It has not been a quiet week in Twin Peaks, the enigmatic little lumber town in the Pacific Northwest where the women are strange, the men are odd-looking, and the children are all above suspicion.

Lake Woebegon it ain't. "Twin Peaks" is not a place, it's a state of mind to which millions of Americans will return Sunday (8 p.m., Ch. 4) for the season premiere of television's strangest nighttime drama.After eight episodes - just seven days in Twin Peaks time - we still don't know who killed Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen whose plastic-wrapped corpse fuels the series' central mystery. She is still dead. Maybe.

Then there's wacky, cherry pie-gobbling FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). He has declared he knows the killer's identity but, in the season finale, was laid low by an unknown assailant and three gunshots to the chest.

There's more. One suspect in Laura's killing has been smothered by her father, another has been shot, there's been a heart attack, a drug overdose, a life-threatening fire, and a brothel-keeper has unknowingly hired his own daughter.

As actor Michael Ontkean (Twin Peaks' doughty Sheriff Harry S. Truman) observed, the series is "a Kabuki-style Peyton Place on peyote buttons."

ABC says little about the two-hour, special "ABC Sunday Night Movie," directed by David Lynch and written by Mark Frost, co-creators of the series:

"The investigation into the mysterious killing continues, sorrow settles over the community as several lives hang in the balance," ABC said, "Audrey Horne finds herself a terrified prisoner, and Donna Hayward receives a strange message."

This is a strange time for a strange series.

It was conceived by Lynch, the high priest of cinematic anxiety ("Eraserhead," "The Elephant Man," "Dune," "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart") and Frost, an established TV producer from "Hill Street Blues."

A midseason replacement, "Twin Peaks" was the year's most written-about show even before its April 8 debut won a 33 percent share of the TV audience. It quickly became the most talked-about show on television.

"We're just trying to reimagine the genre of the nighttime soap, in the way that `Hill Street Blues' did the cop show a decade ago," Frost said. But it was much more than that.

Viewers got a sense of place in Twin Peaks, its geography and exteriors provided by the lovely town of Snoqualmie, Wash. The town was as placid as a forest pond where every droplet teems with violent, microscopic life.

The critics loved the show's dreamlike, allusive imagery, the dazzling cinematography of Ron Garcia and the ethereal score of composer Angelo Badalamenti.