Over the past several months, I've been ordering the disks of this series from Blockbuster online, watching them, and enjoying them immensely. The dialogue is often poetry even when the topic is bizarre, and swings between thoughtful and intelligently absurd. It's an example of an ensemble cast show that works, characters fading in and out of prominence with the requirements of the episode.
The best way to describe the show's take on the world is to compare it to the medieval magical worldview. I don't necessarily mean that it's fantasy, though there are certainly episodes where impossible things happen - Ed's spirit guide, Maggie's romance with what appears to be a werebear. What I mean is there is an implicit and understood sense of the way things work, that things are connected in a way that scientific thought doesn't comprehend.
So I declare today Northern Exposure quote day. I'm told by webhunting that the authors are Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider. The latter two quotes here are from Chris Stevens, the town of Cicely's resident radio host, ex-con and philosopher; I'm not sure who the first one is.
"As a scientist, I am not sure any more that life can be reduced to a class struggle, to dialectical materialism, or any set of formulas. Life is spontaneous and it is unpredictable, it is magical. I think that we have struggled so hard with the tangible that we have forgotten the intangible."
"Goethe's final words: 'More light.' Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that's been our unifying cry: 'More light.' Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlelight. Neon. Incandescent. Lights that banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's field. Little tiny flashlight for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor."
"Dreams are postcards from the subconscious, inner self to outer self, right brain trying to cross that moat to the left. All too often they come back unread: 'return to sender, address unknown.'"