In the small town of Rome, Wisconsin, the daily life of the quiet townspeople is disrupted when the Tin Man drops dead during a local production the "The Wizard of Oz" due to nicotine poisoning. Sheriff Jimmy Brock's investigation to the "accident" is further complicated by the fact that his wife, Jill, the local physician, has privileged information pertinent to the case. Meanwhile, Officer Kenny Lacos and Sheriff Brock's daughter, Kimberly, from his first marriage, make the acquaintance of a lounge singer passing through town. The other members of Sheriff Brock's ...
At a school show-and-tell exhibit, a student brings in a detached human hand, which alerts Sheriff Brock and his department that a serial killer, called the Green Bay Chopper, has come to town, and Maxine is reluctant to hand the investigation over to an shady FBI agent whom she thinks knows a little more than he knows about the case.
Maxine gets very involved with a diminutive circus dwarf who has arrived in Rome with a stolen elephant he claims was being abused in the circus. Meanwhile, Jill and Kimberly are in an uncomfortable position when a gifted teacher in Kimberly's high school loses his job and faces losing his life to a brain tumor.
On Halloween, the only witness to a 10-year-old suicide case breaks her silence to announce "murder" which sends Maxine off to dig into a local history of the victim's life. Meanwhile, Kimberly is reluctant to join her friends in a Halloween prank on Howard the confessor.
Jill declares herself a candidate for mayor when Pugen ignores the Rome Woman's Coalition, but her candidacy reveals something in her past life which she has kept hidden. Meanwhile, Kenny agrees to box with a former middleweight champion in a boxing match for charity.
A woman who is terminally ill dies at the nursing home with an orange in her mouth. 'The singing Nun' is suspected as a serial mercy killer. Judge Bone declares that assisted suicide is under constitutional protection.
As Sheriff Brock and his family plan a big thanksgiving dinner, Jill has to deal with the much younger woman that her father brings along for the dinner party. Douglas Wambaugh later appears at the Brock's for he has left his wife after finding out that she was cheating on him. Meanwhile, Kenny and Maxine, alone at the police station with a break in crime, share a meal during their shift.
When a local rabbi takes the entire public school to court for presenting a Christmas pageant to the town (because the town of Rome happens to happens to be 50% Jewish), the repercussions reveal that a music teacher, who refuses to obey Judge Bone's ruling not to bring on anymore Christmas pageants, isn't really who she seems to be.
The Christmas chaos of the year only begins when the family returns unexpectedly from a Christmas Eve outing and finds Kimberly in bed with her boyfriend, and Brock arrests him for statutory rape. This brings Brock's first wife, Lydia, to town to try to talk to Kimberly about the comings of womanhood. Meanwhile, Maxine and Ginny finds themselves held hostage for the night in the police station by a crazed homeless man in a Santa suit.
Sheriff Brock and the rest of the town is in a uproar after a middle-aged woman kills her husband by running over him with a steam roller, and Wambaugh attempts to build a temporary-insanity plea around the premise that she was going through menopause.
Kimberly tells her parents that she believes that her girlfriend, Jody, has been made pregnant by her father. Meanwhile, Maxine pursues a killer of ducks at a pond. Elsewhere, Kenny becomes involved with a most unusual young woman, named Elaine, when he stops her for a traffic offense, and who happens to be the other half of a set of twins.
Jill and Sheriff Brock find themselves on opposite sides when it's revealed that a local dentist is HIV-positive. Meanwhile, Maxine investigates neighbors reports that a new man in town is actually hiding the comatose body of his wife, so he can keep her alive until their child is born. Also, Kenny is officially and unofficially chastised for dating the twins, Elaine and Elena, concurrently.
The local doctor/corner, Carter Pike, finds himself the center of controversy when he makes an official note that a dead vagrant may have been exposed to radiation from a UFO and refuses to let the body he buried immediately in accordance with his Orthodox Jewish tradition.
Sheriff Brock and Mayor Pugen find themselves facing a group of angry Native Americans barricaded in the courthouse as a protest against the municipal golf course planned on an ancient tribal burial ground. Meanwhile, Jill is confronted by an angry Ginny leading another protest of other dwarf people offended by her use of hormones to stimulate the growth of an undersized little boy.
Kimberly develops serious questions about her sexuality after she and another girlfriend of hers, Julie, have shared a romantic kiss, and Matthew reveals the news to his parents which sends them in a panic. Brock's first wife, Lydia, arrives back in town to teach Kimberly about where she really stands on her sexuality. Meanwhile, Maxine and Kenny compete with each other for the post of under-sheriff. When Kenny is chosen to be the one, she responds by filing a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the whole station.
Jill finds herself in conflict with an aging blues singer with liver cirrhosis who collapses during a concert in Rome, and is deeply offended when she orders a pig's liver transplanted into her as a stopgap measure to save the singer's life. Meanwhile, Maxine undergoes a profound change when she helps deliver a baby girl and is later asked to care for the newborn by the fugitive mother.