Northern Exposure - The Pilot

This is an attempt to provide a full transcript of the pilot episode. Depending on how much spare time I find myself with, and the feedback I receive from doing this, I might add more episodes in the future. You can also find a transcript (without images) of the 'Cicely' episode here, courtesy of The Television Transcript Project by Shazam, which inspired me to do this.

UPDATE: After finally getting my hands on the first season DVD for Northern Exposure, I've added the deleted scenes to this transcript

It seems I managed to inspire someone else, so you can now find more Northern Exposure Transcripts at Duvelle's website.

Of course, I can't take the credit for this piece of genius, so you'd better take a look at the credits to see who can!


pilot1 The scene opens in a crowded aircraft passenger cabin, panning along various passengers and settling on Joel Fleischman sitting next to a bored looking businessman.

Joel: Don't get me wrong, I'm not kidding myself, Anchorage isn't New York City, but it's not Cambodia, right? I mean have you got any idea how many Chinese restaurants there are in Anchorage? There's five, there's fourteen movie theatres, two practically Kosher delis, and if we're talking about freezing our buns off? The median temperature is only five degrees lower than French Lick, Indiana, despite the differential in precipitation.

Joel stops a passing stewardess

Joel: ahh, a ginger ale, and a..nother scotch for the businessman. <sigh> So anyway, it's not as if Alaska was part of my gameplan, but the fact is I've always though that medicine was for me. I mean ever since I played doctor with Katie Kaplin in the second grade; I had the desire, the grades, I just didn't have the bucks! I mean do you have any idea what it costs to go through medical school? I mean, a lot! I know what you're thinking, scholarship, right? Let's face it, Jewish doctors are not exactly an endangered species..

Stewardess: 3 dollars please

The stewardess puts the drinks in front of Joel. He hands her the money.

Joel: So, seventy five scholarship applications later, seventy four turn-downs, only one comes through. Alaska...

Businessman: Whadya mean?

Joel: Well, the state agreed to finance my medical education to the tune of one hundred and twenty five thousand dollars, and in return? I agreed to be their indentured slave for the next four years.

The businessman snorts, Joel looks at him with a very worried expression.

Joel: What??

Businessman: You ever been to Alaska?

Joel: Of course, of course! What kind of a schmuck do you think I am?! I mean, Elaine, she's a third year law student at NYU, we came out last summer, we loved the place. Well, alright, not loved, but we both agreed it is definitely doable.

We rented this brand new two bedroom condo on Chiquitako Lane, olympic pool, raquetball, tennis court, sauna, the whole schmear. I mean not to mention a PGA approved 18 hole golf course which in the winter is perfect for cross country skiing. (Joel sips his drink). So whadya think?

Businessman: Not bad. You hunt?

Joel: No.

Businessman: Fish?

Joel: I've eaten them.

The Businessman looks away and sighs deeply. Joel gets more panicky.

Joel: W..What are you saying? W..Wh..What are you trying to say? You trying to tell me something?

Businessman: Good Luck.

The businessman turns away and switches off his reading light. Joel looks at him for a moment, and then turns away, puffs out his cheeks, sighs deeply, and switches off his light too.

Opening credits roll.

Camera pans down from the sky onto a sign reading Anchorage International Airport, and down further to the entrance. Joel comes running out, loaded with luggage and golf clubs, yelling 'Taxi!'. He climbs into a green cab.

pilot2 The scene opens on Joel, in a waiting area, surrounded by his luggage and a set of golf clubs, looking around him worriedly. From the right, the sound of a door opening and footsteps.

Peter Gilliam: Joe! Sorry, things are (?) crazy. Great to see you again.

Joel and Peter shake hands.

Joel: Thanks.

Peter: How was your flight?

Joel: Not bad!

Peter: Good! Come on in

Peter takes some of Joels luggage. Joel takes the rest and follows.

Joel: I.. I got it.

The scene changes to Peter Gilliam's office. On the walls is a a tourism poster for Alaska and some certificates. Joel walks in and puts his luggage against the wall.

Joel: So, I'm gonna need a day or two to get settled in at the condo; ya know, phone, cable, that sorta thing. Before I check in at the hospital.

Peter: Uh-huh.

Joel sits down in front of Peter's desk. On the desk is Peter's name plate, a metal desk lamp, a photograph frame, and a coffee mug

Peter: I've got some very exciting news for you Joe.

Joel: Joel! Really?

Peter wheels his chair to a nearby desk pedestal, takes a tissue from the drawer and blows his nose.

Peter: Have you ever been to the French Riviera?

Joel: In France?

Peter (scooting across to another pedestal and fetching a folder): My lady and I were doing Europe, we did the Rivieras. French and Italian, and then we jumped up to Scandinavia; she's ah, Danish, a model; before jumping down to Zermont. That's in Switzerland.

Joel: Sounds great!

Peter: You'd think. Actually, it was incredibly, unbelievably disappointing.

Joel: Really? Why?

Peter scoots back to the tissue pedestal, throws away his tissue, then scoots back to the other side and fetches another folder, talking all the time, before returning to his desk.

Peter: Because Joel, once you have experienced Alaska, and I am talking about the real Alaska, everything else pales in comparison. Which brings me to my big surprise. We don't need you.

Joel: What are you talking about?

