Season 2, Episode 26; “Empty Nests” or An Abomination of Television

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I mean, what else do women want to do?

Well, it’s always nice to see tv writers tryout some new things. Sitcoms can start to feel stagnant, and it’s always nice to take a risk on some new developments. For writers, it’s a creative exercise that is necessary to continue to challenge themselves in the realm of creativity. And ultimately, television is the most prominent artistic expression of the 20th and 21st centuries. With that said,

What fucking imbecile person was responsible for this turd of an episode?

Yes, yes, I can read Wikipedia. I know that this was supposed to be the spin-off for Empty Nest. But someone actually thought this one-off episode would be compelling enough. An episode in which a brother with multiple personality disorder and a creepy rapey neighbor make appearances for no good reason. An episode in which suddenly the fab four are bffs with a neighbor we have never met before and is helping her with marital problems.

Really, I don’t blame (some) of the actors here. Paul Mooney is a great underrated actor. Rita Moreno is one of the nations only EGOTs. David Leisure is…..unbearable. Unbearable. How did this man audition for anything without a casting director shooting themselves in the face?

Let me break it down for you. Please take some tylenol in advance to ward off the pain from such a piece of shitty television writing. I’m surprised Don Barnhard, famed director of Saved By The Bell, didn’t have his hand in this. THe opening is just like any other episode: the four gals are all home at the same time, Rose is stupid, Blanche has her legs open, you know, the usual. Rene, from next door (Ms, Moreno, obviously being blackmailed into doing this guest spot) stops by. There’s some banter about Palestine getting Greenland as  a consolation prize (TOO SOON) and Rene called in a radio show nor some outdated reference. Rene thinks it’s hilarious, so she makes this face:

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And Dorothy isn’t pleased either.

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“Did you tell him yet?” they pry. Maybe Rose turned another friend into a lesbian, and she has to tell her husband. No, Rene’s big plan is to tell her doctor husband to work less hours because she is lonely since their daughter left for college. WOMEN, AM I RIGHT? It’s a fair request, but Rene wants it because she’s lonely at home and has nothing to do. Get a fucking hobby! Go develop a gambling problem with Sophia!

In the only moment of joy in this awful, offensive, vile episode is when Rose laments that cutting down on his hours may cause her to have to go to another doctor. “[Your husband] is the only one that’s seen me naked.” Also, not true, since she’s had several boyfriends. Blanche, with perfect timing, replies:

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And this is why Rue McClanahan is a fucking comedic genius. In one line she gives us a spot of sunshine in a dreary episode that makes us all want to die. Although, Blanche reminds us that she’s also kind of a sociopath and couldn’t fucking wait for her kids to get out of her house.

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Thus the transition to the house next door is complete. It’s actually a bit more stylish than our gals. Except the kitchen is all glass walls and shelves, and it’s creepy. One hurricane and you’ll be pulling glass shards from your jugular. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t happen. What does happen is a Laurel and Hardy farce that is so unbelievable it makes Out of This World seem like a documentary.

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Rene keeps trying to talk to George, but he keeps getting zany calls from his patients. Oh they don’t let up! It’s almost like George is supposed to…care about his patients. This one guy needs to be on diet but he keeps eating creamed beef! Someone peed!


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In between all that, George’s brother Chuck knocks at the door. “How do you know who I am! I have multiple personalities!” exclaims Chuck, in the worst excuse for exposition and ridiculous, dare I say offensive, plot device . Meanwhile, they let him roam the streets instead of being, ah, uh, institutionalized? “My doctor says I can get my own place…but who can afford three bedrooms?” Oh yea. Sophia stops by looking for Mr.Fix-It, one of his personalities. After taking a dump in the shitter, crazy brother emerges as Mr. Fix-It, so Sophia leads him to their house, a perfect exit for an introduction we did not need.  “This is like Vaudeville!” Sophia exclaims. Good to know the gals still have the funny lines.

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The door opens again and it’s Jenny, who has dropped out of Columbia U because her boyfriend dumped her. She followed him to college. You know, because getting into Columbia is super easy.  Also, she hopped on a plane? And got a taxi home? In the middle of the semester? Rene doesn’t seem so mad. Blanche, who has arrived, starts touching herself while talking about professors at southern colleges fucking her as a student. Real appropriate.

