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Northern Exposure Wiki
"Animals R Us"
Season 3, Episode 4 (?)
Airdate October 14, 1991
Writer(s) Robin Green
Director Nick Marck
Guest star(s)

  • Sparkle as Grandma Woody
  • Harry Pringle as Crow Flies Straight
  • Bryson Liberty as Jerry the Indian
  • Kellee Bradley as Woman
  • Frank Welker as Special Dog Effects
←   Episode sequence   →
"Oy, Wilderness" "Jules et Joel"


Maggie proclaims that Rick has returned--in the guise of a lovable malamute. Maurice envisions a multimillion-dollar ostrich farm. Auteur Ed captures in his film the human landscape of Cicely.


In the morning of a typical day in Cicely, a small dog runs around town, catching glimpses of people in their daily activities. He passes by Ed, who enters Ruth-Anne's store to pick up his film editing equipment. Maurice comes in to pick up some chicken soup, and is impressed by an ostrich egg by the cash register. Ruth-Anne comments that the egg came from one of Marilyn's ostriches, and Maurice goes off to visit her to discuss the business possibilities of raising ostriches.

While Maggie is gardening outside her house, the dog runs up to her and follows her as she goes inside. Obviously, Maggie has a weak spot for animals, and ends up letting it in. Maggie eventually brings the dog into Joel's office so he can examine the dog for any parasites. Joel refuses, saying the examination would go against his ethics as a doctor. Besides, it is obvious that Joel is deathly afraid of the animal. The dog does not appear too fond of Joel either, and bites him, throwing Joel into a fit.

Ed is at The Brick, and has called Chris and Holling together to inform them that he's scrapping his movie project. Holling feels that his acting must not have been good enough, but Ed says that he knows when to cut his losses. He thanks them for their help and leaves as Maggie and Joel enter with the dog. The dog jumps up on Rick's old stool at the end of the bar and appears to want some of the beef jerky that is nearby. Holling makes an offhand comment that Rick was the only person who could stomach that beef jerky, and Maggie gets the start of an idea. Later in the evening, she makes devil's mess eggs for the dog, who eats everything but the green peppers. Maggie remarks that Rick never liked green peppers either, and then becomes more suspicious when the dog stretches against the wall like Rick used to. The dog's link to Rick is obviously mostly Maggie's overactive imagination, but she tells the dog to bark three times if it is Rick, and it does.

Joel shows up at Ed's place, where Ed is forlornly playing the harmonica. Joel is obviously concerned about Ed's scrapping of his movie project and, as he talks with Ed, he looks through the screenplay. Ed defends his decision, since he's having an artistic crisis. After making comments about conversations with Corman, Marty, Woody, and Steven, Ed tells an amazed Joel that he is pen pals with several big-name Hollywood film directors. After the conversation ends, Ed feels renewed and decides to continue work on his movie.

At his house, Maurice is cooking dinner for Marilyn while trying to convince her to become partners with him in the ostrich business. Marilyn is wooed by the idea of easy money, and they toast a new partnership. Maurice shows his greed and exploitation of Marilyn's relative business innocence.

In The Brick, Chris, Joel, Ed, and Shelly are talking, when Maggie enters and announces that the dog is actually Rick. Everyone seems to accept this concept, except for Joel, who refuses to entertain such an idea. The others chide him for not accepting the possibility of reincarnation, and Joel is once again bitten by the dog. Later, as Maggie is gardening, she hears the dog speak with Rick's voice, and he expresses regrets about all of the other women he was involved with. Maggie is happy at this confession and wakes up on her couch with the dog licking her face.

Maggie's mood is cheerful the next day until she realizes that she's waiting on the dog hand-and-foot. She decides not to allow Rick to use her again and kicks the dog out. However, when it returns with flowers in its mouth, Maggie forgives him, and she then goes out on a picnic with the dog, drinking wine, playing frisbee, and basically having a great time, while the song "My Boyfriend's Back" plays in the background. After an exciting day, Maggie shows up at The Brick and Joel asks why she's all dressed up. Maggie explains to Joel that, although Rick is a dog, she's finally happy again. Joel is still cynical and concerned about Maggie's mental and emotional state.

