With little going on in the early 90s besides a few small roles in little-known indie films like Father of the Bride and The Godfather: Part III, Diane Keaton pretty much had all the free time in the world, it seems. Fresh off a string of directorial triumphs that included an episode of China Beach and the 1996 Kubrick-produced, Oscar-winning feat known the world over as Belinda Carlisle: Runaway Videos (check the IMDb…I swear I'm not making this up), she helmed this late episode of Twin Peaks, a show in such a dire spiral that it was hard as hell to point fingers at one person alone for an entire episode collapsing under its own artsy pretension, compromised artistic notions, and disappointed expectations. In other words, the perfect training for her once-and-future stint with the Ephrons.
A wildly overwrought as-I-walk-through-the-shadow-of-the-valley-of-Milton-Bradley opening montage lands us smack in the middle of a giant chessboard, where we weave rather ominously past life-size pieces like we're in the front car of Disney's new thrill ride roller coaster, the Geekland Adventure. Whee! After this can we go on X-treme Checkbook Balancing and then run straight to catch the end of the Bargain Shopping For Aluminum Siding Parade? Please? Please can we?
Cut to a slow pan up from the floor, past patterned black stockings, a hand with red painted nails and a wedding ring, and up to the veiled-in-black face of Evelyn "Crimes Of The Heart" Marsh, looking generally distraught. I feel you, Ms. Marsh. Over at the front door, a policeman grills Brother Malcolm on the "kid," who Malcolm only remembers is named "Jim." Evelyn eventually calls over from her perch on the bottom of a mysteriously-appearing staircase, informing Brother Malcolm and the policeman that the drifter was named "James Hurley," and that he told her he was from "Twin Peaks." Brother Malcolm continues that "he was probably long gone by the time Mr. Marsh pulled out of the driveway," grabbing, as he did, onto a drifting chunk of plywood (which, for some reason, has a name of its own…"Donna Hayward") and swimming down the birth canal as fast as his just-sprouted opposable thumbs would take him. To freedom. Freeeedom! Anyway. The policeman has a wacky hijinks of a time spelling "Jaguar" because we don't get enough in the way of blundering law-enforcers back in town (which, from the show that made us all want to slap up a yellow "Have you hugged your FBI agent today?" sign on our car's window pane, isn't really that big of a surprise), and then turns the questions to how Evelyn met this James Hurley in the first place. She recaps their first meeting, and Officer Dunderhead Number Sixty Billion promises to check it out. Office Dunderhead leaves. Brother Malcolm makes with the threats, warning Evelyn, "I'm not sure I can tolerate a nervous co-conspirator." She turns to face him and sighs, "I just want it over with, all right?" The ABC programming department, hardly able to track down so much as a leaf of Major Dad stationery beneath the crates of unsold second-season merchandise of the "Shape Of My Eckhardt: A Sixteen Month David Warner Calendar" or Cooking With The Guy Who Played The Mayor's Brother That One Time variety, all yell out "Word, Evelyn" in an eerie unison and order ten extra episodes of American's Wackiest Toaster Explosions to fill in an upcoming hole in the schedule. We want it over with too, Evelyn. We all do.
Many's the dramatic strings that ship us over to Wallie's (oh, how Diane lobbied and lobbied to change the name to "The First Wives Club" for just one episode, but alas…) where a tableau of six uniformed men hold cigars and gaze off in one direction at nothing in particular, the reason for which I am still today attempting to discern. Oh, Diane. You sure did invent art. Yes, you did. Some kind of lilting soprano aria blasts from the soundtrack. What this song really needs is some kind of a "runaway video" treatment of some kind. Anyone around here had any solid experience working in that delicate art of the so-called "runaway video" want to throw some tips in our…oh, hello, Director Keaton. They say in heaven love comes first. But you learned all about that back in your runaway video days, now didn't you? Into the frame skulks James "Baby Boom" Hurley followed by Donna "The Little Drummer Girl" Hayward, Donna quietly asserting, "James, we can't get out of this by ourselves. We're gonna need someone to help us." James recaps for the casual observer with no feet and a recently broken remote, "I didn't do anything. Malcolm killed Mr. Marsh. I'm being framed!" A bartender slides into the frame and asks Donna if she would like anything to drink (though she can't because right now she's with child and blah blee blarg oh ha ha ha, really), and she shoots back one of her patented as-a-test-case-study-for-the-young-Doctor-Atkins-I-really-ought-not-to-eat-or-drink-anything-at-all-unless-of-course-it's-bacon glare (y'know, that glare) and chokes out a polite enough "no, thanks" that sends the bartender packing. Donna pulls James over to the bar and suggests calling Ed, but James initially refuses. So she suggests it again, telling him, "We've gotta keep moving." James wants to take his chances talking to Evelyn, trying to convince Donna, "She'd listen to me, though. I know she would." Donna senses the extreme sexual tension that existed between James and Evelyn (and, in sensing it, is the very first) and plays the jealous once-girlfriend in asking, "Why?" Pause. Pause. Pause. Answer, James! I guess the words "she loved me for my good, sexy lovin'" shouldn't come easily to someone so young, but come on; I just sang an entire verse and chorus of "Mad About You" and even storyboarded some quick ideas for a runaway video during that endless break in the action.