Peter: You're expendable Joel, you're superfluous!

Joel (smiling): You're pulling my chain, right?

Peter: Nope, we overfunded, and right now we have more physicians than we need.

Joel (laughing): This is great news. W... Wai... Wait what you're saying is, you don't need me?!

Peter: That's right.

Joel (laughing more): This is great news!!

Peter: So, what we've decided to do is to set you up in Cicely. Situated in an area that we Alaskans refer to as The Alaskan Riviera.

Peter shows Joel an open folder, containing photographs. The smile disappears from Joel's face. He stands, hands on hips, and looks down at the folder.

Peter: Ideal weather, breathtaking scenery, shopping, dining, A..Aspen's got nothing on this place!

Joel: Uh, Where is this Cicely?

Peter: Bus ride from Anchorage!

Joel: Uh-huh

Peter: We've uh, arranged for your lodging, and office facility, and the city is extremely excited!

Joel: Uh-huh. OK. Umm, what if I don't like it?

Peter: You leave.

Joel: L..L..Let's just get this straight, what you're saying is, if I don't like it, I can leave?

Peter: Absolutely.

Joel's face softens, he looks closer at the photographs and sits back down.

Joel: Well, I..I mean it does look pretty

Peter: It's gorgeous!

Peter: Well I don't mean to be rude, but I've got a meeting and you've got a bus to catch? We'll take care of your bags. Maurice Minnifield the head of the Cicely chamber of commerce will be there to, umm, welcome you and help you get settled in. Peter shakes Joel's hand. Great seeing you again Joel.

Joel: Thanks... Oh Pete! My, my ticket.

Peter: (laugh)No flys on you. We'll talk. Oh how is that pretty lady of yours?

Joel: Oh she's fine, thanks.

Peter: You're a lucky guy. Give her my love.

Peter pats Joel on the arm and leaves. Joel examines his ticket and then peers at the Alaska poster on the wall.

Joel examines the photos with eyebrows raised. The Northern Exposure theme starts to play, and the scene switches to a bus leaving Anchorage.

pilot3 Joel shares snacks and has a joke with the passenger next to him on the bus. Later his companion is asleep and resting on Joel. Joel tries to shift him without success, then tries blowing on his head to make him move, also without success. Much later Joel is alone, looking at a map, when the bus stops, causing him to hit his head on the seat in front.

The bus departs, leaving Joel at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere.

pilot4 Joel sits reading a newspaper and watching the road, occasionally disturbed by the sounds of nature. Finally a yellow truck appears.

Ed: Dr Fleischman?

Joel: Yeah?

Ed (smiling): Hi, I'm Ed.

Joel looks confused. The scene switches to Joel next to Ed in the truck, gazing out of the window while Ed drives with one hand on the wheel, the other shuffling through his tape collection.

Ed: What about rap?

Joel: What about it?

Ed: Well, are you into it?

Joel (disinterested): No, not particularly

Ed: Ah, Here we go, Richard Berry, R&B Classic!

Ed puts the tape in, the music starts, it's Louie, Louie by Richard Berry.

Ed: You're a doctor, right?

Joel: Yeah, look, where are we?

Ed: I like Doctor Toni Grant, she's on the radio, helps with your personal problems. (starts speaking dramatically) He's in Sinus tack! Give me an X-ray stat! Cervical, Spine, Chest and Abdomen! Chorothol (?) for his leg! Give thoracic a call, tell 'em we've got a pneumo thorax, possibly secondary defragment!

Joel gives Ed a suprised look.

Ed: Oh, St. Elsewhere, I love that show.

Ed stops the truck and gets out.

Joel: Hey, where...

Ed: See ya!

Joel: Where're ya going?

Ed: Home!

Joel: W..What are you kidding me? You've gotta take me to Mr Minnifield!

pilot7

Ed (laughing and pointing down the road): Oh, you can return the tapes to me later.

Joel (Shouting): Hey! Hey! HEY!

Ed disappears into the trees. Joel shuffles over into the driving seat.

Joel: Oh my God!

Joel drives onwards, looking around worriedly. Suddenly he stops, reverses up, and turns right, past a mailbox which says 'Minnifield HCO 3 BOX 171'. Joel drives in and stops outside Maurice's house, a large wood log building, with a sattelite dish in the yard. The music stops.

pilot5 Maurice is at the roof of a wooden building, fixing a flagpole. He sees Joel.

Maurice: Dr Fleischman!

Maurice abseils down and turns to face Joel.

Joel: Minnifield??

The scene switches to Maurices house, a scan of the walls shows guns, knives, animal hides, antlers and heads, some guitars, and a horse carriage suspended from the ceiling.

Maurice (appearing at the top of a staircase): What part of New York ya from, son?

Joel: Flushing

Maurice: What part's that, Bronx?

Joel: Queens, you know New York?

Maurice: No, I can't say that I do, I spent some time on the East Coast, mostly around Washington DC, Satellite Beach, Florida. Only been to New York one time, for a parade.

As Maurice is talking he walks down the stairs, past some globes, more animal hides, an old gramophone, and many other trappings and finery.

Joel: What, the Macy's Day?

Maurice: Ticker Tape. I went down 5th Avenue in the back of an open Caddy. I was an astronaut, son.

