Northern Exposure (TV Series 1990–1995) Poster


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Not a dumbed down show
marley429 August 2003
The creators of Northern Exposure (NX) gave us a true viewing treat. While many shows tend to dumb down to the audience, NX asked you to wise up to it. With dialogue that in some cases you needed a dictionary for, you had a sense that this is how people should interact with one another. Although the characters were sometimes tough on each other, it was done lovingly. For example, Maurice and Joel never really liked each other, but would always be there to help each other out, out of respect. If only we lived in a world like this. With all that said, you sensed these characters were for real. As if you had been transplanted into Cicely, Alaska.

NX wasn't all mushy either. It picked its moments, and did so with perfect vigor. Intertwined were moments of humor, sometimes laugh out loud, sometimes feel-good with a smile. Joshua Brand and David Falsey found a way to work your emotions, tugging on them like a heartstring. You really fall in love with the characters. Never have I seen a show where you cared so much about what happened to them, with many elements of surprises. I found myself even weeping with Maurice (probably the coldest of the main characters) when he mourned his brother during a Kaddish that Joel was giving in remembrance to his Uncle Manny. You know why? Because you learned of his brother's passing and how it affected Maurice throughout the series. You really felt his pain. As well, I laughed out loud when Joel was being accused of being a Russian spy by the town when they were sick or when a recently squished Rick was brought in on the satellite that killed him during his funeral. I couldn't help but smile when after a picture was taken of everyone at Joel's house; they just scanned over it while Chris talked about being a community and what it means to be neighborly.

This show really taught me a lot, too. I learned of Shittake mushrooms, good French wines, Ingmar Bergman, tribal customs and stories, and clarified butter. I began watching this show in my mid-twenties when it was aired on A&E. I was just discovering the world around me and became a major influence on how I think and act now. I never knew a show that did as much research on things as this. They dig out obscure information that is true. They writers really did their homework and delivered with results. I wish there could be more creative writing in an era where reality shows and asinine sitcoms dominate the airwaves.

If you get the chance, do yourself a favor. Watch NX, and do it from the beginning. You'll be treated to hours of enjoyment. Especially Chris Steven's diatribes, which gave you moments of reflection. I have every episode on tape and watch it over and over. Everyone I've turned on to this show ends up loving it. One person even dreamt (in their sleep) about being there from time to time. I have shared that same experience. It usually comes when I haven't watched it in a while. I guess you can say I get withdrawal symptoms. Northern Exposure is addicting. A kind of drug I love being addicted to.
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No other show has brought as much love to the TV screen.
Dickles16 February 1999
Northern Exposure has been one of very few shows that have brought both laughter and tears to my eyes within each and every episode. There has never been a series as consistent in warmth and love as this one. I'm not sure if the writers were the same on similar (later) series like "Key West" and "Going to Extremes" but these did not last as long and seem to be unavailable in syndication. Perhaps I lean toward enjoying eccentricity more than some, but throughout any given episode's "quirky" moments there will always be an undercurrent for the common man, and a generous one at that. Having been a college DJ myself, I particularly appreciate the thoughtful summaries at the conclusion of most episodes with Chris' venting his mellow thoughts to the cold wilds of the Cicely (sp?) night.

