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Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure
Created by Joshua Brand
John Falsey
Starring Rob Morrow
Barry Corbin
Janine Turner
John Cullum
Darren E. Burrows
John Corbett
Cynthia Geary
Elaine Miles
Peg Phillips
Paul Provenza (1994–95)
Teri Polo (1994–95)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 110 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) 1990–93: Joshua Brand and John Falsey
1994–95: David Chase, Diane Frolov, and Andrew Schneider
Running time Approx 45 minutes per episode
Production company(s) Cine-Nevada Productions
Universal Television
Falahey/Austin Street Productions
Finnegan-Pinchuk Productions
Original channel CBS
Original release July 12, 1990 – July 26, 1995

Northern Exposure is an American television series that ran on CBS from 1990 to 1995, with a total of 110 episodes. It dealt with a New York City physician, Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is sent to practice in the (fictional) town of Cicely, Alaska. Early episodes dealt with Fleischman's culture shock in the small town. While the show was nominally premised on the fish out of water conflict between Fleischman's big city ways and the small town mores of the Cicely residents, its focus shifted to dive more deeply into the quirky personalities of the eccentric townfolk.


The show was originally centered on Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), a newly minted physician from New York City. In order to pay for medical school, Fleischman had enrolled in a state run scholarship program which paid for his costs in exchange for a few years service at a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. Because the hospital was overstaffed he was instead re-located to treat an underserved community in the (fictional) rural town of Cicely, where no medical clinic existed before his arrival. Fleischman resisted, claiming it to be illegal. However the fine print of his contract supported such a placement. Hilarity ensues as the 'big city' young man learns to live and work in an environs completely foreign to him.


The series was given a pair of consecutive Peabody Awards: in 1991–92 for the show's "depict[ion] in a comedic and often poetic way, [of] the cultural clash between a transplanted New York City doctor and the townspeople of fictional Cicely, Alaska"[1] and its stories of "people of different backgrounds and experiences" clashing but who ultimately "strive to accept their differences and co-exist".[1]

It received a total of 57 award nominations during its five-year run and won 27, including the 1992 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, two additional Primetime Emmy Awards, four Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globes.[2]

The series was created by Brand-Falsey - Maverick, David Lindquist's Roommate Productions. Critic John Leonard called Northern Exposure "the best of the best television in the past 10 years".[3] Simon Pegg has stated that the series was one of the influences on the British sitcom Spaced.[4]

Northern Exposure has aired in South Africa under a different name; the first four seasons were broadcast in Afrikaans as Goeie Môre, Alaska!, Afrikaans for "Good Morning, Alaska!".


The show started as an eight-episode summer midseason replacement series on CBS in 1990.[3][5][6] It returned for seven more episodes in spring 1991, then became a regular part of the network's schedule in 1991–1992. It ranked among the top 10 viewed by 18 to 49 year-olds,[7] and was part of the network's 1992–1993, and 1993–1994 schedules. Its last season, 1994–1995, included a gap during the May 1995 sweeps when CBS broadcast other programming. "The show had a lot of life in it, and the move (Wednesday at 10pm) killed it," says executive producer Andrew Schneider. "This piddling out is sad." [8]

Northern Exposure first concentrated on the protagonist Joel Fleischman, with storylines revolving around his fish-out-of-water difficulties adjusting to Alaska, and his hot-and-cold romantic involvements with Maggie O'Connell. As Northern Exposure continued, supporting characters such as Chris, Ed, Holling, Shelly, Maurice, and Ruth-Anne (along with recurring characters such as Adam and Eve, Barbara Semanski, and Bernard) received more development.

Rob Morrow (Joel Fleischman) and his representatives spent much of Seasons 4 and 5 lobbying for an improved contract,[9] and intermittently threatened to leave the show. The producers responded by reducing Fleischman's role in the storylines, and introducing characters such as Mike Monroe (season 4) and Dr. Phil Capra (season 6) to partially compensate for the absence of Morrow.

