I don’t know how or why I came to love Northern Exposure in sixth grade, but I did. It is the story of a New York doctor who finds himself in a practice in small town Alaska. Later in life when I encountered Twin Peaks (I was much too young for that scary stuff when it was on the air) it made perfect sense to me that Northern Exposure was a toned down version of that warped Lynchian perspective I came to love.
Northern Exposure seems like the kind of show that would be dry and boring to a pre-teen, but I loved it. It is a character driven dramedy that follows all the quirky inhabitants of Cicely, Alaska: the local radio DJ, a retired astronaut, the owner of the local tavern, a spunky and cursed female pilot, and many more. The daily goings on about town are peppered with fantastic and unlikely scenarios, a la magical realism.
Twin Peaks takes that magical realism to the next level with a sense that nothing should be taken at face value in that small town. Twin Peaks is the darker and more sinister Northern Exposure. Though it starts with a murder investigation, odd occurrences and the slow revelation that no one and nothing is what it seems takes it to an even stranger place. I wish TV would resurrect the artfully crafted stories of these early 90s shows. It is rare to see anything these days with a story that takes its sweet time unfolding and isn’t afraid to dip into the bizarre and unusual.