If you don't have a fireplace, curl up with a Northern Exposure hour, and the effect will be much the same.
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Genuinely timeless
matlock-619 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Northern Exposure is, without a doubt, one of the best television series of all time. Almost every episode was a wonderful creation that brought an unusual look at life into the homes of its viewers. The unique humor, sensitivity, and absolute professionalism of the creators, directors, and actors combined to make a show the likes of which will never be seen again. The show took an unusual approach in its presentation. Although Dr. Joel Fleishman was presented as the main character in the first episode, the show soon grew outside the main storyline of the New York doctor stuck working in a tiny, hole in the wall town in Alaska. Viewers got to know every character on the show, and as such, the premise was based more on the plot and storylines rather than the star quality of one or two actors. One week, we would see the ongoing love/hate relationship between Joel and Maggie, and the next week an episode about Ed finding his birth father would be presented. The characters themselves were brilliantly cast. The "louder" ones, like Maggie and Maurice sharply contrasted to others like Marilyn, who although a main character, made her impressive presence known more through silence and eye language than words. Few characters can make an audience laugh out loud with nothing but a facial expression (In some cases, even less!) The final season, when Joel is replaced by Dr. Capra, is substantially weaker than the previous seasons, except for the last two episodes, which are exceptional. Reruns continue on cable, and if you want to see a show that is still fresh and lively (as it will probably be for many years to come) see this one.
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The Best Television Series of the Decade!
Kath-1619 October 1999
This show is so accurately written and filmed that all people can identify with the eclectic people of fictional Cicely, Alaska. There won't be any more intelligent and cinematic shows like this again! We are stuck watching bland sitcoms or turning off the TV(not a bad suggestion). I used to live in Alaska for 4yrs. and the people there are the most diverse and friendly that I have ever come across. Each episode draws us into the lives and problems and joys of the cast along with the beautiful scenery and Native Indian influences that are VERY accurate, such as the Tlingtit tribe and Athabaskans. A pure treasure that I will enjoy for years to come. Please watch and I dare you not to become attached to the quirky characters of "Northern Exposure". Joel, the displaced NY doctor who has to work off his college scholarship learns invaluable lessons of life from the wonderful people of Cicely. I wish they had made a lot more episodes! Brand and Falsey created a masterpiece that is still copied today but never come close to being as well written and filmed. I LOVE THIS SHOW!
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'greatest television writing that I can remember'
intentiv23 June 1999
No matter where you hear about this show it is obvious even here that people can only say good things about it. I decided to comment on it based on my belief that the series contained some of the greatest television writing that I can remember. The scripts were excellently compelling and intriguing. Just when you thought that you could label a character and prophesize what they were to do next their personalities were stretched. Over the course of the shows six seasons they characters acted out brilliantly by the likes of John Corbett, Janine Turner, and Rob Morrow created what I and many others would select as the best hour-long program to ever hit the tube.
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Truly, one of the finest TV series ever.
TxMike2 October 1999
I'm not much of a "TV series" watcher. Most of them are extremely shallow or violent or forced funny. The very few I have really enjoyed over the years are MASH, TAXI, and Northern Exposure. That's not many, in over 40 years of viewing.

All 3 of the series I've enjoyed have common threads - they are set in unique locations, have a broad array of quirky characters, are extremely well-written and acted, are genuinely funny in just the right places, and most of all, leave you with a really genuine "message" about life and relationships. Without fail.

Of the 3 I mention, Northern Exposure is the best, in my opinion. My favorite is the episode where Maggie and Maurice go half-and-half to buy and build a small airplane, have a falling out that ends up just perfect, and the final scene, with the airplane flying during the funeral was so emotional that it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.

Unfortunately, when Rob Morrow left the show, it was never the same. I suspect the same would have happened if any of the 5 or 6 key characters had departed. After 5 years it was probably time anyway. But it lives on via DVD sets.
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One of the BEST shows ever!
TexasSleuth11 May 2002
I am currently reviewing the episodes on Hallmark. This show is actually better the second time around! I had always believed that this was a 'smarter than the average view' kind of show as few people seemed to understand the subtle humor evoked from the characters and Alaskan setting. Alaska is, perhaps, the US of A's final frontier as we seem to have given up on our manned conquest of space. The Cold War was over, and we (at that time) seemed to harbor no serious threats - we embraced the Russians and Chinese, learned that we were a funny conglomerate of diverse identities making an attempt at universal peace and understanding. The characters were believable and the acting inspiring! After ten years I still feel the magic!

