Thursday Thirteen: The Greatest Television Show of All Time.

northern  exposure   

bestever  everbest

There really hasn’t been any other television program to even come close to the magnificent magick that is Northern Exposure.  Yes, Nina owns the actual handmade rabbit coat that Shelly wore for six years.  Yes, we have seen each episode at least twenty times.  Our favorites we have seen at least sixty.  We use it as background music while we draw or paint or write.  We pop it in as a bedtime story, quite often.  It causes good dreams.  Sure, the final season was a major letdown.  But.  Nothing in the history of television is as brilliantly satisfying to our hearts.  Each episode is better than nearly every movie being produced today.  The show is so well written that it echoes the wonderworld inside our own heads.  The pure poetry of those surreal situations and phenomenal character studies is perched at the top our list, and it probably will be for the rest of our lives.  Here are thirteen greatest moments, enjoy.

1. From A Wing and a Prayer, Season Five:

Shelly: But do I get a real priest?   No!  I get this dud.  Some smoke-ring blowing arm wrestler with a rip in his pants! 

2. From Cup of Joe, Season Five:

Joel: Did you just say ‘Who would you eat?’

Shelly: Yeah, if you had to.

Ed: You mean like… ‘Who’d be good?’

Shelly: Uh huh.

Joel: Who would be good to eat?  Well, it’s not an uninteresting question, really.

3. From Slow Dance, Season Two:

Joel: If you don’t dance with me O’Connell, you know what you are doing?  You’re turning your back on reason.  On mankind’s struggle to pull itself out of the mire of ignorance and superstition.  You are saying yes to witchhunters and inquistors, you are slamming the door on enlightenment, and you are inviting back the Dark Ages.  Now I am not doing this for you, O’Connell.  I am doing this for civilization.  What do you say?  Pretty please?

4. From Mud and Blood, Season Four:

Chris: The thing that gets my juices flowing is the whole truffle metaphor thing.  Think about it Maurice, how the dank corruption of the forest floor, the black root of humus becomes this perfect food.  This total gift of nature.  The whole gestalt is just so… Spring.

Maurice: Stevens, is anything simple to you?

Chris: Maurice… Life and death all rolled up in one little fungus.  What could be simpler man?

5. From Aurora Borealis, Season One:

Bernard: It’s my dreams that are keeping me awake… My single biggest nightmare is that I’ll nod off and I’ll fall asleep.  And then I’ll have to wake up, and none of this will be as if it ever happened!

6. From The Body in Question, Season Three:

Elijah the Prophet: Maybe you’d rather turn me into an amusement park, Joel.  Sell autographed cups?  Elijah’s back, Fleishman’s got him?

7. From Old Tree, Season Five:

Holling, singing: Shelly honey, dry your eyes.  Worry not, we’ll harmonize.  In my opinion, talk is cheap.  Who needs to make a speech?  Truth is, my lovely bride.  Sing or talk, I’m by your side.

8. From Get Real, Season Three:

Chris: It seems to me, as you get into the onion of an atom, and you get into smaller and smaller particles, you find that, like, you don’t have any particles at all.

Physicist turned Circus Magician: Correct.

Chris: So subatomic particles might just really be like vibrating waves of energy?

Physicist turned Circus Magician: Right, listen.  No mass, no thing!

Chris:  The essential building block of everything is nothing.

Physicist turned Circus Magician: All is an illusion.  That’s what I hated about the business.  What are you supposed to do with information like that?

9. From Nothing’s Perfect, Season Four:

Holling: You know Maurice, when I was a boy I used to sit in my mama’s washtub, cup my hands, and try to hold water.  No matter how tightly I squeezed my fingers, I couldn’t do it.  The water always dribbled away.  Time is like that.  No matter how hard you try, it always leaks through your fingers.  And I’ll tell you something.  You think about time too much, you’ll go crazy.

10. From Animals R Us, Season Three:

Maggie: So last night I asked.  I asked ‘Are you Rick?’

Joel: You asked the dog whether or not he was Rick?

