I have decided to watch the whole series of Northern Exposure from start to finish in order!
So without further ado:
The series starts off with Dr. Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow) on a plane headed to Alaska, explaining that he has given the next few years of his life to Alaska to be a doctor there in exchange for them paying for his medical school. (Hey, sign me up!)
Next thing you know, he is headed to Cicely, which is not a big city by any means. The first citizen he meets is Ed, who proceeds to recite some dialog from St. Elsewhere. Ed leaves the truck in Joel's capable hands, and runs off, leaving Joel to find the home of Maurice Minnifield. Maurice just happens to be an astronaut and one of the richest men in Alaska, maybe the country. Also, Maurice is quick to point out cultural points of interest – like how he was excited to get a Jewish doctor in his fair town. Maurice has also started the Minnifield Communications Network - a newspaper and radio station.
Maurice takes Joel into town, and Joel is shocked at the small size. We learn that Cicely is named after a woman who had a close friend named Roslyn. Marilyn is waiting in Joel's bare office, eager to apply for the job of secretary. Joel quickly makes his way to the bar and tries to beg his way out of having to stay! His impassioned plea falls on deaf ears, and so Joel calls his girl, who just happens to be a law student, to try to find a loophole to jump through.
At the tavern, we meet Holling and learn there is some sort of dissonance between him and Maurice. Ed warns Holling not to talk to Maurice, but Holling seems determined. Eventually, Holling opens up to Joel and explains that Maurice brought Shelly, a beautiful girl from Canada, to be his wife. The hitch in the plan came when Shelley wanted to be with Holling instead of Maurice. Holling and Maurice had previously been best friends, and were now more of mortal enemies.
Enter Maggie. Joel mistakes her for a prostitute, and Maggie is quick to correct him that she is his landlord. Joel makes some chauvenistic assumptions about Maggie – she must be a stewardess or "flight attendant"… but, no, she is a pilot and owns her own plane! (We like Maggie a lot!)
The morning comes and Joel runs seven miles into town and asks for a bagel with cream cheese at the store. Ruth-Anne cheerfully asks, "What's a bagel?" which cracks me up every time. Next, Joel announces to a room full of waiting patients in his clinic that it's a mistake and he can't be their doctor, and yells at Marilyn that "There is no job!" Then he assigns a number to each patient and starts seeing people.
Patient #2 turns out to be a beaver, whose appointment keeps being interrupted by #6, who is bleeding all over the floor. Marilyn cheerfully assists the doctor.
Maurice takes Joel out on a boat, complete with gun, and again bringing up Joel's ethnic heritage. Maurice reminds Joel that the "good people of Alaska" have paid for his first class education, and takes a quick aim above Joel's head and shoots something out of the sky while Joel cries out.
Joel and Maggie talk over their various loves while having some alcoholic beverages. Joel talks about Elaine, his fiancee. Joel quizzes Maggie as to why she didn't want to get married, but it turns out that her love was actually deceased. When Joel comes to, he is still at Maggie's house, and meets Rick, Maggie's boyfriend.
Back at Joel's office, a marital spat erupts, and Joel gives the pair a good talking to, which includes some impromptu therapy. The couple leaves the office together, better than ever. Joel for the win!
Joel finds out that if he doesn't stay in Cicily, he could spend 18 years in jail! After yet another adolescent temper tantrum, Joel seems to admit defeat as he goes back to his office to stitch up the battered husband.
Maurice kicks off the 9th Annual Arrowhead County Summer Wonderland Festival. Ed offers Joel a moose burger or a caribou dog, and he wisely chooses a moose burger. Maurice chants "North to the future!" which seems to be his plan for expanding his fortune.
Everything Ed knows about the world comes from movies, including knowledge of bagels from Woody Allen's movie Manhattan. Holling approaches Maurice, and they have a heartfelt conversation about gravity, and what being in love is like. Joel tells Ed that his moose burger is a bit "gamey" and we pan out on the crowd having a lovely festival on a sunny day.
The thing I love the most about this show is the vast array of characters, and how they all interact with each other. There is this central character of the doctor, but other characters are vital to the movement, flow and pulse of the little town. There is so much more to come.
I don't think I will post a play by play of every episode, but I thought this first one was so interesting. It's good to get a base feel of how the story goes, and where it all starts. With a man from Flushing, NY.
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