4.18 Northern Lights





Original Air Date: March 1, 1993 Production number: 77617
Written by:
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider Directed by: Bill D'Elia

Bernard on the air: Continuous unremitting darkness has been known to send some people into an emotional tailspin, so the management here at KBHR radio suggests locking away the firearms. The desire to stick that 45 between the teeth can get pretty strong at times, so why invite temptation.”
Log line (1): Maurice befriends Cicely's first homeless man; Joel goes on strike when his vacation is denied; Ruth-Anne, Chris, and Holling perform their various winter rituals.
Synopsis (1):

Cicely's first homeless man, Lance Bristol (guest star Scott Paulin), appears in the street begging for money. Maurice immediately wants him thrown out of town until he discovers Lance was a marine, too. Maurice suddenly changes his attitude and does everything possible to help the man. The time could not be better for Joel's first vacation from Alaska: it has turned to winter and the sunlight shines for less than an hour per day. Unfortunately, just as Joel is deciding on an exotic destination, he receives a telegram from the state denying him vacation time. They believe the community will be jeopardized without a doctor. Angered by the news, Joel goes on strike, refusing to see any patients, until the state threatens to sue. Ruth-Anne is overcome by her annual winter inspiration to paint.

As the sunlight dwindles, she breaks out the watercolors and creates beautiful sunlit scenes to brighten up the winter darkness. Chris busily creates his annual winter sculpture but loses his inspiration midway through, until Marilyn points out the one essential detail it is lacking -- light. Holling falls into his annual winter hibernation. Just as Ruth-Anne paints and Chris sculpts at the onset of each winter, Holling sleeps for several weeks, leaving Shelly to run the Brick singlehandedly.

(Production Bible):

Joel is high charged, anticipating a two week vacation to New York and Jamaica. The time is right, as Cicely is going through it's annual 24 hour blackout.

Bernard sits in at the D.J. booth for brother, Chris, who is working on his latest art project, a scrap metal sculpture. Chris is unsatisfied with the end results and searches for another project for his artistic energy.

The increasingly unstable and irrational Maggie O'Connell fantasizes about sexual intercourse with Bubblehead. Maggie decides to it's worth the risk to Bubblehead's life to sleep with him, and she does.

Maurice's conscience is plagued by a ~ homeless man, LANCE BRISTOL (played by I'll Fly Away's Scott Paulin; guess he got hit hard by that cancellation). Lance served in the Marines. Maurice offers him a construction job.

(Production Bible):

Holling hibernates once a year. Ruth-Anne says that back in '75, Holling hibernated for two months. Ruth-Anne dabbles in oil paints. The annual winter depression has a psychological moniker, SAD (seasonal Affective Disorder). This time of year, Holling's bar serves everything with a chocolate compliment.

Guest stars (9): Bernard Stevens - Richard Cummings Jr
Lane Bristol - Scott Paulin
(Note music listed is from the original TV airings. The DVD may differ. * Indicates correct song on the DVD.)

[Help! I need names of missing tunes from the original airings - email me.]

Buck's Nouvelle Jole Blon - Buckwheat Zydeco & Ils Sont Partis Band (thanks, Todd W.!)
[Chris comes into the Brick and takes down the neon beer sign for his sculpture.]

Ebudae - Enya*
[ending when Chris lights up his sculpture]

Shelly’s Earrings:

Hawaiian Dolls [Shelly talks to Ruth-Anne at the Brick.]
Sunglasses [During town meeting about homeless man and Joel.]
Gold disks? like Aztec or Mayan Suns [discusses the lawsuit with Joel.]
light bulbs [Holling wakes up.]

Additional Notes :

Scott Paulin later directs the episode 6.19 Balls.

This is one of my top 5 favorite episodes. It is the darkest day of the year but it is all about light. Lance Bristol decided for a change of venue when he saw lights in the sky, Maurice is "enlightened" to homelessness, even the following exchange is about light:

Chris (pointing to can of beer): Can I have a swig of that?
Lance: Yup.
Chris: Miller?*
Lance: Lite.

* Note here that Miller Beer was a major advertising sponsor of Northern Exposure around this time. They had a promotional item - a large inflatable moose with the Miller logo and NoEx logo on it. You can catch one of these on ebay from time to time. I have one!

Things I own from this episode:


Two lampshades from the sculpture, and the camp light from in front of Lance's tent (later Joel's tent).

Picture of Chris' light sculpture - one of the lampshades I bought is circled.

Chris (unveiling his sculpture): Goethe's final words: "More light." Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that's been our unifying cry, "More light." Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlight. Neon, incandescent lights that banish the darkness from our caves to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's field. Little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on, the night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on. Arise, shine, for thy light has come. Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light. [He quotes the following: Thy word...feet, Psalm 119:105; (Rage...light, Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night; Lead kindly...home, John Henry Newman, The Pillar of the Cloud; Arise..come, Isaiah 60:1]

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