Remember when the word “Alaska” used to conjure up images of independent men and women who were as strong of mind as they were of body? Quirky people, yes, but basically decent and honest and possessed of good common sense. Then we found out that these were the same people who elected Sarah Palin as their Governor. Kind of ruined that image that TV had provided us. Now when you think of Alaskans, you think quirky, yes, but not in an entirely good way. If you want to bring back those nice images of Alaska and help you mind along in repressing everything you have learned about it since the summer of 2008, check out these memorable TV shows that called Alaska home.
Yeah, you’ve heard about Klondike and I don’t just mean the bar. But what, really, is the Klondike? In this TV series from 1960, it was specifically the town of Skagway. And if that doesn’t sound like a town that may help erase memories of Palin, I don’t know what is. Either that, or it’s one of the Barracuda’s oh-so-precious names for her gaggle of kids. Skagway in “Klondike” was the turn of the century Alaskan village from which exciting adventures of the Gold Rush were told. Jeff Durain was the resident Mr. Burns of Skagway in that he was rich, owned a casino and was ready to rid of miners and anyone else of their money.
Hey, guess what we have in “The Alaskans” here. A story about the Gold Rush of the 1890s that takes place in, you guessed it, Skagway. Perhaps the most memorable thing about this show that went off the air just a few months before “Klondike” premiered were the names of characters that perhaps gives us insight into why there is a Trig, Track, Willow and Piper Palin. Who were “The Alaskans” after all? Silky Harris, Reno McKee, Rocky Shawn and, of course, the unforgettable Nifty Cronin. Not to mention Brother Barlow, Big Joe and the Duchess.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A show about a giant bear elected Governor? No, that would be a documentary. “Kodiak” actually refers to the name of the title character who served as a bear-tall Alaska State Patrol officer. His jurisdiction covered 50,000 square miles. Take that McGarrett! Except that Danno was booking crooks for the non-existent Hawaii State Police force known as Five-O for what seemed like most of the 60s and 70s whereas “Kodiak” proved that 50,000 square miles of Alaska is still not enough to produce enough interesting crime to hold onto viewers more than a month.
Men in Trees
That whole Ellen DeGeneres thing ruined Anne Heche. If you ever caught her performance as identical twins on “Another World” you know that she was capable of acting with the best. Then came “Ellen” and coming out and, well, the whole thing just fell apart. “Men in Trees” sent Heche to Alaska as relationship expert who didn’t even know her own fiance was cheating on her. Why Alaska? There are ten men there for every woman. It’s a buyer’s market. Might’ve worked, too, if more viewers had been able to buy Heche as man-crazy. PS: she’s also incredibly good in the “Psycho” remake.
Should I even write about “Northern Exposure” when I’m sure most of you immediately thought of the quirky show when you saw this article was about Alaska on TV. Like Sarah Palin’s choice of names for offspring, “Northern Exposure” was just too self-consciously quirky for its own good. A house constructed on nothing but quirks won’t stay up for long. I’m surprised the show lasted as long as it did.