Northern Exposure Warms His Bones

From TV Guide 4/20/91 (Vol 39 No. 16 Issue #1966)

By Marvin Kitman

I try not to get emotionally involved with new quallty serles. Especially a summer show. My heart has been broken too many times. Still, I fell hopelessly in love wlth Northern Exposure last summer.

NoExp, as we lovers called it, was too good to be true. It was an hour-long dramcom about a young (27) doctor who, to pay off his debt to the state of Aiaska for funding his medical education, goes to Cicely, a miniopolis of 813 residents, not counting the mosquitoes and moose. The poor wretch, Dr. Joel Fleischman, played by Rob Morrow, is obnoxious. What do you expect? He's from New York.

But something started to happen to Dr. Fleischman in last summer's eight episodes. He was humbled by his surroundings. The nobility and integrity of the small town frustrated him. Ultimately, reluctantly, he changed. It was Iike watching a picture developing in the darkroom.

Rob Morrow is bemused by signs of the times.

There was remarkable chemistry between the doc and his landlady and town pilot, Maggie O'Connell, played by Janine Turner (previously seen in "Steel Magnolias" and General Hospital). She can fiy me to the moon anytime.

I also liked the very unusual people in the town. Marilyn, the nurse played by Native American Elaine Miles, is not awed by the doctor. She glves him no back talk, just does her job. What does the doctor know anyway? She wears him down with that smlle.

I loved Ed (Darren E Burrows), self-appointed, teenage assistant to Dr. Fleischman, who someday will be the Woody Allen of Cicely. And Chris Stevens (John Corbett) hippie dropout and host of "Chris in the Morning," the No. 1 radio show in Arrowhead County. It's fun to watch Chrls the intellectual quoting Karl Jung and givlng the traffic report, which in downtown Cicely some days seems to consist of one moose.

Miraculously NoExp managed to survive all the excitement of last fall's new programming. lt returned to the CBS schedule on April 8 with eight new episodes (Mondays at 10 pm, ET). And Dr. Fleischman is (what else?) miserable.

His fiancee, Elaine, has jillted him - by mail. In the premiere, we learned she ran off and married an ex-judge. The town was depressed. Fortunately Maggie is in the wings, waiting to keep Joel warm.

I'm trying not to get too attached, as I say, because it can't possibly last. But its great having NoExp back taking some of the big chill out of the traditional spring TV deep freeze. It may not be exactly "Nanook of the North." But it's the kind of program that flts the image CBS had in the old days as the Tiffany Network.

Created 4/20/02
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