The Golden Girls (season 1)
The first season of the American television comedy series The Golden Girls originally aired on NBC in the United States between September 14, 1985 and May 10, 1986. Created by television writer Susan Harris, the series was produced by Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions and ABC Studios(Touchstone Television.) It starred Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty as the main characters Dorothy Zbornak, Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund, and Sophia Petrillo. The series revolves around the lives of four elderly women living together in a house in Miami.
|The Golden Girls|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||25|
|Original release||September 14, 1985 –|
May 10, 1986
The first season of The Golden Girls premiered to strong ratings for NBC, ranking number one in its first week on air and number seven among all primetime programs airing during the 1985–86 primetime network season. Upon its initial airing, the show was met with critical acclaim and was the recipient of various industry awards, including three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe awards. Warner Bros. Home Video released the first season on DVD in the United States on February 7, 2006, and in Canada on April 10, 2007.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"The Engagement"||Jay Sandrich||Susan Harris||September 14, 1985|
Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), an attractive and carefree woman, has been dating a gentleman named Harry. Her roommates, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) and Rose Nylund (Betty White), help Blanche make an important decision after Harry proposes; Blanche accepts and they plan to marry. On the day of the wedding, police inform Blanche that Harry is a bigamist with six wives. Meanwhile, Dorothy's mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) moves into the house after her retirement home, Shady Pines, burns down.|
Guest stars: Charles Levin as Coco; Frank Aletter as Harry; Meshach Taylor as the cop.
Notes: This is the only appearance of Coco, the gay cook/housekeeper. This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series. The episode ranked as the highest-rated program of the week, bringing in a 25.0/43 rating/share.
|2||2||"Guess Who's Coming to the Wedding?"||Paul Bogart||Winifred Hervey||September 21, 1985|
Dorothy's daughter, Kate, comes to Miami, Florida, with an announcement: she is engaged to a doctor named Dennis. Dorothy's happiness dims when her daughter, Kate, asks that her father, Dorothy's adulterous ex-husband Stan, be present. Dorothy agrees for her daughter's sake, which places Rose and Blanche in the role of peacemakers. After the wedding, Dorothy tells Stan what she felt when he left her for another woman after they had been married for 38 years.|
Guest stars: Herb Edelman as Stan Zbornak; Lisa Jane Persky as Kate; Dennis Drake as Dennis.
Notes: Kate and Dennis reappeared in the second season played by Deena Freeman and Jonathan Perpich, respectively. This is Herb Edelman's first appearance as Stanley Zbornak.
|3||3||"Rose the Prude"||Jim Drake||Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan||September 28, 1985|
Rose agrees to double date with Blanche and two brothers: Jeffrey and Arnie Peterson. Blanche's date with Jeffrey ends badly, while Rose forms a romantic relationship with her date, Arnie, making him Rose's first boyfriend since Charlie's death. Arnie invites her to accompany him on a cruise, which would involve sharing a room, which Rose doesn't feel ready for. The trip with Arnie is further complicated by a revelation from Rose about Charlie's death, which took place while they were making love. Meanwhile, Dorothy and Sophia have a gin rummy marathon, with Dorothy hoping to end a 30-year losing streak.|
Guest star: Harold Gould as Arnie Peterson.
Note: Harold Gould reappeared in later seasons in the recurring role of Rose's boyfriend Miles Weber.
|4||4||"Transplant"||Paul Bogart||Susan Harris||October 5, 1985|
Blanche's sister Virginia comes to visit Blanche, but Blanche suspects that her sister wants something. Virginia eventually reveals that she is dying from renal failure, and a kidney transplant is her best hope for survival. Virginia asks Blanche to donate her kidney, but Blanche feels conflicted by the decision.|
Guest star: Sheree North as Virginia Hollingsworth.
