That’s as good as it gets, though, since the characters remain closely tethered to the surface symbols defining them. A whirling dervish in a red-leather miniskirt, Kirshner is handed some temporary humility by a handsome Native lad (Adam Beach), but her whining selfishness proves unbearable.
It’s hammered home that bad-mother Dale keeps all her buttons tight thanks to her unfeeling family, but we never glimpse the qualities that make her a good teacher (she’s up for a gig at Harvard) or even an interesting person. Harrison drinks, womanizes, and wears bad ties because, well, that’s what poets do.
Equal automotive blame belongs to Behrens, who hurls this initially attractive vehicle straight into a no-escape bog, and Kendall, who asks too little of the always-reliable Dale and far too much of young Kirshner — no one should have to pout, scream and cry this much.
Former MOW hunk Harrison, here going by the “Simpsons”-esque name of Sam LaRiviere, is just about right, and smaller roles are well handled, with John Goodman lookalike Mike Crimp a standout as the town’s jolly, bagpipe-puffing cop.
Regional lensing is exceptionally good, although marred somewhat by substandard editing and dull, TV-predictable music.