Empty Nest is now on Laff TV! To celebrat
By the start of this season, it is evident that Nest is nearing its end. NBC seems to have little interest in nurturing a successful weekend lineup. Other than a Gene Wilder series that disappears quickly, Nest is the only sitcom left on Saturday nights. As the ratings decline, the show that was a Top 10 hit its first season falls closer to the bottom of the ratings chart. Once it's decided that this will be the final season, producers begin working to bring Kristy McNichol, who hasn't appeared since season five, back for the final episode.
Despite the lowered viewer turnout, the show itself is still entertaining, and this season does produce some excellent episodes. There are no drastic changes like those that occurred during the last two seasons. This year continues much the same as the last. One notable difference, though, involves Carol. At the start of the season, she lands a job at the local Dade County Crier and embarks upon a promising career as a journalist. We are introduced to her sluggish lush of a boss, Ben Braxton, who makes frequent appearances throughout the season. In one memorable episode, a late night at the office (and a pot of spiked coffee) leads to a night of passion between Carol and Mr. Braxton.
Carol meets the man of her dreams at an art museum this year. She and airline pilot Kevin Millen begin dating and develop a nice chemistry. Kevin's fast bond with Scotty makes Carol jealous and almost causes the two to breakup. In another episode, Kevin's ex-wife returns to get her husband back. Despite all their difficulties, the two manage to make their relationship work.
Also finding love this season is Laverne, who falls for her childhood friend, Dr. Matt Kane. Afraid of telling him how she feels when he visits Miami, a series of events finds Laverne and Matt embracing beneath an airport metal detector and Harry stuck on a plane to Hickory. With Matt based in Hickory, the trials of a long-distance relationship put a strain on the couple. Expecting a breakup, Laverne is shocked when Matt proposes instead.
Several episodes center around Charley this year. After filling in for the cruise ship's comic, he decides to become a stand-up comedian and lands on Evening at the Improv. After attending a relative's funeral, he becomes obsessed with his own death, which prompts Carol to help him stage his own funeral. He meets the woman of his dreams but has doubts when discovering that the lady is a minister and learns lessons in friendship and acceptance after finding out his new roommate is gay. In a surprising twist, Charley finds out he is the father of a seventeen-year-old concert flautist. Not being able to connect with his newfound son, Charley decides to expose him to his world and takes him to strip clubs and bars, which results in the boy wanting to move in with Charley and forget about college. This teaches Charley a lesson in responsibility when his fatherly instincts actually kick in gear.
Charley isn't the only instance of character evolvement we see this season. Softer sides to the hard-edged Maxine are also displayed. A television weatherman tests her patience when he turns their relationship into a ratings-grabber. Her parenting skills emerge as well when she is forced to care for a patient's children when the lady needs surgery.
Sophia moves in with the Westons when the strict rules of the Shady Pines manager become too much for her to handle. Her mothering, rules and generous usage of garlic soon drive Harry to the verge of insanity. And Carol, attempting to solve Sophia's Shady Pines problem, stages a walk-out, leading the entire retirement home into the Weston living room.
Dinah Manoff, who had been directing episodes since season five, also takes on the role of writer this season with the episode "May Pal Valy-Val." In it, Carol stops a depressed psychiatrist from committing suicide. Another memorable show finds Hillary Clinton visiting the clinic. Persistent reporter Carol stops at nothing to weasel her way into the clinic (including impersonating Laverne to Secret Service agents), which lands her and Laverne in jail. Other highlights: rumors fly when Charley and Laverne start getting very close; Laverne befriends a lonely, mentally unstable lady; Harry falls in love with a married woman; and Carol tries to put a damper on Maxine's smoking addiction.
The season, and series, ends in an hour-long finale that takes the gang to Hickory for Laverne's wedding to Matt and marks the return of Kristy McNichol as Barbara. A series of events including a breakup, an elopement, and a flood culminate in a double ceremony as Carol also marries Kevin. Meanwhile, Harry is offered a teaching job in Vermont but has doubts about taking it until he is confronted by the ghost of his late wife Libby.
The final episode airs on NBC on April 29, 1995.
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