I respectfully disagree. I have been an admirer of Lynch's work for decades. I know what he's about, or, at least, what he used to be about. His work, regardless of what you refer to in terms of what he thinks a story is, used to be about vision, originality, power, mood, and storytelling, even if it was on his own terms (like MD, FWWM, TP pilot, Blue Velvet, etc.), and that's why he was regarded as a visionary, and, personally, that's why I admired his work. Not anymore. IE and TPTR are self indulgent disasters, even if viewed through his rules and standards, and no amount of "you'll like it in the future" or "it's Lynch's vision" rhetoric is going to change that for me, since the problem with TR isn't simply its incoherence/abstractions, it's its shoddiness, ugliness, bleakness, and glaringly obvious self-indulgence and "greatest hits of Lynch" feel.
i do see where you are coming from and this was my feeling about inland empire, i felt it was a ( very) few great scenes surrounded/ buried by all the things you delineate in your last sentence...however, this time I around in TP TR for me at least the pros outweigh the cons. This does not mean that i do not recognise the cons. I could quite happily lose 25% of it. I don't see incoherence/ abstractions, this is way less abstract than IE, in fact it is not abstract atall, if anything it has a problem with being over-literal. I will grant you there are shoddy parts, but there are more parts that are far from shoddy, so, on balance, for a TV series, I can live with that. Ugliness, I don't agree atall, i found most of this series amazing to watch on a level of IMAGE and cinematography. For me the way it looked was a major PLUS. Bleakness, well, yeah, sometimes, but gloopily sentimental, ridiculous, or beady eyed and level headed just as often. There was a ( deliberately) awkward tonal mix Could have used abit more wit. Self-indulgence - yep, that became very irritating at times. That is a big part of the 25% i would lose along with the characters who forgot how to act in the last 25 years. On the other hand, there about 6 hours in this series which - for me - are as good as anything he has ever done. When it took off, it really took off. (And for me, Inland Empire only did that in 2 scenes, the hollywood walk of fame scene, and the extended Dern interrogation featured on the ''more things that happened'' DVD).
''Greatest Hits of Lynch'' feel, I actually think there are reasons why he did that, central to one of the themes of the series, about separate fictional worlds each of which co exist and have their own truth, you might not like it but i can see a structural reason why it was there, this also applies to the borrowings from other films, which was a feature of the first TP run and this. You didn't mention this aspect, but i really like the way this TP TR was structured, with all the repetitions and echoes and patternings and subtle visual associations that the viewer ( this viewer anyway) makes days later. This dream logic really worked for me here, on an instinctive level, (in a way that it did not in inland empire, which seemed like a dry intertextual game) and it was a new thing in Lynch-film, at least in the way it worked here, and something I hadn't seen before anywhere else, either. So like i said, I guess we will have to agree to differ on TP TR. For me '' vision, originality, power, mood, and storytelling.... on his own terms'' - there is still enough of that there in at least 1/3 of the material here - as i say,that's at least 6 hours - to have kept me involved/ absorbed/ engaged.
Even if i do find common cause in this group about the more painful aspects