Note: North reprised her role as Virginia in Season 5.
|5||5||"The Triangle"||Jim Drake||Winifred Hervey||October 19, 1985|
An attractive doctor named Elliot Clayton begins dating Dorothy, after they meet during Sophia's house-call appointment, but makes a pass at Blanche later. Dorothy dismisses Blanche's warning as jealousy, and a hurt Blanche decides to throw Dorothy out of the house. Rose decides it is up to her to save their friendship, by "seducing" Elliot while Dorothy overhears from her bedroom.|
Guest star: Peter Hansen as Dr. Elliot Clayton.
|6||6||"On Golden Girls"||Jim Drake||Liz Sage||October 26, 1985|
Dorothy is studying for a French final exam, and Blanche's grandson David is comes to visit while his parents go on a second honeymoon. David is rude and causes trouble around the house, and Sophia slaps him. Blanche is outraged by this and comforts David, who reveals that his parents neglect him. The girls teach David responsibility by giving him chores, and spend time with him..|
Guest star: Billy Jacoby as David.
Note: In real life, Billy Jacoby is the brother of Scott Jacoby, who played the recurring role of Dorothy's son Michael Zbornak.
|7||7||"The Competition"||Jim Drake||Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan||November 2, 1985|
Sophia's ex-fiancee from Sicily, Italy, Augustine Bagatelli, arrives in town, and they spend a lot of time together. Meanwhile, a bowling tournament final is coming up, and Rose dumps Blanche as her partner, and later Dorothy, due to her competitiveness. After her new partner leaves her, Rose teams up with Sophia, and Blanche teams up with Dorothy. Augustine asks Sophia to return to Sicily for the San Genero festival, but Dorothy refuses to allow it. Sophia and Dorothy make a bet over the bowling tournament: if Sophia wins, Dorothy will pay for her to go, but if she loses, Dorothy gets Sophia's antique silver earrings.|
Guest star: Ralph Manza as Augustine Bagatelli.
|8||8||"Break-In"||Paul Bogart||Susan Harris||November 9, 1985|
|While the ladies attend a Madonna concert, their house is burglarized. Traumatized by the experience, Rose buys a gun and stays alert all night, hoping to catch the burglars if they return. Blanche and her date accidentally set off the house's new security system when they arrive home late, and Rose shoots Blanche's prized vase by accident. Meanwhile, Blanche helps the police by giving them sketches of her stolen jewelry.|
|9||9||"Blanche and the Younger Man"||Jim Drake||James Berg and Stan Zimmerman||November 16, 1985|
Rose's mother Alma comes for a visit, but Rose is overprotective of her. Blanche is asked out by her young Jazzercise instructor, Dirk, and accepts. After Sophia and Alma return from a trip to the horse track, Rose warns her mother that she could break her hip again if she is too active. Due to Rose's behavior, Alma decides to leave early. |
Guest stars: Jeanette Nolan as Alma Lindstrom; Charles Hill as Dirk.
|10||10||"The Heart Attack"||Jim Drake||Susan Harris||November 23, 1985|
After a successful dinner party, Sophia gets a stomachache, which then advances to severe chest pain. Sophia, convinced she is having a heart attack, tries to put her affairs in order. Blanche calls Sophia's doctor, Dr. Harris, and paramedics to aid Sophia, but the paramedics are late due to a storm. Eventually, Dr. Harris arrives, and determines that Sophia is having a gallbladder attack from overeating. |
Guest star: Ronald Hunter as Dr. Harris.
|11||11||"Stan's Return"||Jim Drake||Kathy Speer and Terry Grossman||November 30, 1985|
When Dorothy's ex-husband, Stan, visits to have her sign some legal documents, they end up in bed after Stan tells her that Chrissy (Simone Griffeth), his wife, left him for a younger man. While Dorothy sees this as a fling, while Stan sees it as their reconciliation, and possibly even the start of a new marriage. |
Guest star: Herb Edelman as Stan Zbornak.
|12||12||"The Custody Battle"||Terry Hughes||Winifred Hervey||December 7, 1985|
Blanche is auditioning for the role of Lady Macbeth in an upcoming production of Macbeth, and Rose receives a lead role while Blanche gets a minor one, leading to strain on their friendship. Dorothy's wealthy sister, Gloria, visits, and Dorothy is hopeful to have a closer relationship to her sister, spending the night with her. Gloria asks Sophia to live with her in California, and Sophia agrees.
