Inside Look: The Mentor

Inside Look: The Mentor

Harry’s teacher was king of the hill.

Now he’s over the hill – and Harry’s gotta tell him.

Original Air Date:

February 2, 1991 – Season Three


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:

Danny Thomas as Dr. Leo Brewster / Harvey Jason as Dr. Alan Wakefield / Elise Ogden as Mrs. Lasko


Dr. Leo Brewster, Harry’s mentor, returns to his post as Chief of Pediatrics at the Medical Center after teaching sabbatical in England. Harry hero-worships Dr. Brewster, seeing him as the perfect doctor. Harry longs for the day when Dr. Brewster recognizes him as a colleague instead of seeing him as a medical student. Brewster, however, is getting old, and his skills are slipping. An associate approaches Harry asking for support when he recommends Brewster give up his practice and be made professor emeritus so he can devote all his time to teaching. Harry balks until he discovers an error Brewster made on a patient. Harry confronts Brewster, who initially accuses Harry of disloyalty but eventually realizes his mistake. Brewster visits the Westons’ home and tells Harry he is proud of his pupil – Dr. Weston.

Meanwhile, Carol and Barbara decide to relive a childhood piano recital which turned into a brawl. Carol thinks that this incident was the turning point in their relationship and that if they are ever to be close as sisters, they must re-enact this duet and successfully complete it. They complete the piece, but end up brawling over their bows.


Screen icon Danny Thomas was the father of Tony Thomas, executive producer of Empty Nest.

This episode marked Thomas’ final public appearance. He died days after the show originally aired.

Both Richard Mulligan and Danny Thomas received Emmy nominations for this episode: Mulligan in the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category and Thomas in the Guest Actor in a Comedy Series category. Neither won.

In her Return to the Nest interview with this website, Park Overall shared a fun behind-the-scenes story from the production of this episode involving Richard and Danny.

Danny Thomas created the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, which continues to be a leader in children’s cancer research.


Harry’s most dangerous operationTV Guide promo

St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital 30th Anniversary Fundraiser – A 1992 article on the hospital, launched by Danny Thomas, featuring quotes from Empty Nest exeuctive producer Tony Thomas and photos of Thomas, Richard Mulligan, Kristy McNichol and The Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan.