Great shows never die; they just move to cable. And, sometimes, to PBS.
KBDI Channel 12 is into its second run of the full Northern Exposure series, which originally ran from 1990 to 1995 on CBS. After spending some time on cable’s A&E channel, in the “Daybreak” spot (where it won even more fans), it languished for a time before being picked up for the Denver market by KBDI.
Northern Exposure as a series defines “quirky”; despite the foreground will-they-won’t-they between New York transplant Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow, before his tragic Boston accent work in Quiz Show) and tough and beautiful bush pilot Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner, before her memorable turn as “that chick who doesn’t produce tears” in Restasis commercials), the show works more as an ensemble piece, featuring some of the best characters that network TV ever produced. Its setting is a big part of that, too — a charming little community in Cicely, Alaska (though shot in Roslyn, Washington), populated with eccentrics. Seriously, how many people considered moving to Alaska based on what they saw in this show?
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But issues of quality aside, the question remains: Why pick this show up for the Denver market? “Writing,” says KBDI’s Content Schedule Manager Brad Haug. “Strong writing, and an outdoorsy appeal, too.” But it’s also about trying new things, experimenting with what people might expect from a PBS station. “We’re always looking for ways to bring new viewers into the fold,” Haug says. “The KBDI angle is somewhat different; we’re always looking to do something fresh and interesting.”
So far, it seems to be working. “There’s been an enormous response from the audience,” says Haug. “Overwhelming. People just love it. And the audience is from a wide variety of age groups, too; again, because the writing is so strong, it crosses a lot of boundaries.”
And it should. Northern Exposure is a television classic; Denver is lucky to have it in a nightly line-up. And with the writer’s strike ongoing, what better time than to make the trip back up North a few evenings a week?
Northern Exposure airs on KBDI-Channel 12 Monday through Thursday nights at 7. -- Teague Bohlen