Northern Exposure (1990–1995)
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Dr. Joel Fleischman has his hands full when his fiancé Elaine flies to Cicely for a visit. He becomes so busy trying to defend himself against the townspeople's charges that he is a KGB ... See full summary »


David Carson


Joshua Brand (created by), John Falsey (created by) | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rob Morrow ... Dr. Joel Fleischman
Barry Corbin ... Maurice J. Minnifield
Janine Turner ... Maggie O'Connell
John Cullum ... Holling Vincoeur
Darren E. Burrows ... Ed Chigliak
John Corbett ... Chris Stevens
Cynthia Geary ... Shelly Marie Tambo
Jessica Lundy ... Elaine Shulman
Elaine Miles ... Marilyn
John Aylward ... Charles 'Red' Murphy
Grant Goodeve ... Rick Pederson
Peg Phillips Peg Phillips ... Ruth-Anne
David J. Guppy David J. Guppy ... Clem (as Dave Guppy)
Martha Baskin Martha Baskin ... Townsperson
Charlie Russo Charlie Russo ... Townsperson


Dr. Joel Fleischman has his hands full when his fiancé Elaine flies to Cicely for a visit. He becomes so busy trying to defend himself against the townspeople's charges that he is a KGB agent releasing the Russian flu upon them and competing with Marilyn over the best treatment for the illness, that he has no time to spend with his betrothed. Instead Maggie, entertains Elaine, which only further annoys Joel. Written by Skeeter700

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


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Did You Know?


This episode pays homage to another show that was being shot in the Washington state region at the same time - Twin Peaks (1990). The falls that Joel and Elaine visit also feature in the David Lynch/ Mark Frost show, the music is very reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti's iconic score and there are references to coffee, cherry pie and a Log Lady. See more »


Spoofs Twin Peaks (1990) See more »


Stand By Me
Written by Ben E. King (uncredited), Jerry Leiber (uncredited) and Mike Stoller (uncredited)
Performed by Ben E. King
See more »

User Reviews

Sit-com tropes ahoy! (But not in a bad way)
3 September 2019 | by soundphurySee all my reviews

By the time "Russian Flu" rolls around, were deep into the excellent first season of Northern Exposure, the few 'opening night jitters' that plagued the show for the first half of the season are gone, and the cast and crew are turning out some really fantastic television on a regular basis.

Additionally, we're treated to the introduction of that tried and true sit-com convention - the visiting relative (or, in this case, fiancee) trope. A trope the writers would come to rely on frequently, not just for the rest of season one, but for the duration of the show.

And, while this convention is so often annoyingly associated with the latter seasons of well-worn sit-coms, vainly attempting to inject some measure of life into a show that overstayed its welcome years prior, in the case of the first season of NE, the result is often spectacular.

Rather than focusing on the main cast of actors early on in the show's run, we get to meet their fiancees (Russion Flu), brothers (Aurora Borealis, a Fairy Tale for Big People) and ex-husbands, among others. This has the effect of taking the spotlight off of the main characters, thus increasing their 'shelf-life' in the eyes of the viewer; if it takes us longer to get to know these characters, then, theoretically, it may also take us longer to get tired of them. Similarly, by focusing on relations, rather than main characters, the show's writers don't have to worry about running out of ideas for their main cast as quickly either. As interestingly quirky as the denizens of Cicely are, that quirkiness is a finite resource, best not to blow your wad right out of the gate.

As always, the formula that makes this episode enjoyable for me is no different than the formula I've referred to else-where in these NE reviews: eccentric characters, involved in eccentric situations, all underpinned by a generous helping of adroitly applied light-comedy, good television ensues.

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Release Date:

9 August 1990 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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