Joel: Really? I mean, no kidding?

Maurice (pointing): Sit.

Joel (sitting in an antique looking armchair): Wow, that.. that's incredible. I.. I don't think I've ever met an astronaut before. I remember watching those missions as a kid. Y.. you ever go into outer space?

Maurice: Took my ride..

pilot6 Maurice sits opposite Joel.

Maurice: Listen, Joel. I wanna take this opportunity to be the first to welcome you here. When I heard we had a crack at a Jew doctor from New York City, well, I don't have to tell you I jumped. You boys do outstanding work!

Joel (giving Maurice a funny look): Thanks.

Maurice (pulling on his boots): There's lots of opportunity here Joel. When I first came here twenty years ago, there was nothing but natural surroundings, unseen by white man since.... oh, before time began! First thing I did, I bought fifteen thousand acres of land. Second thing I did, started a radio station and a newspaper. Why? (Joel shrugs) Communications. (Joel nods) If a man's got something to sell, or something to say, he'd better get it out there, and by golly I had it. And I still do! Now we've got an outstanding little town here Joel, ready to step up in the world. We've got, uh, natural resources, we've got land, we've got wildlife, just waiting to be fondled. And now Joel, now, we've got you.

Maurice points at Joel, Joel laughs slightly uncomfortably. Maurice stands and puts on his leather flight jacket.

Maurice: Come on son! let's do it.

Maurice leaves. Joel sits for a moment, then stands and follows Maurice.

pilot8 The scene switches to Cicely Main Street, with the Roslyn's Cafe mural on the right. A dog crosses the street, and some cars drive by. Maurice's car appears around the bend, toots at a passing truck and pulls in to park.

Maurice steps out of the car with a satisfied look on his face. Joel gets out looking more worried.

Joel: Is this it? Is this the town?

Maurice: This is it. This is Cicely.

The camera pans around showing the store, village pizza, and some other shops.

Maurice: She and Roslyn founded the town ninety seven years ago. Rumour and innuendo not withstanding they were just good friends. (pointing at the mural) A hippy passing through painted that picture on the wall. He was so high on the weed that he forgot the apostrophe-S, I had to squeeze that in myself.

Joel: I.. I don't understand. Where is the rest of the town??

Maurice: Oh, it's coming son, it's coming! Burger King, shopping malls, Thirty One Flavours, it's all gonna be here. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it's coming, I can guarantee you that.

Maurice beckons Joel to follow, and enters a dingy, dusty room with boarded windows.

Maurice: Son of a.. I told that Ed I wanted him to throw a new coat of paint on here.

Joel: This place needs more than a paint job if you ask me.

Maurice: Son, I had no idea this wouldn't be done before you got here.

Joel: Before I got here? This is my office??

Maurice (pulling up a chair): Well, a few curtains, a couple of heads on the wall, you're in business! Come on son, siddown, relax, get a feel for the place, while I find out what the hell that Indian's been up to.

Joel sits in the middle of the room, Maurice leaves. Joel rubs his forehead and temples, then hears a noice and looks up, seeing an Eskimo woman.

new_pilot9

Joel: Who're you?

Marilyn: Marilyn. I'm here for the job.

Joel runs out of the building, past a sign that says 'Welcome Dr Fleischman', and into a bar. A man is eating at a table, and a woman sitting at the bar smiles at Joel as he comes in. Family Tradtion by Hank Williams is playing on the Juke box. Joel rushes to the bar.

Joel: Phone?

Holling: It's right back there, on the wall.

Joel rushes to the phone, past more eaters and a man playing pinball. Joel pulls a piece of paper from his pocket, and dials the number on it.

Joel: Uh, Pete Gilliam please... Pete? Joel Fleischman. Yeah, I..I'm in Cicely, and I..I've taken a look around, I've checked out the place, I..I've thought about it long and hard, and I want out.... No, I don't have my contract with me, I'm at a payphone in a bar in the middle of nowhere! What? It says what?? Nononono no, listen to me, you tol... you told me, you said if I didn't like it I could leave... No, I don't don't like it, I hate it, and I..I demand to leave! ... Well, that is because you are not the one who is supposed to spend the next four years of his life in this (shouting) godforsaken hole in the wall pigsty with a bunch of dirty psychotic redne.... (three big guys at the pool table stare at Joel, Joel calms down a bit). Right, you listen to me, I am a graduate of Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons, I did my residency at Best Zion Hospital. That is one of the finest medical facilities in New York City, if not the world, (shouting again) and I will under no conditions, no conditions, spend the best years of my life in the worst place on Earth! And if you think, let me tell you something, if you think....

The phone goes dead, and Joel slams it down angrily and bangs his head on it, he then picks it up and dials another number.

Joel: Yeah, collect call from Joel please.... Hi! Honey! Yeah, I'm here... Look, umm, yeah, no, it is, it's lovely. Look, do me a favour, take a run through my contract, and you see if there is any stipulation as to actual location of medical practice... Oh.. this is just.. you know..uh.. surburban Anchorage... do ya think you can do that for me? Today.. Yeah, OK, oh I miss you too sweetheart. The number is... is 907 555 7823, now I'm gonna wait for your call, OK? OK, yeah, no, me too, OK.

