1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 5 (USA)
110 x 60 minute episodes
New Yorker Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) is fresh out of medical college, and – failing to read the fine print in his scholarship conditions – finds he has no choice but to move for four years to the remote and somewhat eccentric hamlet of Cicely, in the wilds of Alaska to repay the State of Alaska for his medical school tuition.
Key characters included air taxi pilot (and Joel’s landlady) Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner); rich ex-astronaut Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin); Native American film buff Ed Chigliak (Darren E. Burrows); owner of the local bar (The Brick) and mayor Holling Vincoeur (John Collum); Holling’s waitress and eventual wife, Shelly Tombo (Cynthia Geary); Joel’s single-minded and monosyllabic Eskimo assistant Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles); no-nonsense septuagenarian Ruth-Anne Miller (Peg Phillips), owner of the General Store; and Chris “In The Morning” Stevens, the town’s resident radio DJ (John Corbett) on KBHR (“Kaybear”) at 57 on the AM dial.
Some of Northern Exposure‘s most groundbreaking episodes and themes were built around intermittent characters: Chris’s African-American half-brother Bernard (Richard Cummings, Jr.) and Marilyn’s healer cousin Leonard Quinhagak (Graham Greene) deepened and enhanced the show’s representation of many cultures; Gender and sexuality were explored through Ron (Doug Ballard) and Erick (Don R McManus), proprietors of the local inn (whose gay wedding was a primetime first); eccentric bush couple Adam (Adam Arkin) and Eve (Valerie Mahaffey) alluded to the ongoing battle of the sexes rendered centre stage by Joel and Maggie, and, with their exaggerated back-to-nature facade and conspicuously consumptive habits, also poked lighthearted fun at the show’s “yuppie” audience.
Star Rob Morrow left the series after five years (travelling through a mystic portal that deposited him back in New York City!) and was replaced by Paul Provenza and Teri Polo as new doctor Phillip Capra and his journalist wife, Michelle. The series ended a few months later.
The series was filmed not in Alaska, but in two small towns in Washington state – Bellevue and Roslyn. The mural for ‘Roslyn’s Cafe’ in the opening credits is an actual café. The apostrophe and an ‘S’ were added since the show is supposed to take place in the fictional settlement of Cicely, Alaska. After the show was completed the apostrophe and the ‘S’ were removed from the mural.
Dr Joel Fleischman
Maurice J. Minnifield
Holling Gustav Vincoeur
Darren E. Burrows
Shelly Marie Tambo
Dr Phillip Capra