Northern Exposure

Watch Northern Exposure

  • TV-PG
  • 1990
  • 6 Seasons
  • 8.4  (18,571)

Northern Exposure is a charming and quirky drama series that aired on CBS from 1990 to 1995. Set in the fictional small town of Cicely, Alaska, the show revolves around the adventures of Joel Fleischman, a newly graduated doctor from New York City, who is forced to work in the remote town as part of a government initiative to repay his student loans.

Joel's initial distaste for the unfamiliar and overwhelming nature of his new surroundings is soon replaced by a growing fondness for the eclectic cast of characters he encounters in Cicely. From the eccentric radio DJ Chris Stevens to the opinionated bush pilot Maggie O'Connell, Joel is quickly drawn into the quirky and endearing world of Cicely.

The show's cast members bring their unique energy and charm to their roles. John Corbett plays the charming and effortlessly cool DJ Chris Stevens, who takes it upon himself to introduce Joel to the quirks and customs of Cicely. Rob Morrow plays Joel Fleischman, the fast-talking, neurotic Jewish doctor who struggles to adjust to the slower pace of Alaska life. Janine Turner plays Maggie O'Connell, the tough and independent bush pilot with whom Joel shares a complicated romantic history.

Other notable characters include veteran actor Barry Corbin as Maurice, the cantankerous former astronaut turned entrepreneur, Darren E. Burrows as Ed, the aspiring filmmaker and local indigenous resident, John Cullum as Holling Vincoeur, the lovable owner of the local tavern that serves as the town's social hub, Doug Ballard as the bumbling yet endearing officer Randy, and Richard Cummings Jr. as the soft-spoken yet insightful chef Leonard.

Despite its comedic and whimsical tone, Northern Exposure is a show that explores some of the most profound themes of human existence. From love and loss to identity and purpose, the show's creators use the town of Cicely as a canvas on which to examine the human condition with equal parts humor and heart.

The show's writing is top-notch, filled with witty dialogue, imaginative settings, and complex characters who evolve and grow throughout the series. From the hilarious set pieces to the heart-warming character moments, Northern Exposure is a show that refuses to be pigeonholed into any one genre.

One of the show's most enduring legacies is its depiction of the natural beauty of Alaska. The stunning landscape of Cicely is showcased through the show's gorgeous cinematography, which captures the rugged wilderness and stunning sunsets that are an everyday part of life in rural Alaska.

Another aspect that sets Northern Exposure apart from other shows is its use of music. The show's soundtrack features an eclectic mix of genres, from classical to rock, folk, and country. The music serves as a character unto itself, providing an emotional throughline and setting the tone for different scenes and storylines.

Despite its critical acclaim and large fanbase, Northern Exposure was not without its challenges. The show faced criticism from some quarters for what some felt was a stereotypical portrayal of indigenous Alaskans. Additionally, the show struggled with declining ratings in its later seasons, leading to its cancellation after six seasons.

Nevertheless, Northern Exposure remains a beloved classic among its devoted fans. Its mix of humor, heart, and humanity, as well as its innovative approach to storytelling and character development, have made it one of the most unique and enduring shows of the 1990s.

Northern Exposure is a series that is currently running and has 6 seasons (110 episodes). The series first aired on July 12, 1990.