Joel puts down the phone and rests his head on it. The sound of the pool table gets his attention, and he sees the players staring at him. He laughs and says 'Women'. He walks up to the bar and takes a seat.

Joel: My stomach's a mess, you got a seltza?

Holling: Seltza?

Joel: Yeah, you know, seltza, it's uh, water, with bubbles?

Ed walks in and sits next to Joel

Ed: Oh, hi, say, have you heard the new Bel Biv Devoe?

Joel: What?

Ed: I think that one's gonna go platinum! (looks at Holling) Oh ah, Maurice sent me in to see if you got the sixteen cases of lemon lime for the festival Holling.

Holling: I couldn't get lemon lime, so I got orange.

Ed: Oh, ok, that'll do.

Joel: By any chance do you happen to have a couple of aspirin back there?

Holling (walking down to the window): I was gonna call Maurice and tell him about the change myself.

pilot10

Ed: Y..y..you were gonna call Maurice??

Holling: I'm Thinking about it.

Ed: I..I don't think you should do that Holling.

Holling: Do what?

Ed: Call Maurice!

Holling (handing Joel the Aspirin): Why's that?

Ed: It'll set him off, and next thing you know he's blowing your brains out, and we'll have to bury you which'll ruin the festival for me and everybody.

Holling (cleaning glasses): Well I'll take that into consideration Ed, but there's a time for everything, and in my opinion, it's time for me and Maurice to settle things once and for all.

Ed: I..I hope you don't do that.

Holling walks away, Ed looks down at the bar, then at Joel

Ed: Well I'll see you later.

Joel is left alone with his seltzer. The scene fades and switches to later in the day. The Brick is busy and lively. Jolie Louise by Daniel Lanois is playing on the jukebox. We see Joel sitting by the phone, reading a newspaper. Holling approaches with a tray of food.

Holling: You been perched here for quite a few hours now, I figured you must've worked up an appetite.

Joel: Oh, thanks, what do I owe ya?

Holling: My pleasure.

Joel (shaking hands): Joel Fleischman

Holling: Holling Vincour, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance.

Joel: Look, umm, I guess you heard before when I was uhh... A...a..anyway, I mean, no offence intended, I was just uh, uhh, I was a little, uhh, a little upset, that's all.

Holling: You haven't heard back from your attorney yet huh?

Joel: Well no, but, I mean as I'm sure you know, these are very very complex legal issues here and uh, they take quite some time to sort out. Besides, she's got finals.

Holling (walking away): Well, best of luck to ya.

Joel: Uh, Mr Vincour?

Holling: Holling.

Joel: Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?

Holling: Go right ahead.

Joel: Why is Maurice going to kill you?

Holling: Well, that's a long story, you see that young lady over there?

pilot11

Holling: She's quite something to look at, isn't she?

Joel: She sure is.

Holling: Miss Northwest Passage. Maurice brought her up here to marry; at that time, Maurice and I were best of friends. Like most folks around here, he and Shelley spent a lot of time in this establishment. One day Shelley appeared at the bar, without Maurice, and said if I wanted her, she was mine.... I did. Well, since then, Maurice hasn't set foot in here, and he said if I ever tried talking to him again, he'd blow my brains out.

Joel: Wow! A..and you haven't spoken since?

Holling: Not yet. (walking away) Umm, can I get you something else, Joel?

Joel watches Holling walk back to the bar. The phone rings, but Joel doesn't notice at first, then rushes to pick it up.

Joel: Hello! Yeah, ho.. ho.. hold on a second.

Joel turns to the bar and yells to the crowd: Clem Tellman!

A woman appears beside Joel: Dr Fleischman?

Joel: Telephone!

Maggie: Dr Fleischman? I'm Maggie O'Connell

pilot12

Joel: Yeah? So? (yells) Clem Tellman??

Maggie: Yeah, so, I've been looking for you!

Joel: What kinda name is Clem anyways? What is that short for, Clemton? Clemlock?

Maggie: Look, I don't have a lot of time, so maybe if we could just....

A big guy with a beard appears, Joel backs away from him.

Joel: Hey, you Clem?

Clem: Yeah.

Joel: Look, could you keep it short cause I'm expecting a very important call here.

Maggie: Look, you know, if you'd rather spend the night here than at my place don't let me get in your way...

Joel: Where did you go to trade school? Look, I don't wanna tell you how to run your business, but this petulant aggressive thing is a real turn-off.

Maggie: Look buddy, I...!

Joel: And second of all, I'm engaged to be married to a real knockout, so do yourself a favour and take your business someplace else!

Maggie: I am not a hooker... jerk. I'm your landlord.

Maggie walks away, Joel screws up his face, obviously embarassed. The scene switches to a cabin. Maggie walks in followed by Joel with all his luggage.

Joel: Look, umm, I wasn't trying to be rude, if you'd been direct there wouldn't have been any misunderstanding. By the way, I appreciate your help with the luggage (drops all his stuff).

Joel: What, you gonna make a fire?

Maggie: Yeah.

Joel: Good, it is a little nippy in here. What do you do for heat?

Maggie (at the fireplace): This is the heat, and there's a wood burning stove in the kitchen.

Joel: What do you do for wood?

Maggie: Chop it!

