Headscratchers: Northern Exposure
The state of Alaska and/or Maurice Minnifield spends $100,000-plus to educate a doctor, and then supplies him a $500 truck? WTF?
- A 20-year-old, TWO-WHEEL-DRIVE pickup to reach remote patients in rural Alaska with? This is one of those applications where a big SUV actually makes sense- 4WD to reach remote locations, plenty of flat space inside the heated interior to lay someone out in if necessary. Sure, mission creep is an issue as there's probably not the budget for a full-fledged ambulance, but still...
- The state pretty much washed its hands of Joel - they had too many doctors in their little scholarship program and unloaded Joel onto Maurice. Maurice didn't really care about Joel's actual performance of his duties as a doctor. He just wanted to be able to sell the town as having a doctor. Notice that Maurice put Joel in a disgusting run down office space with no competent support staff and got him a rat infested house where the only heat source (in Alaska!) was a wood stove. I was always under the impression that Joel had the terrible run-down truck because that was all that he could afford with his own money while living as an indentured servant.
- Just having a wood stove isn't THAT unusual in Alaska (and has the major up side of not failing like a furnace fan if a storm takes out your power.)
- The entire premise of the show was about Joel, an angsty New Yorker, learning to live without all the superfluous crap and modern comforts which the show portrays as being somewhat damaging to the soul. Therefore, while maybe not realistic, his knackered old pickup works symbolically as an example of Joel having to make do without the hi-tech gizmos he's used to in the city. And Northern Exposure is a series that put an emphasis on symbolic storytelling as opposed to realistic storytelling...
- Also, it was 1990. The massive SUV was not nearly as commonplace as it is today. There were plenty of big cars, and tough cars, sure, but they were vastly outnumbered by more standard vehicles rather than being a huge part of the market. Remember, RoboCop (1987) only came out three years earlier, and at that time a big gas-guzzling SUV was still seen as enough of a city slicker anomaly as to be worthy of ridicule.