Cast and characters

File:Cynthia Geary Rob Morrow and Janine Turner at the 45th Emmy Awards.jpg
Cynthia Geary, Rob Morrow, and Janine Turner at the 1993 Emmy Awards
File:Peg Phillips and Barry Cobin.jpg
Peg Phillips and Barry Corbin at the 1993 Emmy Awards
  • Rob Morrow starred for most of the series as Joel Fleischman, leaving halfway through the final season. Joel is a Jewish physician and the proverbial fish out of water from New York City;[6] fresh out of family medicine residency, he arrives in the remote Alaskan town of Cicely, contractually bound to practice for four years to repay a student loan from the state of Alaska.
  • Barry Corbin as Maurice Minnifield, a successful businessman and celebrated former astronaut. Maurice owns the local newspaper and radio station, KBHR 570 AM, and Script error: No such module "convert". of land he hopes to develop. Determined to make tiny Cicely the "Alaskan Riviera", Maurice arranges to bring Joel to the town.
  • Janine Turner as Maggie O'Connell, a tomboyish Grosse Pointe debutante turned Alaska bush pilot, who develops a love-hate relationship with Joel. The sexual tension between the two and their opposed views on most subjects are sources of frequent conflict. The character of Maggie O'Connell was inspired by the real-life aviator Norah O'Neill, who wrote the book, Flying Tigress, about her experiences flying in the Alaskan Bush in the 1970s. O'Neill and Janet Leigh pitched the idea for a show about a female bush pilot before the idea was developed into Northern Exposure.[citation needed]
  • John Cullum as Holling Vincoeur, the Canadian-born sexagenarian owner of the Brick, a bar and restaurant. He and Maurice are best friends, though their relationship was strained at one time by their mutual romantic interest in the much younger Shelly Tambo. Despite being at least 40 years older than Shelly, Holling is afraid that he will outlive her since men in his family live very long lives often over 100.
  • Cynthia Geary as Shelly Tambo, another Canadian expatriate and former Miss Northwest Passage, who is a waitress at the Brick, where she lives with Holling. She was brought to Cicely by Maurice, who had hoped to marry her. The character was planned to be of Native American descent until Geary auditioned for the role and was selected.[10]
  • John Corbett as Chris Stevens, a philosophical ex-convict who works as the disc jockey at KBHR 570 AM. Between songs, Chris offers comments on events in Cicely and more intellectual subjects, and occasionally functions as a non-denominational pastor at weddings.
  • Darren E. Burrows as Ed Chigliak, a mild-mannered, half-native Alaskan foundling raised by local Tlingits. Ed does odd jobs for Maurice and works part-time at the local general store. He is a film buff and would-be movie director.
  • Peg Phillips as Ruth-Anne Miller, the level-headed owner of the general store and 30 year resident of Cicely. A widow, Ruth-Anne lives alone until late in the series, when she becomes involved with Walt Kupfer (Moultrie Patten), a fur trapper and retired stockbroker.
  • Elaine Miles as Marilyn Whirlwind, Joel's undemonstrative native-Alaskan receptionist. Her few words and calm demeanor are a strong contrast to her employer's loquaciousness and high-strung temperament.

In the show's last season, two new characters were introduced to try to fill the void left by Morrow's departure:

  • Paul Provenza as Phil Capra, recruited as town physician after Joel takes to the wilderness.
  • Teri Polo as Michelle Schowdowski Capra, Phil's wife. She also works as a reporter for a newspaper owned by Maurice.

