Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the real name of the dog who played Dreyfuss?

Dreyfuss was mostly played by a dog named Bear. However, Bear’s brother Julio occasionally stood in as Dreyfuss, as well as, in later seasons, his son Bingo.

What breed of dog is Dreyfuss?

Bear’s father was a Golden Retriever mix, and his mother a St. Bernard. For more information about Bear’s breeding, check out our Return to the Nest interview with his trainer, Joel Silverman.

How did Empty Nest do in the ratings over the years?

The show was in the Top 10 for its first three seasons. It came it at #9 during seasons one (17.35 million households) and two (17.40M households) then jumped to #7 during the third season (15.54M). The show began drawing more viewers than sister series The Golden Girls during the third season, a trend that continued throughout season four as well. Empty Nest finished its fourth season in the #23 spot (14.17M), the fifth season at #45 (10.96M), season six at #62 (9.46M) and season seven at #118 (6.90M).

Where is the real Weston house located?

The house used for the exterior shots of the show is located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, a couple miles from the house used for the exterior shots on The Golden Girls. Facades of both properties were later built at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios lot on “Residential Street” and used during later seasons of the shows. The facades from both Empty Nest and The Golden Girls were part of a Disney studio tram tour before being torn down in 2003.

What hospital was used in the establishing shots of the show?

Community Medical Center was actually Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California, an acute care, not-for-profit hospital located on the Orange County coastline between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Why did Kristy McNichol leave the show?

Kristy was battling a chemical imbalance akin to bipolar disorder and left the show to better care for her health. The departure was originally supposed to be temporary, but Kristy was afraid her health would suffer if she returned to the show. Her brief return for the series finale in 1995 marks her last on-screen appearance as an actress to date. 

Why would the producers suddenly create a third sister after Kristy McNichol left?

Emily wasn’t actually a “sudden” creation. Despite having never appeared on screen prior to season five, the character existed from the first episode. In fact, the opening scene of the pilot featured Harry talking on the phone to Emily. As the series progressed and the Carol/Barbara relationship became more prominent, mentions of Emily became less frequent. However, when Kristy left, producers decided to introduce the youngest Weston sibling when her absence looked to be longterm.

Is Empty Nest available on video or DVD?

So far Empty Nest has not officially been released in any format. Read on for details about a couple unofficial releases.

What can you tell me about these “complete series DVD” sets that I see for sale online?

Various DVD sets of the show circulate on auction sites like eBay and iOffer from various sellers, and each is different.

One set is often advertised as being the complete series, but in actuality there are about 24 episodes missing from various seasons. This is a bootleg set of old VHS transfers to DVD. The quality of the DVDs isn’t terrific, although the episodes are certainly watchable. The good news is that the episodes are from the original NBC airings, not the edited versions that have appeared in syndication.

You can also find a set of DVDs from the show’s run on the Hallmark Channel in 2011. The episodes in this set are edited versions with portions of commercials, no tag scenes over the closing credits, and it also isn’t the complete series. It only runs through season four. The visual quality, however, is far superior to the aforementioned set.

Finally, a new “complete series” set has appeared that features the episodes from the show’s run on Laff TV. These episodes are good visual quality but are syndicated versions, so some scenes are missing. However, for getting the entire series on DVD, this is probably your strongest bet.

Contact the seller to ensure you’re purchasing the set you’re hoping to get before making a purchase. The show produced 170 episodes, so that’s a good indicator that you’re getting them all.

Is the show currently airing in the U.S.? 

No. In 2015, a new multicast network called Laff acquired the rights to all seven seasons of Empty Nest and aired the show regularly for a few years. Since the Laff run expired, though, no other network has yet picked up the show.

What are the lyrics to the Empty Nest theme song?

“Life Goes On”

Life goes on and so do we.
Just how we do it is no mystery.
One by one, we fill the days.
We find a thousand different ways.
Sometimes the answer can be hard to find.
That’s something I will never be.
I’m always here for anything you need.
Rain or shine, I’ll be the one
To share it all as life goes on.
We share it all as life goes on

“Life Goes On” was written by George Aliceson Tipton and John Bettis and performed by Billy Vera, who had a #1 hit with the song “At This Moment” after it was used in an episode of Family Ties.

I saw an episode of The Golden Girls about the empty nest syndrome. Was it the original pilot for Empty Nest?

Yes. The “Empty Nest” episode of The Golden Girls aired May 16, 1987, and starred Rita Moreno, Paul Dooley, Geoffrey Lewis, David Leisure and Jane Harnick. David Leisure was the only cast member to be hired on for the redeveloped series, only as a different character. For more information about the original pilot, visit the Series History section of the website.

What was Sophia’s explanation for moving back into Shady Pines during season six, and were the other Golden Girls characters ever mentioned?

When Sophia showed up on the Weston doorstep at the start of the ’93 season, she simply said she missed the old neighborhood and decided to move back, adding that “now that I see all of you, I can’t imagine why.” After The Golden Girls ended in 1992, Estelle Getty, Betty White and Rue McClanahan starred in the spinoff series The Golden Palace, in which Sophia, Rose and Blanche operated and lived in a Miami hotel. Neither the hotel nor Blanche and Rose were mentioned on Empty Nest; however, Sophia’s daughter Dorothy (Bea Arthur’s character) was mentioned occassionally. None of the characters made appearances on the show during Estelle’s time there.