The overwhelmingly positive response (including a handful of Emmy nominations) to the first limited season of Northern Exposure in the summer of 1990 prompted CBS to commission seven more episodes, which were seen in the spring of 1991. In the eight months between the first batch of episodes and this new manifest, New York-born doctor Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) had become accustomed to his enforced four-year stay in the miniscule Alaskan village of Cicely, though he still yearned to chuck it all and return to the Big Apple. In the course of season two, local air-transport pilot Maggie O'Connell endured the loss of another boyfriend to "Maggie's curse," whereby all of her past sweethearts had met with bizarre but mildly chucklesome deaths. In this instance, poor Rick Pederson (Grant Goodeve) was killed by a falling satellite. Tavern owner Holling Vicoeur (John Cullum) continued to postpone his promised wedding to his teenaged sweetie Shelly Tambo (Cynthia Geary), though he did reluctantly acquiesce to Shelly's insistence that he be circumcised. Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin), the ex-astronaut who owned Cicely, felt that his manhood was threatened when a gay couple, Ron Bantz (Doug Ballard) and Erick Hillman (Don R. McManus), purchased one of his choice real-estate lots; eventually, however, Maurice warmed up to his new tenants, especially when he discovered that he had much in common with them (except their sexual preferences, of course). And as quirky KBHR DJ Chris Danforth (John Corbett) persisted in trying to unravel the mysteries of his own past, Maurice's Native American assistant Ed Chigliak (Darren E. Burrows) contemplated what the future held for him. In addition to the aforementioned Doug Ballard and Don R. McManus, another semi-regular was added to the series: William J. White as Sam, the largely non-speaking cook at Holling's establishment. Still another, more prominent recurring character was introduced during season two: Diane Delano as brusque, officious state trooper Barbara Semanski, to whom Maurice was irresistibly attracted. Gathering an even bigger audience for its second complement of seven episodes than during its eight-week tryout in 1990, Northern Exposure was finally picked up by CBS for a full-season run that kicked off in the fall of 1991.
by Hal Erickson synopsis