Northern Exposure
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Tranquility Base
23. Tranquility Base
July 26, 1995
Maurice's plans to ask Barbara to marry him while spending the weekend at his new summer home are in jeopardy when her style clashes with the way he wants his guests treated. Phil and Michelle continue to try to work out their differences and Ed (in his Shaman capacity) and Joel's Rabbi offer some advice. Chris is on the loose when Maggie doesn't make the journey to Maurice's but soon realizes that he is a changed man. The Vincoeurs stay locked up in their room when Holling is in heat.
Let's Dance
22. Let's Dance
July 19, 1995
Chris begins taking dance lessons from Marilyn, but she disciplines one of her other students into giving him the lessons only she doesn't want to be seen talking to him, even though they have similar interests. Philip offends Marilyn's mother when he breaks tribal protocols for manners and Michelle confirms his deficiency. Maurice and Barbara travel on a prisoner transport with Cal the violinist to bring him back to the sanitarium; however, along the way she falls under the spell of his violin playing causing her to think about violating the rules and letting him go free.
Ursa Minor
21. Ursa Minor
July 12, 1995
Ed learns the responsibilities of parenthood when he begins caring for a lost bear cub. Maurice discovers that Cicely's population is declining. Chris uses a device that allows him to manipulate his dreams and work out some issues in his relationship with Maggie. Michelle waitresses at the Brick while continuing to work out her issues with Phil.
Buss Stop
20. Buss Stop
April 24, 1995
Michelle decides to mount a stage production of "Bus Stop" unaware of the curse that has plague past stage productions. Ron helps guarantee that Erick gets a coveted role and Shelly is jealous when Maggie gets the female lead. Hayden designs the sets and a stage with a trap door. Holling, Erick and Chris all have issues to deal with about their parts in the play, which they discuss while drinking out at Holling's still.
19. Balls
April 6, 1995
Ed resents Maurice's advice about his relationship with Heather. Chris believes that Maggie needs a new bowling partner, so he holds tryouts and gets the wooly mammoth professor to be her partner. Michelle's success at bowling threatens Phil, they fight about it and she moves out. Chris becomes jealous of Maggie's new partner. Lester's wants to produce Ed's script for "The Shaman" with one change that makes Ed think about what Maurice said to him. Michelle moves out of the house.
Little Italy
18. Little Italy
March 15, 1995
Ruth-Anne makes her debut on National Public Radio telling about little slices of life from Cicely. The Capras go to Cicely's Little Italy, where it turns out there is an exclusive restaurant in the basement of a house and a feud with the people next door and they get caught in the middle. Maggie in her role as mayor must play marriage counselor for Shelly and Holling.
The Graduate
17. The Graduate
March 8, 1995
Maggie outbids Maurice for the ownership of the town's rundown theater, which she begins to run with help of Ed and Heather. Two professors come to Cicely for the oral examination for Chris' master's degree; instead they clash over Chris' dissertation. A young Canadian Air Force lieutenant claims that Holling is his father, something proven because Holling sent his mother money every month for 25 years; however, that is just covering up a secret from his past. The theatre business causes stress for Maggie.
Lucky People
16. Lucky People
February 15, 1995
The citizens get ready to celebrate founders' day; Chris and Maggie open an old garage and uncover Roslyn and Cicely's old Model T. While rebuilding the car, Chris starts to show an interest in Maggie. Maurice believes that Miranda is the reincarnation of his uncle, so he "plans to take a personal interest in her." The Capras look at their financial situation when they wish to build a house on land they've bought. Phil has a major anxiety attack, resulting from the onslaught of nature, and he tries to get Maurice to buy back the property. Michelle's wish to be different nearly gets her frostbite, when she decides to not wear the anonymous gifts she's received.
The Quest
15. The Quest
February 8, 1995
Joel finds a map and brings Maggie with him on a quest to find a mythical city, they meet a belligerent gatekeeper, and when faced with a crossroads, Joel sees his future and departs. Phil cleans out some impacted earwax for Chris, but Chris sues him for malpractice when his inner ear is damaged. Maurice lets Holling know that Michelle is writing an article on restaurants for Alaska Highways magazine, but she can't find any good words to describe the food at the Brick.
The Mommy's Curse
14. The Mommy's Curse
February 1, 1995
When Maggie's mother and her male friend, whom dies, come to visit, she realizes that her luck with men runs in the family. Maurice becomes jealous of Holling's friendship with Phil. Ruth-Anne and Walt's relationship is put to the test, when she has him help her out in the store.
13. Horns
January 18, 1995
The state of Alaska admits to Joel that they were wrong in over-extending his contract, with his release secured, Joel returns to Cicely to collect his things. Phil notices there is something wrong with Maurice's new bottled water; the effect causes males and females to reverse roles. Cal escapes and becomes a fugitive in search of an audience. The area where Joel goes does not contain a village named Greenwich.
Mi Casa, Su Casa
12. Mi Casa, Su Casa
January 11, 1995