Joel: Ahh! (wandering around) You know, this place really is, charming, in a.. sort of.. ya know.. charming sorta way. I'm not really uh, not really big on the great outdoors, but, umm, I can see how a person might ahh... So, what, umm, the state pays you to rent this place out to me, is that it?

Maggie: Maurice pays me.

Joel: That's an interesting profession.

Maggie: It's an investment, I fly.

Joel: What, you're a stewardess? I mean, I mean, I'm sorry, flight attendant. Which airline?

Maggie: I own my own plane, I'm a pilot?!

Joel: Wow!

Maggie: It's not a 747, I run an air-taxi.

Having lit the fire, Maggie stands to leave.

Maggie: <sigh> There are clean linens in the closet.

Joel: Great. Oh, look, umm, does the phone work? It's just in case I get hungry, I wanna order in some take out! Look, umm, again, I'm sorry about the bruhaha, and uhh, I'm leaving tomorrow, so if I don't get a chance to say goodbye, thanks again for the hospitality.

Maggie: Goodbye.

Joel: Oh, what about this, this garbage bag?

Maggie leaves, Joel looks in the bag.

Joel: It's a gigantic rat!! (drops the bag)

Maggie (from the distance): That's right!

The scene switches to Joel in bed looking nervous. The sound of rats scrabbling is silenced by the thwap of a trap. Joel jumps, then closes his eyes to sleep.

Next day, a view of Joels cabin from the lake, Joel comes running out with a rat stuck to the end of a long pole and runs toward the bin.

Joel: Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god!

Joel deposits the rat in the bin, then looks around to see the glorious view around him pilot13

Joel: Oh my god!

The theme tune starts as we see Joel jogging through beautiful scenery and into town, passing a barking alsation who chases him. Joel arrives at Ruth-Anns store , grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and drinks from it.

Ruth-Ann: Did you run all the way into town Dr Fleischman?

Joel (out of breath): Uh-huh.

Ruth-Ann: That's a seven mile run!

pilot14

Joel: Uh-huh.

Ruth-Ann: You must be a serious runner.

Joel: Not since the seventh grade!

Ruth-Ann: Just the water then?

Joel: Yeah.. No, give me a bagel and cream cheese.

Ruth-Ann: What's a bagel?

Joel (exasperated): I'll just take the beef jerky, ok?

Ruth-Ann: Take one of the spicy ones. That'll be three dollars.

Joel: Now look, I heard a rumour right down the road, that the first bus out of here leaves today.

Ruth-Ann: Today?

Joel: Yeah.

Ruth-Ann: No, I haven't heard that. Would you like a schedule?

Joel: Yeah.

Joel leaves the shop, and heads for his surgery. As he enters he sees Marilyn at the desk, and the waiting area filled with patients.

Joel: W..What are you all doing here?

Marilyn: They're waiting to see the doctor.

Joel: Oh, oh, well, uh, yeah, see, look, I am a doctor, but, umm, I'm very sorry, I can't see any of you, because, I'm not.. staying. See, see I have a bus schedule, so, umm, although I am a doctor, I'm just, I'm not really, umm, I'm not the doctor. Yeah, hah, so, umm, I think it might be very improper for me to establish any kind of relationships in a situation that's, uhh, going nowhere. So, uh, very nice meeting all of you, and I wish you all the best of luck, and... Suit yourselves. (looks at Marilyn) There is no Job!!

Joel walks outside, kicks the bin, looks around, then walks back into the waiting area.

Joel (numbering patients): 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10 (walks into the surgery) Number one!

Joel blows dust off the desk and puts down his bottle. A man in a workers uniform walks in and sits down.

Joel: Ok, what's your problem?

Patient 1: I'm feeling achy, and I'm hot.

Joel: And, for how long?

Patient 1: About three years.

Joel feels his forehead.

Joel: Oh, you do feel warm, let's get a temperature.. How the hell am I gonna get yout temperature without a thermometer??

Marilyn appears at the door carrying a tray with a thermometer on it. Joel takes the tray.

Joel: There is no job! You coulda just wheeled it in on a cart!

Joel puts the thermometer into the patients mouth.

Joel: Alright, go take a seat out there for a few minutes. Number Two!

Joel starts examining a device on the desk. A woman appears at the door carrying a beaver, walks in and sits down.

Joel: Hi.. Wow, what's that?!

Patient 2: It's a beaver.

Joel: Really?! Yeah, I..I've seen these on PBS!

A man appears at the door and knocks.

Joel: Yeah, what number are you?

Patient 6: 6

Joel: Well go out there number 6, and wait your turn like everybody else.

Patient 6 leaves.

Joel: I'm sorry, so what's your problem?

Patient 2: I think his teeth hurt.

Joel: The beaver's??

Patient 2: Yeah, he hasn't been gnawing on any wood lately.

Patient 6 appears at the door again and knocks.

Joel: Number 6, I told you, go out there and wait your turn like everybody else, if you can't do that I'm gonna have to ask you to leave.

Patient 6 looks at the floor then leaves again.

Joel: I'd like to help you with the beaver, but I'm not a dentist.

Patient 2: Couldn't you just look at him?

Joel: Alright, lift his lip.... Oh my god.

Joel bends to look into the beavers mouth, but spots a trail of blood on the floor out of the corner of his eye. He follows the trail to patient 6.

Joel: Number 6, you're bleeding all over the floor!

