In last Wednesday night’s episode of “Northern Exposure,” irascible entrepreneur and former astronaut Maurice Minnifield, played by actor Barry Corbin, sat dejectedly on a bar stool in the local watering hole in Cicely, Alaska, and lamented the town’s dwindling population.
“I sunk my flag into this land,” he said. “I wanted to see Cicely grow, I wanted to see it flourish. But the population’s not going up, it’s going down. Businesses aren’t opening up, they’re closing up.”
Dr. Phillip Capra, played by Paul Provenza, was incredulous as he looked up from his seat.
“Wait a minute, Maurice,” he said. “You lured me up here with talk about double-digit growth and boom times around the corner. That’s just great. I’ve mortgaged my future to a ghost town.”
Provenza understands his character’s plight. When he joined the cast last fall, “Northern Exposure” was still a viable enterprise, an acclaimed CBS drama that consistently ranked among television’s two dozen most popular series.
Six months later, the show had all but disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness, its audience having dropped by half and its star, Rob Morrow, having left to pursue a movie career.
Its six-season run ends rather ingloriously this month with the airing of the final three episodes of the series.