Northern Exposure - The Complete First Season
Whether it's a snowy nude sprint down Main Street, the mysterious appearance of a long-lost relative, or the improbable death of yet another of Maggie's boyfriends, life's never dull in the remote hamlet of Cicely, Alaska. Colorful characters and quirky plots propelled Northern Exposure
into the hearts of millions of viewers, earning the CBS "dramedy" series seven Emmy awards between its 1990 debut and its demise six seasons later. In season 1, we meet Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), an urban New York yuppie who consents to four years of rural servitude after Alaska pays his medical-school tuition. Joel's fish-out-of-water adventures drive the show, but it's the quirky ensemble of characters--Chris, the DJ/philosopher (John Corbett), Holling, the bartender (John Cullum), Maurice, the town patriarch (Barry Corbin), Ed, the filmmaker (Darren E. Burrows), and Maggie, the bush pilot (Janine Turner), among others-that keeps the series consistently entertaining. The town develops its own offbeat personality as well, a Mayberry-meets-Twin-Peaks blend of Native mysticism, Aurora Borealis-induced dreams, unlikely tales of long-lost family members, and rumors of a Bigfoot-like creature known simply as "Adam." Northern Exposure
provides a utopian escape--a place where life is interesting but never dangerous, everyone's insightful, the mystical becomes real, and nobody's burdened with a mundane 9-to-6 desk job. Cicely is a delightful place to visit, even if it's only for an hour at a time. A mid-season replacement, season 1 consists of just eight episodes on two DVDs. Each episode includes 5-10 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes. --Shane Burnett
Northern Exposure - The Complete Second Season
The colorful cast of characters from Cicely, Alaska, returns for a new set of adventures in Northern Exposure: The Complete Second Season. While much of the first season was devoted to establishing the plot, each of the seven episodes in season 2 helps us to know the offbeat ensemble of Cicely residents a little better. Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), the New York urbanite stationed in small-town Alaska to pay off his medical-school tuition, still complains constantly about his assignment, but it's clear the town's growing on him when he passes up an opportunity to return home (if only temporarily). We learn from town patriarch Maurice (Barry Corbin) that retired astronauts have groupies, and when a beautiful woman steals the voice of DJ "Chris in the Morning" (John Corbett), it's no huge surprise when the long-deceased spirit of "One Who Waits" provides Chris with an ancient Indian cure.
But it's the chemistry between Joel and Maggie (Janine Turner) that really makes the series sizzle. The season is book-ended by a pair of breakups that leave first Joel, and then Maggie single, clearing the way for the romance to come in later seasons. The season includes "Spring Break," one of the best-loved episodes from the series. With the impending arrival of spring, libidos run amok, a wave of petty crime hits the town, and the men in town blow off steam au naturale in the annual "Running of the Bulls."
Season 2's packaging and extras are virtually identical to those from season 1. The two-disc set comes sheathed in a collectible mini zippered nylon "parka," and each episode includes deleted scenes and bloopers. There are no retrospectives or interviews with cast and crew, and no printed materials accompany the discs. --Shane Burnett