Have you ever seen a TV show and thought, “Man, I’d love to live there.”? Over a period of time recently, I watched all 110 episodes of Northern Exposure and felt the same pull I had in the early 1990s when I originally watched the series.
Northern Exposure ran on CBS from July 1990 to July 1995, receiving a total of 57 nominations during its run, and won 27. Critic John Leonard called it “…the best of the best television in the past 10 years.” I would place it in the best of the best of all time.
Set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, Northern Exposure is the classic “fish out of water” story, but so much more. New York native Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow), a recently graduated physician, is sent to practice medicine in—he thinks—Anchorage, Alaska to repay the state for underwriting his medical education. But instead, he is sent to the small, remote town of Cicely, which needs a general practitioner. Joel is not a happy camper, to say the least.
Here is where the magic happens. Cicely is populated by an eclectic blend of people, many of them eccentric, and much of the time, Joel doesn’t quite know what to make of them. Mysticism, dream sequences, and some real oddballs are thrown into the mix. Joel has a love/hate relationship with Maggie O’Connell (played by Janine Turner), who happens to be a professional bush pilot and Joel’s landlord. Though Cicely and its residents grow on him, all he wants is to return to his beloved New York.
You won’t find Northern Exposure on any streaming service, something to do with the high cost of securing the music rights, and that the creators didn’t want to compromise by replacing the music used at the time with generic music. I have to say, I can’t fault them for that. The music used in the show is outstanding and diverse, and adds to its depth; it shouldn’t be replaced with generic fare. But you can buy the entire series for, as of this posting, $57.40 on Amazon. If you like quirky TV shows and movies, which I do, the price is well worth it.
Now, I’ll get to the “why” of this post: the song “Our Town” sang by Iris DeMent. It is the last song played in the last episode of Northern Exposure. As the episode ends, this song is played while we get a goodbye look at all the characters and Cicely. If you listen to it on YouTube, we can’t see Cicely and its residents, but we can hear the nostalgic song. I have to say, my heart hurts when I hear “Our Town.” I miss Cicely. I want to live there.
If you’ve read this far, I encourage you to click on the link below to listen to “Our Town.” I don’t think you’ll be disappointed you did.
©2021 KT Workman