Tuesday, September 16, 2008

#14 - I believe Northern Exposure to be the best written TV show ever

And if you don't, I'm going to seriously start doubting your sensibilities.

Okay, not really. But come on? How can you not love Northern Exposure? The dialogue, the themes they so effortlessly work around, the understated genius of it all.

I don't just watch Northern Exposure, I study it. I mean, I don't spend days in a dark room watching and taking notes, but when I watch it, I do pay attention to detail more than I would with another show. And every time I watch an episode, I notice something new. The episodes (at least until the final season) were so carefully constructed. You can draw parallels between the character's experiences in the different plot lines of every episode, but it never ever feels like a Lifetime Original Movie, (even though Janine Turner pretty much moved to Lifetimeland after leaving Cicely). It's one of the few shows I loved as teenager that still holds up today (21 Jumpstreet, not so much).

So while we were in Seattle for the wedding of Lady and Mr. Lady, and I discovered that Roslyn, where they filmed Northern Exposure, was less than two hours away from the city, I set my mind on going. Roslyn served as the fictional Cicely, Alaska, a town "on the cusp of the new Alaskan Riviera."

I'm not usually this dorky. I will totally admit to being dorky on a regular basis, but I'm not usually this dorky. On the last day of our trip, we went kayaking on Lake Union, and passed by the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle. Lady told us that people still flock to see it. I snorted heartily, until J gave me a look that said, "people in glass houses . . ."

Of course we did later agree that Northern Exposure is sheer brilliance, while Sleepless in Seattle was, well, just a movie.

I was in HEAVEN in Roslyn. As a writer who loves my characters and stories so very much, found it moving. I know it's weird, but it meant something to me. These writers had this vision -- a story, characters, scene and setting and look and feel -- and it all came together in this small town in the middle of nowhere, Washington as a sort of living manifestation of their ideas. Aside from all of that, it was just plain cool to be in the setting of a TV show I've been watching over and over again since 1990.

We ate lunch at The Brick. The exterior served as Holling's bar on the show, but the interior was shot elsewhere. Aside from being a TVland icon, The Brick is also the oldest tavern in Washington State. There's a trough of running water that runs under the bar stools and serves as a spittoon. I couldn't help but wonder how many drunk people had accidentally stepped in it. The food was so so, and actually, better than I'd expected.

We walked around town a little.

KBHR, the radio station from the show, is still set up with Chris in the Morning's equipment in the window and Minnifield Communications Network still on the front door.

Joel's office is the Cicely Gift Shop, and his name is still in the front window.

We didn't go in, but it the shop is apparently still packed full of NE gear.

The original Village Pizza burned down, but has been rebuilt exactly as it was.

I suppose there's something sad about the fact that it's still reasonable for the town of Roslyn to sacrifice main street real estate as a shrine to a television show, but it was fun to see. And who knows how much longer it will be around. There's an enormous luxury development (over 3,000 residences, according to Wikipedia) under construction in the neighboring area, and I'm guessing real estate prices in Roslyn will go up fast.

It was also fun to see another woman, about my age, running around town with her camera, taking pictures of the same things I was busy snapping. In an age of the crappiest of crappy reality television taking over the networks, it's nice to know that there are other people out there who still appreciate Northern Exposure as much as I do.


Noelle said...

During my senior year of college, I made up my schedule so I could watch NE during lunch breaks, but I don't think that I'm as big of a fan as you were.

Also, I worked on a play with John Cullum for a couple of months. It was always so odd to see him in person as someone else.

Allie said...

I knew I liked you! :)

The Modern Gal said...

I have a KBHR sweatshirt I ordered out of some catelog that has a picture of the moose on it. It's awesome (unfortunately it's also MIA).

Allie said...

MG, that is beyond awesome (except for the MIA part).

Willow said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I love my little cherry bag! I made it specially for my daughter who LOVES red and LOVES bags.

I have to confess that I have never seen Northern Exposure. (hangs head in shame). I have an excuse: I was living in Sotuheast Asia during all of the 1980s and didn't have electricity, let alone a TV.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Man, I LOVED, I say LOOOOVED Northern Exposure. You have inspired me to rent the show from Netflix and love it all over again! I also love Amy Tan's writing and I am going to watch the Ted Talks when we gat off for a couple of days. Thanks for directing us to your personal blog,now I have two Allie's to enjoy.

Mickey said...

I absolutely loved that show! I think I'll always have a soft spot for John Corbett as a result.

I actually went on a couple of dates with a girl in college and NE was about the only thing we connected on. Sadly, that doesn't warrant a third date by itself.

Allie said...

Willow -- Thank you for stopping by my blog! And I think you have a pass, since you didn't have electricity. :)

EY- Totally rent them again. Season Three is especially awesome, but starting from the beginning is really the way to go.

Mickey - Oh, John Corbett! How can you not have a soft spot for that man?

Courtney said...

Sadly, I have never seen NE. I'm so ashamed. Perhaps I'll put it on my Netflix list.

But I do think John Corbett is hot. That counts for something, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Allie. I'm slacking off when I'm supposed to be writing my book. Anyhow, I was going through some old posts on my blog and followed your link when you commented. It was a long time ago and you've probably forgotten. Anyhow, I LOVE NORTHERN EXPOSURE! It is, without a doubt, my favourite TV show. I have two seasons of it on DVD and the CD soundtrack, all of which I play every so often.

I didn't know where it was shot so I found your post very interesting. I'd love to go there too and although I'm usually not struck by celebrity, I would have been clicking away on my camera too. On the window of the gift shop, is the "L" in Joel's name still a late addition? Erm, I study it too. LOL!

It was a real treat for me to find your blog. Thanks for this post, it was wonderful.

Jack said...

FINALLY! I'm glad that someone is stating the obvious. NE is, without a doubt, the greatest show ever written. Period.

I tried to get a ticket to Moosefest this past year but they put me on the waiting list. Urggg! Still hoping to finally make it next year.

Greatest episode ever: Holling and Maurice go to the wilderness to bury their friend a la call of the wild. Brilliant.

Christine said...

Are you kidding? I loved, loved, loved Northern Exposure! I think it ranks right up there with M*A*S*H as far as best shows ever written.