Going north, to Alaska.

Elena Tucker
5 min readFeb 4, 2024

So, last week I went back to the scene of the crime.

This, boys and girls, is called click bait. I’ve committed no crime (that you know of … or can prove). I am talking about something so totally different, so completely irrelevant to actual life, as to be of no interest to anyone. I’m talking about an old TV show. But it was a hell of a show.

It’s called Northern Exposure, and it ran from 1990 to 1996. It was the ultimate fish-out-water show. It took a Jewish doctor from New York, and placed him in the tiny town of Cicily, Alaska. This was a place where, when he asked for a bagel with lox, he was met with, “A what?”

Joel Fleischman, a recent graduate of Columbia Medical School, owes the State of Alaska $137,000 for his education. So, it’s either pay up, or do your residency of four years in this tiny, dirt-floor, idiosyncratic, one-moose, bizarro town full of … let’s say quirky characters.

But before they are accepted by the viewers as quirky — before they became known and loved by us — they were just full-on weird. When Joel is met at the bus station by Ed, the friendly, but odd, young native kid, Ed takes him to the mayor, Maurice’s house. Only, he doesn’t take him all the way to the house, he takes him part of the way there, then he stops the truck in the middle of the road, in the middle of the woods actually, stops the truck and gets out and begins to walk away.

“Ed!” screams Joel to the retreating back of his recent driver. “Where are you going?”

“Home,” explains Ed, like it’s the most natural thing in the world, to abandon a new arrival like that, without a word of explanation unless asked.

“Oh,” Ed gets it, “Don’t worry, you can return the tapes to me later,” Ed says before he vanishes into the trees.

What?!? They were listening to some music on the drive, but … What?!?

When Joel does make it to Maurice Minifield’s house, he finds the man himself on the roof of his own house. Maurice then repels down to meet the good doctor. That’s right — repels down, like a mountain climber, using mountain climbing equipment.

What?! Why?! In what world is that normal?

“Dr. Fleischman? Dr. Fleischman, we need to talk about the money,” Maggie O’Connell says to Joel as they first meet, in the only bar/restaurant in town.



Elena Tucker

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.