the G-man wrote:
The problem is not so much the drop in quality, but what happens, or doesn't, at the end of the season. If you stop watching where we suggest, the series has an end point. Otherwise....
Agreed. The show had such a strong central issue and sense of urgency, ideally it would always have been a limited-run series. The hook was "Who killed Laura Palmer?", not "The Adventures of Special Agent Cooper." There was really no way they were going to hold old viewers or snag new ones after that was resolved. Of course, US network TV didn't work that way. The show really lost its way immediately after the mystery was solved, and though it was starting to pick up in quality when it ended, the plot had lost the unified motivation that had been so strong before. Windom Earle, the Black Lodge, "gathering angels" or whatever, and did Maj. Briggs have something to do with aliens? It was unfocused and pretty much a letdown from the early part of the series.
It was still better than 90% of what was on TV, of course, but that's never been good enough.