The Michigan Daily- Weekend etc. - February 6, 1992- Page,5
- L~t -G
Dr. Joel asks Maurice a quirky oh-so-Northern Exposure question. "You mean if I rub baby moose fur on
Maggie (Alaska's own Juno, if you ask us) she'll think I'm an Inuit love torch rather than a neurotic neb?"
By Rosanne Freed
I'm standing in tle. checkout line at
Kroger, flipping through the TV
Guide, when suddenly I'm blind-
sided by yet another reverent article
on Northern Exposure, the "sweet-
souled" series that's "carved out a
place in the American imagination."
Should I kneel. I wonder, or just
grab a box of pancake mix to go
with this syrup'?
The Northern Exposure band-
:wagon has collie to town. TV critics
are riding up top, flinging their ac-
colades like heads at Mardi Gras.
Here come the awards - Golden
Globe Winner, Emmy Nominee.
And viewers are jumping on board,
placing the show solidly in the top
20, week after week.
Think back to Twin Peaks Tall
trees, weird locals, shaggy-dog, sto-
ries. Laura Palmer's gruesome mur-
der. After 60 perplexing minutes of
the blood-on-flannel saga of incest
in the last frontier, viewers would
he tossin' and turnin' all night.
Enter Northern E.xposure. Tall
trees, weird locals, shaggy-dog sto-
ries. Instead of evil, though, North-
ern Ex.iposure gives us Yukon
whimsy - Bullwinkle on Main
Street, the elfin charm of burly men
in sheepskin - and eight hours of'
uninterrupted sleep. It's a damn
good cup of decaffcinated coffee, and
the audience is lapping it up.
For starters, there's the accessi-
ble anti-hero, Joel Fleischman, a
New York Jewish doctor plunked
straight down into his idea of rube
central - Cicely, Alaska, popula-
tion 839. Dr. Joel wants out
(wouldn't you?), but he's obliged to
work off a Med school loan with
four years of practicing in caribou
Fleischman spends much of his
time carrying on the tradition of
overly verbalized, overly rational-
ized whining that made thirt'some-
thing such 'a breath of fresh air.
Words are Fleischman's fortress.
He uses them to shield his urban
sensibilities from moose burgers.
bear hunts, and Bingo night at the
Bush pilot Maggie O'Connell is.
the parry to fHeischman's talky
thrust. Of course there's the hint of
romantic sparks between them, (a /a
David and Maddie, Sam and Diane,
Sam and Rebecca, etc.). And of
course, Maggie isn't nearly as self-
confident as she acts, nor as aggres-
sively rugged as she wants everyone
to believe. At heart, Maggie remains
the paumpered daughter of an auto
industry bigwig: when she dreams
of heaven, it's the Grosse Pointe
When television writers dream
of heaven, it's Cicely, Alaska. The
joke of Northern Exposure is that
Fleischman's rustic, frozen prison is
really Utopia. This is an Alaska
without oil spills. Where the juke-
box plays Billie Holiday, Indians
listen to Bell Biv DeVoe, and the
general store rents the latest Kuro-
sawa film. There's no crime, no
standing in line. Maggie delivers
last week's Village Voice and rush
orders from L.L. Bean. When it
comes to amenities, Cicely is
strictly an urbanite's theme park -
New York City minus ten million
What's left is a variety pack of
amusing, but edgeless, eccentrics.
Maurice is the. Arctic's Pat
Buchanan. Ile owns most of the
town, but carries all the weight of
puffed rice. Ilolling, who put the
sex into sexagenarian, is wrapped up
in one eternal worry - pleasing his
teenaged main squeeze, Shelley.
Chris, the mystical D.J, acts out The
New Age Guide to .Seducing Girls
Above the 6t/ Parallel. These char-
acters are so hazy, it feels like their
doialogue was written in a hot tiub.
Cicely's Indians say more by
speaking less. Ed's mouth moves
like it's in a later time zone, but his
mind is clicking along just ine.
