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Barry Gifford, on whose novel the film was based, blames the critics for the film's lukewarm reception. "The faux intelligentsia can jump on or off a bandwagon," he notes. "Andre Gide said that writers should expect to lose 50% of their audience with each new work, that the rest never understood it in the first place. Perhaps that has happened to David."
"I can't try to second-guess the critics," the director says. "The world is changing, and we are changing within it. As soon as you think you've got something figured out, it's different. That is what I try to do. I don't try to do anything new, or weird, or David Lynch. But I'm real happy with the picture. See, I love 47 different genres in one film. I hate one-thing films. And I love B movies. But why not have three or four Bs running together? Like a little hive!"
Even on the Twin Peaks front, the entrails from last week's Emmy Awards make for cautionary reading. The show, nominated for 14 Emmys, was virtually shut out, winning only technical prizes for editing and costume design. Lynch, up for the Best Director citation, lost out to Thomas Carter (Equal Justice) and Scott Winant (thirtysomething). The Twin Peaks cast put its best face on defeat. "We kind of like the idea that we didn't get any Emmys," maintains Ray Wise, who plays Laura Palmer's spectacularly bereaved father. "We're not about winning awards; we are about doing what we do. If the great American public accepts it, fine. If they don't, we will still have our core audience. And even if we don't have our core audience, we know we have done it right."
But will Twin Peaks be done in by ABC's Saturday-night graveyard slot, where the show will run after Sunday's premiere? Will the mass TV audience still care about (or keep track of) the town's residents, their loves and fetishes? Will viewers have grown weary of the show's cliff-hanging teases, as when Special Agent Cooper gets shot in the chest, only to revive in the next episode, or when he determines Laura's murderer in a dream and then forgets the name the next morning? Can they submit to the pleasures of texture, the luxury of the show's somnambulist pace, the comic-opera grandeur of the performances? Most important, will they keep watching Twin Peaks when it is no longer culturally compulsory to do so?
For the first clues to these answers, tune in to next week's Nielsen ratings. And attend to the show's spiritual leader as he considers his delectable career crisis. "I'm real busy," Lynch says. "And I'm busy not always on things that I think are important. Making a new film is important. Making each episode of Twin Peaks is important. And painting and music. But there's a lot of things in between that take a lot of time. Take this day: I haven't shot a scene, I haven't written anything, I haven't done anything. It's really frustrating." He pauses between bites of broccoli. "The good side of failure is you've got plenty of time to work."