Blanche makes things worse by telling her she’s never been rejected. Well, once:

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And then…ugh….I cant even…David Liesure, as neighbor Oliver comes in. This man is so unappealing, with his whiny voice and greasy hair. Oliver immediately tells Rene, George and Jenny that he fucked a bunch of stewardesses. Oliver forces George to look at something that may be skin cancer. It’s a liver spot and his whiny reaction made me run around my house and scream for five minutes.  Of all the things that were not changed once Empty Nest became a show, I can’t believe David Liesure was the one character they kept. Dorothy makes an appearance only to glare at neighbor Oliver and tell the audience that last New Year’s Eve he showed up with naked women and urinated in the linen closet. What sort of ragers are they having?

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Rene decides to go with Jenny back to New York and gets an agent to star in commercials. She used to be in show biz! Oliver keeps George company. George, a man who has a medical degree suddenly has the realization that this is what Rene was feeling – loneliness!

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Ah-dooooyyyy

Wow, what a realization! He arrives at Rene’s hotel professing his love and devotion to her. He’s going to move his office home, to be like Dr. Huxtable. Minus the rape.

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They bang (offscreen) and lay in bed professing their love for each other. George somehow insults her looks and they end with Rene asking, “promise me you’ll never die.” Credits. BLEAK!

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My dislike of this episode, and many fans feeling about it, are not just because we miss out on the Golden Gals, but because this episode is so terribly written. It’s ever sitcom cliche before there were cliches. It’s about people we don’t care about and who are difficult to like. Rene seems like an overbearing wife. George seems like a dumb husband. Chuck and Oliver- just ugh. In reading about Empty Nest, it’s pretty hilarious that they had seasons where family members were brought on that were never even mentioned on previous shows.

I’d love to hear oral histories right from the source. Does anyone remember watching this episode when it originally aired? Was there bedlam in the streets?

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10 thoughts on “Season 2, Episode 26; “Empty Nests” or An Abomination of Television

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAAA!
    I can remember watching this episode (several times) on lifetime, as a re-run. I thought it was a B.S. episode too. There were a few funny lines, but overall…. ack! I didn’t realize that those characters belonged to another sitcom. I can’t even imagine it lasting a whole season. Why they jumbled that horse crap with Golden Girls, I will NEVER understand!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Great post. Hilarious!!

  2. I love the Golden Girls but, hated this episode. It was the one episode that everyone acted stiff as if they knew it sucked. Great review!

  3. I’ve been trying to find more production info on this episode as it was such a radical departure for the series – especially with the guy with MPD. Okay, the Golden Girls lived in a Miami shorn of anyone suspiciously Hispanic-looking, and by today’s standards it’s hardly groundbreaking, but at the time to go down the mental-illness-is-hilarious route was a pretty weird step, and one that probably had Bea Arthur quietly vomiting off-camera. This page is probably the web’s best summary of what was a pretty fuckin’ dark moment in the Golden Girls canon, and probably its most fitting tribute, too. I guess whoever was responsible for this burning hospice of an episode is laying low, and with good reason.

  4. I’ve been perplexed over the making of this episode for some time. Thanks to other reviews, I found out what was going on. The characters tried too hard and weren’t funny to watch, more disjointed like they didn’t belong in the same room. You caught your breath again when a Golden Girl made an appearance.

  5. This was literally the funniest synopsis of an episode my best friend and I have hated for YEARS. How diet even happen? Why would you you just make an episode about people that aren’t even characters in the show? We never understood. But this review is comedic genius!!

  6. I’m watching this ep. now on Hulu….and I’m thinking of killing myself.
    Ok, not really but it fucking sucks. What the hell am I watching?

  7. I know this article is a little aged but it was Easter this past weekend and I happened to turn on The Golden Girls for background noise during dinner prep. When this episode came on, my mother (in her fifties) mentioned that she remembered when this episode aired and that there may have been a TV guide cover of the girls the same week. She remembered David Leisure and that she found him a bit much. She did say she enjoyed “Empty Nests” the series when it aired. My GRANDMOTHER on the other hand (the most sane and least sane woman in the family) swore up and down that she hated this episode as she remembered Sophia befriending a black man the following episode. “To be honest, not everyone was a critic back then” she said.

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