Northern Exposure Wiki
Northern Exposure Wiki
"Dateline: Cicely"
Season 3, Episode 11 (26)
Airdate January 6, 1992
Writer(s) Jeff Melvoin
Director Michael Fresco
Guest star(s)

  • Adam Arkin as Adam
  • Gary Taylor as Man on Street
  • Eddie Levi Lee as Eddie
  • William J. White as Dave the Cook
←   Episode sequence   →
"Seoul Mates" "Our Tribe"


Maurice goes out on a limb to spice up his newspaper's coverage by hiring an unnamed reporter given to clandestine meetings. Maggie talks to the trees, but Joel won't listen. To ease Holling's tax debts, Chris becomes a partner at The Brick, where he sets about sprucing up the place.


Holling enters Joel's office with a problem on his mind. He tells Joel that he hasn't paid taxes since 1959 and now he owes to government $9,000. When Joel asks how he can help, Holling asks if he can get some kind of "doctor's note" to excuse him. Joel is incredulous.

On Chris-in-the-Morning, Chris receives a letter from his brother Bernard in Africa and feels bored and listless. Holling comes in very shy and uncomfortable. When Chris asks what is wrong, Holling tells him about his tax dilemma and offers to sell him one-half interest in The Brick in exchange for $9,000 (part of Chris' inheritance). Chris is thrilled and excited, realizing that he was born to own a bar. He and Holling shake hands as partners.

In The Brick, Maurice storms in, angry that no one is town is reading his newspaper, the Cicely News & World Telegram. Several people respond that the paper is terrible and Maurice realizes that he needs more interesting material. As Chris stands behind the bar passing out free drinks, Holling stands idly by, feeling helpless at Chris' newfound control of the bar. Adam sits nearby, telling a wide assortment of farfetched stories to anyone who will listen, and Maurice is interested. After leaving, Maurice finds Adam walking home and offers him a position as a columnist on his paper. Adam is offended and obviously paranoid that people will find out where he is. After some cajoling, and an offer of money, Adam gives in.

A few days later, everyone in town is picking up Maurice's paper. The townspeople read raptly about trees in Alaska that actually make audible sounds, almost like talking. Maurice is thrilled by the success, but Joel tells him that no one will believe the story. At the same time, Maggie is walking through the woods, trying her best to hear the trees talking. She returns to town and, at The Brick, she tells Joel that she could actually hear them. Joel blames it on the power of suggestion, but Maggie responds with evidences of plant intelligence. Meanwhile, Chris is passing out free pizza, a new item on The Brick's menu. Again, Holling is upset at the changes which Chris is making to his bar.

Maurice finds Adam again and wants more material on the story. Adam relents and begins dictating the article into Maurice's microcassette tape recorder. The next morning, Adam enters Maurice's house in a rage, telling him that he butchered Adam's story. Adam tells Maurice of his belief that everything that happens, everywhere, everyday, is monitored by the FBI and other unknown agencies. Maurice calls his beliefs paranoid and Adam replies by telling Maurice many intimate details of Maurice's life, such as the location of his birthmark, and his tooth enamel replacement in his left lateral incisor. Maurice is stunned.

At Joel's office, Maggie wants to borrow a stethoscope so that she can hear the trees better. Joel finally snaps and goes off to find Maurice. He tells Maurice that the public trust is at stake, that you can't believe a word that Adam says, and that Adam is a pathological liar. However, Maurice is ignorant and can only see his newspaper's profits.

The next morning, as the rain falls outside, Chris is sullen. He tries to announce some specials at The Brick over KBHR, but he looks over to see that it is nearly empty. He begins philosophising about the need to own that which one loves, and realizes that he is not happy owning a bar. Meanwhile, Holling is similarly depressed, and feels like he has to sell out the bar to Chris, since he can't be happy as just a partner. Holling finally goes over to see Chris and Chris explains that he's unhappy and wants out. Holling is relieved and says he will pay Chris back as soon as he can.

Maurice finds Adam, who has recently disappeared, in the forest. In a moment of confrontation, Adam tells Maurice that it is all over. Maurice refuses to let the story die and the two begin threatening each other with various means of bodily harm. Adam distracts Maurice momentarily and vanishes into the forest. Returning to The Brick, Maurice finds that things are back to normal and Joel tells him to get over it. Ed rushes in with another local newspaper which tells of a chemical spill in the forest which may have caused the trees to actually cry out in anguish. Maurice is more upset now that he has found out that Adam was right after all.

That night, Maggie and Joel are walking through the forest and Maggie is trying to get Joel to hear the trees. Joel honestly tries to listen and the episode ends with the two of them sitting on a log, facing away from each other and desperately trying to hear something.


Adam: You're not ready for crepes, Dave. Why don't you go boil some water or something?



  • Holling owes the IRS $9,000.
  • Holling reupholstered The Brick's barstools last year.
  • Holling and Joe Bernardi built the bar.
  • Best talk Chris ever had with his dad was in a bar; patched him up after a fight.
  • Eve has thyroiditis and is in Hunan at Dr. M. Chang's acupunture clinic.
  • Joel was #54 in a class of 140.
  • Chris is bummed he's not in Africa with Bernard; gets letters.
  • Adam tells Maurice "they" know everything about him: he's 53, has a 2-inch birthmark the shape of Madagascar on his upper right trapezius...all from debriefing potted palms.
  • "Ed Goes to the Movies" column does not appear in the Cicely News & World Telegram. Four bearclaws means an instant classic; one bearclaw means stay home and read.
  • Shelly's earrings: tropical birds on a swing (serving breakfast at The Brick)
  • This is one of very episodes that ends without music. Maggie and Joel sit in the forest listening to the trees.


  1. Joel discovers Adam in the kitchen teaching Dave. Adam tells Joel that Eve is sick (as usual).
  2. Maurice enters Holling's and announces his newspaper has been abused and he is sick of it.
  3. Holling and Chris make a deal on The Brick.
  4. Shelly and Adam serve food. Ed and Maurice talk about Ed's idea for a movie review column.
  5. Maggie tries explaining to Joel how trees communicate.
  6. John Hurley? Sharon Cash? Smoggy Valley Boys? Not Jack McDuff.
  7. Also in 3-3, 3-8, 3-20, 4-1, and 5-9.
  8. Chris tells Holling that he thinks he should do something with the moosehead on the wall.
  9. Chris on-air about changing the things you love. Joel tries to cheer up Maurice. Ed enters with newspaper about trees crying.
  10. Maurice looks for Adam at Holling's.