Northern Exposure-Season 1 (1990)

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Released 18-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 365:05 (Case: 360)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (140:34)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Adam Arkin
Daniel Attias
Jack Bender
Joshua Brand
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Rob Morrow
Barry Corbin
Janine Turner
John Cullum
Darren E. Burrows
John Corbett
Cynthia Geary
Elaine Miles
Peg Phillips
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music David Schwartz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
German Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Just listening to that familiar, vaguely Zydeco opening music, it's difficult not to smile. This is going to be good.

     It's been a long wait to revisit Joel and Maggie and Chris and Ed and Marilyn and Ruth Ann and Maurice and Holling and Shelly and all the other gentle souls of Cicely. This engaging and utterly beguiling programme, which ran from 1990-95, created more than just television - it created community. Apparently, it single-handedly increased tourism to Alaska more than any previous marketing drive had ever achieved.

     How has it travelled across time? I'm delighted to say, marvellously. It is still as fresh and charming and glorious as it was in rerun, and I for one shall be eagerly awaiting the follow-on series of this fabulous show.

     On this disc, we get:

     Original Pilot (45:52) - this gives us the setup for why Joel is in Cicely in the first place. The quality level of this episode is misleading. It's actually somewhat better than the other episodes, but fortunately, even the lesser quality ones are by no means a disgrace.

     Episode One - Brains, Know-How & Native Intelligence (45:50) - Joel finds his way around town and begins to learn the accepted protocols, amidst a myriad of plumbing problems!

     Episode Two - Soapy Sanderson (45:56) - Joel and Maggie are thrust together as business partners by the wily machinations of a local old-timer.

      Episode Three- Dreams, Schemes & Putting Greens (45:56) - Maurice and Joel strike an unholy alliance with some dubious businessmen, while Shelly and Holling firm-up their relationship.

      Episode Four- Russian Flu (45:47) - When the entire town is struck by what may be Russian Flu, Joel has a hard time convincing the folk that it is not the result of some nefarious commie plot. His life is not made simpler when his fiancée from Queens finally comes to visit, only to be struck by the virus. Can Marilyn save the day?

      Episode Five- Sex, Lies and Ed's Tape (45:44) - Poor Ed is contending with writers' block, as he tries to dream up his über film script. Shelly's life and past are also causing some problems.

      Episode Six- A Kodiak Moment (46:00) - While Chris & Maurice negotiate a new relationship, Holling, Shelly and Ed go on the hunt for Old Jesse.

      Episode Seven- Aurora Borealis (46:00) - Joel has a close encounter with the mythical Adam, and Chris meets Bernard, with whom he feels a strange bond.

     Each episode is an absolute joy to behold. It's strange - each of the performers are consummate actors who have by and large gone on to other projects - but never do they seem to be more alive and credible than in this ensemble piece. Their work is totally complementary to each other and builds to a masterful yet low key whole piece that none seem to have been able to match in other projects.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in its original format of 1.33:1, 4x3, Full Screen.

     The pilot has overall higher production values than the following episodes, but I shall restrict my comments to the standard episodes as being more representative of what made the series. Whilst the lighting is somewhat flat at times, there is still plenty of shadow detail and fine grain overall.

     Whilst the colours were not very often of a dazzling array, skin tones were generally acceptable, and colours did not block or bleed.

     Aliasing was evident throughout and there was frequent macro blocking throughout, although not to an infuriating level. There was consistent evidence of video artefacts and a certain "grubbiness" throughout, although its consistency made it easier to get used to. Having said that, this is not particularly recent television, and many of the problems fell within the range of forgivable in my opinion.

     Subtitles were generally clean, clear and legible.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed in Episode Three 3.36 minutes into that episode. The change is not overly distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Overall, the audio was this disc's weakest link.

     The audio tracks were presented as English Dolby 2.0 and German Dolby 2.0. I listened to the English track.

     The audio track was often quite tinny and had frequent distortions and pops which affected the clarity of the dialogue. Further, there were serious audio sync problems which were at their very worst during Episodes 4 and 5.

     The musical score by David Schwartz was always a highlight of this show. Liberal use of that wonderful, lyrical French-styled Zydeco music is a key signature of the series, and their borrowing from artists like Daniel Lanois was always inspired. This is a soundtrack designed to make you smile.

     There was virtually no activity in any surround or subwoofer speakers.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The menu design is themed around the show. It is simple and uncomplicated to use.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

       This has apparently not yet been released in R1, so my best guess is that there'll be no difference.

Summary

     Joy of joys - Northern Exposure is finally here. If you've been concerned about how it's travelled down the years, be not afraid, it's just as much a joy as it was back then. Roll on the rollout of all the other series!!! Instant goodwill - just add viewer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F
AllZone4DVD - Wayne F

Comments (Add)
good to hear! - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Tie-in book - John
Region 1 Disc comes with extras! - Bleary_25
Where is Series 2?? -