Northern ExposureNorthern Exposure
was a quirky, surreal
, character-driven comedy
television show that aired from 1990
The central character was Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow), a New York Jewish doctor who in order to repay a student loan is forced to work four years in the tiny remote Alaskan town of Cicely. The comedy centred originally on the clash between Fleischman's urban mindset and the individual, easy-going and community-minded people around him. As time went on the focus became more on the quirky characters of the town.
Some of the more notable characters were:
- Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin), ex-astronaut, ageing millionaire, entrepreneur and all-American hero, determined to make tiny Cicely the next boomtown;
- Chris Stevens (John Corbett), the philosophical ex-felon DJ, who intersperses the music of his morning show with musings on the nature of life, or readings from philosophers, Tolstoy and "Where the Wild Things Are";
- Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner), fiery and independent bush-pilot, whose boyfriends all die in bizarre accidents, and who has the mother of all love-hate relationships with Fleischman;
- Shelly Tambo (Cynthia Geary), Manitoban beauty pageant winner, brought to Cicily by Maurice, who had fallen in love with her. However immediately on arrival she met, fell in love with, and now lives with:
- Holling Vincoeur (John Cullum), the sexagenarian ex-hunter, now given up killing and the owner of 'The Brick' bar and restaurant, where he lives with Shelly Tambo. Best friend of Maurice until they fell out over Shelly, his main worry is that, since the males of his family mostly live to over 100, Shelly will die before he does;
- Ruth-Anne Miller (Peg Phillips) octogenarian owner of the local store;
- Ed Chigliak (Darren E. Burrows), native foundling and general gopher for Maurice, learned everything he knows about life and the outside world from movies, especially those of Woody Allen. Ed is a Shaman-in-training and is occasionally visited by his invisible spirit guide, 'One Who Waits';
- Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles), Fleishman's self-appointed receptionist and dispenser of native wisdom and common sense. Never uses one word where none will do.
Recurring guest stars included Alan Arkin
as wildman/gourmet chef/possible ex-CIA agent 'Adam'; Anthony Edwards
as the hyperallergic lawyer Mike Monroe, exiled to Cicely for the sake of his health; Graham Greene
as Leonard Quinhagak, the native witch-doctor and Ed's mentor; Richard Cummings Jr as Bernard Stevens, Chris' half-brother; William J. White as Dave, the cook.
Also notable is the involvement of series creator/producer/writer David Chase, who went on to bring The Sopranos to prominence.
The show frequently made use of dream and fantasy sequences and other dense imagery and could be described as a light hearted version of Twin Peaks.
There are dozens of fan sites dedicated to Northern Exposure, nearly ten years after it went off the air. Here are a few.