Northern Exposure

Season 4 Episode 25

Old Tree

Aired Monday 10:00 PM May 24, 1993 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
26 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Old Tree
The town's oldest tree is dying. Shelly wakes up and finds that she can't talk, but she can sing. The town asks Joel to diagnose Old Vicki. Chris goes wireless and is freed from the confines of the broadcast booth. Shelly's singing starts to get on Holling's nerves. Maggie tries to be pleasant to Joel and the result of all this kindness is that Joel keeps getting injured. Maurice is intent on bringing the tree down. Shelly becomes worried that she may never talk again. After the felling of Old Vicki, the town has a wake. Maurice feels remorse after the felling of Old Vicki. Maggie and Joel cut a deal to try keeping Joel injury free.moreless

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  • I heart this eppy. Click here to see why. (I think we all know what a review is, I don't see the point of writing a summary)

    Okay, I got season four on DVD about a month ago, and I am now addicted to "Old Tree." From the kookiness of the town's reactions to the news of Ootakalakatuvik's impending death, and Shelly's "warblin' like a jaybird" this has quickly become one of my all-time favorite episodes of any TV show ever. I actually get the songs stuck in my head sometimes. They make me laugh everytime I hear them. Shelly's lingo is funny enough when she's just talking, but when she's singing in it, that just about makes my life. Besides Shelly's newly discovered musical talents, I also love the Maggie/Joel plotline in this eppy. Not only is it, like, the greatest thing ever that Maggie's niceness causes Joel to have severe injuries (or at least he thinks so), but it stays totally in character the whole time. That's nice. Anyway, that's pretty much everything about why I love this eppy.moreless
  • Shelley wakes to find herself singing every word while the town tries to decide what to do about an aging, diseased tree.

    This was one of my very favorite episodes of NE. Cynthia Geary is a fabulous singer and the songs she was given were catchy and fun. The song she sings to her unborn child at the end is haunting but ultimately touching as she\'s joined by John Cullum at the end.

    The other story (it\'s hard to tell which was the A story and which was the B) centering around the Old Tree is sweet and poignant but takes a backseat to the kookiness of Shelley\'s storyline.

    This is the episode I\'m waiting for when the DVD for this season is released.moreless
Barry Corbin

Barry Corbin

Maurice J. Minnifield

Janine Turner

Janine Turner

Mary Margaret "Maggie" O'Connell

John Corbett

John Corbett

Christopher "Chris in the Morning" Danforth Stevens

John Cullum

John Cullum

Holling Gustav Vincoeur

Rob Morrow

Rob Morrow

Dr. Joel Fleischman [ episodes 1 - 102 ]

Peg Phillips

Peg Phillips

Ruth-Anne Miller [ season 4+, recurring previously ]

Kermit Cooley

Kermit Cooley


Guest Star

Ralph P. Martin

Ralph P. Martin

Ivory Springer

Guest Star

Moultrie Patten

Moultrie Patten

Walt Kupfer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • One of the townspeople refers to his "lawyer in Talkeetna." The real-life town of Talkeetna, Alaska, is widely believed to have been the inspiration for Cicely.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Chris: He can't find a truffle to save his life, literally. Maurice says if he doesn't he's going to be a luau.

    • (Joel tells Ed a Yiddish joke about a Jewish Indian who can't kill a buffalo because he accidentally brought the dairy tomahawk)
      Ed: So the moral of the story is he should have just used the wrong tomahawk because at least then he would have had a buffalo.
      Joel: No, Ed, there is no moral.

    • Maurice: The hell with posterity, I'm doing this for me!

    • Joel: You insult me, you hit me, you crash me in your plane...

    • Holling: Shelly baby, dry your eyes/worry not, we'll harmonize.

    • Shelly: Oh my little bunny-face/my teeny beeny little cuddly thing/Mama's got a big bummer news/your Mama can't talk/your Mama can only sing.

    • Ed: The patient has only a few months to live.
      Maurice: Amen.

    • Joel: I'd be fine if I wasn't unnerved with all your good will!

    • Ruth-Anne: You see, trees like to have kids climb on them.

    • Shelly: I figure it's like hiccups or gas/You know what they say, this too shall pass.

    • Chris: You know I like power tools, Maurice.

    • (Holling and a friend are assembling the crib)
      Walt: I'm not hungry, Shelly, but if you take requests I'd like to hear "Tangerine."

    • Maggie: Hey, Fleischman, you got a minute?
      Joel: No, I don't.

    • Joel: Utaka-what?
      Ed: Utakalakatuvic. Vicky for short.

    • Maggie: God, Fleischman, you are such a jerk.

    • Shelly: I've been heading this way all my life/to be the stud-of-all-stud's stand-up wife! To be the stud-of-all-stud's knocked up wife!

    • Joel: I don't need a nine-iron, I need a machete, a hatchet!
      Ed: I don't have one of those in this bag, Dr. Fleischman. I could maybe come up with a rake.

    • Chris: What is it about genus arboretum that socks us in the figurative solar plexus? We see a logging truck go cruising down the road, stacked with a bunch of those fresh-cut giants, we feel like we lost a brother. Next thing you know, we're in The Brick, we're flopping money down on the bar. Wood. We're under a roof. Wood. We're walking the floors. Wood. Grabbing a pool cue. That's wood. Our friends in the forest carry a set of luggage from the mythical baggage carousel. Tree of life, tree of knowledge, family tree, Budda's Bodhi tree. Page one of life, in the beginning. Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve. They're kicking back in the garden of Eden and boom, they get an eviction notice. Why is that? "Lest they should also take of the tree of life, eat and live forever." A definitive Yahweh no-no. Bo good to yourself Cicely, go out and plant a wet one on a tree.

  • NOTES (3)


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