Maggie: Yeah, I said ‘If you’re Rick, bark three times.’

Shelly: Did he?

11. From Ill Wind, Season Four:

Chris: You and I are bound in ways we can never comprehend.  What happened up on that roof is an extreme example.  We depend on each other every day for a mutual survival and I just… I can’t take money for that.

12. From Ill Wind, Season Four:

Maggie: I mean, when my fist hit your face, I felt, in that brief moment, I knew who I was.

13. From Spring Break, Season Two:

Chris: It’s a time for madness.  A time for our fangs to come down and our eyes to glaze over so that the beast in us can sing with unmitigated joy.  Oh yes, ecstasy I welcome thee.  Ah-oooh!!!

There you go.  A few of the best moments from the best television program of all time.  Beg to differ?  Care to gush along with us?  Hit that comment tab.  And then make your own list to link here. We will still be chilling with good company in Cicely, Alaska.  Forever.


Filed under Thursday Thirteen.

69 responses to “Thursday Thirteen: The Greatest Television Show of All Time.

  1. It was one of my favorite shows. Happy TT.

  2. I have never seen one episode of that series, but I keep hearing it was great! Maybe, I’ll have to rent them and see for myself.

    God only knows I have time with this “Writer’s Strike.” 🙂

  3. One of my all-time favorite shows. My favorite episode was the big bash Maurice threw – and Shelly breaking the extremely expensive bottle of wine, and Eve fixing it.

    You can’t beat good stuff!

    The Pink Flamingo

  4. I remember all of those! I loved the Adam episodes, but I think best of all was the piano fling.

  5. This is going to be a celebration. Piano fling for the win!

  6. I like “Northern Exposure” and I still catch it from time to time in HD. Happy TT.

  7. Ellen

    Oh I so enjoyed Northern Exposure too.

  8. I haven’t watched TV in years. I wonder if this is on DVD so I can catch up with my planet on what has happened in the past decade or two?

  9. It is on DVD, although a lot of the great music has been changed.

    You will be enriched if you see it. I promise.

  10. Was that the one with the moose walking along the street in the opening titles. I remember seeing it a couple of times but that’s all I can recall.

  11. You must have really loved the show 😉 I think we only got one or two seasons of it here in Australia!

    Rachel xxx
    A Juggling Mum

  12. I only caught this show a few times, but found it to be good. I do remember hearing that it went down the tubes when Rob Morrow left and Paul Provenza joined the cast. I wish that TV Land or some other cable channel would revive it so I could get another chance to see it.

  13. God you guys are so cute! She looks wonderful in that jacket – much better than the actress! Hurray for happy people!

    I love this show. I’m not a major fan, but I do love it. I like it’s odd complexities and the variety of characters. I guess my mind thinks like that.

    Life is also full of lots of characters – they are harder to follow but they create a richer texture to any story. At least that’s what I tell everyone about my stories! 😉

  14. Was one of my favs too! (Mine’s up) – Happy TT

  15. I did like that very much too.

  16. You know, I’ve never seen it. Good thing about the writers strike…I add to my Netflix list.

    Happy TT!

  17. cricket51

    I only saw a few episodes of this show and I really did like it. It was gone before I could really get to know the characters. Blessings, Cricket

  18. I loved this show!! And I just made the hubby buy the second season on DVD so I could relive it! 🙂

    Happy TT!

  19. I remember that show! I think I was a little young to fully appreciate it, but I know my parents loved it.

  20. Dang, I don’t remember The Body In Question. Could I have actually missed an episode? No, no, couldn’t be!

  21. I so fervently loved this show, also. I wanted to marry Chris, and I desperately hoped to see any of them when I stopped for a 2-hour lunch in Roslyn once on my way home from Pullman. Alas, no one came in. But just being in the restaurant felt good.

    Nice tribute this. I really should get the DVD set, I suppose.