This will be a classic - if only in TV/Psych 101....
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Clever, Funny, Quirky, Heartwarming, and there will be no other like it
bondgirl67812 October 2004
I loved this show and it's quirky ensemble. The stories were clever and there will never be another show quite like this one. I loved each and everyone of the characters. I also loved how they used some of the psychological aspects of the episodes. My favorite epys include episodes involving Shelly during her pregnancy particularly one where she sees the phases of her daughters life as though seeing the future of her child. Another are the episodes with the Rabbi and Joel Fleischman; Maggie and the Bear who magically transform into a handsome man in order to be with her for a few days is one of the most romantic and classic Northern Exposure episodes. I miss this show, but thank God for reruns.
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Great show -- hopefully someday a great DVD set
freesharon27 May 2005
For me, this series tied with the X-Files as 'Best of the Decade: 90's' and I miss it terribly (but I'm not willing to buy the DVD package that is out now -- I'm waiting for the owners to give this program the kind of presentation it deserves.)

I don't mind paying for quality and this show had that in premise, setting, plotting, characterization, acting, and don't forget music -- the works. Humor, drama, introspection, surrealism, dream-scapes. Characters young and old, native and transplant, cynical and naive, material, mystical, and misanthrope -- and all (eventually) lovable.

It made me care about real people I had already written off as too something -- too neurotic, too caustic, too silly. I helped me see the flaws in people I had been too easily persuaded by -- intellectuals, philosophers, and mystics, with clay feet in mud that I had never noticed.

It made me want to fling pianos, and dance on my own grave. I can't wait to get it into my permanent collection.

UPDATE: I did buy the DVDs, used, and I haven't been sorry. There are scenes where the generic music is SO WRONG -- in particular the Flying Man dancing with the scarf -- but even so, the quality of the material outweighs the problems with the package.
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we laughed, we cried
noxvomica-320 February 1999
This series is by far the best series ever. It ignores bland stereotypes and sleezy "one-liners", it's true, it's real. Real emotion, real plot. Northern Exposure is a show that involves the thought process. It's about a doctor from New York trapped in a small Alaskan town called Cicely. But the show goes more into depth than just "a trapped doctor". We laugh and cry for Northern Exposure.
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Possibly the best TV show ever made
Seventeen years have passed since the quirky comedy-drama of "Northern Exposure" premiered and it seems to improve with age. Time will tell, but it may stand as one of the best, if not the best, shows television has ever seen.

The show originally began as a fish out of water comedy about an acerbic New York doctor fresh out of school, forced to become the physician for the sleepy town of Cicely, Alaska that is full of a wide array of unique characters. The strengths of the show quickly came to the forefront as it became far more of an ensemble piece that easily blended small town reality with the fantastical, native spirituality with Jungian philosophy, and intelligent writing with strong performances.

"Northern Exposure" was an Emmy and Peabody Award winning sleeper hit in its time that continues to gain a cult audience. The show's greatest achievements were always its sense of location and character development, even within frequent surreal circumstances, that hold together as a pure one of a kind gem.
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Highly recommended for anyone
realtvhrdbfq-11 October 2010
I have begun to watch Northern Exposure two years ago and finally, I have watched all episodes. And at the end, I hoped there would be another season, and another and another. I wanted it not to end. But it ended.

Imagine that you are away from home, from your family, from ones you loved and imagine that also you watch Northern Exposure. I can assure you that you will feel at home. You will breath home, you will breath a place called Cicely in your lungs.

So, I watched this terrific show not so long ago, I might be "under influence" of it. But none of the shows I watched on TV or maybe silver screen was not even close to Northern Exposure. Because this show is not led by writers, it is led by its characters. In every episode, writers put something to the middle of the town, and we watch reaction of every character. Characters are built so realistically and humanly, you may think that they are not fictional at all. Actually, I think they are not fictional. They are us. They are so human. They react as ordinary people react, this is the feature that makes Northern Exposure the best thing on TV: There is nothing supernatural, there is nothing extraordinary, everything in this show is so human.

