TV Review

Northern Exposure (1990 - 1995)


Details Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Rob Morrow and Janine Turner; Network: CBS

Here's an interesting, uneven, impudent comedy-drama that may well prove to be summer television's most likably eccentric series. Northern Exposure, from two of the folks who brought us the oddball doctors of St. Elsewhere, is about an oddball New York doctor who moves to a tiny town in Alaska. The series is a culture shock comedy: Our hero, played by Rob Morrow, doesn't want to be in Cicely, Alaska, pop. 500 — he's obligated to spend some time there to pay off his med-school loan. Morrow does a good job of conveying his character's seething resentment at being stuck in a hick town, and then his bemused resignation.

Creator-producers Joshua Brand and John Falsey proved with St. Elsewhere that they know how to mix comedy and drama in a way that dilutes neither. The best thing about Northern Exposure is the way appearances always deceive and defy TV cliches: The town's so-called ''crazy Indian'' (Darren E. Burrows) proves to be a smart, sensible fellow; an attractive woman (Janine Turner) isn't our hero's love interest, but his landlady; a smiling, 62-year-old naturalist (John Cullum) isn't a serene saint but a rowdy womanizer.

With a cast of regulars like this, plus Rob Morrow's earnest yet uncomfortable doctor in the midst of them, Northern Exposure promises to take some original twists and turns over the course of its eight-episode run.

Sign up for's What to Watch Newsletter!

What to watch on TV. Hear what's on tap for the night ahead and get witty, morning after recaps of top shows (sent weekday mornings).
Originally posted Jul 06, 1990 Published in issue #21 Jul 06, 1990 Order article reprints

From Our Partners