Marilyn is Fleischman's Buddha-
like receptionist and whisper of
conscience. Unfortunately, Ed ani
Marilyn are as passive as Pound
Puppies. In a program full of self-
reflective motorimout hs, their dry
insights tend to get lost in the sauce.
Northern Evposutre likes to play
footsie with Big Ideas, but it's all
an intellectual tease. The show is
obsessed with death (by suicide, by
satellite, by natural causes), mostly
as a cute plot device.
The one idea that works pits
mind against magic. While Fleis-
chman is buried in text books, the
Indians are g uided by spirits. And
their solutions work better than his.
Marilyn's folk reined y cures a flu
epidemic. Ed finds his long-lost I-
ther, led by an ancient spirit that
only Indians can see.
This drives Fleischman crazy.
Cicely is so laid-back, so mystical.
And Fleischman has the anxieties of
a imui who closes the bathroom door
when he's home alone.
Northern Exposure's strongest
moments are marked by that sort of
comic friction. Cocksure Maurice
consoling ethereal Chris; Marilyn's
deadpan reaction to Fleischman's
verbal tumble. Il testy two-shots, a
mismatched pair of characters wres-
tle in quizzical conversation, each
mind spiniiing on a different axis.
They generate the heat that keeps the
town humni n .
But that's simply not enough.
No, what Cicely could really use is
a large (lose of Bob, Twin Peaks'
version of sympathy for the devil.
Instead, Northern LXposure's Big
Bad Wolf is Adam, the globetrot-
ting gourniet chef from Hell. Lie
peppers the townies with sarcasm .
He blasts them with enough insults
to melt glaciers. And dammit if
they don't just turn the other cheek.
(Dear CBS: Give Adam his own
show and I promise I'll watch.)
Otherwise, Northern E Iposure is
snooze city. There are no juicy con-
flicts to grab you by the collar: Ci-
, cely's motto could be "Live and Let
Live." Even a blood feud between
Ilolling and Maurice comes off like
pouting in the pre-school.
If Laura Palmer had died in this
sleepy berg, it would have been
NOR THERN EXPOSUR E airs Mon-
days t /10p.nt. O CBS.
Win Furry Tickets?
You can win 2 FRONT ROW
TICKETS to the Furs' concert at the
Michigan Theater on March 2.
Just answer this'simple question:
Who played Molly
Ringwald's adult role model
(and zany vintage clothing
store owner) in John Hughes
movie named after the
Psychedelic Furs' song
"Pretty in Pink"?
Send or drop off answers with
your name and phone number to the
Michigan Daily Weekend Etc., 420
Maynard, Ann Arbor 48109.
The Winner will be chosen by
random drawing of correct answers.
Hit me with your rhythm stick
We all have our fetishes. Handcuffs, chocolate sauce, Catholic school
girl uniforms - the list is endless. Me, I'm not that kinky. All it takes to
make my heart palpitate and neurons fire is a woman with a bass guitar.
I love the deep rumblings that growl from a battered Fender Precision
bass. The primal throb just kicks you right in the chest - as well as
between the legs. So when it's a woman doing the kicking, I'm a goner.
It's enough to make you buy your girlfriend a bass for Valentine's Day.
D'Arcy (Smashing Pumpkins) Oh boy. This tiny terror with red lips and
curtain of blonde hair stops my heart every time. Onstage, she rips it up,
oblivious to the legions of moshers and roses thrown at her feet.
Leslie Langston (Throwing Muses) The absolutely angelic Langston has
been MIA for awhile, but the recent split between Muses Kristen Hersh
and Tanya Donnelly has brought her back into the band. There is a God.
Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) NY's queen of noise. Major coolness points
for singing tributes to both LL Cool J and Karen Carpenter.
Kim Deal (Pixies) Everyone talks about Black Francis, but it's Deal that
actually runs the show. She has her own band, the Breeders, that blows
away anything the Pixies have ever done.
Laura Ballance (Superchunk) The Mona Lisa of indie rock. Her beatific
smile has inspired nothing less than worship from guys nationwide.