Back in the surgery, patient 6 is on his front on the table, Joel is removing a bullet from his behind. Marilyn is standing to one side with a tray.

Joel: I've seen this calibre before, Saturday night special. Though nowadays you see it seven days a week at all your finer hospitals. It's a gun of choice of your basic pimps, drug dealers, and pre-AK47 gangsters.

Joel drops the bullet onto Marilyns tray.

Marilyn: I'll wrap him?

Joel: No, thankyou, I can wrap him.

Marilyn shrugs and leaves.

Joel: So who shot you?

Patient 6: My wife.

Joel: Why?

Patient 6: She said, loud doesn't work with me any more..

Joel: What?

Patient 6: We've been married seventeen years.

Joel walks to a cabinet and rummages through it for bandages, behind him Ed walks into the room.

Ed: Man oh man!

Patient 6: Hello Ed.

Ed: Hi Walter, hello Dr Fleischman! What happened to you?

Walter: Edna shot me.

Ed: Wow!!!

Joel: Ed, w..what are you doing here?

Ed: Oh.. Maurice wants to talk to you.

Joel: Yeah, w..well tell him to take a number, I have people here!

Ed: Oh, OK, I'll wait. (leaving the room) Bye Walter!

Walter: Cya Ed.

Ed: Bye Marilyn.

Marilyn: Bye Ed.

Joel looks exasperated, and returns to bandaging Walter's gunshot wound.

The scene switches to a calm lake, surrounded by trees, with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Maurice is sitting in a boat in the middle of the lake with his dog. Another boat appears with Joel sitting at the helm and Ed rowing. Ed pulls alongside Maurice, and Joel switches boats

pilot15

Maurice is wearing a gun vest and holding a rifle.

Maurice: Siddown son. Do much hunting Joel?

Joel: Just on the lower East side... for bargains.

Maurice pulls bird caller from his vest and blows 3 calls.

Maurice: Y'know Joel, the most important thing in the world to me is friendship; I never believed that the written word was necessary, when a rock steady handshake would do. A man's word is his honour. I'm talking about commitment son, loyalty. I believe your people refer to it as the ethics of the fathers. You get my drift?

Joel: Well I'm sure I will.

Maurice: You signed a contract Joel, but much more important than that, you gave your word, and I intend to hold you to that word within the bounds of the law, and if necessary without the bounds of the law.

Joel: Are you threatening me?

Maurice: If you have any notions of running, there's a little matter of a hundred and twenty five thousand dollars that the good people of Alaska put into your medical education; as far as I'm concerned, Fleischman, that's my money.

Joel: Hey, I don't know who you think you're talking to Minnifield, but I am not some putz just off the caribou farm, I'm from New York City, I've walked down forty second street at midnight, I..I've taken the Lexington Avenue Line at 2am, I.. I have stiffed cabbies, so don't try this strongarm cowboy crap on me, cause it won't do squat!

Maurice fires his rifle over Joel's head. Joel ducks and puts his hands over his head.

Joel: NO!!!!!!!

Joel's cry echos around the lake, Maurice's dog leaps out of the boat and swims away, the scene fades.

pilot16 Later, back in the bar, Joel and Maggie are the only customers left, they are sitting at a table littered with beer bottles and glasses, Joel is obviously drunk, Maggie looks bored.

Joel: So anyway, after medschool, Elaine and I moved into her place in the village so I could finish my residency. Elaine is from Brooklyn, canarsie. You're from...?

Maggie: Grosse Point

Joel: Michigan, right, right. Grosse Point... isn't that an ugly name for a rich city? S..so anyway, you left college, you came out here with the mountain climber..

Maggie: He was a graduate student, writing a book about mountain climbing.

Joel: The book, right, right, Mountain of.. something.. something..

Maggie: Mountain of my Misgiving.

Joel laughs, Maggie looks sour

Maggie: Something funny about that?

Joel: K, so, so, whatever happened to him up there on the mountain?

Maggie: Well he never actually climbed it, he left.

Joel: What, he dumped you?

Maggie: No he didn't dump me, not that it's any of your business. He happened to be wildly in love with me.

Joel: You got cold feet huh?

Maggie: No I didn't get cold feet. I liked him OK, I just didn't.. love him, OK? Besides... he's dead.

Joel: Dead?? Dead as in deceased? Ewww...

Maggie: What do you mean ewww? I didn't kill him! We were on a glacier, I take a hike, he decides to take a nap, and froze... I can't believe I told you that. I never tell anybody that. Hypothermia is one thing, but a nap on a glacier is just such a ridiculous way to die.(Joel is staring at her) What?

Joel: You have the reddest lips I've ever seen! I mean Elaine has red lips, but I don't think I've ever seen lips that red, except... I mean, maybe on a Birthday balloon..

Maggie: You're drunk.

Joel: And not only that, but do you know, you're pretty?! I mean, not great looking, but you are definitely pretty, in a.. a clean sort of way.

Maggie: I'll get the cheque..

Joel: And not only that...

A worried look comes over Joel's face, he puffs out his cheeks, and then makes a mad dash for the bathroom, knocking over beer bottles as he leaves.

The scene switches to Maggie pretending to play the pinball machine, with vomiting noises coming from Joel off screen

Maggie: Everything alright in there?