I want to tell more about Northern Exposure but it would spoil everything, so I shut my mouth or pull my hands from keyboard. I recommend to all of the people to watch Northern Exposure, especially when they feel lonely.
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Best of the Best
ChicoMIT16 October 2006
Northern Exposure was one of the best TV programs that I have ever seen. The humor, intellect, satire, and pathos present in the series and its success showed that neither sex nor violence was needed to please a "certain number" of viewers.

Available on DVD, it is the first series that I have considered buying (I have the first 5 seasons), and expect that it will remain the only (American) series for quite a long time.

We need MORE Northern Exposures (and similar quality programs) to make up for the fact that there is nearly NOTHING on commercial TV (non-cable, non-satellite: I don't subscribe to either) and only PBS offers any series (comedy, sit-com, drama, documentary, or otherwise) that is worth the time to view.
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They don't make 'em like this anymore
Bildo3613 January 1999
I fell in love with this show while on holiday in the States in 1991 and then patiently waited for something like two years before it got a run in Australia. Curiously enough it kicked off in non-prime time for the first couple of seasons, from memory.

The quirky story-lines, the unique characters, the wonderful dialogue, the breath-taking scenery all made this show (pardon the phrase) 'must-see TV'. A personal favourite was the bizarre exit of Maggie's pilot boyfriend. A low point was the reliance on the tired old stereotype of the neurotic, whining Jew. On the whole, excellent stuff.
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Most remarkable piece of art in TV history
noldor-225 January 2005
A one-of-a-kind experience. To listen to Chris In The Morning and watch what Ed Chigliak is up to. To gaze into Maggies incredible brown eyes and hear her oh-so melodious voice.

An experience not to be missed. There are not even re-runs now. I would certainly buy any cds available as soon as I can find any! And the music! Wow. Awesome. Rob, why did you feel you had to go? That show was such a wonderful inspiration, and a near cure-all for the reality over-dosed. Heh.

Warmest regards to you all in Alaska. And here is a big ripe tomato to celebrate Columbus day right.
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Interested in Dvds
muhammedallia9 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I, too, am interested in seeing this show again. I remember the situational comedy to be light hearted and down-to-earth. The only example I can offer is the episode where a recently redecorated and horrifically girly bathroom causes constipation in her spouse. I will always think of other's bowel movements before I make crazy changes to this sacred room. Thank you Northern Exposure. I also would like to see John Corbett in his earlier work. It's been awhile since I've seen a rerun, but I do recall that if you have cable, it might be viewable in the early afternoon on weekdays. How can we petition for a DVD box set release?
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intelligent funny and great American TV
ronansdad26 July 2007
Time has shown just how intelligent, funny and sensitive NX was. It never got too sentimental and i suppose it helped that it expressed a liberal agenda. I actual quote an episode in history lectures where a new discovery causes the town to debate the philosophical question of what is truth and what is fact in history. The dialogue is natural yet intelligent and funny and like many episodes serious questions are debated but in an entertaining way. And that was its success, it was always entertaining and the makers never lost sight that it was a TV show.

did it have any bad points? well some episodes were not as good as others simply because some were classics, my favourite were Maurice's feast and that bottle of wine and Napolion.

