I was very fond of Northern Exposure first time round. I was about 18 and it was shown on Cypriot TV (then with only 2 state channels) at obscure times. As an 18-year-old I probably connected with Ed, the half-Indian lad who’s discovering himself and life around him, and has a keen interest in cinema. I also thought that Chris Stevens (played by John Corbett), the solitary, ex-con intellectual radio DJ, was the coolest thing ever and wanted to be him. Clever, good looking, he had a Harley. I loved the fact that everything around him, the seemingly simple, and at times downright brutal life in the countryside, always had a poetic and literary extension, two sides of the same coin.
The central story was of course the love tension between Joel Fleischman
, the New York doctor ‘exiled’ in Alaska as ‘payback’ time for his scholarship and Maggie O’Connell
, the local pilot/plumber/landlady (who I had a huuuuuge crush on). Other stories of course do exist, and Northern Exposure was written to bring out a warm, fuzzy feeling towards its characters and their problems.
Having discovered the joys of broadband, we decided to revisit the scene of the crime (Mrs Blackbeard is also a fan). I was a bit apprehensive about it, as revisiting usually ends up in disappointment. I always find that there was a reason I loved something when I was 18, and that reason simply does not exist anymore. I was worried that it would spoil my memory. I was wrong. Northern Exposure is not only as fresh as ever, but revisiting the characters and stories allows me to explore other, previously unseen dimensions which I hadn’t noticed as a teenager.
For example, Chris Stevens, although cool and deep, is sometimes downright pretentious. Joel Fleischman can be a bit of an arse sometimes. Ed is rather slow. But apart from all these re-inventions of characters, based on our own life experience-something which severely tints our viewing glass-the story remains beautiful. Lovingly written, well executed, in a magnificent setting (it was filmed in the town of Roslyn, Washington State). The key messages are still there: our relationship with nature, the people around us, ourselves. I am wondering also what this journey says about ourselves. What do we learn by reinterpreting our past experiences? Is a story fixed or fluid? If you know, let me know please. In the meantime, I am enjoying it more than ever.