Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Next week will mark the start of our Empty Nest coverage, so I’m excited to set the figurative table by resurrecting another entry from this blog’s nine-year run. Here’s how it works: I’ll provide a link to a piece that I first published many seasons back, and then I’ll offer a bit of updated commentary. But, as I always caution, please be gentle; this early article is from a long time ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.
So, let’s revisit… The Ten Best THE GOLDEN GIRLS Episodes of Season Four: https://jacksonupperco.com/2016/10/04/the-ten-best-the-golden-girls-episodes-of-season-four/
If you ask a Golden Girls fan her least favorite episode, “Empty Nests,” a shameless backdoor pilot for a potential new Susan Harris sitcom, is the most likely response. Here’s the good news though: by the time a series called Empty Nest made it to air over a year later — in fall 1988 — the cast and premise had been significantly retooled. What remained was the two shows’ proximity — Empty Nest was still considered a Golden Girls spin-off, as the characters lived on the same street, often popping back and forth for cross-promotion. In fact, all four Golden Girls appeared on Empty Nest — heck, one even became a regular after The Golden Palace — and all the Empty Nest stars (at least, the originals) appeared on The Golden Girls. Then, in 1991, another Susan Harris show with Witt & Thomas was added to the “universe”: Nurses, which became intertwined with both, particularly for a pair of gimmicky promotional nights during the 1991-1992 season — Hurricane Saturday, and Leap Night Madness. I mention all this now because the affiliation between Empty Nest and The Golden Girls is indeed a vital part of my reason for covering Empty Nest, for while the former — which I discussed back here in 2016 — is a gem, and one of the finest sitcoms of the 1980s, Empty Nest is mediocre by comparison (for reasons that we’ll, of course, discuss). However, it exists within the same world, not only boasting those aforementioned connections to The Golden Girls, but tonally, it also shares a creator and a production company. So, before diving into Empty Nest, it’s helpful to remember what was special about its older sibling… For starters, creator Susan Harris descended from the idea-driven, often topical Norman Lear school of sitcommery, and The Golden Girls, with its capacity for sociopolitical sermonizing as a result of its premise about senior citizens, often evidences that ethos. And yet, it’s also such a character-rich show, with well-defined leads whose personas drive all the laughs, and for the most part, the stories as well. Accordingly, it’s a wonderful blend of both the MTM and Lear aesthetics, making a truly ideal combination. Going into Empty Nest, then, I was curious to see where this series existed on that spectrum. We’ll be discussing my perspective more next week. In the meantime, here are all the Golden Girls episodes with appearances from Empty Nest’s leads (and Dreyfuss)…
Come back next week for Empty Nest! And stay tuned tomorrow for a new Wildcard!