  22. Is it crazy that I’ve never seen an episode of this show?

    I’m always checking out entire series that are no longer on TV & watching them in their entirety…I might have to add this one to my list. 🙂

  23. I did prefer Twin Peaks, but this was still a great show.

    My Thursday Thirteen is up, a rather sombre one I’m afraid, about those who have passed away in my lifetime:

  24. I seriously miss this show, thanks for reminding me of another show to buy on DVD. I am thinking I have to get Highlander bought first though….getting harder to find.

    My TT is up for the week….went silly, you might like yesterday’s post too.

    Cool that you have the coat.

  25. For some reason, I never got to watch the show on a regular basis. Maybe it was just on a night that I couldn’t watch tv. I remember 2 episodes, one about the founding of the town and one where Chris finds out that he probably won’t die young like his father and has his teeth looked at for the first time in 35 years. Funny the things that hit you and cause you to remember them, isn’t it?

    Happy TT!

  26. I never missed this show when it was on. It had a spooky, irresistible quality. I loved Marilyn. And Adam. And the Bubble Man.

  27. marnini

    I have never seen the show. Okay, don’t start throwing veggies and fruit at me, I will have to buy the dvd to check it out!

  28. Isn’t it funny how creativity affects each of us differently? What inspires one leaves another cold, and vice versa. For me, LOTR, especially the first movie, does what Northern Exposure does for you 🙂

  29. Now that you mention it, we have seen each of those three films 60 times as well. We went to the 12 hour trilogy in the theaters, one of the best days ever!

  30. I loved the show too. I loved Ed!

  31. Seriously, I think I missed that one. I may actually have to start watching TV again. Right after I figure out who has the re-runs.

  32. I’ve been curious about that show for a while. I’ve been thinking about buying it on amazon. Maybe one of these days. Were it not for DVD, I wouldn’t see much television at all.

  33. You guys have got it pretty bad, huh?

    I admit, I have never seen it – I like House, Numbers & M*A*S*H.

  34. My mom’s dog, a Westie, used to bark at the moose — he loved that moose! He even knew the music on the commercials & would come bounding from the other room to wait for him to appear on the TV. That’s my favorite memories of the show 😉

  35. OK, but where did she get the coat?!

  36. I bought the coat for my bride, at an OUTRAGEOUS price, on ebay twelve years ago. It was part of the auction they held in Roslyn, Washington when the show shut down for good. It has such delicious little intricacies that we see in the show now, it looks like it might have gotten a slight hair cut in the middle of the back, in response to a spill during the second season. It is so intensely funky, with the exquisite layered rabbit fur, bizarrely lined with the insane black and red patterned puffy looped pile. It is a unique treasure, and we thank our lucky stars that we had just enough money to land it when it came up for sale.

  37. great show! great list! happy tt!

  38. I used to watch Northern Exposure. I really enjoyed it. Happy TT

  39. Chris

    I used to watch NE as well and always enjoyed it. Filmed right up the road from me. 🙂 Happy TT

  40. Lindagail

    Yes! In my busy life there is no show I regularly watch, but Northern Exposure was one of my absolute favorite ones; I was sad when it disappeared. It was wise and funny and quirky and EXCELLENT!

  41. Gosh, I’d forgotten abou this show…but I don’t know how! I loved it. Shelly was such a lovable little twit! And what warmblooded woman didn’t have a crush on Chris?

  42. I never watched this show. Sounds good! 🙂

  43. How come they rarely make shows like this any more? What a blast. The characters really made that show.

    Thanks for stopping by. Happy TT.

  44. I spent the night in Rosalyn WA where they used to film the show. It was a weird experience seeing the main street of a television show in person. Of course, the Brick was a gift shop, but it was still fun.

  45. Yup, I’ve got to agree – it was a truly great show. I still smile when I hear the theme music.

    Hey, there’s a theme litter – characters from Northern Exposure! 🙂

  46. Wah! I’ve been thinking about this show lately and how much I miss it and now, I REALLY miss it! No fair!

    Bring back good TV!

  47. LOL! What a great list! Brings back memories…
    Thanks for dropping by my TT.

  48. I would say you were a fan of Northern Exposure, right? 🙂

    You really do need to watch “Lost,” Rian. But you need to start at the beginning.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my TT.