At Marilyn's ostrich farm, she informs Maurice that their partnership won't work since his frequent visits have caused the ostriches to stop laying eggs. This leads Maurice to consider his abrasive personality, which he finally comes to terms with. Ed shows up in town to invite everyone to the opening of his movie and Joel is pleased.

A female visitor shows up at Maggie's place to pick up her dog. Maggie is obviously upset and sad to find out that the dog is actually just a mooch. When she returns to town and runs into Joel, she tells him that maybe she did need to work out some things, and maybe she did work them out with a dog, but the dog was Rick. Joel, foregoing the opportunity to make a cutting remark, is merely quiet and sympathetic.

As Ed's movie begins, glimpses of life around Cicely are shown, such as Dr. Fleischman's office, Ruth-Anne's store, and Maurice's home. Ed's narration tells that sometimes people leave Cicely, and the shot is of Maggie and the dog going out on a picnic. Joel looks over at Maggie with concern and finds that she has tears in her eyes. In this one moment, they are both vulnerable and it seems that things may work between them after all. As the movie ends, Ed smiles, satisfied with his work.


Grandma Woody (to Ed): Because all we are, basically, are monkeys with car keys.

Ed: Marty says he likes things a little unfocused. When he started Mean Streets all he had was the East Village and a hat he found.
Joel: Wait a minute. You're talking about Marty Scorsese the director of Mean Streets and Goodfellas?
Ed: Yeah.
Joel (unconvinced): You know Martin Scorsese the director?
Ed: Not really but we're pen pals.
Joel: You and Martin Scorsese the director are pen pals?
Ed: Yup. (holds up a letter)
Joel (reads letter): "Dear Ed, Good luck with your movie. -Marty"
Ed (holds up another letter): This one's from Woody. When Annie Hall was threatened with the lobster he wanted me to see how much he rewrites on the set. (holds up a baseball cap) I got this hat from Universal Studios. Steven said it brought him luck so now I can't give up.



  • Joel had a pet turtle named Jimmy.
  • There is a big run on Progresso chicken with escarole soup at Ruth-Anne's.
  • Amongst Ed's pen pals: Marty Scorcese, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg (owns his baseball cap). He also knows Carmine Coppola, Francis' cousin. But his greatest influence is Louis Malle.
  • Grandma Woody and Ed watch the movie Ordet, and discuss Bergman.
  • Ed's film is originally titled The Brink of Emptiness.
  • Ed is nearing age 20.
  • As seen in Ed's movie, Cicely's population is 840 and has a gas station.
  • Rick's favorite tape (album) was R.E.M.'s Green
  • In a script variation (Final Draft, August 22, 1991), Grandma Woody is actually a young Woody Allen.
  • Ed skips a viewing of Wild Strawberries.
  • Shelly's earrings: flamingos (Rick the dog comes into The Brick), white dominoes (the gang discuss whether the dog is Rick), Hawaiian man and woman (takes Maggie's order for her and Rick, the dog), pumpkins with white dangles (during Ed's movie)


  1. Dog eats beef jerky; sits on Rick's bar stool.
  2. Maggie fixes dog's dinner and asks if he is Rick.
  3. Maurice and Marilyn talk ostrich over dinner.
  4. Maggie tells everyone the dog is Rick.
  5. Ed watches Marilyn and Maurice walk down the street. Ed films the town. Ed's movie.
  6. Maggie throws the dog out after she finds herself waiting on him.
  7. Maggie and the dog frolic in the park.
  8. Maggie arrives at the bar after her picnic and accuses Joel of being jealous of the dog.
  9. Marilyn tells Maurice the deal is off; Maurice enters bar and talks with Joel.