Major recurring characters include Apesanahkwat as Lester Haines (a native millionaire), Anthony Edwards as Mike Monroe (allergy sufferer and ecological watchdog), Richard Cummings Jr. as Bernard Stevens (Chris's half-brother and "spiritual doppelgänger"), James L. Dunn as Hayden Keyes (ex-con on the fence), William J. White as Dave the Cook (an employee fixture at The Brick), Graham Greene as Leonard (the official local shaman), Diane Delano as Officer Barbara Semanski (and Maurice's love interest), Adam Arkin as foodie and master chef Adam, and Valerie Mahaffey as his chronically hypochondriacal wife Eve; Mahaffey was the only actor from the series to win an Emmy Award.[2]


Although the town of Cicely is widely thought to be patterned after the real town of Talkeetna, Alaska,[11][12] the main street of Cicely and the filming location was that of Roslyn, Washington, located in the Cascade Mountains. "Northern Exposure II" (the main production facility) was located in Redmond, Washington, in what is now the headquarters of Genie Industries, behind a business park.

According to The Northern Exposure Book, the moose in the opening titles was named Mort and was provided by Washington State University, where he was part of a captive herd. To film the opening sequence, the crew fenced off Roslyn, set him loose, and lured him around with food.[13]


Notable episodes in the series include the pilot (nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Writing"[2]), the third season's last episode, "Cicely" (which won a Peabody Award,[1] three Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and a Directors Guild of America Award), and the fifth season episode "I Feel the Earth Move", which featured the second same-sex marriage story arc on U.S. prime-time television.[6] (Fox's Roc aired the first U.S. prime time television episode depicting a same-sex marriage, "Can't Help Loving That Man", on October 20, 1991.)

Reception: awards and reviews


Over the course of Northern Exposure's run, the series was nominated for over fifty Emmy Awards and multiple Golden Globe awards. In addition, Joshua Brand and John Falsey received two Peabody Awards, in 1991 and 1992, sharing the latter award with CBS and Finnegan-Pinchuk Company. During one of their thank you speeches, Brand and Falsey said that they appreciated the drama awards, "but it's a comedy".[citation needed]

The show's other awards include:


Emmy Award:

  • 1994 – 3 Nominations, 1 win
  • 1993 – 16 Nominations
  • 1992 – 16 Nominations, 6 wins
  • 1991 – 3 Nominations

Golden Globe:

  • 1994 – 3 Nominations
  • 1993 – 4 Nominations, 1 win
  • 1992 – 3 Nominations, 1 win

Additional awards and nominations

  • American Cinema Editors – Eddie nomination for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television – Briana London – for episode "Lovers and Madmen"
  • Environmental Media Awards, USA – Award for Ongoing Commitment – Josh Brand and John Falsey
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards – Nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
  • BMI TV Music Award: Northern Exposure – David Schwartz
  • Casting Society of America, USA – Artios nomination for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic – Megan Branman
  • American Cinema Editors – Eddie nomination for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television – Briana London – for episode "Cicely"
  • American Society of Cinematographers, USA – ASC Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series – Frank Prinzi
  • BMI TV Music Award: Northern Exposure – David Schwartz
  • Casting Society of America, USA – Artios nomination for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic – Megan Branman
  • Directors Guild of America Award – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Shows – Night – for episode "Cicely"
    • Robert Loeser (second assistant director) (plaque)
    • Patrick McKee (first assistant director) (plaque)
    • Jack Terry (II) (unit production manager) (plaque)
    • Robert C. Thompson
  • Directors Guild Award – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Shows – Night – For episode "Kaddish for Uncle Manny"
    • Michael Lange
  • Electronic Media Critics Poll – Best Television Series
  • Environmental Media Awards, USA – EMA Award TV Drama – for episode "Survival of the Species"
  • Retirement Research Foundation, USA – Wise Owl Award – Honorable Mention Television and Theatrical Film Fiction – Joshua Brand (executive) John Falsey (executive) – for episode "Three Amigos"
  • BMI TV Music Award: Northern Exposure – David Schwartz
  • Casting Society of America, USA – Artios for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic – Megan Branman and Patricia Carnes Kalles
  • Electronic Media Critics Poll – Best Television Series
  • Grammy Award Nomination: Northern Exposure Theme – David Schwartz
  • Peabody Award – Presented to Falsey-Austin Street Productions for Northern Exposure, for presenting episodic drama on television with intelligence, sensitivity and humor.
  • PGA Golden Laurel Awards – Television Producer of the Year Award – Joshua Brand and John Falsey
  • Retirement Research Foundation, USA – Wise Owl Award – Honorable Mention Television and Theatrical Film Fiction – Joshua Brand (executive), John Falsey (executive) – for episode "A Hunting We Will Go"
  • Television Critics Association – Program of the Year
  • Viewers for Quality Television – John Cullum, Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • Viewers for Quality Television – Adam Arkin, Best Specialty Player
  • Young Artist Awards – nomination for Best Young Actor Guest-Starring or Recurring Role in a TV Series – Grant Gelt, for episode "Goodbye to All That"
  • Casting Society of America, USA – Artios win for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Pilot – Megan Branman, Patricia Carnes Kalles and Lynn Kressel
  • Casting Society of America, USA – Artios nomination for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic – Megan Branman and Patricia Carnes Kalles
  • Electronic Media Critics Poll – Best Television Series


Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker gave the first episode a B+, writing that the show “may well prove to be summer television’s most likably eccentric series”.[14]

It has not been rated on Metacritic.[15]

TV ratings



Northern Exposure: Music From The Television Series (USA, original soundtrack, 1992)
MCA Records, Inc. MCAD-10685[17]

  1. "Theme from Northern Exposure" – David Schwartz (Pilot, Kodiak)
  2. "Jolie Louise" – Daniel Lanois (Pilot, The Body in Question, Old Tree)
  3. "Hip Hug-Her" – Booker T. and the MG's (Animals R Us; My Mother, My Sister)
  4. "At Last" – Etta James [Slow Dance]
  5. "Everybody Be Yoself" – Chic Street Man (Spring Break)
  6. "Alaskan Nights" – David Schwartz (It Happened in Juneau, Our Tribe)
  7. "Don Quichotte" – Magazine 60 (Jules et Joel)
  8. "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" – Nat 'King' Cole and His Trio (The Big Kiss)
  9. "Emabhaceni" – Miriam Makeba (Roots)
  10. "Gimme Three Steps" – Lynyrd Skynyrd (My Mother, My Sister)
  11. "Bailero" from Chants d'Auvergne – F. VonStade, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Antonio de Almeda, conductor (Wake-Up Call)
  12. David Schwartz Medley:
"A Funeral in My Brain" (Things Become Extinct, Our Tribe, Ill Wind,...)
"Woody the Indian" (Sex, Lies, and Ed's Tape)
"The Tellakutans" (Seoul Mates, The Body in Question)

More Music From Northern Exposure (USA, 1994)
MCA Records, Inc. MCAD-11077

  1. Ojibway Square Dance (Love Song) &ndash Georgia Wettlin-Larsen
  2. Theme from Northern Exposure &ndash David Schwartz
  3. Stir It Up – Johnny Nash
  4. Mambo Baby – Ruth Brown
  5. Someone Loves You – Simon Bonney
  6. The Ladder – David Schwartz
  7. If You Take Me Back – Big Joe & His Washboard Band
  8. Un Marriage Casse (A Broken Marriage) – Basin Brothers
  9. There I Go Again – Vinx
  10. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (and Dream Your Troubles Away) – Les Paul & Mary Ford
  11. Mooseburger Stomp – David Schwartz
  12. I May Want a Man – Joanne Shenandoah
  13. Our Town—played full-length during the closing scene and credits for the last episode (July 26, 1995) – Iris Dement

Ausgerechnet Alaska (German covers, 1992),[17]
Distributed by IDEAL Vertrieb, Wichmannstr. 4, 2000 Hamburg 52 (Out of Print)

