Northern Exposure was an adventurous, thoughtful fish-out-of-water comedy that was unlike anything else on television. The plots were generally anchored around Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), a New York-born intellectual doctor, getting used to living among the zany, outdoorsy residents of remote Cicely, Alaska. The series was consistantly strong throughout, but snags were hit when Morrow held out for a larger payday following its fifth season.
The writers had Fleischman go into the woods to "find himself," which meant that the fish had finally embraced being out of water and the series was largely resolved. Though they slotted other characters in to fill Fleischman's neurotic shoes, and many of the show's other characters are more unique and memorable than Dr. Joel, Morrow's character was ultimately the heart of the show, and seasons where he takes a back seat simply don't compare.