  49. Oh no! I went through this long anti TV period and missed this show. I’ve heard GREAT things about it and wished I had seen it. 10 years from now I’m going to write about “Lost” and just be appalled at people who never watched it.

  50. I’ve never seen the show either, but hubby swears that it was one of the greatest shows ever…One day we’ll have to watch them while the toddler’s asleep 🙂

  51. I never saw it! I only get 4 channels up here on the mountain. But some people have said that Floyd is like Northern Exposure, Southern style.

    I like the writing, feel bad that I missed such a good show.

  52. One of the best shows ever. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  53. What a great list! I’ve actually been reading some studies on Northern Exposure in the past week – too funny!

    Thanks for stopping by, and happy TT!

  54. byrningbunny

    Another fan. Yay! Trying to get my significant other to become a fan since they’ve started showing it again. So far, no interest. Great topic!

  55. Love the list! BTW… I love KT Tunstall. The list was just the top 13 of how many plays each of those artists. I have her on my playlists!

  56. thanx for the memories. i LOVED that show but i’ve not seen an episode in years.

    Chris the DJ’s ruminations were always my favorite part. my second was probably the struggles of Ed as he tried to write screenplays.

    thanx for visiting my tt pics of my room makeover

  57. I fondly remember Northern Exposure. Thanks for sharing.

  58. I hope I catch half of these in reruns! Great list!

  59. Such a great show, so many wonderful memories of it. I always enjoyed Maurice’s new ideas to make the town a better place.

  60. I liked this show but my life was too busy just then to sit down and watch much TV… maybe I’ll have to get it on DVD.

  61. I’ve never seen the show. I’m not a big tv watcher. When I do watch TV it’s usually the history channel. But I’ve heard great comments regarding Northern Exposure.

  62. I always liked that show. I do have one questions though, how did you acquire that marvelous coat? I will say that it looks better on you anyway. 🙂

  63. We got lucky with the coat, it came up on ebay soon after the show shut down… and it happened to be a time when we had the money to afford it!


  64. That show used to get blasted pretty hard here–there was a local radio station that every morning after the show would list all the Gross Factual Errors the show contained about Alaska 🙂

  65. We always wondered about that. Must have been a hoot!

  66. I watched every episode of the show…until Joel left. That next season I just couldn’t get into it. However, it is still on my list of best TV ever. Someone mentioned that the music is different in the DVD version — oh how sad. that was one of the neatest things about the show – all that great music.

    Great list, btw, I could see each episode while reading – fun!

  67. The shows creators were members of the Esalen Institute -myth, magic, Jung, sacred psychology…

    Once they combined this forumal with great story telling and character development…Magic indeed!

    You can see that very last, tear-making scene from the final episode in my blog here:

    There are a couple of very active yahoo discussion groups where NX fans gather and the web site of moosechick has an incredible library of info, photos, trivia and even a Northern Exposure music phone ring link and info that Morty the Moose, the only working Moose at the time was paid $5,000 for that opening sequence…he was lead by strategically placed bananas on that stroll around the town.
    Morty was a hand raised Moose who only lived to five years old as captive Mooses miss out on critical dietary elements apparently.

  68. Kym

    You’re right! NX is the greatest TV show of all time. I know because, some 15 years later, it doesn’t seem dated and I can watch and enjoy the episodes again and again. Great writing, great characters, so many memorable moments. I can’t rattle off “chapter and verse,” or even exact quotes, but a few of my all-time favorite lines are:
    (Chris at Christmas) May your dog talk.
    (Marilyn) A bird couldn’t fly if it could talk because it would be weighted down by words.
    (Shelly on sports fanatism) I know sports isn’t everything but, when you get right down to it, what else is there?
    I wish they’d do a reunion show, but I doubt it’ll happen. At any rate, I asked John Corbett about that at a performance of his band and he said he wouldn’t do it for the same reason he wouldn’t go back to high school, “It was great then, but you’ve gotta keep moving forward, not backward.”
    Sounds like sage, Chris-like advice. But I think I’d rather hang in Cicely.

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