Revisiting TV’s Northern Exposure…..

As I think I’ve mentioned, Hubby and I do most  of our workouts on the stationary recumbent bike. He uses his tablet to watch webinars, podcasts, etc., and I watch DVDs. Since I generally work out 6 days a week, that’s lots of CDs. I ran across the complete set of the 1990s TV series Northern Exposure and ordered it. We didn’t see the first season, and it ran back in the days before recording was available. We watched most of the episodes though although it took me longer to become comfortable with the quirkiness than it did Hubby. For those too young to remember, Cicely, Alaska has around 800 people, a mix of whites and natives. Basic amenities are available and the setting is beautiful. It is, however, in the proverbial middle of nowhere. Dr. Joel Fleischman, a graduate of Columbia Medical and a thorough New Yorker, did not come from a family who could afford medical school. In accepting funding from the state of Alaska, he arrives to learn his four-year commitment to the state will not be in Anchorage as he’d been promised, but in Cicely. The culture shock is the basic premise of the series which ran for six seasons. There is a range of characters and frequent mingling of native beliefs and practices to add to what are humorous, poignant, or philosophical/metaphysical aspects depending on the episode.

Not surprisingly, while Joel is the one most often taken aback by things he encounters and usually comes to view “ridiculousness and oddities” from a different perspective, at other times he is the one who helps steer people into a better decision or resolution of an issue. There were two episodes (haven’t gotten to them yet) that have stayed with me all these years. They dealt with different approaches to one’s view of death, and the powerful pull of external validation.  Like many series though,  you either have to watch it from the beginning or have some kind of primer to give you enough understanding to enjoy it to the fullest.

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