I've been renting more Northern Exposure
s. The series has a real indie feel, and it fools around with its template. There are episodes where Joel, the lead, doesn't have his own story, he's just a character in other characters' stories. You often see what would be obvious setups in another show, but which (because the show is trying for something more like real life) don't necessarily pay off. E.g. in a standard tv plot, if Joel tells a lie in Act One, he'll get caught in it in Act Three and have to straighten it out in Act Four. In NX, he might tell a lie that has no consequences, and is only there to reveal his character. Nice.
I like NX. I'm glad it's out on DVD.
I remember back in the early nineties, I stayed in a mountain lodge somewhere in or near Winter Park, Colorado. It was real old-school. Big fat mugs of homemade hot cocoa being served at the lonely bar. Addictive handmade wooden games in the party room, rather than foosball or some college-life alternative. The whole place felt like the nineteenth century. The people that worked there had big bushy beards and deep voices with wide, down-to-earth grins and belly laughs. Made you wonder if they built the place from scratch using their own hands.
They had a T.V. at the bar. But only one thing played on it. Not sports, not music videos, not news. Northern Exposure. When this show wasn't on, neither was the T.V. Northern Exposure was like their holy grail. It was reinforcement for their ways, justification, almost their raison d'être. They did not serve drinks while it aired. They encouraged people to stop playing the games while it was on. "Encouraged" is putting it nicely; they made it clear they didn't want anything else happening.
It's this memory I always get when anyone mentions the show.
So few shows have ever made me make time to sit down in front of the the TV. "Northern Exposure" was one. In fact, the very first dramatic writing I did was a teleplay for the show, and my e-mail sig has a quote from it, a dozen years later: "All we are, basically, are monkeys with car keys." (Grandma Woody, the film critic)
This gang loved the medium, loved their work, and it showed. Well, until the last season or two, it did....
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