It is not repeated on UK digital networks but i hope it will, if you get the box set take your time and do one episode a week there is a lot to digest and it is nice to wait.
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Great way to experience the nineties
rrodscott14 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Although many viewers consider NE an eclectic show full of eccentric characters, people who experienced the eighties loved the show becauseit championed character, honesty, and acceptance of the differences among people The show celebrated how Jews, African Americans, Native Americans and people of all opinions were as valued by society and not regarded as weirdos. Remember when "greed (was) good", and Charles Bronson was a hero because he killed anyone who didn't look like Ronald Reagan. In the eighties, social Darwinism and trickle-down economics caused people to look for something more fulfilling than a life dedicated to money and conformity. In the nineties, The show helped me and millions of searchers to believe that being different wasn't just acceptable, it was valued. Maurice the homophobe learned to accept Ron and Eric as valued members of the community. This show, more than anything else, was the cure for the sleaze, hate and vapidity that plagued eighties' society. How else could a little replacement show become the phenomenon it was? The only problem I found with show was the writers' penchant for what I believed to be "ruralizing" the show by offering moose burgers the same way "The Beverly Hillbillies" ate possum and hawk eggs. I was shocked to discover while reading Guy Grieve's book years later that people who lived in the same area as the show's fictitious setting regularly ate moose and other wild meat because transport during the winter was impossible. Great acting. I felt that Corbin, Cullum, Corbet and Geary were made for their parts and were the real core of the show. Morrow and Turner could have been in half of each season's episodes and the rest could have been dedicated to Fleishman's mother who became a bird; Leonard who taught Joel how to connect with patients; Ed who cried (with me) when he met his father and spoke of how fortunate he was to be left with such loving people; Ruth Ann who decried her son's choice to abandon music to become a banker; Chris the seeker, who came to Alaska in search of Whitman and found the loving, supportive family that we all sought. This show never ended for me. I have all six seasons and whenever someone calls this ex- Marine a wimp for crying when I read poetry, or a sucker when I give money to a homeless person, or a wimp when I don't refer to Asians as "gooks", I can watch Maurice as he learns that he has a Korean son, or Chris when he gave me the idea to write a paper on the Hegelian Dialectic. This show has heart. Thank you to everyone involved for this gift.
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It holds up rather well.
gazzo-216 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Literate, quirky, endearing, filled to the brim w/ 'magical realism'. An artifact from the early '90's. All of those things are true.

I got the 3rd season DVD, and a few things I noticed after watching this series for the first time in a decade or so: *The DVD doesn't have the top 40 hits that were on the series at the time. Royalties snafu. You get a cheaper DVD this way I suppose. But you do lose something.

*It's right before we became swamped w/ cell phones and the Internet. The lack of both are very obvious. I think it's a welcome quality, too.

*The characters are great-Ed, Maggie, the Doc, the DJ, Maurice, Ruth-Anne, Marion, even Adam. You don't run into such a unique variety of people on series TV much, and as well-written, too.

*Joel gets on your nerves easily, sometimes it's like he's perennially new, always the Noo Yoiker outta his element. It did get contrived after awhile.

*I never honestly bought Cynthia Geary falling for Holling, just because. The age-gap etc was too much. But that's okay both are decent performers and it works. Kind of.

*The show could have ran longer.

*It's rewarding and not afraid of wearing its heart on its sleeve. It holds up and I recommend watching it to anyone who is interested.

