Northern Exposure

From Academic Kids

Northern Exposure was a quirky, surreal, character-driven dramatic-comedy television show, originally broadcast between 1990 and 1995.

The central character was Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow), a New York Jewish doctor who is contractually obligated to practice in the tiny remote Alaskan town of Cicely for four years in order to repay a student loan from the state. The comedy centered originally on the clash between Fleischman's rather neurotic urban mindset and the individual, easy-going and community-minded people around him. As time went on, the show began to focus more and more on the quirky characters of the town.


Main characters

  • Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin), ex-astronaut, aging millionaire, entrepreneur, and all-American hero. Determined to make tiny Cicely the next boomtown: the "Alaskan Riviera," in his own words.
  • Chris Stevens (John Corbett), the philosophical ex-felon DJ, who intersperses the music of his morning show with musings on the nature of life and readings of everything from philosophy to Tolstoy and Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner), fiery, independent, yet somewhat neurotic bush-pilot, whose boyfriends all die in bizarre accidents. She has the mother of all love-hate relationships with Fleischman.
  • Shelly Tambo (Cynthia Geary), 18 year old Northwest Passage beauty pageant winner, brought to Cicely 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), a shy Native foundling and general go-fer 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 Buddha-like dispenser of native wisdom and common sense. Never uses one word where none will do.
  • Phil Capra (Paul Provenza), Joel's replacement as town doctor after the former takes to the wilderness. A refugee from the urban hustle of Los Angeles, Phil is more gracious than Joel in a small town setting, but perhaps even more hapless.
  • Michelle Schowdowski Capra (Teri Polo), Phil's wife. Worked as a reporter on newspaper owned by Maurice. When he started applying publishorial pressure, she decided she preferred waitressing at the brick. Has had visions of Joel's old rabbi, Schulman.

Recurring guest stars included:

It is also worth noting the involvement of series creator/producer/writer David Chase, who went on to bring The Sopranos to prominence.

Thematic and technical details

The main street of Cicely was actually that of Roslyn in Washington.

Northern Exposure's unique flavor comes from a combination of various influences: the show’s creators, Joshua Brand and John Falsey, had been members of the Esalen Institute in California where they imbibed an eclectically "spiritual" worldview, best exemplified in wisdom writings of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and American anthropologist Joseph Campbell (whose works are frequently referenced in the series). There are also fantasy elements, which were likely inherited from the novels of Carlos Castaneda and, on a higher level, the works of Latin American magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez. Both were also conversant with classical Russian Literature. This characteristic is evident in the drastically satirical elements from the show that are “trademarks” of the Russian literary grotesque style of such authors as Gogol and Dostoevsky. Above all, Northern Exposure explored the timeless themes that pattern the human condition: envy, love, hate, aging, snobbery, ambition, motherhood, alienation, boredom, et cetera, all in a broad-minded and humane manner that attracted a faithful following from around the globe.

The show made frequent use of dream and fantasy sequences and other dense imagery. In that sense, Northern Exposure could be described as a light hearted version of Twin Peaks which was filmed in the same area.

Other uses

Northern Exposure is also the name of a short series of arctic-themed trance music albums mixed by Sasha and John Digweed.

External links

Template:Wikiquote There are dozens of fan sites dedicated to Northern Exposure. Here are a few:

fi:Villi Pohjola hr:Život_na_sjeveru pl:Przystanek Alaska it:Un medico tra gli orsi


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