Seemingly terrified of calling a spade a spade or not sounding perceptive or culturally conversant enough, Variety TV critic Sonia Saraiya tapdances around her fundamental reactions to the first couple of episodes of David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime, 5.21). But if you boil the snow out of it, the core emerges:

(1) “Twin Peaks: The Return is weird and creepy and slow. But it is interesting. The show is very stubbornly itself — not quite film and not quite TV, rejecting both standard storytelling and standard forms. It’s not especially fun to watch and it can be quite disturbing. But there is never a sense that you are watching something devoid of vision or intention. Lynch’s vision is so total and absolute that he can get away with what wouldn’t be otherwise acceptable.”

(2) “But for every moment that feels fascinating in a new way, there is self-indulgence. The bankable popularity of Twin Peaks also makes for an inexplicably stupid scene at the Bang Bang where the indie-electronic band Chromatics performs to a room of middle-aged townies taking tequila shots. Nothing says rural, small-town, faded glory like an impossibly cool synthpop band. Could it be possible that sometimes, network notes are a good thing?”

From Salon‘s Melanie McFarland: “Showtime, David Lynch and Mark Frost went to monumental lengths to keep everything about these new episodes a secret. Only a handful of people, including the cast, crew, a few journalists and other guests were invited to see the premiere on Friday evening in Los Angeles, two days before its official television debut.

“The reaction those two hours produced in The Theatre at Ace Hotel can only be described as orgasmic bewilderment. ‘So many layers!’ one attendee was overheard marveling aloud as the place emptied, and it’s true. [But] layers of what, exactly?”

HE post from 5.13.17: “The latest Twin Peaks: The Return teaser is sticking with the same show-nothing strategy that the initial teaser used last January. This on top of the decision by the Cannes Film Festival to screen the first two episodes four days after the 5.21 debut suggests some degree of trouble. What else am I to think? That it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread but they don’t want to convey this?”