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The creators of Northern Exposure (NX) gave us a true viewing treat.
many shows tend to dumb down to the audience, NX asked you to wise up to
With dialogue that in some cases you needed a dictionary for, you had a
sense that this is how people should interact with one another. Although
characters were sometimes tough on each other, it was done lovingly. For
example, Maurice and Joel never really liked each other, but would always
there to help each other out, out of respect. If only we lived in a world
like this. With all that said, you sensed these characters were for real.
if you had been transplanted into Cicely, Alaska.
NX wasn't all mushy either. It picked its moments, and did so with perfect vigor. Intertwined were moments of humor, sometimes laugh out loud, sometimes feel-good with a smile. Joshua Brand and David Falsey found a way to work your emotions, tugging on them like a heartstring. You really fall in love with the characters. Never have I seen a show where you cared so much about what happened to them, with many elements of surprises. I found myself even weeping with Maurice (probably the coldest of the main characters) when he mourned his brother during a Kaddish that Joel was giving in remembrance to his Uncle Manny. You know why? Because you learned of his brother's passing and how it affected Maurice throughout the series. You really felt his pain. As well, I laughed out loud when Joel was being accused of being a Russian spy by the town when they were sick or when a recently squished Rick was brought in on the satellite that killed him during his funeral. I couldn't help but smile when after a picture was taken of everyone at Joel's house; they just scanned over it while Chris talked about being a community and what it means to be neighborly.
This show really taught me a lot, too. I learned of Shittake mushrooms, good French wines, Ingmar Bergman, tribal customs and stories, and clarified butter. I began watching this show in my mid-twenties when it was aired on A&E. I was just discovering the world around me and became a major influence on how I think and act now. I never knew a show that did as much research on things as this. They dig out obscure information that is true. They writers really did their homework and delivered with results. I wish there could be more creative writing in an era where reality shows and asinine sitcoms dominate the airwaves.
If you get the chance, do yourself a favor. Watch NX, and do it from the beginning. You'll be treated to hours of enjoyment. Especially Chris Steven's diatribes, which gave you moments of reflection. I have every episode on tape and watch it over and over. Everyone I've turned on to this show ends up loving it. One person even dreamt (in their sleep) about being there from time to time. I have shared that same experience. It usually comes when I haven't watched it in a while. I guess you can say I get withdrawal symptoms. Northern Exposure is addicting. A kind of drug I love being addicted to.
Northern Exposure has been one of very few shows that have brought both
laughter and tears to my eyes within each and every episode. There has
never been a series as consistent in warmth and love as this one. I'm not
sure if the writers were the same on similar (later) series like "Key West"
and "Going to Extremes" but these did not last as long and seem to be
unavailable in syndication.
Perhaps I lean toward enjoying eccentricity more than some, but throughout
any given episode's "quirky" moments there will always be an undercurrent
for the common man, and a generous one at that.
Having been a college DJ myself, I particularly appreciate the thoughtful
summaries at the conclusion of most episodes with Chris' venting his mellow
thoughts to the cold wilds of the Cicely (sp?) night.
If you don't have a fireplace, curl up with a Northern Exposure hour, and the effect will be much the same.
Northern Exposure is, without a doubt, one of the best television series of all time. Almost every episode was a wonderful creation that brought an unusual look at life into the homes of its viewers. The unique humor, sensitivity, and absolute professionalism of the creators, directors, and actors combined to make a show the likes of which will never be seen again. The show took an unusual approach in its presentation. Although Dr. Joel Fleishman was presented as the main character in the first episode, the show soon grew outside the main storyline of the New York doctor stuck working in a tiny, hole in the wall town in Alaska. Viewers got to know every character on the show, and as such, the premise was based more on the plot and storylines rather than the star quality of one or two actors. One week, we would see the ongoing love/hate relationship between Joel and Maggie, and the next week an episode about Ed finding his birth father would be presented. The characters themselves were brilliantly cast. The "louder" ones, like Maggie and Maurice sharply contrasted to others like Marilyn, who although a main character, made her impressive presence known more through silence and eye language than words. Few characters can make an audience laugh out loud with nothing but a facial expression (In some cases, even less!) The final season, when Joel is replaced by Dr. Capra, is substantially weaker than the previous seasons, except for the last two episodes, which are exceptional. Reruns continue on cable, and if you want to see a show that is still fresh and lively (as it will probably be for many years to come) see this one.
