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New ‘Twin Peaks’ Cliffhanger: Can Loyal Fans Save the Show?

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

David Lynch and Mark Frost, creators and executive producers of the weird and meandering--and low-rated--"Twin Peaks,” called upon what remains of the show’s loyal fans Friday to call, fax, write and otherwise cajole ABC into returning the series to the air--preferably on Wednesday nights.

At a press conference on the Van Nuys set of the series, Frost said that he and Lynch simply had been “good team players” when they cheerfully went along with ABC’s decision last spring to move what was at the time the most talked about show on television from Thursday to Saturday nights.

“Partying is very important to a great deal of people,” Lynch said, refering to the “Twin Peaks” doughnut, cherry pie and coffee parties that fans around the country organized on broadcast nights last spring. “And people had an excuse to have a party on a weeknight. That was a real thrill. If we can get that thing going again, it would be beautiful.”

Though the media event was designed to tell the world that the show is not dead yet, Frost acknowledged that it is severely wounded--and put much of the blame on the scheduling.

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ABC pulled the show off the air after last Saturday’s episode, which attracted only 10% of the available audience and finished a woeful 88th among 94 programs that aired on the networks during prime time last week. The network has promised to air the six remaining episodes in a new weeknight time period sometime in the coming months.

Frost conceded that he could not blame the massive audience decline solely on the time slot, but he pointed out that up until the show’s central cliffhanger--who murdered Laura Palmer--was solved, even the Saturday night audience had remained fairly constant, though down a bit from what it had been last spring. The “inevitable trough” that followed as the show developed new dramas and intrigues, he said, caused audience levels to slip as well.

But Frost contended that ABC’s preemption of the soap opera for several weeks in December and January hurt the producers’ attempt to create new story lines and worked to decimate the audience.

In any event, they promised that the season-ending episode, which Lynch will direct, will contain another cliffhanger. And Frost suggested that if ABC cancels the series, he and Lynch would pursue other avenues for it, including shopping it to Fox or the other two major networks.

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Lynch, the Oscar-nominated director of “Blue Velvet,” said that the ratings troubles of “Twin Peaks” and the pair’s failed Fox documentary series “American Chronicles” had not soured him on television.

“I was reluctant to get into this at first, but it’s been a great experience,” Lynch said. “I truly love this show. ABC has given us creative freedom. It’s just unfortunate that we’re in trouble.”


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