What to watch this week: A return to ‘Twin Peaks’ 25 years later

May 20, 2017

Certain questions have plagued TV viewers since the dawn of, well, TV.

“Who shot J.R.?” “Who is the one-armed man?” “Will Rachel and Ross ever get together?” “What the #@&*! is happening on ‘Lost’?”

But in the early ’90s, none was more compelling – and more aggravating – than “Who killed Laura Palmer?”

“Twin Peaks,” the brainchild of visionary filmmaker David Lynch, gripped audiences with that simple, driving question from its very beginning in 1990. From there, a tale of bizarre happenings spun out as agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) investigated the murder of the small town’s popular homecoming queen – in between enjoying some darn fine coffee and excellent pie.

The quirky characters in the moody, Northwestern town of the show’s title made up much of the show’s intrigue; no one ever seemed to be what they appeared. And with oddballs that included the Log Lady, who clutched a piece of wood wherever she went, a dream-induced little person who spoke in code, and a cross-dressing FBI agent played by future TV FBI agent Fox Mulder, David Duchovny, the story compelled even as it confounded. The central mystery of finding Laura Palmer’s killer was often obscured by side stories that created more questions than they answered.

Nonetheless, “Twin Peaks” was revolutionary in that it brought a movie-like sensibility to television, and introduced millions of home viewers to the stylistic, surrealist singularity of David Lynch, up until then known for the cult favorite “Blue Velvet.” That it never – well, in a straightforward manner, anyway – solved that initial mystery seemed beside the point by the end of the series’ two season run; the subsequent movie, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” answered some unanswered questions while raising still others.

Now, long rumored to be happening, “Twin Peaks” is returning to television as an 18-episode limited series beginning Sunday on Showtime. Helmed by original creators Lynch and Mark Frost, who honed his writing skills on “Hill Street Blues” before joining forces with Lynch, this latest incarnation takes place 25 years after the events of the original series.

Several of the familiar faces are back, including Dale Cooper (MacLachlan), Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick), Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook). Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill), Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Leland (Ray Wise) and Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie). And Laura Palmer herself (Sheryl Lee).

“Twin Peaks” returns with two episodes at 8 p.m. Sunday on Showtime; catch up on the first two seasons, as well as the movie, on the channel or its streaming service, Showtime Anytime.

Something “Wizard” this way comes: TV loves a biopic, and the latest to hit the air is “The Wizard of Lies,” HBO’s original movie about Bernie Madoff and his bilking of innocent investors. Richard Dreyfuss portrayed the financier last year in “Madoff” on ABC; playing the infamous Ponzi schemer this time around is Robert De Niro; Michelle Pfeiffer portrays his wife and unwitting partner in crime, Ruth. The film tells the story of Madoff’s deception, lies, and resulting cover-up of one of the largest investment frauds in U.S. history. “The Wizard of Lies” airs at 7 p.m. Saturday on HBO.

What else is new? CBS gets into the anniversary game with “Princess Diana: Her Life – Her Death – The Truth,” airing Monday at 7 p.m., followed by “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Special 2017,” featuring Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry, at 9 p.m., both on Ch. 3. “The Bachelorette,” featuring Rachel Lindsay from the most recent season of “The Bachelor,” begins her search for love and happiness at 8 p.m. Monday on Ch. 27. And it’s a pair of game-show premieres on Fox when Jamie Foxx hosts “Beat Shazam,” which pits players’ skill at recognizing hit songs against each other and, ultimately, against the popular music-identification app Shazam in an updated “Name That Tune” of sorts, premiering at 7 p.m. Thursday. It’s followed by a reboot of “Love Connection,” where Bravo’s Andy Cohen takes the role once filled by Chuck Woolery as host as singles search for love and spill the details of three blind dates for a studio audience. The show premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday; both air on Ch. 47.