Inside Look: Pilot

Inside Look: Pilot

A sexy new love is ready for Harry…Is Harry ready for her?

Original Air Date:

October 8, 1988


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

Guest Stars:

Robin Person Rose as Mr. Fogel | Grace Zabriskie as Eva | Victor DiMattia as Rocco


Harry Weston is a respected pediatrician in Miami. A widower (his wife Libby died 18 months ago), Harry lives with his dog Dreyfuss. Harry has three daughters: Carol, the oldest, who is recently divorced and very “sensitive;” middle daughter Barbara who is a cop and has a simple, sunny philosophy of life; and Emily, the youngest, who calls from college in New York. Laverne is his wise-cracking nurse from Arkansas. Charley is Harry’s obnoxious next-door neighbor who often drops by to raid the refrigerator and offer his unwanted advice and opinions. In this pilot episode, Eva Barret proposes marriage. Eva, a virologist with whom Harry has dined every Friday for the last year, thinks they’ve been “dating,” while Harry thinks of it as “eating.” Typically, Barbara is happy for Harry, but Carol is upset. Carol argues that Harry was never there for them when they were children, and now he won’t be there again. After mulling it over, Harry realizes mourning is not a function of time, but a reflection of a relationship. He’s not ready for a relationship, and he wants to spend more time being a father to his daughters. He and Eva say goodbye.


This was the first episode of Empty Nest, and was written by series creator Susan Harris. After the original pilot episode for the show, which starred Rita Moreno and Paul Dooley and aired as an episode of The Golden Girls, received a cool reception, Harris retooled the series, “killed off the wife,” and revamped the show’s concept.

The show debuted as part of NBC’s Saturday night lineup, which at the time included 227, Amen, and The Golden Girls. Critical response was strong and the show launched into the Top 10.

Actress Grace Zabriskie, who plays Harry’s love interest in the episode, would appear again in the series finale as Laverne’s mother. She is a respected character actress best known for her work in Twin Peaks and as the mother of George’s fiance Susan in Seinfeld. A close friend to Park Overall, Zabriskie also played the mother of Park’s character in the 1999 film Sparkler.


Empty Nest looks like a good place to nestle down – The Los Angeles Times reviews the episode

Review: Empty NestTV Guide‘s take on the show

Preview: Empty Nest – Another TV Guide piece

Is it true bachelors have more fun?TV Guide promo

TV Weekly – A magazine cover featuring Richard Mulligan, Kristy McNichol and Dinah Manoff

Picks and PansPeople magazine gives the pilot episode an “A.”