No option for it just being a complete disaster?
Below is my own rant/summary on that subject, to give you some ideas. You might also want to check the 300-page forensic dissection of the flaws on the Profoundly Disappointed thread and search it for posts by judasbooth, David Locke, Gabriel and mlsstwrt: viewtopic.php?f=29&t=3544
It’s understandable if people think calling The Return a disaster is hyperbolic. Artistic disasters are not that easy to produce. Again, simple incompetence is not enough. E.g. telenovelas don’t aim high enough to experience the fall and splat of real disasters. So if I read the word ‘disaster’ on a TV discussion board I’d assume it was hyperbole.
But in the case of The Return it really isn’t. I am heavily invested in Twin Peaks and therefore want precision about what’s happened here. The Return isn’t just bad or disappointing like The Godfather III. Its flaws are so serious and mutually accentuating that it’s caused discussions among serious fans about whether it’s one of the worst dramas ever aired, or at least this decade. Its bravery in conception and episode 8 may save it from such a verdict, but it’s sad that anyone is even having to ask such questions about the follow-up to Fire Walk with Me and Inland Empire.
Disasters are often the result of extreme over-confidence, of the kind that might lead someone in old age to return to a medium after decades away and completely take for granted an audience’s desire to reconnect with a beloved character like Dale Cooper. So the over-confident artist decides to tease and tease and tease and tease and tease and tease and tease and tease the audience with that character’s return – any TR fan who skipped a ‘tease’ now knows how the show feels at this end – and this just one among dozens of eccentrically protracted teases. But like an over-confident lover, by the time he finally gets down to business he finds his partner’s been asleep for hours.
An odd feature of certain disasters is that they can be closer to artistic successes than artistic failures are. The Return’s acting provokes more winces than an amateur dramatic production’s would, for instance, because of the obvious talent onscreen, so that even the actors’ lack of preparation for the weak dialogue can’t hide all glimmers of that talent. But rather than improving the overall impression, the talent actually damages it by way of contrast. This show didn’t have
to turn out this badly, we conclude, but nevertheless it did, which makes the whole experience even worse. As with works of genius, disasters are rare, mysterious beasts that obey their own weird laws, and deserve close study by those new to the medium in question.
Of course, several respected artists, at least when asked by journalists, have said they like The Return. But how many high-profile artists said on release how poor they found The Godfather III or True Detective 2 or The Phantom Menace? As for professional critics, it’s likely that after watching those four episodes on 22nd May they wanted to acknowledge their ambition and bravery. TV drama is generally so poor that it makes sense to encourage ambition if your job is to wade through cookie-cutter mediocrity.
And if The Godfather III were an eighteen-hour weekly show, a cheerleading reviewer who never once mentioned Sofia Coppola’s performance over those hours would deserve little respect. So critics who refuse to defend The Return’s glaring shortcomings beyond an occasional “Yes, much of it is boring, but in the best possible way!” should not be taken too seriously either, as they’re being at best selectively honest. In fact, this refusal may be one of the strongest if subtlest arguments for the series’ weakness. The reason they don’t defend obvious flaws such as the offensive portrayal of older women, we might suspect, is because they cannot. They’re indefensible. But this kind of thing simply doesn’t happen in honest critical debate. Some defences have been impressive, of course, and in the early weeks you’d find yourself thinking “Seen that way, it doesn’t seem so bad.” But every defence was then defeated by the grim reality of the next episode.
It would of course make cheerleading pros more credible if they’d a history of praising other works featuring lots of terrible acting and dialogue, severe tediousness, severe ugliness, refusal of suspension of disbelief, obsessive self-tribute, the character played by the writer-director being one of the few likable and relatable people in a world of bozos, psychotics, ciphers, vermin, junkies, aliens, fembots and other replicants, ballbusters, beautiful young women with a pathetic penchant for blokes nearing 60 almost peeing themselves, and so on, else we might suspect that once again this stuff is only getting a free pass because of the director’s name.
It’s quite something having to type such sentences in relation to any drama, never mind the successor to something as generous as Fire Walk with Me. This series’ positioning of Gordon Cole is so out-there that even a factual description starts sounding like a rant, and makes you wonder if Lynch is indeed testing and even trolling his admirers. Imagine any other artist pulling such a stunt. David Simon or Jane Campion or Sean Penn. Try it. Picture Vince Gilligan self-cast as almost the only likable 3D character in series that relentlessly celebrates his own career and otherwise features mainly bozos, vermin, psychotics, perverts, ciphers, ballbusters, junkies, replicants and aliens, and the critical furore that would result. Gilligan’s pals would be remiss if they didn’t have a quiet word, right? “Vince, this throne you’re considering...”
You also have to wonder what Mark Frost thinks of all those allusions to Lynch’s career. Were they agreed/demanded/coaxed during those Skype calls about the script? “Old friend, there’s been not a single nod to ole Erayyserhayyd for a whole ten pages here. I thought we were best buds again?”
If not, did Lynch go ahead and compulsively celebrate his own career yet again without okaying it with his co-showrunner? Hard to say which possibility shows them both in a worse light.
Again, these aren’t questions you ask of a mere failure. The Return is a doppelganger of what a masterpiece Twin Peaks would look like.