Thursday, January 17, 2019

Godspeed John Falsey

John Falsey, who co-created the shows St. Elsewhere, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure with Joshua Brand, died on January 3 2019 at the age of 67. The cause was complications from an injury to his head he had sustained during a fall.

John Falsey was born on November 6 1951 in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts with a degree in English. He later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. It was in 1979 that he joined the writing staff on the TV show The White Shadow. He also served as the story editor on the show. It was there that he met his frequent creative partner Joshua Brand.

Messrs. Falsey and Brand would go onto create the classic show St. Elsewhere. Debuting in 1982, St. Elsewhere ran for six seasons. The series earned a host of Emmy nominations and won 24 Emmy Awards. While St. Elsewhere was never a smash in the ratings (it never ranked above no. 49 for the season), it developed a cult following and remains popular to this day. John Falsey also served as a producer on the show.  John Falsey served as a supervising producer on the anthology series Amazing Stories. With Stu Krieger, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series A Year in the Life, which aired for one season.  Joshua Brand and John Falsey ended the Eighties by creating the series Northern Exposure. Like St. Elsewhere it would pick up a number of Emmy Awards and develop a cult following. Unlike St. Elsewhere it proved to be a hit in the Nielsen ratings.  Sandy Veith, a writer at Universal Studios, in the Eighties and early Nineties, argued that Universal had taken an idea he had developed while there and claimed that it was the basis for Northern Exposure. In 1994  he was awarded $7.3 million.

In the Nineties Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the period drama I'll Fly Away. While critically acclaimed, the show earned low ratings and lasted only two seasons on NBC. A follow up movie would air on PBS after the show had been cancelled by the Peacock Network. With Frank South, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series Going to Extremes. It lasted only 17 episodes. Joshua Falsey ended the Nineties serving as a consulting producer on the show Providence.

After his work in television John Falsey returned to writing short storied and a novella. He also moved back to Iowa City. 

John Falsey co-created some of the most successful shows of the Eighties and Nineties. Both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure have followings to this day, and both are regarded as classics. Both certainly earned their share of Emmy Awards. While I'll Fly Away is not quite as well remembered, it is still highly regarded. I am among the fans of all three shows, and if I compiled a list of my 100 favourite shows of all time, it is likely that both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure would make the list. While he stopped working in television after the Nineties, John Falsey certainly left his mark on television history.

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