Back a few years ago we got the hankering to take a drive, so we bundled up the baby and headed for parts unvisited. With no actual destination in mind we meandered toward the Cascade Mountains and eventually arrived in the town of Roslyn. It seemed oddly familiar but the connection eluded me until we turned a corner and saw…
Most of you know this as the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska where the television program Northern Exposure was situated. In reality the production company needed a town they could hoodwink the public into thinking was in Alaska, but still within reasonable driving distance of a major airport. They found just such a place in Roslyn, Washington.
The town is still there and looks pretty much the same. Joel’s medical office remains a pretty sketchy looking place and be wary of the weak spots in the floor when you visit. The Brick Bar & Restaurant still has the neon sign and patiently waits for new patronage. Likewise, the Roslyn Cafe, also open for business, yet features the distinctive camel painted on the exterior brick wall – although I’m pretty sure the paint has been refreshed a time or two.
There’s an easy walking tour of the downtown area, showing the various structures that reappeared throughout episodes (you can also do this in the car). In true Hollywood fashion, the sense of town organization and structure in the show was fabricated, most of the iconic locales are scattered in a slapdash of locations. Gotta love the magic of film.
Watching Northern Exposure, I appreciated its offbeat humor, quirky characters, and unique perspective on human relationships and interactions.
If I could choose any town to live in, fictional Cicely would be high on my list. Roslyn probably isn’t too bad either. It has a certain charm and is obviously still enamored of its fifteen minutes of fame and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, by the way.
In case you need the reminder, here’s an excerpt of the opening episode. The show ran from 1990-1995 and is still fun to watch, if for no other reason than to snicker at the clothing and hair styles. Even so, there are quite a lot of issues, concerns, and foibles that continue to resonate.
Something about Northern Exposure struck a chord with the American public. Perhaps it was the charm of the setting, the sense of nostalgia for simpler times and ways of living, maybe even for the show’s appreciation of the absurd. Too few of us incorporate silly into our lives. Regardless, viewers tuned in to watch the wonderful oddness and celebrate batty behavior that somehow also seemed believable, even genuine.
In case you missed Northern Exposure altogether, it’s readily available at numerous outlets, just waiting for you to swing by. If you haven’t seen it since back-in-the-day, don’t you think it’s time for another visit? Set aside a chunk of time ’cause there are 110 episodes. Yeppers.
I’ve loaded up a few shorts to share some of my favorite bits. Here you go:
A Hunting We Will Go:
The Running of the Bulls:
What favorites lurk in the back of your mind? Do you have a particular go-to show or film? Make me some recommendations people, I haven’t watched TV in two years.
…except for HBO’s Dexter.