The Northern Exposure writers/producers

I was enjoying my Season 5 DVD of Northern exposure when I started wondering what happened to the talented writers, directors, and producers responsible for creating such a literate, thoughtful, and groundbreaking show.

Well the answer is quite simple, actually. They went on to create the Sopranos.

Here’s the IMDB cast and crew listing for Northern Exposure, and

Here’s the IMDB cast and crew listing for the Sopranos.

Notice any similarities? :slight_smile: Not only are both show executive produced by David Chase, but almost all the major writers from Northern Exposure (Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green, Diane Frolov, and Andrew Schneider) seemed to have migrated to the Sopranos, not to mention at least one director (Daniel Attias).

After I got over my initial surprise of learning that two of my favorite shows are in fact largely the result of the same creative minds, I started to realize that, yes – despite the drastically different subjects (quirky, pastoral Alaskan townsfolk vs. dysfunctional New Jersey mobsters), the two shows share a similar underlying personality.

Think especially of the latest season of Sopranos: doesn’t the whole “Kevin Finnerty” arc (where Tony dreams he’s a salesman and gets into a tangle with some Buddhist monks) seem like something right out of Northern Exposure?

Both shows rely heavily on metaphor. Both are “quirky” (sometimes to excess). Both rely heavily on character development and dialog (for a mobster show, the Sopranos has surprisingly little action). Both explore somewhat highbrow philosophical and psychological themes. Both shows have a tendency to leave conflicts unresolved (or resolve them in somewhat subtle and unusual ways). Both shows have a sympathetic, Archie Bunker-like character with racist and sexist views (Maurice Minnifield vs. Tony Soprano). Both shows make frequent references to other shows or movies (e.g. the Godfather). Both shows have a character who’s a movie buff and aspiring filmmaker (Ed Chigliak vs. Chris Moltisanti). Director Peter Bogdanovich has cameos in both shows.

I’m sure I can list more similarities, but you get the picture. (Right?)

Anyway, I just thought I’d share this little revelation with you guys. If the relationship between these two shows is actually common knowledge and this post is nothing more than a statement of the obvious, then I apologize for being a moron.

So there were a lot of years in between those two shows. What did they work on in the meantime?

Not too many years – Northern Exposure was canceled in '95, the Sopranos pilot aired in '99.

It doesn’t look like David Chase produced anything else in those four years – it’s likely he was developing and pitching the Sopranos during the time – I know he had some trouble selling the idea – he took it to Fox first and after they rejected it, HBO became interested.

It looks like a few of the main writers worked on some minor TV projects in the mean time though. Nothing that jumps out.