Northern Exposure: Season 2

Northern Exposure: Season 2

Northern Exposure: Season 2 was a series that displayed excellent writing, interesting story lines and a cast of odd balls that just struck a chord with the American viewers

Northern Exposure: Season 2

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Every so often the executives in charge of television programming let slip that rare show that combines talent and imagination. This show is one such case.

Here was a series that displayed excellent writing, interesting story lines and a cast of odd balls that just struck a chord with the American viewers. As premises go there was not much to it, then again simplicity often scores in this fashion. Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) has just graduated from Columbia Medical School in New York City, has now faces repaying his $125,000 grant from the people of Alaska with four years of service. When he gets to Alaska he is told Anchorage has its fill of doctors so Joel is shipped to Cicely. For the urban young doctor nothing in his experience could prepare him for what he found in this strange little town. Used to the face pace of New York City he now faces a community so laid back Joel feels that he is living among the dead. With the opening of the second season the series moves past the introductory material and started to explore the more fundamental themes that made this series such a joy to watch.

An odd cross section of humanity walks the often muddy streets of Cicely. There is Ed (Darren E. Burrows) a young native that aspires to be a film director. Everything he thinks he knows about the outside world comes from what he has seen in films. Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles), another native, becomes Joel’s secretary, not that he actually hired her, she just showed up and stayed. The man behind the abduction of Joel is Maurice J. Minnifield, former astronaut and larger than life leader of the town. Add to this cast of characters Maggie (Janine Turner) the local pilot with the habit of loosing boy friends to the grim reaper, Chris (John Corbett) the local philosophical DJ and Hollings (John Cullum) the local barkeep and you have an eclectic collection of some of the most unusual characters ever seen on television.

The first season of Northern Exposure focused on the cultural clash Joel experienced upon his arrival. For a young, Jewish doctor from a large city the pace that the native population takes life was horrible for him. Part of the charm of Northern Exposure: Season 2 is this look at the differences between the two life styles. For the Native American life flows and you flow with it. For those of us like Joel used to controlling things this concept is foreign, almost an aberration. Northern Exposure: Season 2 opens with Joel receiving a ‘Dear John’ letter from his fiancée back in the Big Apple. This freed the writers to take Joel from his desperate efforts to leave the town to a begrudging acceptance of his fate. This decision was one of the best the network could have made. It helped take the show from its first two abbreviated seasons to full 23-25 episode seasons. Getting dumped also opened the way for a prolonged period of flirting between Joel and Maggie. There is nothing like unfulfilled sexual tension to create some comic relief.

This is a dream cast for any television show. Each member of the Northern Exposure: Season 2 cast work with each other, never straining for the spot light. Although the show is technically about Joel he is just one character in this entertaining tapestry. The audience gets to experience the life Joel is trying to fit into. While we find humor in the odd ways of the Alaskan Native Americans there is a deep sense of pride in one’s history and tradition, a spiritual appreciation for life and the environment. Rob Morrow was able to tone down the anger his character displayed in the first Northern Exposure season and make Joel more accepting. Janine Turner is sexy and smart, a lethal (literally here) combination. Her scenes with Morrow display an incredible chemistry. John Corbett is nothing less than perfect as the philosophical disc jockey. His view of life is odd even for the native population. The unsung hero of Northern Exposure: Season 2 is Elaine Miles as Marilyn Whirlwind. Unlike her name she is in a constant state of slow motion. She exemplifies the different pace of those born to this culture. Although she always frustrates the good doctor he can’t fire her, he’s tried but typical of her people she knows she is needed and has found her place. The cast effectively takes the great dialogue and runs with it making it their own. These early episode are like Joel himself, find its way, learning to walk.

In sharp contrast to the fast paced action shows traditionally so popular on television, Northern Exposure: Season 2 is paced like the people it portrays, slow and easy. There is a comfort here, like spending some time with an old friend. The writers permit the town itself to become a character in Northern Exposure: Season 2. The changes in weather from almost spring like to bitter cold, the grand beauty of the environment, all interact with the characters helping to drive the plot instead of just providing a backdrop to it.

Universal once again pays better than usual attention to a sleep hit like Northern Exposure: Season 2, the moment you go to open the DVD you will be confronted with a parka surrounding the snap case. The first season of Northern Exposure sported a neon orange parka, with Northern Exposure: Season 2 its bright yellow. There were only seven episodes in Northern Exposure: Season 2 but we are talking quality here instead of quantity. The video is usually clean and free of defects with the rare speck here and there. The audio is presented in two channel Dolby mono. Nothing special here but you will hear every word of the dialogue with no problems at all. Like the first season of Northern Exposure there is some deleted scenes and a little film within a film featurette. If you where a fan of Northern Exposure this DVD set is a must have. If you missed Northern Exposure: Season 2 then this is the perfect opportunity to become familiar with the quirky citizens of Cicely, Alaska. In either case you will not be disappointed.

Movie Review of Northern Exposure: Season 2
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