Art is by its very nature subjective, and the effort to classify art equally so. Some might argue, for instance, that Showtime’s Twin Peaks aired on television in episodic installments, and is therefore unmistakably TV. A number of year-end movie critics’ lists beg to differ, however, and now Kyle MacLachlan himself is getting in on the great debate.

If you’ve been following movie or TV Twitter in recent weeks, you may have picked up on some passionate debate spurred by the UK’s Sight & Sound and France’s Cahiers du Cinema placing Twin Peaks: The Return among their movie selections for 2017. The inclusion irked many on either side of the line (Vox has a great explainer), especially as the evolution of TV continues to blur lines between shortform and longform content, while awards increasingly recognize “Limited Series” that go on to additional seasons. Chaos, right?

Twin Peaks in particular proves tricky to define, as Showtime’s The Return ran for a full 18 hours over 14 weeks, but followed little episodic structure. Such is David Lynch, generally. In light of the series’ Golden Globe nomination (for TV, no less), star (and Yakima native) Kyle MacLachlan addressed the issue with Entertainment Weekly, but – in true Lynchian fashion – managed not to land on an actual answer:

I think it’s kind of both. David was very specific about calling them hours and not episodes. So they’re 18 hours, and the way it was written and directed was if it were a long film. In other words, we didn’t break it into pieces when we were filming. So I think structurally, it is a film. Obviously, it was broadcasted on television and intended for television, but I think you could make the argument that it also works as a film. The very first one that we did was episodic, but when they screened Twin Peaks, the original pilot, at the Television Academy, it held up as a film, which makes complete sense to me because it’s directed by David Lynch. It just felt like it was a feature. And when they screened the first two episodes [of The Return] in Cannes this year, it had exactly the same results. It was seamless. The first two hours felt as if they were a film. So I think you could definitely make that argument.

Marvelous. In the meantime, the jury’s still out on whether Twin Peaks: The Return will garner a sequel fourth season, but rest assured that our own upcoming Best TV of 2017 lists will treat the series as such. BATTLE LINES DRAWN, MACLACHLAN.

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