Sara Lee (Gang Of Four) Her funky, slap-style playing has inspired
countless post-punk bassists everywhere.
Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads) Along with Sara Lee, she pioneered a
new style of playing. Also founded the way cool Tom-Tom Club.
Jill Emery (Hole) This sonic siren is from the Kim Gordon school of
Beth Dulka (Destruction Ride) This Ann Arbor headbanger can outrock
any of the fellas in town. Check out their new CD & become a believer.
Michelle Leon (Babes In Toyland) Louder than you, pal.
- Scott Sterling
A Psych Fur
Continued from page 4
ted to perform in Clytemnestra.
Her attraction to the part was that
as the technical
level. "It's such a
meaty role. In it
all the extremes of
are built up and5
served out: hatred,
lust, love, greed,
envy. Plus it fo-
cuses on all of the°
ships of a family.
It's brilliant danc-
ing," she says.
After giving up
forming in 1988,
New York began
to lose its appeal
and Lyman relo-L
has become home for Lyman, her
husband and eight year-old son. With
slight hesitation, she says, "I guess
you could call me a housewife now."
Yet Lyman's dance career is not
over. She still teaches at the Graham
School and travels occasionally as a
guest teacher and choreographer.
Having performed Graham's Lamen-
tation at the University Museum of
Art last September, Lyman says of
Ann Arbor that "this community is
very fortunate in its
diversity of dance,
art and theater."
mark the first time
has been performed
outside of the Gra-
ham Company in 15
years. "It's time,"
states Lyman. "It's
a great challenge
and incredible op-
portunity to work
on Diversion. I
know the power of
the piece will hold."
If anyone can dem-
of that kind of
power, Lyman can.
Graham's "Diversion ofAngels" will
be performed as part of AMERICAN
MASTER WORKS tonight through
Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2
p.m. at the Power Center.
Six Degrees defies Broadway clichds
A man is loudly moaning, "Yes, yes." A confused wife listens on the
other side of the door, while her entrance floods the stage with light. The
man sits up in bed, startled. A naked guy standing up in bed - on stage
in Lincoln Center, in New York City. Amazing.
The state of theater today is questionable. In an age of Neil Simon and
light comedy that barely goes bump in the night, playwright John Guare
makes a noise with his play, Six Degrees of Separation.
Enjoying great success, Six Degrees challenges your perception of
reality and reconciliation with the world. It puts on stage a naked man
involved in an act both shocking and sensual. It crams it in your thoughts
and demands your attention - it forces you to deal with a reality.
Guare's play is based on a recent news event of a man finding succor
in the homes of the rich by claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son. Then he
robs them and takes off. He is also a hustler of a different shade, trading
oral sex for cash compensation - putting his mouth where the money is,
making us think about what prostitution really is. The arts for so long
have avoided controversy in the mainstream. Yet Six Degrees defies
safety with the hint of homosexual acts - for a price.
Unlike the runs of favorites like Cats and Phantom of the Opera, Six
Degrees is a play. It doesn't rely on musical numbers to save its plot. It
doesn't rely on good and evil characters to create a nest of "safe" theater.
It's incredible not more plays in the spirit of Six Degrees aren't cel-
ebrated. But, in the age of Miss Saigon, its not that hard to understand. In
an age of factoty-line zirconia, diamonds take longer to come to the"
surface. Guare has given back to us the purpose of theater - to think, to
question, to have an opinion. He has given back to us a play based on
our own reality requiring our full participation. We have theater. Again.
- Caroline J. Gordon
Welcome to our All-American T-shirt Sale!!!
Help end the recession by spending your money
Do Joel gives us one of his cutest "bewildered/outraged" looks.
rr I 'R -M yN-per
W VI N T E R J AZ Z SE RIE S
North Campus Commons
i Featuring Jazz Ensembles 30
from the jazz Studies Feb. 6
Piror Ed Sarath
A tradition revived
Friday, February 7
(doors open 7:30)
Opening with Corey Dolgon
11 - =as_ -- a -.