Holling (off screen): Come on now Joel, just give me one more.

Maggie (looking at the machine pretending she won): Yeaaaah!

The scene switches to Maggie's cabin the next morning. A fly buzzes around the room as Joel regains consciousness and digs a high heeled shoe out from under him. He looks worried. He walks outside, where a man is sitting eating breakfast and reading a newspaper. pilot17

Rick: Morning.

Joel: Where am I?

Rick: Maggie's, she had a mail run this morning.

Joel walks to the table and sits down, putting the shoe on the table, and pointing to the food.

Joel: You mind if I...?

Rick: Help yourself.

Joel: Who are you?

Rick: Rick. She left the keys to her truck, she didn't think you'd feel much like jogging into town today.

Joel: The bed I slept in last night, is the same bed that Maggie slept in?

Rick: No, we sleep in the other room.

Joel: Oh... Oh!

Joel: So I was pretty out of it last night huh?

Rick: Yeah.

Joel (shaking his head): It's been a very rough 24 hours.

Rick: Musta been.

Joel: I didn't say or do anything that was.. out of line...

Rick: No. Just unbelievably embarassing. You kept going on about how green Maggies eyes were, how long her legs were, her boobs, lips.

Scene starts with a view on the Roslyn's Cafe mural, Ed is standing in front of it next to a bench. Two guys are sitting on the bench.

Ed: Dr Fleischman! Dr Fleischman!

Ed runs out into the road and stops Joel's truck.

Joel: Yeah? What?!

Ed: Point of information. If a man tells you he's gonna kill you before he kills you, is that voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or just a fair warning?

Joel: Why are you asking me?

Ed: Well, you're a doctor!

Joel (looking disbelieving): This place...

Joel drives off shaking his head. Ed runs back to his buddies

The scene switches to Joel's surgery, Marilyn is cleaning as Joel walks in.

Joel: Hey Marilyn. This is the last time I'm gonna have to tell you this; There is no job!

Marilyn smiles and nods.

Joel: Would you please stop smiling at me, you're constantly smiling at me.

Joel spots Walter through the window.

Joel: What is he doing here?

Marilyn: She did it again.

Joel walks into the surgery and looks at Walter's back.

Joel: Oh, for God sakes, what did she use on you, a steak knife?

Walter: Swiss Army. She snuck up behind me. If I didn't bury the gun I could be dead by now.

pilot18 Edna walks in.

Edna: Give me the keys Walter, it's my truck.

Joel: Who're you?

Walter: Over my dead body.

Marilyn: Sixes wife.

Edna: If that's the way you want it Walter.

Edna lunges at Walter, Joel intervenes and pushes her back into a chair.

Joel: Hey, what is the problem here?!

Edna: Him, he's the problem, you gnawed through my nerves like a, like a rat through plaster Walter, and I..I've had it.

Walter: That's right, lay it off on me.

Edna: I'm gonna finish you.

Edna lunges for Walter again.

Walter: Come on, come on, let's do it!

Joel (shouting): Hey, Quiet! This is my office! (calmer) Look, people get sick, people get shot, people get hurt, I haven't got a problem with that, that's fine, that's life, believe me, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Marilyn sits down nearby, listening.

Joel: Do you know how close you came to killing this man? If you hadn't hit the tip of his scapula, or bounced off a rib or two, you might've punctured his aorta or gone through a lung, or if you had really bad luck you might've gone through the muscle itself, which would've strangled his heart. And if, by some stroke of luck that didn't finish him off, you might've severed his spinal cord, which would've left him belly-up like a bug on it's back.

Edna: I had no idea it was this complicated.

Joel: Well, it is.. So I ask you again, what has this man done to deserve a cardiac tampana (sp?)?

Edna (upset): I'm invisible.

Walter: I told you, I...

Joel: H..Hey..Hey..

Edna: I've tried kindness, I've tried crying, I've tried laughter, I'm at the end of my rope Walter, if I don't kill you, I don't know what I'm gonna do.

Joel: Number 9?

Marilyn: Number 6.

Walter: I don't listen to her, because no matter what I do, it's wrong. She doesn't want me to drink in bed, I don't drink in bed. She doesn't like me running around with the guys, and then she complains I'm home too much. So I've tuned her out.

Joel: Well, what're we gonna do now? I mean as far as I can tell, we have three ways to go, divorce, separation, or you can start talking to one another. How many hands do I see for divorce?

Marilyn puts up her hand.

Joel: Separation? Well, then... is that a phone? That is definitely a telephone...

Joel walks toward the door, then turns to look at Walter and Edna.

Joel: Well, start talking!

Joel goes to his office, following the sound of the ringing phone, until he finds it in his desk drawer and answers it.

Joel: What? Elaine! No, I know I'm not in Anchorage... Why am I in Cicely Alaska? It's a very long story and I promise to you, I will explain it to you when I get back, but the most important thing is what my contract says.... uh-huh... uh-huh... oh... and if I leave... ten thousand dollars or 18 years in jail... AND 18 years in jail???

Joel let's the phone drop out of his hand while Elain continues talking. The scene switches to Joel leaving the surgery. He crosses the street and climbs into his truck, shutting the door behind him. He stares into space for a second, then goes nuts, punching the roof and the wheel, hitting the horn and generally having a tantrum. pilot19

Only once he's finished his tantrum does he notice the group of men in front of the truck watching him. He opens the door and sinks down onto the floor. Marilyn appears.

