The gentle, quirky comedy-drama featured a cast of eccentric characters living in the fictional rural town of Cicely, Alaska.
We initially observe them through the eyes of reluctant newcomer Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow), a young, ambitious New York doctor tricked into becoming the town GP after the town patriarch, former astronaut Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin) pays off his medical school loans.
Although essentially a light-hearted, character-driven, culture-clash comedy-drama, Northern Exposure, like St Elsewhere before it, was not afraid to veer off into more fanciful and, on occasion, surreal territory.
It’s interesting that Northern Exposure first aired just a few months after David Lynch’s Twin Peaks began. Both shows had much in common: remote small town location, eccentric characters, surreal overtones, an outsider from the big city.
But while Twin Peaks, like much of Lynch’s work, sought to expose the darker side of human nature, the rotten core just barely hidden beneath a thin veil of small-town respectability, Northern Exposure explored broadly similar small themes in a much more poetic, optimistic, uplifting and hopeful way. If Twin Peaks was about confronting and defeating the darker side of human nature, Northern Exposure was about recognising the positives in people and embracing all that is good in life.
Northern Exposure outlasted Twin Peaks by some way – the series ran for six seasons (110 episodes) between 1990 and 1995.
Here are the opening titles, with the catchy, memorable theme tune and, of course, Mort the moose:
And here is the full version of the theme tune: