You know when you were 17 and once in a while some pop song would come along and blow your mind? “Oh. My. God. This song has all the answers!”
For me, that was Northern Exposure. I was 16 when the series ended, and then I caught it (and recorded the entire thing on VHS) when it went into reruns on A&E. It is, hands down, the best TV I’ve ever seen. Indeed, this winter I’m going through and re-watching the series when I can, this time with my kids (they’ve seen most of it already whenever I’ve watched it over the years). Almost 25 years later and I still have a romantic fascination with Alaska and would love to spend a year there fishing and hiking. My wife recently told me she’d rather spend a summer in Alaska than Hawaii or similar vacation spot, so I just might get my wish one of these days.
The original series hasn’t aged much. Of course, there are no computers or references to the internet (or at least, very little), but that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a very character-driven show and, like Shakespeare, the beauty of the show is in the characters — including Alaska itself (yeah, I know it was filmed in Washington. Irrelevant). The series was somewhat deliberately placed outside of the modern world when it first ran so rewatching it it feels like every other tiny Podunk town I’ve ever been in. The only jarring things that age the show are when some out-of-towner shows up in a modern car (modern for 199-whatever)
The biggest problem with a reboot is that fact that Peg Phillips, who played Ruth-Ann, has been dead for years. They would have to have someone else run the store (Jack Black had a one-off guest starring spot as a high school senior in one episode, they could have him return as the new general store proprietor which I’m sure would be good for initial ratings. But Black doesn’t have much depth and the humor in NE doesn’t jive with Black’s style.)
Barry Corbin, who played Maurice Minnified, has aged to the point that the character of Maurice would have to be changed I think: Corbin wouldn’t be able to pull off the tough town overlord like he did almost 30 years ago. He got engaged in the final episode of the series, that would make for some interesting new plot lines.
And of course Fleischman left Alaska to return to NYC, leaving the insufferable Phil Capra to look over the town’s medical needs. I’d be curious how they’d write him back into the show. Maybe Capra died in a freak Zabaione cooking accident and has now joined Rick in that great wilderness in the sky. Fleishman, tired of his Central Park West condo and six-figure salary, returns to Cicely for a mental detox.
They could pull it off. Done successfully it would be brilliant. Done poorly it would be a wreck. Regardless, I would kill to see it.