Mark Frost stepping back from the show in mid-season 2

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LostInTheMovies
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Mark Frost stepping back from the show in mid-season 2

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:56 am

This grew out of a conversation on ep. 17 in another thread and I thought it deserved its own topic. Would love to hear other perspectives. Especially those with more knowledge of how the production unfolded in 1990.

Frost's behavior in this situation is what confuses me most. I get Lynch being bummed that the mystery is over and Laura's out and he apparently can't get his hands around this showrunning thing and he walks. I get Peyton & Engels getting the keys to the kingdom thrust upon them, not necessarily something they wanted, and scrambling to come up with material after a planned arc was cancelled, and like the kids left to supervise a classroom with the lesson plan unusable, slip into wacky prankish mayhem.

But Frost? He had very carefully scripted the ending arc of the mystery (contributing directly to 4 of the 9 scripts and obviously supervising the whole process) with the express purpose of getting the dangerously single-minded Laura mystery out of the way so that the series can explore new mysteries and allow its ensemble to spread its wings. In other words, after the thrill of making a first season that nobody thought would get extended, or possibly even aired all the way through, he was now committed to making Twin Peaks a long-term show that could survive on a season-to-season basis. Arguably then, the show has never needed him as much as it needed him in this moment, particularly as the replacement plan - a nice, audience-pleasing romance between the two most popular characters - had to be jettisoned. Yet, according to most reports, Frost chooses this moment to begin prepping Storyville and leaves the series in the hands of a talented writer of dialogue and character with no interest in or experience with plotting. WTF??

I can only draw a few conclusions. One is that he felt, post-sweeps, this was a good spot to take a much-needed breather and develop other ideas while his brand was hot. Of course that also suggests that he knew that brand may not have been hot forever and that he felt the writing was on the wall for Twin Peaks (the mid-season stretch was approaching production at the exact point that ratings and critical reactions were undergoing a massive turnaround). If that's the case - that he was abandoning a sinking ship - why not allow the mystery to continue at least till the end of the season, so the show can bow out with dignity? Ending the mystery only makes sense of you are trying to salvage the show long-term, and departing the moment the mystery is over and the show's fortunes are declining makes sense only if you are done with it.

Maybe the first decision was made in summer, when the prospects for the show seemed good, and the second was made in the fall when they didn't (due to Lynch's recalcitrance, friction in the production, a media backlash, and maybe general weariness setting in for a 35-year-old first time showrunner at the center of an immensely complex, unusual, and controversial series)? Maybe he WAS more involved in the mid-season than reports suggest and only retrospective confusion has muddied the waters - aka David Lynch's incorrect "I left s2 to direct WAH"? After all, Storyville wasn't released until the same weekend as FWWM although there is plenty of evidence to suggest he was shooting it simultaneously with the the TP finale (in March 1991).

I don't know, but any insight from Brad or others who have more knowledge of the production circumstances at the time would be welcome!

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