I am currently reviewing the episodes on Hallmark. This show is actually
better the second time around! I had always believed that this was a
'smarter than the average view' kind of show as few people seemed to
understand the subtle humor evoked from the characters and Alaskan
Alaska is, perhaps, the US of A's final frontier as we seem to have given up
on our manned conquest of space. The Cold War was over, and we (at that
time) seemed to harbor no serious threats - we embraced the Russians and
Chinese, learned that we were a funny conglomerate of diverse identities
making an attempt at universal peace and understanding.
The characters were believable and the acting inspiring!
After ten years I still feel the magic!
This will be a classic - if only in TV/Psych 101....
No matter where you hear about this show it is obvious even here that people can only say good things about it. I decided to comment on it based on my belief that the series contained some of the greatest television writing that I can remember. The scripts were excellently compelling and intriguing. Just when you thought that you could label a character and prophesize what they were to do next their personalities were stretched. Over the course of the shows six seasons they characters acted out brilliantly by the likes of John Corbett, Janine Turner, and Rob Morrow created what I and many others would select as the best hour-long program to ever hit the tube.
This show is so accurately written and filmed that all people can identify with the eclectic people of fictional Cicely, Alaska. There won't be any more intelligent and cinematic shows like this again! We are stuck watching bland sitcoms or turning off the TV(not a bad suggestion). I used to live in Alaska for 4yrs. and the people there are the most diverse and friendly that I have ever come across. Each episode draws us into the lives and problems and joys of the cast along with the beautiful scenery and Native Indian influences that are VERY accurate, such as the Tlingtit tribe and Athabaskans. A pure treasure that I will enjoy for years to come. Please watch and I dare you not to become attached to the quirky characters of "Northern Exposure". Joel, the displaced NY doctor who has to work off his college scholarship learns invaluable lessons of life from the wonderful people of Cicely. I wish they had made a lot more episodes! Brand and Falsey created a masterpiece that is still copied today but never come close to being as well written and filmed. I LOVE THIS SHOW!
I'm not much of a "TV series" watcher. Most of them are extremely
shallow or violent or forced funny. The very few I have really enjoyed
over the years are MASH, TAXI, and Northern Exposure. That's not many,
in over 40 years of viewing.
All 3 of the series I've enjoyed have common threads - they are set in unique locations, have a broad array of quirky characters, are extremely well-written and acted, are genuinely funny in just the right places, and most of all, leave you with a really genuine "message" about life and relationships. Without fail.
Of the 3 I mention, Northern Exposure is the best, in my opinion. My favorite is the episode where Maggie and Maurice go half-and-half to buy and build a small airplane, have a falling out that ends up just perfect, and the final scene, with the airplane flying during the funeral was so emotional that it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.
Unfortunately, when Rob Morrow left the show, it was never the same. I suspect the same would have happened if any of the 5 or 6 key characters had departed. After 5 years it was probably time anyway. But it lives on via DVD sets.
This series is by far the best series ever. It ignores bland stereotypes and sleezy "one-liners", it's true, it's real. Real emotion, real plot. Northern Exposure is a show that involves the thought process. It's about a doctor from New York trapped in a small Alaskan town called Cicely. But the show goes more into depth than just "a trapped doctor". We laugh and cry for Northern Exposure.
For me, this series tied with the X-Files as 'Best of the Decade: 90's'
and I miss it terribly (but I'm not willing to buy the DVD package that
is out now -- I'm waiting for the owners to give this program the kind
of presentation it deserves.)
I don't mind paying for quality and this show had that in premise, setting, plotting, characterization, acting, and don't forget music -- the works. Humor, drama, introspection, surrealism, dream-scapes. Characters young and old, native and transplant, cynical and naive, material, mystical, and misanthrope -- and all (eventually) lovable.
It made me care about real people I had already written off as too something -- too neurotic, too caustic, too silly. I helped me see the flaws in people I had been too easily persuaded by -- intellectuals, philosophers, and mystics, with clay feet in mud that I had never noticed.
It made me want to fling pianos, and dance on my own grave. I can't wait to get it into my permanent collection.
UPDATE: I did buy the DVDs, used, and I haven't been sorry. There are scenes where the generic music is SO WRONG -- in particular the Flying Man dancing with the scarf -- but even so, the quality of the material outweighs the problems with the package.
I loved this show and it's quirky ensemble. The stories were clever and there will never be another show quite like this one. I loved each and everyone of the characters. I also loved how they used some of the psychological aspects of the episodes. My favorite epys include episodes involving Shelly during her pregnancy particularly one where she sees the phases of her daughters life as though seeing the future of her child. Another are the episodes with the Rabbi and Joel Fleischman; Maggie and the Bear who magically transform into a handsome man in order to be with her for a few days is one of the most romantic and classic Northern Exposure episodes. I miss this show, but thank God for reruns.
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