The Original Pilot Episode
Empty Nest originally aired as an episode of The Golden Girls on May 16, 1987. It starred Rita Moreno, Paul Dooley, Geoffrey Lewis, David Leisure, and Jane Harnick and centered around the girls' neighbor Renee Corliss and her doctor husband George. Moreno played Renee, who was coping with the empty nest syndrome and was tired of George (Dooley) always being busy with his medical practice.
Completing the cast were Geoffrey Lewis as Chuck, Renee's multiple personality-suffering brother, who at times was normal and times became the neighborhood's oddball handyman. David Leisure was mooching neighbor Oliver, a test pilot. And Jane Harnick was Jenny, Renee and George's daughter who was away at college.
In the episode, Jenny returned home unexpectedly to announce that she'd broken up with her boyfriend. Renee, restless at home alone while George constantly worked, accompanied Jenny back to school and decided she wanted to try and get back into show business. George soon followed, vowing to make things better between he and Renee. Surprising his wife at her hotel, the couple turned the trip into their second honeymoon (which Renee pointed out was technically their first since they never had a honeymoon to begin with).
Creator Susan Harris stated that she was experiencing the empty nest syndrome in her own life at the time she wrote the script. But she was fearful that the show would become stagnant with a married couple complaining of being lonely week after week, despite the help that would no doubt come with a strong lead-in like The Golden Girls. So producers scrapped the idea of the Corliss clan, "killed off the wife" (in Harris' words), and retooled the series around a widowed pediatrician, his adult daughters who lived on their own, a wacky neighbor, countrified nurse, and lovable dog. The new and improved version of Empty Nest debuted in the fall of 1988 and the rest, as they say, is history.
While almost everything was completely different with the new
concept, some aspects of the original pilot remained when the show actually
premiered. The same interior set was used for the Weston house but a different
home for the exterior shots. And David Leisure was still around as the annoying
neighbor, but in the form of cruise ship pursor Charley instead of test pilot
Original Pilot I Season One I Season Two I Season Three
Season Four I Season Five I Season Six I Season Seven