Mystery has always been part of “Twin Peaks,” which filmed its original pilot and prequel film, 1992’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,” in North Bend, Fall City and Snoqualmie, among other locales. The series returns to TV on May 21 on Showtime.

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More than two decades after the last images from “Twin Peaks” flickered to dark, the series returns, shrouded in secrecy, to Showtime with a two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 21.

Mystery has always been part of “Twin Peaks,” which filmed its original pilot and prequel film, 1992’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,” in North Bend, Fall City and Snoqualmie, among other locales.

Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, who returned to co-write these 18 new parts with Lynch directing all the installments, “Twin Peaks” caused a cultural sensation when it debuted on ABC in April 1990.

TV preview

‘Twin Peaks’

When: 9 p.m. Sunday, May 21

Where: Showtime

Lynch, the auteur of “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead,” had never worked in TV and brought surreal, dreamy-nightmare visuals and simple-but-haunting imagery to prime time (that stoplight rocking in the breeze, composer Angelo Badalamenti’s moody score).

Frost, a veteran of TV dramas, including prime-time’s first modern, quality serialized series, “Hill Street Blues,” brought elements of pop culture’s past, tossed them in a blender and whipped up a “Twin Peaks” smoothie, a mix of serialized character development, murder mystery and oddball townsfolk who run the gamut from football jock and ditsy receptionist to befuddled fisherman and mysterious one-armed man.

The whole thing was set in fictional Twin Peaks, Wash., depicted as a small, quaint, Norman Rockwell-esque town with a dark underbelly.

Although the show lasted just two seasons (30 episodes), it developed a cult following that made its filming locations — Twede’s Café in North Bend, which played the Double R Diner on the show; Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, which played the exterior of the Great Northern Lodge although the interiors for the pilot were filmed at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo — fan destinations. An annual festival has been held locally since 1993 with this year’s already sold-out event slated for July 28-30 (details at

The show’s emphasis on a small town hiding something and the dark and windy Pacific Northwest woods as a home to malevolent, supernatural forces certainly influenced myriad series that followed, from “The X-Files” to “Lost” to “Wayward Pines” and most recently The CW’s “Riverdale.”

A recent Variety report suggests some of the new story takes place outside the Pacific Northwest but production returned to North Bend, Snoqualmie and Everett (location of the Palmer family home) in fall 2015 under tight security (most of the new season, like the original series, was filmed in Los Angeles). Some paparazzi shots showed series star Kyle MacLachlan and a woman resembling actress Sheryl Lee, who played the late Laura Palmer, at the Palmer home in Everett.

The secrecy and security that kept looky-loos at bay on the new season stand in contrast to the comparative openness of the “Fire Walk with Me” set in 1992 when Seattle Art Museum film curator Greg Olson spent much of that September shadowing the cast and crew.

Olson, who first got a sense of David Lynch’s style when one of Lynch’s early films, “The Grandmother,” showed in competition at the Bellevue Film Festival in 1970, would go on to write the 2008 book, “David Lynch: Beautiful Dark” (Scarecrow Press), an examination of the filmmaker and his work. Olson said he wasn’t surprised when Lynch decided to revisit “Twin Peaks.”

“Over the years he has always said he remains really fascinated with the idea of Twin Peaks the town, the place with secrets below the surface,” Olson said. “And then Laura Palmer’s character, this dear, blond woman that was snuffed out and later revealed to have been dabbling in the darkness herself, must speak to Lynch strongly.”

Original cast members who are still living but not returning for the 2017 “Twin Peaks” include Lara Flynn Boyle (Moira Kelly, who played Donna Hayward in the prequel movie also is not in the cast list), Piper Laurie (Catherine Martell), Michael J. Anderson (the Man from Another Place, AKA the dancing dwarf), Joan Chen (Josie Packard, last seen with her soul trapped in a doorknob), Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings), Heather Graham (Annie Blackburn, Cooper’s season two girlfriend), Eric Da Re (Leo Johnson), Ian Buchanan (Dick Tremayne) and Michael Ontkean who played Sheriff Harry Truman, a role that may now be played by Robert Forster if casting rumors turn out to be true. MacLachlan seemed to tip his hand to Mr. Forster taking over the Truman role at a January news conference.

“I love Michael. He’s amazing. But it wasn’t to be, you know. And I understood that and, you know, got this guy here,” MacLachlan said, gesturing to Forster. “And he did a bang up job. The territory is different, as you can imagine. And so there were some people that weren’t on the path with us, and I think everyone acknowledged that and then moved forward.”

About two-thirds of the cast are newcomers with perhaps some of them playing existing characters through recasting. New-to-the-saga performers include Laura Dern, Michael Cera, Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Jason Lee and Jim Belushi.

Perhaps the biggest question about this new season is which version of “Twin Peaks” will viewers get?

Although Lynch is widely credited as the show’s mastermind, it was a collaboration with TV vet Frost, who was more involved in running the original series on a day-to-day basis.

Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” as seen in “Fire Walk with Me,” was considerably darker in tone (child sexual abuse and incest were major themes) and Frost, who thought a sequel would be more appropriate, was not involved in the film.

Frost leaned more heavily into the soapier and kookier elements of the series. Lynch jumped to embrace happy accidents — the casting of set dresser Frank Silva as BOB — and preferred the surreal, especially the red-curtained metaphysical space that was populated by a dancing dwarf who spoke backward.

For Showtime’s revival, Lynch is clearly at the helm, directing every episode. Frost and Lynch wrote the new season together but given Lynch’s all-in involvement, which he did not have in the original series, there’s reason to suspect this may be the darker “Twin Peaks” with less emphasis on the quirky elements.

“The question of that balance is going to be really fascinating,” Olson said. “I know he was aware how dark he was going in ‘Fire Walk with Me.’ That’s what he wanted.”