Marilyn: They're still talking. I'll stitch him up.

Joel: No, s'ok, I'll do it.

Joel strolls back across the road, Marilyn follows.

The scene switches to the bar, a mounted deer head with an eagle cap on. The camera pans down to Ed, Chris and Maggie sitting in a booth.

Maggie: He said he's going to do it?

Chris: That's what he said.

Maggie: Not that he might do it, or he's thinking about doing it but that he's actually gonna do it?

Chris: Maggie, what Holling said to me is the following: I'm gonna talk to Maurice, alright? It left little room for doubt.

Ed: Maybe there's something you can say to him on your radio show that'll talk him out of it.

Chris: No I don't think that'll work Ed, I mean Hollings...

Holling walks up to the table and puts down a drink.

Holling: Everything alright here?

Chris: Yeah! Its great Holling.

Maggie: Really! Really nice!

Holling (walking away): Well Enjoy. Walking past a booth of womenLadies. Walking to Joel's table Joel, you were saying?

Joel: Yeah, listen to this.. Arrowhead County extends a hearty welcome to Joel Fleischman from New York City who we know will be with us for a very long time to come. There's a constitution in this country and a bill of rights that implicitly states that an individual can live anyplace he pleases. You know I'll pay the state back its money with interest but I'll be damned if I'm gonna.. I'm gonna be shaken down by some nut who thinks he can keep me here because he's got friends in high places, a souped up caddy and a 10 gauge shotgun.

Holling: 10 gauge huh?

Holling gets up and leaves, Joel goes back to his reading. Suddenly a big beared drunk guy slides in beside him, pushing him over. Joel looks shocked.

Drunk guy: I wanna buy you a drink!

Joel: Th.. Thanks but I don't drink.

Drunk guy: To Walter

Joel: To who?

Drunk guy: My Buddy... You dug the lead out.

Joel: Ohhh, right right right, number 6... Cheers.

The guy watches Joel and knocks back his drink. Joel knocks back his and grimaces.

The scene switches to the festival, we see a small boy playing with a balloon. The band are playing Good Golly Miss Molly, we see other children playing, Shelley and Holling standing together with an eskimo lady, Maggie talking to some friends. The song ends and Maurice gets up onto the stage clapping. The crowd are applauding wildly, Chris Stephens among them.

pilot20

Maurice: Alright! The town of Cicely wants to welcome all of you to the 9th Annual Arrowhead County Summer Wonderland Festival. (more applause) And we'd especially like to welcome our friends from Ninilchik(?) who came here to celebrate with us, that's three hundred miles away as the crow flies!

As Maurice is addressing the crowd, Joel appears and sits on a log at the edge of the crowd. Ed greets him.

Ed: Hello Dr. Fleischman, mooseburger or caribou dog?

Joel (shrugs): Mooseburger.

Joel takes the offered burger and looks at it suspiciously before taking a bite.

Patient 6 (off screen): Dr Fleischman!

Joel: Oh no!

Patient 6's wife: No, no, we're getting along fine.

Patient 6: We just wanted to thank you for getting us to break the ice.

Patient 6's wife: After 17 years of marriage, it gets kinda thick.

Joel: Well I'm glad I could be of help.

Patient 6: Me and the wife and everybody here are real happy to have you with us. I mean, you're a real doctor. He shakes Joel's hand. Thanks doc. Shakes Ed's hand. Thanks Ed.

Ed: You're welcome. Good day Walter.

Maurice: And I'm proud to be here to celebrate that fact! You all have a really good time, sit back, enjoy the food the drink and the fellowship, and have a hell of a good time. North, to the future!!! (more applause)

Ed: So what time is it in New York City right now?

Joel: It's around midnight.

Ed: So I guess maybe, you and your fiance'd be coming back from a movie about now, maybe stop by a little cafe for a cup of espresso, pick up the Sunday edition of the New York Times, and some fresh hot bagels for breakfast tomorrow.

Joel: <sigh> Sounds about right.. How'd you know about bagels?

Ed: Oh, I saw Manhatten, I think Woody's a genius!

Ed and Joel go back to eating their food. We see Holling approach Maurice, who is sitting whittling.

Holling: Maurice?

Maurice turns to look at Holling, Holling sits.

Holling: I got nothing to say to you Maurice, but I'm saying it anyway.

Shelley walks by in the background, looking pensive.

Maurice: How's she doing?

Holling: She's fine. I miss you Maurice, I miss you being around, things kinda got turned upside down.

Maurice: Gravity. It keeps you rooted to the ground. In space there's not any gravity, you just kinda leave your feet and go floating around. Is that what it's like Holling?

Holling: What?

Maurice: Being in love?

pilot21

The two friends sit and gaze into the distance, both lost in thought. The scene switches back to Joel and Ed, Joel doesn't seem to be enjoying his mooseburger.

Ed: How do you like the mooseburger?

Joel: Little gamey.

Ed: Oh, you'll get used to it.

Joel wanders away, Ed follows. They wander through the crowd as Singing the Blues plays and the camera pans away to show the festival field, the lake, and the mountains in the distance. Credits roll.