The quirky inhabitants of fictional Cecily, Alaska, have worked their oddly charming wiles on members of the Viewers for Quality Television advocacy group. The CBS Monday series "Northern Exposure" (on hiatus for a couple weeks because of the Olympic Winter Games) bumped "Murphy Brown" as the most watched show in the group's latest viewer survey.
"Isn't that surprising? Murphy's been there a long time," notes VQT president Dorothy Swanson of the survey results. In the mail-in poll, 600 members of the national group shared their viewing habits during the week of Jan. 6-19.
Rob Morrow and Janine Turner star in "Northern Exposure," which was ranked 16th in the latest season-to-date Nielsen ratings.
The viewers' survey also placed NBC's where-did-it-go? series "I'll Fly Away" at the top of the "highest quality" ranking.
The sensitive drama with Sam Waterston and Regina Taylor, set in a 1950s Southern town, has been intermittently missing from the NBC schedule despite its critically well-received fall debut.
Good news: The series will return to the schedule, at 8 p.m. Fridays, on Feb. 28 "for nine uninterrupted weeks," according to an NBC spokeswoman.
Here are the Top 10 shows in VQT's dual categories:
Most watched: "Northern Exposure," "Murphy Brown," "I'll Fly Away," "Evening Shade," "L.A. Law," "Designing Women," "Major Dad," "Brooklyn Bridge," "Law & Order" and "Reasonable Doubts."
Highest quality: "I'll Fly Away," "Brooklyn Bridge," "Law & Order," "Northern Exposure," "Reasonable Doubts," "The Wonder Years," "Life Goes On," "Quantum Leap," "Homefront," and "L.A. Law."
Ms. Swanson also noted that while the CBS comedy "Designing Women" still made the Top 10 in viewership, it dropped out of the top 20 shows in the quality rating. The apparent reason? This season's cast change, where Jan Hooks and Julia Duffy replaced Delta Burke and Jean Smart.
THE CABLE CONNECTION -- The Lifetime network's daily talk show "Attitudes" (at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. Saturdays) premiered for a new season today with two new hosts, Dorothy Lucey and Rolonda Watts.