In my opinion, "Northern Exposure" is one of the best sitcoms ever. A classic fish out of water premise, neurotic Jewish New York doctor Joel Flieschman is sent to Alaska to work off his college loans. Instead of being sent to Anchorage, as promised, he instead ends up in the small, backwater town of Cicely which is populated by a collection of "unique individuals". Among them are;
Maggie O'Connell - A young, beautiful and fiercely independent bush pilot who has bad luck with boy friends.
Maurice Minnifield - A megalomaniac ex-astonaut and local entrepreneur.
Holling Vincoeur - A 60 something outdoorsman who runs the local tavern ( the Brick ) and is shacked up with 18 year old Shelly Tambo.
Shelly Tambo - Sweet but ditzy 18 year old waitress at the Brick.
Chris "Chris in the Morning" Stevens - Highly intelligent and artistic, "road scholar" ex-con DJ at the local radio station.
Ed Chigliak - Shy, innocent half Native American orphan who loves movies and dreams of becoming a filmaker.
Marilyn Whirlwind - Dr. Flieschman's Native american receptionist. Laconic but profound, she speaks much wisdom with very few words.
Ruth-Anne Miller - The sensible and independant widowed proprieter of the general store.
The greatness of "Northern Exposure" derives in part from it's depth and breadth of characters as well as the one hour format that allowed the characters and stories to develop fully. Most episodes had two major plot lines and a handful of sub-plots. One major plot line was the sexual tension between Joel and Maggie. They were mutually attracted and repulsed at the same time. Other major plot lines were the age difference between Holling and Shelly, Ed's search for his father, Maurice's expansion of his economic empire and Chris' ongoing quest for artistic expression. The writers had a real knack for combining humor, pathos and sometimes absurdity into a solid one hour show.
I own every episode available and highly recommend Northern Exposure to any one who enjoys well written and acted, intelligent, character driven television.