**** outta ****
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Why are there episodes missing from the first and second seasons on DVD?
thh554717 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I know there are episodes missing from the first and second DVDs that I recently purchased. The first indication is in the third season when Bernard comes to Cicily and he greets Chris like they already know one another and also know about their father. But there was an earlier episode that wasn't included on the DVD where they meet and compare photos of Dad. Also, there is the episode when Adam appears and kidnaps Joel, but there was an earlier episode that I remember, but also isn't included on the DVD. Why is that??? I also know that some of the music that I remember from the series has been left out. This is disappointing. All that being said, as I watch this series that I loved so much more than ten years ago, I remember why it was so good. The characters, the writing, the acting--it is all so great, one of the all-time best.
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Northern Exposure still has legs
karlkunkel24 January 2006
Perhaps it was this cold, gray bleak time of year, but something prompted me to revisit "Northern Exposure" after a lapse of over a decade. (Am I sounding like Chris in the Morning yet?) I don't have cable TV, so my salvation was a recent subscription to Netflix, which has all of the episodes on DVD. I've spent the past three weeks going through the episodes in chronological order. I'm about to embark on Season #3. Several of the other commentators at this site have brought up excellent points about the strengths of NX: the characters, the story lines, the messages. I would like to add "the music," if it hasn't been mentioned yet. Whoever chose the various songs from a vast range of talented artists was really on the ball. When watching the show, listen and see how each song creates the proper mood. I was really blown away by the opening and closing song from the "Spring Break" episode (Season 2 -- "The breaking of the ice"?). I discovered this enchanting song was written and performed by Lindsay Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) and is entitled "DW Suite," off his second album, "Go Insane." (1984). The DW is a reference to Beachboy Dennis Wilson, a friend that had died a short time before. The song is a tribute that deals with relationships, the seasons and the loss of loved ones and fits perfectly with the changing season as winter turns to spring and life begins anew. In watching NX through older eyes, I'm finding many new ways to look at the program and relate and learn. I do agree that the series should be seen in chronological order. A few years back, I had the opportunity to visit Roslyn, Wash. briefly, between shooting seasons, and was able to walk up and down the main street, peer into the KBHR radio broadcast booth and have a meal at the Brick. I also had a chance to watch comedian Pat Paulson (the one who was always running for president) perform in the movie theater part of the Brick, if memory serves. Keep watching and keep learning. You'll enjoy life that much more.
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lashes197231 January 2005
I was a late bloomer with this show. I didn't start watching it until it had already been taken off the air. A & E began to air it in the late 90's and i caught it in the middle of the 2nd season. Well, after 3 episodes i was hooked in a major way. I began recording them and i have the entire series on VHS. Still pretty good quality too. I loved the show. One of my dreams is to go to Alaska. I'd like to live there even so the show for me was like being able to escape. I married recently and was over at my mom's visiting and i found all my tapes, all 17 of them and i brought them home. For 3 days i have been catching up, and i have watched my favorite episode 3 times... "The Breaking of the Ice". One of the best shows to ever hit television, full of complex characters and one feminist who will drive you mad with her neurotic attitude. Chris is my favorite though, he's just awesome.
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the last of the great series
tha_jersey_devil3 November 2007
god, i miss that show. being native, it made me feel all homey and warm the way the natives and the whites melded together to create a "whole".

it was well written and the story line was such that it took intelligence to follow the plot.

there will never be another northern exposure. it broke the mold.

each character drew you into the plot.

little dramas and life happenings kept it interesting. it got bad at the end, but death isn't pretty.

i guess the writers just burned out.

i wish it was in syndication.
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idanwillenchik23 February 2006
There has never been nothing quite like Northern Exposure on television before or since. It had a style,pace and mood all of its own. Its whimsical characters and unique story lines were a breath of fresh air when it debuted in 1990. However, the show was unable to sustain its sense of wonder throughout its entire run and by the forth season it seemed to run out of steam and what once seemed refreshingly eccentric now seemed well ,simply strange. At its best it had a cinematic flair and a sweetness to it that was totally disarming. Rob Morrow played Dr.Joel Fleischman with such tenacity and vigor but the rest of the cast was equally compelling. It always reminds me of the musical Brigadoon. The combination of clever writing,breathtaking scenery, surreal humor and superior acting made this show a jewel to be treasured.
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quirky and original
mw156130 November 2009
I have only begun to watch this show recently, as a local PBS station has been showing reruns of it. The good news is that because it is on PBS, I get to see it without commercial breaks.

The show is original and quirky and, as a result, interesting. This is not your standard run-of-the-mill show with cardboard characters and stereotypical plots. That in itself is a great achievement. While I am not enthralled with the show, as some people are, I respect it for its originality and I do enjoy watching it.

It is both a serious comedy and a light-hearted drama. The show made more of an attempt at striving for a higher common ground than most shows, and that is about as high a compliment as I can give any show. I would recommend Northern Exposure to anyone who is tired of the standard, typical show that permeates mainstream TV.
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