Dr. Joel Fleischman arrives in Anchorage, Alaska to fulfill his part of a bargain that paid $125,000 for his medical education in exchange for service in the state as a doctor. Sure, it'll be tough for a guy from New York to adjust to Anchorage, but... then he learns Anchorage doesn't need him, and he's been assigned to Cicely, a small remote town owned and dominated by the strong minded Maurice Minnifield, a former astronaut set on developing his little part of Alaska into a vacation paradise and equally decided to make Fleischman honor his professional obligations.
Ed asks Dr. Fleischman to help him convince his uncle, a traditional tribal medicine man, to seek medical treatment for a health problem. A self-reliant Maggie chides Joel about being helpless around the house. Chris angers Maurice when he reads some poetry by Walt Whitman and uncovers some facts about the poet's life that Maurice would prefer not knowing.
A hermit takes Joel's advice to put his affairs in order and leaves all his considerable land holdings to be jointly administered by Maggie and the good doctor, who has definite ideas about how to dispose of the windfall.
Joel's mind is on helping Maurice sell Alaska as the ""new Riviera"" to two Japanese businessmen in hopes of becoming the ""attending physician""--and playing golf--at their proposed resort. Meanwhile, Holling has proposed to Shelly when he learns that she is carrying his child, when the wedding day arrives, he is somewhat reluctant to go through with ceremony.
A young man from Saskatchewan further rocks the already delicate relationship between Shelly and Holling. Ed suffers from writer's block and a lack of focus as he tries to begin work on his blockbuster movie. Maggie and Rick tiptoe around ""Maggie's curse"" when he shows symptoms of a serious medical problem.
Maurice feels his mortality after his brother dies, and decides to adopt Chris as the Minnifield heir, but the title doesn't sit well on the younger man. Shelly distracts Holling when she tags along on a journey to capture an elusive bear on film. Joel is irritated when Maggie takes over the childbirth class he's disdained and makes a success of it.
The approach of the Aurora Borealis and the constant light produces some strange behavior among the residents of Cicely. Chris abandons the radio station to build an unusual piece of modern sculpture and to get acquainted with a new soul mate that has come into town on some predestined mission. Joel journeys into the back woods to visit an isolated forest ranger and, when he gets stuck coming home, remembers the stories of a strange Bigfoot-like creature named Adam rumored to be roaming the area. Joel is rescued by Adam, who turns out to be real and a damn good cook, only when he returns to town no one believes him.