It’s Country and Weston when Barbara teams up with Garth Brooks!
Original Air Date:
November 9, 1991 – Season Four
Richard Mulligan as Dr. Harry Weston / Kristy McNichol as Barbara Weston / Dinah Manoff as Carol Weston / David Leisure as Charley Dietz / Park Overall as Nurse Laverne Todd
Garth Brooks as himself / John Lage as Doug / Christine Cavanaugh as Kimberly / Rex Ryon as Rocky
When Laverne’s husband Nick is too ill to attend a Garth Brooks concert with her, she invites Barbara to come along. Barbara is dating her new partner, Doug, but he insists that she go. Barbara uses her cop credentials to get them backstage passes. Garth’s security is terrible, and Barbara impresses him with her police tactics. He offers Barbara a position as head of security on his concert tour. Barbara is reluctant to leave Doug, but when she calls his apartment to discuss the matter with him, his girlfriend answers. Barbara takes the job, but soon wearies of life on the road. Garth sings “The River” and fires her so she’ll be happy and follow her own dream. Barbara returns home and thereby saves Harry from the full force of Carol’s attentions.
This episode marked the acting debut of country music star Garth Brooks, who was just beginning his meteoric rise to superstardom at the time. He was the Country Music Association’s current Entertainer of the Year in the fall of 1991 when the episode aired and his record Ropin’ the Wind had topped both the country and pop charts. Given his star power, the episode was easily a ratings win for Empty Nest.
Brooks performs portions of two of his biggest hits on the episode: “The Dance” and “The River.” The latter he sings acoustically in a scene with Kristy McNichol when encouraging her character, Barbara, to chase her own dreams.
Brooks didn’t appear to fall in love with acting while shooting the episode, remaining modest about his abilities. “They filmed me, that’s about it,” he told the Associated Press at the time. “There were actors there, but I wasn’t one of them.”
In one scene, fans of Brooks cause an uproar backstage as they attempt to swarm the star. Brooks commented that such behavior wasn’t true to what he had experienced in real life. His fans, he said, were always respectful.
Well-known voiceover actress Christine Cavanaugh had a minor role in the episode as a hotel employee. Cavanaugh was the voice of Babe in the movie Babe and of Chucky Finster in the Rugrats series.
Country & Weston – Photo of Brooks with Richard Mulligan, Kristy McNichol and Park Overall
Brooks books Nest nook – Brief article on the episode
Country’s biggest star fills Empty Nest – TV Guide’s article on the episode
Empty Nest/Nurses promo – This TV spot from 1992 previews a two-hour Empty Nest/Nurses programming block that features this episode. It was a special repeat airing that took place a year after the original broadcast, followed by a new episode later that night. The other Empty Nest episode included is season five’s “R.N. on the Rebound.”