The Engagement was the series premiere episode of The Golden Girls. This episode was directed by Jay Sandrich and written by series co-executive producer Susan Harris. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on September 14, 1985.
In the series premiere, Blanche announces that her latest boyfriend, Harry, has proposed marriage. Hearing this, Rose worries over where she will live and later, worries that there is something off about Harry. Meanwhile, Dorothy is more than exuberant over Blanche's plans but must also contend with her mother, Sophia, who arrives after her retirement home, Shady Pines, burns down.
As Dorothy, Rose and their Cook Coco sit down for dinner after a rather stressful day, Blanche is ready to go out with Harry a man that she thinks is "the one". Harry has proposed but Blanche hasn't made her mind up. Rose is quite scared thinking that she and Dorothy might end up homeless as finding a home isn't easy but Blanche decides that until they find a new place they can stay. At that moment the doorbell rings. It's not Harry but Sophia, revealing that Shady Pines has burned down. Then Harry arrives and Blanche leaves with him on their date. That night while Dorothy and Rose talked about their own marriages, Blanche returns she said yes and the wedding is next week. The wedding day comes and Rose reveals to Dorothy she is unsure about Harry and so she wants to tell Blanche. Dorothy manages to stop her in various ways and the minister arrives before Rose can say anything. However as the wedding party waits for the groom, a police officer greets Blanche with the bad news Harry was arrested for bigamy (proving Rose’s “crazy hunch” about him). Blanche is told she had a lucky escape. Blanche is crushed and she refuses to leave her bedroom but at the end of the episode, she realizes that life goes on. The girls promise even if they do get married again they will stay together.
- Police Officer - Meshach Taylor
- Minister - F. William Parker
- Harry - Frank Aletter
- Coco - Charles Levin
- Nielsen Ratings - 25.0 household rating/43 percent audience share (1st place for the week).
- Rue McClanahan doesn't have a Southern accent in this episode, because prior to filming director Jay Sandrich told her he didn't want to hear it. After the show was picked up from the pilot episode, Rue McClanahan went to producers and offered to play Blanche as a modified Mae West-style character. The producers asked her why she wasn't doing it with a Southern accent. At that point, the character of Blanche Devereaux was fully realized, complete with Southern accent.
- Betty White was originally cast for the role of Blanche. White has said she was nervous about switching the roles because she understood Blanche but did not get who Rose was. She said Susan Harris gave her character in a nutshell and from then on, she was eternally grateful to Jay Sandrich whose idea it was to switch roles.
- The beginning of this episode takes place on September 4, 1985 - according to Season 6's "Never Yell Fire in a Crowded Retirement Home, Part I".
- Meshach Taylor, who plays the policeman in this pilot episode, is best known for his long-term role as Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women which ran on CBS from 1986-1993.
- This episode includes the first mention of Stanley Zbornak.
- For an unknown reason, this episode is titled "The Pilot" instead of "The Engagement" on the complete first season DVD set.
- Near the end of the episode, Dorothy takes a mirror out of her bag and checks to see if a sleeping Sophia is still breathing. This would reappear in "The Case of the Libertine Belle". Dorothy does it to one of the victims, stating she does it every time Sophia takes a nap.
- The house's layout is different in this episode. The entrance to Blanche's bedroom is usually where the entrance to the lanai is and the lanai is shown to be on the right side of the house later in the episode.
- Shots of the group hug, Dorothy throwing Rose into the bathroom, the girls vowing to stay together and a close-up of Dorothy and Blanche are used in the opening
- In the first scene of the episode, we see the exterior of the house for the first time. It is daytime in that exterior shot but the next few scenes are set at nighttime.
- Blanche tells her date, Harry, that Sophia's home just burned down. Blanche was not in the room when Sophia shared this piece of information and thus would have no way of knowing it or she must've been evesdropping on the convosation.
- The police officer asks if there is a "Blanche Hollingsworth" there. Hollingsworth is Blanche's maiden name; this is the only episode where it is implied to be her current last name.
- This is one of several episodes in which Charlie is said to have been dead for 15 years. It is stated, more than once, that Rose and Charlie were married for 32 years. If that was true, then Charlie and Rose would have been 9 and 8 years old, respectively, when married.
Dorothy: "I taught a class today. The finest school in Dade County. Two girls had shaved heads and three boys had green hair."
Coco: "They're expressing themselves."
Dorothy: "Well I expressed myself. I told them they had to leave, they were too ugly to look at. Now the parents are mad. A father came in in a three-piece suit and defended Tiffany, a bald girl with a nose-ring."
Rose: "What a day. One sad person after another."
Dorothy: "Rose, you work at grief counseling. What would you expect? Comedians?"
Rose: "It would be a change of pace."
Dorothy: "You know, I had the shock of my life today. I was in the teachers' lounge talking to a group of girls in their twenties, they were so pretty. At that age, you don't even have to be pretty and you're pretty. Anyway, we were laughing and giggling and having a great time and I completely forgot that I was older. I just felt like one of the girls and we had a wonderful time. Then I got into my car and caught a glimpse of myself and I almost had a heart attack. This old woman was in the mirror. I didn't even recognize her."
Rose: "Who was it?"
(Dorothy pauses for a long time, then glares at Rose)
Dorothy: "It was me!"
(Dorothy opens the front door)
Sophia: "Hi there."
Dorothy: "Ma! Ma, what's the matter?"
Sophia: "Everything's fine. No one died. The home burned down".
Rose: "Sit down, Sophia. You must be exhausted."
Sophia: "Why? I rode in the cab, I didn't push it."
Blanche: "Sophia, honey, how nice to see you."
Sophia: "Who are you?"
Blanche: "It's me, Blanche."
Sophia: "You look like a prostitute!"
Rose: "Sophia, the things you say! She didn't mean that Blanche."
Sophia: "Of course I mean it. Look at her, my cab driver would fall in love."
(Late at night, Sophia walks into the living room)
Sophia: "Oh it's you!"
Rose: "Sophia, did we wake you?"
Sophia: "I heard voices, I thought it was robbers, so I hid my jewels. Now I can't remember where."
Dorothy: "Ma, you don't have any jewels!"
Sophia: "Thank God, because I can't find them."
Rose: "Let's all drive to Coconut Grove for lunch, my treat, we have to celebrate."
Sophia: "What, that she came out of her room?!"
Rose: "That we're together!"
Dorothy: "And that no matter what happens, even if we all get married, we'll stick together."
Rose: "Then we'll need a big much bigger house."
Dorothy: "Sure, Rose. After lunch, you can pick up the lumber. Ma. you wanna join us?"
Sophia:" Nope. I've gotta rest; I've got a date tonight!"
Dorothy: "Ah! With whom?"
Sophia: "The fancy man and I are going to the dog track."
Blanche: "Your mother bets?"
Dorothy: "No, she rides, she's a dog jockey! Let's go already."