The television revival train continues to move full steam ahead, as a revival of the quirky ‘90s comedy Northern Exposure is in development at CBS. The series is just the latest to offer proof that nothing is ever truly finished in the world of television, as networks continue to fill their schedules with hits from the past, all hoping to cash in on the nostalgia of audiences everywhere, while also crossing their fingers for a Roseanne-like boost in the ratings. While it doesn’t seem likely that Northern Exposure will produce the same result, it’s at least a welcome addition to the list of returning shows that have been off the air for 20 years or more.
The series ran for six seasons and over 100 episodes on CBS beginning in 1990, and told the story of a doctor, Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), fresh out of medical school, who is obligated to establish a practice in Cicely, Alaska, a small town that has more than its fair share of eccentric personalities. Morrow (Billons) starred alongside John Corbett, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Cullum, Cynthia Geary, and more. Building off the basic fish-out-of-water premise, creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey proved the series could be much more than that, creating a vibrant TV show that managed to find something unconventional and unique about the town and its colorful denizens week in and week out.
As reported by Variety, Brand and Falsey plan to return to the Alaska town as writers and executive producers, while Morrow will star and executive produce as well. Though it sounds as though the revival is planning to bring back some of the original cast, the premise of the revival has Dr. Fleischman returning to Cicely for the funeral of friend, prompting him to discover “a new set of quirky characters and reunites with old ones.” Presumably, that means everyone who’s willing to return will be welcome to do so. One actor who is apparently on board to produce is Corbett, who played the town’s DJ, Chris Stevens, though he’s reportedly not attached to the project as an actor at the moment.
The plan to bring Northern Exposure back suggests the Eye Network hasn’t been swayed from the revival craze despite the lukewarm reception received by the revival of Murphy Brown in the fall. That series’ 10-episode run will come reach its conclusion at the end of November. And with little in the way of any real heat surrounding the show’s return, it seems its future is currently up in the air.
That might make a revival of an hour-long series that mixes comedy and drama more enticing to the powers that be at the network, and may well give this potential Northern Exposure revival the juice it needs to come to fruition. In the meantime, hopefully this news will encourage someone to authorize the show's long-awaited arrival on one of the many streaming services in advance of its potential return to television.
Screen Rant will have more details on the Northern Exposure revival as they’re made available.