|13||13||"A Little Romance"||Terry Hughes||Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan||December 14, 1985|
Though Rose has been dating Dr. Jonathan Newman for three weeks, she is reluctant to introduce the girls to him. When Blanche invites him over for dinner without consulting Rose first, it is revealed that he has dwarfism. Dr. Newman tells Rose that he has important news for her, and she assumes he intends to propose and frets over how to respond, eventually deciding to marry him. Jonathan and Rose go on a date to a restaurant, where he breaks up with her because she isn't Jewish.|
Guest stars: Brent Collins as Dr. Jonathan Newman; Billy Barty as Edgar Lindstrom; Jeane Dixon as herself
Note: Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for this episode.
|14||14||"That Was No Lady"||Jim Drake||Liz Sage||December 21, 1985|
Blanche wants to get a new car, but she can only get it if she can sell her old one. Rose is looking for a car, and uses Blanche's car for a few days before buying it, after Sophia and Blanche convince her to. Blanche buys the new car, but Rose arrives home with the news that Blanche's original car has been stolen. Meanwhile, Dorothy dates gym teacher named Glen O'Brien, who later admits to her that he's married. Despite this, Dorothy continues to have an affair with him, until Sophia convinces her to break it off. |
Guest star: Alex Rocco as Glen O'Brien.
Note: Glen O'Brien returned in Season 5, played by Jerry Orbach.
|15||15||"In a Bed of Rose's"||Terry Hughes||Susan Harris||January 11, 1986|
Rose brings a date home, and in the morning, Sophia discovers that he is dead. She confides in her roommates that her late husband Charlie also died while they were making love. Convinced that she kills men by sleeping with them, Rose becomes depressed and says she will never sleep with another man.|
Guest stars: Richard Roat as Al Beatty; Priscilla Morrill as Lucille Beatty
Notes: Betty White won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the 1986 Emmy Awards for this episode. Richard Roat appeared in the seventh season as Kendall in the episode, "The Case of the Libertine Belle".
|16||16||"The Truth Will Out"||Terry Hughes||Susan Beavers||January 18, 1986|
Rose has often bragged to her children and grandchildren about Charlie's success, but the settlement of his estate discloses that he left nearly nothing. To cover her lie, Rose claims to have spent all the money, leading her daughter Kirsten to lose respect for her. |
Guest stars: Christine Belford as Kirsten; Bridgette Andersen as Charley.
Note: Kirsten was played by Lee Garlington in Season 7.
|17||17||"Nice and Easy"||Terry Hughes||Stuart Silverman||February 1, 1986|
Blanche's niece Lucy visits, but the girls become concerned for her when she is promiscuous. Reluctant to be seen as a hypocrite, Blanche is eventually convinced to talk to her. Meanwhile, Dorothy is terrified by a mouse in their kitchen, but Rose talks her into not calling the exterminator and the mouse eventually leaves at Dorothy's polite request.|
Guest star: Hallie Todd as Lucy.
|18||18||"The Operation"||Terry Hughes||Winifred Hervey||February 8, 1986|
Dorothy injures herself while performing a dance routine with Blanche and Rose at a local show. She is terrified of hospitals and refuses to have surgery on her foot. Sophia eventually persuades her, but Dorothy still has misgivings. Finally, after meeting with a breast cancer patient, she realises how cowardly she has been in the face of the woman's bravery. Rose and Blanche decide to perform the routine as a duo. |
Guest stars: Robert Picardo as Dr. Revell; Anne Haney as Bonnie.
|19||19||"Second Motherhood"||Gary Shimokawa||Christopher Lloyd||February 15, 1986|
Blanche dates a wealthy man with marriage on his mind. He also has two young children. Having reared her own family, Blanche does not want to raise children again. Meanwhile, Rose and Dorothy attempt to install a toilet, much to the amusement of the local plumber. In the end, Blanche realizes that she is not concerned about being a mother again, but about being third in her lover's life after his work and children. Finally, Rose and Dorothy unveil their fitted toilet.|
Guest stars: Kevin McCarthy as Richard; Alan Blumenfeld as Lou.
|20||20||"Adult Education"||Jack Shea||James Berg and Stan Zimmerman||February 22, 1986|
The girls try desperately to get Frank Sinatra tickets, while Blanche attends night school in hopes of getting a promotion at the museum. When she struggles with one of her courses, her professor offers her an "easy" way to a good grade: sleep with him. In the end, she tells off Professor Cooper and studies hard to get an "A". Through various means, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia end up with 10 tickets to the concert, the excess of which Dorothy decides to sell as a scalper. However, they miss the show due to being arrested.|
Guest star: Jerry Hardin as Professor Cooper.
|21||21||"The Flu"||Terry Hughes||James Berg and Stan Zimmerman||March 1, 1986|
|Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose all come down with the flu and are at one another's throats. When all are revealed as contenders for the "Best Friend of the Friends of Good Health" award, they all are determined to attend, though all are still ill.|
|22||22||"Job Hunting"||Paul Bogart||Kathy Speer and Terry Grossman||March 8, 1986|
Due to a lack of funding, the grief-counseling center is closed, forcing Rose to seek employment elsewhere, but she faces age discrimination. Frustrated by her inability to find work, Rose decides to continue counselling people from home, much to the annoyance of Dorothy and Blanche. At their wit's end, the ladies inspire Rose to persevere and "stretch the truth" on her job interviews. Meanwhile, Blanche flirts with one of Rose's former clients who has an infatuation with fat women, and Dorothy reconnects with an old flame, who she later finds out is gay.|
Note: This episode was the second one to be produced, but was held over for later in the season.
|23||23||"Blind Ambitions"||Terry Hughes||Bob Colleary||March 29, 1986|
Rose's sister Lily comes to visit for the first time since losing her sight; the rest of the girls do spring cleaning and hold a garage sale to raise funds for a new television. It is revealed that Lily only came to ask Rose to come home with her to Chicago, Illinois and take care of her. Rose convinces Lily to attend a school for the blind to relearn how to take care of herself, and Lily goes to the school and receives a service dog.|
Guest star: Polly Holliday as Lily.
|24||24||"Big Daddy"||Terry Hughes||Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan||May 3, 1986|
Blanche's father visits with a big surprise: he has sold the family mansion to finance his dream to become a country music singer. Dorothy feuds with the girls' next-door neighbor over storm damage. |
Guest stars: Murray Hamilton as Big Daddy Hollingsworth; Gordon Jump as Leonard Barton; Peggy Pope as Gladys Barton.
Note: Big Daddy was played by David Wayne in the second season, after the death of Murray Hamilton.
|25||25||"The Way We Met"||Terry Hughes||Kathy Speer, Terry Grossman, Winifred Hervey, Mort Nathan, and Barry Fanaro||May 10, 1986|
After watching the movie, Psycho, the girls reminisce about how they came to live together.|
Guest stars: Edan Gross as little boy; Dom Irrera as produce clerk.
NBC senior vice president Warren Littlefield conceived the idea of the series during the filming of a television special aimed at promoting the new 1984–85 season lineup. The special featured a skit by Night Court's Selma Diamond and Remington Steele's Doris Roberts promoting the upcoming show Miami Vice as Miami Nice, a parody about old people living in Miami, Florida. Amused by the performance, he visualized a series based on the geriatric humor of the female performers.
Littlefield met with producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, who were pitching a series about a female lawyer, to ask about developing Miami Nice. Witt asked his wife, Susan Harris, to write the series after the duo's original writer had declined. Harris, who was planning on retiring after Thomas and her ABC series Soap, was interested, noting that "it was a demographic that had never been addressed." Though her vision of a sitcom about women in their 60s differed with NBC's request to write a comedy about women at the age of around 40, Littlefield was impressed when he received Harris' pilot script and subsequently approved production of the pilot. The Cosby Show director Jay Sandrich, who had previously worked with Harris, Witt, and Thomas on Soap, agreed to direct.