  1. The Moose – Northern Exposure Theme-Mix
  2. The Kingsmen – Louie Louie
  3. Little MiltonStand by Me
  4. Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya
  5. Billy Stewart – Summertime
  6. Little RichardGood Golly Miss Molly
  7. Coasters – Little Egypt
  8. The Drifters – On Broadway
  9. Dolly Parton – It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
  10. Guy Mitchell – Singing The Blues
  11. Patsy Cline – Crazy
  12. Paul AnkaMy Way
  13. The Marcels – Blue Moon
  14. Showaddywaddy – Who Put The Bomp
  15. Trini Lopez – This Is Your Land
  16. Jerry ButlerMoon River
  17. Andy WilliamsLove Is a Many-Splendored Thing

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all six seasons on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4. The Region 1 DVD releases have caused controversy among the show's fans due to their high prices and the changes to the soundtrack introduced in order to lower their costs.[18] The release of Season 1 contained the original music, but retailed for $60 due to the cost of music licensing. Subsequent seasons replaced most of the music with generic elevator-style music, resulting in a lower-cost release. The first and second seasons were also re-released together in packaging that matches the third through sixth seasons.

DVD Name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 8 May 25, 2004 May 21, 2001 February 18, 2004
The Complete Second Season 7 November 30, 2004 May 9, 2005 July 13, 2005
The Complete Third Season 23 June 14, 2005 January 30, 2006 March 8, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season 25 March 28, 2006 July 31, 2006 September 20, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season 24 November 13, 2006 January 22, 2007 February 21, 2007
The Complete Sixth and Final Season 23 March 6, 2007 June 25, 2007 July 4, 2007
The Complete Series 110 November 13, 2007 October 8, 2007 November 11, 2009

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b c "Peabody Awards won by Brand-Falsey Productions". The Peabody Board at the University of Georgia. 
  2. ^ a b c Awards for Northern Exposure from the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ a b Producing Northern Exposure from the website for the book Two Aspirins and a Comedy (ISBN 1594511551)
  4. ^ Larry Getlen (20 July 2008). "Hey, Mr Spaced Man". New York Post. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Review/Television; As Networks Go Rural, CBS Goes a Bit Further, an April 1991 article in The New York Times
  6. ^ a b c Christine Scodari. "Northern Exposure: U.S. Dramedy". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ Mark Harris & Kelli Pryor (26 July 1991). "Total Exposure". Entertainment Weekly. (via Moosechick Notes, a fansite). Retrieved 21 July 2009. The loyalty the show excites even reached into network offices. "Of course it will be back next September," said one senior CBS executive long before the series was renewed. "My God, there are people here who would start a hanging party if it weren't." When CBS, thirsting for younger viewers, brought Exposure back this spring, it became a top 10 hit among the coveted audience of 18 to 49 year-olds. In the 10 p.m. Monday time slot following Designing Women, the show is drawing its best ratings ever. 
  8. ^ Fretts, Bruce; Snierson, Dan (June 2, 1995). "'Twas the Season". Entertainment Weekly. 
  9. ^ Cerone, Daniel (July 2, 1992). "'Northern Exposure,' Star in Icy Dispute : Television: Holdout Rob Morrow is sued by Universal. He reportedly wants his $30,000-per-episode salary doubled". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Interview to CYNTHIA GEARY
  11. ^ Talkeetna, Alaska from
  12. ^ Fictional places we love: Cicely, Alaska, on 'Northern Exposure' from
  13. ^ The Northern Exposure Book. 1995.[page needed]. ISBN 0-8065-1623-2. 
  14. ^ 20 Years Ago: The premiere of 'Northern Exposure' | PopWatch |
  15. ^ Northern Exposure—Season 1 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic
  16. ^ Du Brow, Rick (January 14, 1995). "CBS Moves 'Exposure' Out Into the Cold : Commentary: The switch to Wednesday night has been a disaster for the gentle series". Los Angeles Times. 
  17. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions List for "Northern Exposure"". Sharon Bond, Jason Cowart. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  18. ^ Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD, a 2005 Wired article

External links