Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure-Intertitle.jpg
Format Comedy-drama[1]
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 (1994-5)
Teri Polo (1994-5)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 110 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) 1990-1993: Joshua Brand and John Falsey
1994-1995: David Chase, Diane Frolov, and Andrew Schneider
Running time Approx 45 minutes per episode
Original channel CBS
Original run 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.



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"[2] and its stories of "people of different backgrounds and experiences" clashing but who ultimately "strive to accept their differences and co-exist."[2]

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.[3]

The series was created by Brand-Falsey Productions. Critic John Leonard called Northern Exposure "the best of the best television in the past 10 years."[4] Simon Pegg has stated that the series was one of the influences on the British sitcom Spaced.[5]


The show started as an eight-episode summer replacement series on CBS in 1990.[4][6][7] It returned for seven more episodes in spring 1991, then became a regular part of the network's schedule in 1991-92, where it was among the top 10 among 18 to 49-year-olds,[8] as well as in 1992-93, and 1993-94. Its last season, 1994-95, included a gap during May 1995 sweeps when CBS broadcast other programming.

Northern Exposure began with a focus on Joel Fleischman as an audience-identification character for urban "lower 48" viewers, 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[citation needed], 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.


Cynthia Geary, Rob Morrow, and Janine Turner at the 1993 Emmy Awards
Peg Phillips and Barry Corbin at the 1993 Emmy Awards
  • Rob Morrow as Joel Fleischman, starred for most of the series, leaving halfway through the final season. Joel is a Jewish physician and the proverbial fish out of water from New York City,[7] 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, played a successful businessman and celebrated former astronaut. Maurice owns the local radio station KBHR 570 AM and newspaper, and 15,000 acres (61 km2) 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, played a 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.
  • John Cullum as Holling Vincoeur, was the 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 love for the much younger Shelly Tambo.
  • Cynthia Geary as Shelly Tambo was a waitress at the Brick, a town tavern where she lives with Holling. She was brought to Cicely by Maurice, who had hoped to marry her. The character was originally slated to be of Native American descent until Geary auditioned for the role.[9]
  • John Corbett as Chris Stevens, played a philosophical ex-felon who works as the disc jockey at KBHR 570 AM. In between songs, Chris offers comments about events in Cicely and more intellectual subjects.
  • Darren E. Burrows as Ed Chigliak, was 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, played 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, a fur-trapper and retired stockbroker.
  • Elaine Miles as Marilyn Whirlwind, was Joel's native Alaskan receptionist. Her few words and calm demeanor are a strong contrast with her employer's talkativeness and high-strung temperament.

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

  • Paul Provenza as Phil Capra, was recruited as town physician after Joel takes to the wilderness.
  • Teri Polo as Michelle Schowdowski Capra, was 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), 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), 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.[3]


Although the town of Cicely is widely thought to be patterned after the real town of Talkeetna, Alaska,[10][11] the main street of Cicely and the filming location was actually that of Roslyn, Washington. 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.

Prior to producing Northern Exposure, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the popular television program St. Elsewhere. Series producer and writer David Chase went on to produce, amongst other things, The Sopranos.

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.[12]


Notable episodes in the series include the pilot (nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Writing"[3]), the third season's last episode "Cicely" (which was recognized with a Peabody Award,[2] 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 first same-sex marriage story arc on U.S. prime-time television.[7]

Reception: Awards/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 (1992), Joshua Brand and John Falsey, Outstanding Drama Series.
  • Emmy Award (1992), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Valerie Mahaffey.
  • Emmy Award (1992), Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Drama Series for "Seoul Mates."
  • Golden Globe (1993), Best Drama series.
  • Golden Globe (1994), Best Drama series.
  • Directors Guild Award (1993), Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Shows, "Cicely"


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/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 Comittment - 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 and "I'll Fly Away" 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 (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 Exposure “may well prove to be summer television’s most likably eccentric series.” [13]

It has not been rated on Metacritic. [14]

TV ratings

season 1: 12.4 rating season 2: 15.5 rating season 3: 16.3 rating season 4: 15.8 rating season 5: 14.5 rating [15] season 6: 11.2 rating

Series Debut [1]


Ausgerechnet Alaska (1992)

  1. The Moose - Northern Exposure Theme-Mix
  2. The Kingsmen - Louie Louie
  3. Little Milton - Stand by Me
  4. Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya
  5. Billy Steward - Summertime
  6. Little Richard - Good 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 Anka - My Way
  13. The Marcels - Blue Moon
  14. Showaddiwaddi - Who Put The Bomp
  15. Trini Lopez - This Is Your Land
  16. Jerry Butler - Moon River
  17. Andy Williams - Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

More Music From Northern Exposure (1994)

  1. Georgia Wettlin-Larsen - Ojibway Square Dance (Love Song)
  2. David Schwartz - Theme from Northern Exposure
  3. Johnny Nash - Stir It Up
  4. Ruth Brown - Mambo Baby
  5. Simon Bonney - Someone Loves You
  6. David Schwartz - The Ladder
  7. Big Joe & His Washboard Band - If You Take Me Back
  8. Basin Brothers - Un Marriage Casse (A Broken Marriage)
  9. Vinx - There I Go Again
  10. Les Paul & Mary Ford - Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (and Dream Your Troubles Away)
  11. David Schwartz - Mooseburger Stomp
  12. Joanne Shenandoah - I May Want a Man

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all six seasons on DVD in Regions 1, 2 & 4. The Region 1 DVD releases have caused controversy among the show's fans, due to their high prices and for the changes to the soundtrack introduced in order to lower their costs.[16] 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 Season 23 March 6, 2007 June 25, 2007 July 4, 2007
The Complete Series 110 November 13, 2007 October 8, 2007 November 11, 2009

Related television shows

Brand and Falsey also created St. Elsewhere (1982–1988), A Year in the Life (1987–1988) and I'll Fly Away (1991–1993), the latter of which shared in one of the Peabody Awards given to Northern Exposure;[2] Brand created Going to Extremes, a 1992 series about medical students on a tropical island, which lasted a single season.

Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, head writers of Northern Exposure, created The CW's comedy-drama Easy Money, which premiered on October 5, 2008. The series had a similar fish-out-of-water feel, but failed to gain much interest and was cancelled not long after its premiere.

Television series with premises similar to Northern Exposure include:

  • Due South, a drama-comedy series which in many ways attempted to reverse the central Northern Exposure dynamic by having a Canadian Mountie move to Chicago
  • Everwood, a drama from The WB with a doctor moving from New York City to a mountain community full of quirky characters
  • Corner Gas, a comedy series set in rural Saskatchewan, with a character moving there from Toronto to open a coffee shop
  • Men in Trees, a 2006-2008 series also set in Alaska, with a lead character also transplanted there from New York
  • Ballykissangel, a series set in Ireland about a close farming community with similar characters, notably film-star Colin Farrell. Initially focused on the love-hate relationship between the new English priest in the same 'fish out of water' scenario and the world-weary and agnostic landlady Assumpta FitzGerald. Continued after the love story fizzled out after her death.

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Murphy, Dean E. (July 28, 1994). "A Bit of Cicely in Poland : Fans Find Post-Communism Respite With 'Northern Exposure'". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Peabody Awards won by Brand-Falsey Productions". The Peabody Board at the University of Georgia. 
  3. ^ a b c Awards for Northern Exposure from the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ a b Producing Northern Exposure from the website for the book Two Aspirins and a Comedy (ISBN 1594511551)
  5. ^ Larry Getlen (July 20, 2008). "Hey, Mr Spaced Man". New York Post. Retrieved February 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ Review/Television; As Networks Go Rural, CBS Goes a Bit Further, an April 1991 article in The New York Times
  7. ^ a b c Christine Scodari. "Northern Exposure: U.S. Dramedy". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ Mark Harris & Kelli Pryor (July 26, 1991). "Total Exposure". Entertainment Weekly. (via Moosechick Notes, a fansite). Retrieved July 21, 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." 
  9. ^ Interview to CYNTHIA GEARY
  10. ^ Talkeetna, Alaska from
  11. ^ Fictional places we love: Cicely, Alaska, on 'Northern Exposure' from
  12. ^ The Northern Exposure Book. 1995. [page needed]. ISBN 0806516232. 
  13. ^ 20 Years Ago: The premiere of 'Northern Exposure' | PopWatch |
  14. ^ Northern Exposure - Season 1 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD, a 2005 Wired article

External links

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