Marilyn comes to visit an old friend in the community where Joel is living and he begins to revert to his old ways. Maurice leaves Ed in charge of his house and he returns to find Ed has taken over the place. The Vincoeurs are house hunting and make an offer on Semanski's place but only after Holling gets a few little details fixed; but does he really want it?
The Great Mushroom
11. The Great Mushroom
January 4, 1995
Maggie decides to go and see Joel in the Manonash village after she begins to have visions of him dying. The Capras are having a small get together, but the whole town seems to turn out. Marilyn brings along two friends to the party, and because they're snowed in, they stay with the Capras, whom try to figure out how to get them to leave. Ed's shaman cure for shingles has Phil intrigued, he goes to Ed's to find out the secret but finds Ed's filing system less than perfect. Using a computer, to database these notes, makes Ed afraid.
10. Realpolitik
December 12, 1994
Maggie gets elected mayor. Joel invites Phil up river, for a game of golf and a test. Michelle covers Maggie's first city council meeting as mayor and Maggie makes her first motion for a centrally located dumpster but runs into opposition from the fiscal-restraint minded crowd. Maggie's power as mayor becomes a turn on for Chris. Marilyn invests money in a stud dog that doesn't want to mate.
Sons of the Tundra
9. Sons of the Tundra
November 28, 1994
A new doctor and his wife move to Cicely to take over Joel's practice and his house. While settling in, they get to know some quirks of the people and their new environment. After eating a trout, Ed starts to see the future. Holling tries to join the "Sons of the Tundra" and Shelly dislikes the "men only" aspect. Joel stops by and trades Holling pelts for a new knife.
Up River
8. Up River
November 14, 1994
Maurice sends Ed after Joel, who's moved up river; and Joel tells Ed of the few days he and Maggie spent together, where every time they got together, there was gunfire. Chris hires a contractor to improve the lot around his trailer and it turns his world upside down. When Walt goes away to check his traps, Ruth-Anne realizes that she's fallen in love and tries to fight it.
Full Upright Position
7. Full Upright Position
November 7, 1994
Maurice welcomes his young cousin Maurice to Cicely, hopefully to take over the family business. Charges of static electricity generate a new interest--and a new art project-- for Chris. Meanwhile sparks fly between Joel and Maggie on a Russian airline bound for St. Petersburg, where Joel is scheduled to speak at a medical convention.
6. Zarya
October 31, 1994
Ed films Marilyn telling the story of a Russian princess and her grandfather. It seems that Lenin and Anastasia arranged to meet in Cicely to work out an agreement that would reestablish the rule of her family in Russia. Meanwhile, an all-terrain vehicle is being prototyped for the Alaskan frontier.
The Robe
5. The Robe
October 17, 1994
Satan comes to Cicely as a whirlpool salesman; he offers to fulfill Shelly's fantasy of making the Brick a major casino. Ed makes a mistake and skews the results of a cold medicine test that Joel is running for John Hopkins. Chris gets a ventriloquist's dummy and adds him to his radio show, but the dummy becomes more popular, because he "shoots straight from the hip." Maurice is convinced that Joel's cold medicine contains a new appetite suppressant and he presses Joel to tell him what it is. When that doesn't work, he gets Hayden to try to steal the information. To make her fantasy come true, all Shelly must do is burn Holling's old bathrobe.
The Letter
4. The Letter
October 10, 1994
A letter Maggie wrote to herself as a teenager makes her re-examine her current life against the ideals she had at fifteen. Shelly ignores a chain letter, and then bad luck falls on the Vincoeur household. A new barber arrives in Cicely and Chris tries to be his friend, but he doesn't want anything to do with an ex-con. A lump is discovered on Joel's head, so he goes to Anchorage and finds out the lump may be malignant, so he starts to live his life to the fullest.
Shofar, So Good
3. Shofar, So Good
October 3, 1994
Maurice's plans for a fox hunt with his visiting English noblewoman must be put on hold when the fox escapes and gets into the protective custody of Ruth-Anne. Firing Marilyn and his lack of concern for Hayden's well-being are two items that haunt Joel, Dickensian style, during his celebration of Yom Kippur. Meanwhile Holling yearns to make amends for past misdeeds.
Eye of the Beholder
2. Eye of the Beholder
September 26, 1994
With Renaldo, Ed participates in an investigation of possible insurance fraud being perpetrated by Hayden Keyes. Maggie & Maurice both regret their donations to the library fund-raising auction. A dollhouse from the auction, Miranda's 1st birthday, and her growth begin to depress Shelly.
Dinner at Seven-Thirty
1. Dinner at Seven-Thirty
September 19, 1994
Joel takes a spiritual journey to New York City after drinking orange juice that contains some Indian folk medicine and sees how life might have been. There he and his wife Shelly, a corporate lawyer, give a dinner party. Maurice is their doorman and Eugene their elevator operator; Maggie is the au pair for their kids; Bernard is in fashions and Chris is an inarticulate fashion photographer; Ed is a corporate raider; Ruth-Anne runs the internal medical partnership that Joel is trying to join; Holling is a singer who's got agoraphobia (fear of open places). Through the course of the evening, they begin to transform into their Cicelian characters.
Where to Watch Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure is available for streaming on the CBS website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Northern Exposure on demand at Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    July 12, 1990
  • IMDB Rating
    8.4  (18,571)