The pilot also includes the girls' gay houseboy, Coco (Charles Levin), who lived with them. Levin had been suggested by then-NBC president Brandon Tartikoff based on his groundbreaking recurring gay role, Eddie Gregg, on NBC's Emmy-winning drama, Hill Street Blues. After the pilot, the character of Coco was eliminated from the series.
The season aired on NBC in the United States on Saturday nights at 9:00 pm EST. Harris, her husband Paul Junger Witt, and Tony Thomas were the executive producers for the season. The season featured a panel of writers. Harris and Winifred Hervey each wrote five episodes for the season. Writing duos James Berg and Stan Zimmerman and Kathy Speer and Terry Grossman each wrote three episodes for the season, while Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan wrote five episodes, including the season finale. Liz Sage wrote two episodes, and Susan Beavers, Bob Colleary, Christopher Lloyd, and Stuart Silverman were each credited for an episode.
Directors for the season included Paul Bogart, Jim Drake, Terry Hughes, Jay Sandrich, Jack Shea, and Gary Shimokawa. Bogart directed four episodes for the season. Hughes was credited for 10 episodes, and Drake received directing credits for eight episodes. Sandrich, Shea, and Shimokawa each directed one episode for the season.
Based on their previous work on Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rue McClanahan and Betty White were considered for the parts of Rose Nylund, the bubbly Nordic woman, and Blanche Devereaux, the sexy siren, respectively. Sandrich, who was hired to film the pilot, suggested that the women switch roles to avoid typecasting.
The character of Dorothy Zbornak was tailored toward Bea Arthur, but being unavailable at the time, the producers looked at Elaine Stritch for the role. When her audition flopped, Harris asked McClanahan to convince Arthur, with whom she costarred on Maude, to take the role. Arthur flipped upon reading the script, but was apprehensive because of McClanahan's approach, as she did not "want to play (their Maude characters) Maude and Vivian meet Sue Ann Nivens." Arthur was further convinced when hearing that White would be playing Rose and McClanahan would be playing Blanche.
The role of Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy's mother, was played by Estelle Getty, who was discovered by Tony Thomas while performing in the Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy as the mother character. Getty, being younger than Arthur and White, wore heavy make-up, thick glasses, and a white wig to age her. The character of Sophia was thought by the creators to enhance the idea that three retirement-age women could be young. Disney's Michael Eisner explains, "Estelle Getty made our three women into girls. And that was, to me, what made it seem like it could be a contemporary, young show."
Reception and accoladesEdit
The Golden Girls debuted on September 14, 1985, in its 9:00 pm Saturday-night timeslot, following a broadcast of the Miss America contest and preceding another new comedy series, 227. The debut episode garnered a 25.0 household rating and a 43 share, which translates to a reach of 21.5 million homes. It was the highest-rated program of the week, and the highest-rated premiere of a program in two years. The show also elevated the ratings for Saturday nights, which were on a steep decline in the years preceding its debut. After five episodes, the series was averaging a 21.5 household rating, landing among the top-20 highest-rated programs.
At the 38th Primetime Emmy Awards, The Golden Girls won the award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Betty White received nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, with White winning for her performance in the episode "In a Bed of Rose's". Estelle Getty received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan won the Emmy award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode "A Little Romance". Susan Harris also received nomination for the award for the pilot episode. Directors Jim Drake and Terry Hughes each received a nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for their work in "The Heart Attack" and "A Little Romance", respectively. At the 43rd Golden Globe Awards, the series won the award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. The four lead actress were each nominated for the award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy, with Getty tying with Cybill Shepherd for the award. Jay Sandrich won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series for the episode "The Engagement" at the 38th Directors Guild of America Awards. The series was also nominated at the 2nd TCA Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.
The first season was released on November 23, 2004, in North America. The set contains three discs, comprising 25 total episodes, and a fashion commentary bonus feature, in which Joan and Melissa Rivers provide a critique on the costumes worn by the main characters. The entire first season was also released in the series collection entitled The Golden Girls: 25th Anniversary Complete Collection, released on November 9, 2010.
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