This is the only new show I'm still sticking with this season, but it's a pity that this M.I.T seems to recruit girls exclusively.
To criticize the show for being a cheap combination of the "Sex and the City" and the "Northern Exposure" is simply a clue that the critic watches no more episode than the pilot: it might get some inspiration from the latter, but it is definitely not so single-and-desperate as the former; for instead of imitating the Carrie-finding-men-in-the-crowd storyline, it presents a Marin-finding-herself-in-the-wild scenario, with the help of some quirky yet unpretentious (and therefore lovable) characters.
The story begins at New York, but thank God the same old fancy scenes only last for some twenty minutes. As our protagonist heads for Elmo for her book promotion, we are taken to a small Alaskan town where the city-dwellers could finally stop and breathe, and where the landscape would soon take their breath away. The romantic drama features a relationship coach/self-help book author (how cocky is that) who, after her own relationship collapses, learns that she actually knows nothing about it and struggles to help herself start over. The remark that "The odds are good, but the goods are odd" portrays the menaissance lively - the affable inn-keeper/local radio host, the "sophisticated" bartender, the tough pilot, and the strong but silent biologist who oozes his charm in a low-key manner make Elmo a perfect place for the study of the male species. No stiletto heels and Marc Jacobs, no teasing eyebrows and Genévrier, no opera and Oprah, when the stereotype laws of attraction fail, love in Alaska becomes simple and sweet.
This is not a show one would fall into at the first sight, since the first few episodes do look mediocre and sometimes the script writer simply tries too hard to hook the audience with some inappropriate plot design (like Marin and Jack's "chapter two"). But the good thing is the relatively weak beginning leaves room for improvement, and the show IS improving, concerning both the depth of the characters and the richness of the plot. Plus, it is absolutely great to have some lighthearted alternative other than getting bored by those machine-made-crime-related intense dramas that flood the screen.
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Update: This was written after watching ep10, when I was apparently affected by the then-approaching holiday. I hate to admit but there was a turn-down since then; hope the show would not sink any deeper.