Prophetic Visions, Quality Serials: Twin Peaks’ new mode of storytelling

Mikhail L. Skoptsov

Abstract


Following the April 1990 debut of Twin Peaks on ABC, the vision - a sequence of images that relates information of the narrative future or past – has become a staple of numerous network, basic cable and premium cable serials, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB), Battlestar Galactica (SyFy) and Game of Thrones (HBO). This paper argues that Peaks in effect had introduced a mode of storytelling called “visio-narrative,” which draws on ancient epic poetry by focusing on main characters that receive knowledge from enigmatic, god-like figures that control his world. Their visions disrupt linear storytelling, allowing a series to embrace the formal aspects of the medium and create the impression that its disparate episodes constitute a singular whole. This helps them qualify as ‘quality TV’, while disguising instances of authorial manipulation evident within the texts as products of divine internal causality.As a result, all narrative events, no matter how coincidental or inconsequential, become part of a grand design. Close examination of Twin Peaks and Carnivàle will demonstrate how the mode operates, why it is popular among modern storytellers and how it can elevate a show’s cultural status.

Keywords


Quality television; Carnivàle; Twin Peaks; vision; coincidence; destiny

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/5113

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Copyright (c) 2015 Mikhail L. Skoptsov

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