1.8 Aurora Borealis:
A Fairy Tale for Big People


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Original Air Date: August 30, 1990 Production number: 78705
Written by:
Charles RosinDirected by: Peter O'Fallon

Aurora Borealis
Joel: Hey Ed, what is this, is this a track?
Ed: Looks like a track.
Joel: Looks fresh. You know, not that I know what a fresh track looks like, but that . . . that's big, whatever it is. What? What is it? What's wrong?
Ed: It's a bare footprint.
Joel: As in grizzly bear footprint?
Ed: No, more like as in a person with no shoes on.
Log line (1): Joel learns of the legend of "Adam," a Bigfoot-like creature who walks the woods outside of Cicely. Meanwhile, Chris bonds with a black traveler passing through town, who turns out to be the brother he never knew he had, literally.
Synopsis (1):

Joel comes face-to-face with the legendary "Adam" (guest star Adam Arkin), a Bigfoot-like character whose mythical existence has haunted Cicely for years. When Joel claims to have been rescued by the giant, whom he describes as a real person and a damn good cook, his sanity is seriously questioned by the townspeople.

Meanwhile, a black stranger named Bernard (guest star Richard Cummings, Jr.) rides into town on a motorcycle and immediately connects with Chris, helping him to build an elaborate metal sculpture in honor of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), due to appear soon. After spending much time together, the two artists discover, through a bizarre twist of fate, that they have the same biological father.

Bernard: Excuse me.
Joel: Yeah.
Bernard:Where am I?
You know, I've been asking myself that same question since I got here. I finally figured out we are somewhere between the end of the line and the middle of nowhere.
Bernard:Oh. Where is that on the map?

(Production Bible):

According to Ruth-Anne, for the past fifteen years, people have been blaming every transgression, mutilation and petty theft on Adam, whom no one has ever seen.

Chris/Bernard's daddy: avid card player, insomniac/sound-sleeping truck driver who also sold greeting cards, and missed their birthdays (July 3, 1963 [Chris' age previously est.'d as 27 & 29]) every other year.

Facts to Wax
(Production Bible):

Chris found "Chelsea" out on Baker's Point.
Maggie, Holling and Chris play bridge.

Guest stars (9):

Adam - Adam Arkin
Bernard Stevens - Richard Cummings Jr.
Richard 'Rick' Pederson - Grant Goodeve (Note: He is listed in credits but I don't see him at all...)
Mother - Sandy Miller
Adolescent Chris - Ryan O'Neill (Also appeared in 5.20)
Ranger Burns - John Procaccino (Note: A different actor plays Ranger Burns in 5.14)
Carl Jung (listed in credits as Man Behind the Wheel) - Lou Hetler

Shelly: What were you talking about this morning? "Yoong" and, what was that other stuff?
Chris: The collective unconscious.
Shelly: Do they tour, or do they just cut records? ... I missed something, didn't I.

(Note music listed is from the original TV airings. The DVD may differ.)

Moon River - Louis Armstrong (performed by Jerry Butler on Ausgerechnet Alaska, the german soundtrack)
[Opening scene, Chris on the microphone. Maurice looks at Chris and Bernard's sculpture and maybe "gets it."]

Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven (kind of a cool, rock-version - Hooked on Classics?)
[Maggie, Holling and Maurice discuss the Aurora messing with everyone's sleep patterns.]

Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
[Bernard arrives in Cicely on his motorcycle.]

Moonlight Sonata (the classical piano version)
[Ruth-Anne and Joel talk about Adam. She tells him about the Cuisinart and Bible stolen.]

Moon River (Trumpet instrumental part)
[Chris and Bernard meet in the Brick. Again, when Joel meets Adam. Bernard leaves.]

Little Egypt - The Coasters (on Ausgerechnet Alaska, the german soundtrack)
[Joel drives out to find Ranger Burns.]

Blue Moon - Billie Holiday (performed by The Marcels on Ausgerechnet Alaska, the german soundtrack)
[Chris and Bernard, both on the same wavelength, clean up in a game of bridge.]

Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
[Dream sequence with Chris and Bernard sharing the same dream.]

Full Moon, Full of Love - kd lang (MP3)
[Joel announces in the Brick that he has seen Adam.]

Mr. Sandman (kind of tropical, instrumental version)
[Chris and Bernard realize they are brothers.]

Adam: I don't like people barging in on me. Okay? I don't like people. You are a person and I don't like people. Do you understand me?

Shelly’s Earrings:

Flamingoes [Shelly asks Chris about "Yoong and the Collective Unconsciousness." Chris meets Bernard in the Brick.]

Adam: You know who I am? Do you understand what I'm trying to say? Do you know who I am?
Joel: No.
Adam: I'm Adam.
Joel (amused): Well, I'm Chef Boyardee!
Adam: What?
Joel: You're not Adam.
Adam: What do you mean, I'm not A--? I'm Adam!
Joel: No, you're not. You're not Adam.

Additional Notes:

Bernard and Chris' birthdays are July 3, 1963.

Ed finds a garlic press at the cabin when he, Maggie and Joel look for Adam.

Named by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history.

This is a Moosechick Top 5 favorite - in fact, it was the first episode I ever saw of Northern Exposure. I saw it on vacation in, where else, Alaska!

Footnotes and additional research

© Copyright, 2013 • Northern Exposure is Copyright Universal City Studios. All Rights Reserved. • Created 4/22/02 • Updated 2/2/13