bouygues has agreed to provide $70 million for Lynch's next three films.
Lynch urges viewers to write to Iger (some fans have already sent him stale
doughnuts) at 2040 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, Calif. 90067.
"If this show is going to go on," he says, "people have got to write in.
I'm sure Bob would love to hear from you."
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© Mike Hartmann