Gimme a Break! (1981–1987)

TV Series  -   -  Comedy
6.2
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Carl Kanisky is chief of police in Glenlawn, California. After the death of his wife, Margaret, he asks her friend, Nell Harper, to come in to keep house and take care of his children, ... See full summary »

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Title: Gimme a Break! (1981–1987)

Gimme a Break! (1981–1987) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Season:

6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

Year:

1987 | 1986 | 1985 | 1984 | 1983 | 1982 | 1981
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Nellie Ruth 'Nell' Harper (137 episodes, 1981-1987)
...
 Samantha 'Sam' Kanisky / ... (119 episodes, 1981-1987)
...
 Julie Kanisky / ... (114 episodes, 1981-1986)
Kari Michaelsen ...
 Katie Kanisky (111 episodes, 1981-1986)
Dolph Sweet ...
 Chief Carl Kanisky / ... (88 episodes, 1981-1985)
...
 Grandpa Stanley Kanisky (78 episodes, 1982-1987)
...
 Joey Donovan (77 episodes, 1983-1987)
...
 Addy Wilson (68 episodes, 1983-1987)
Howard Morton ...
 Officer Ralph Simpson / ... (50 episodes, 1981-1986)
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Storyline

Carl Kanisky is chief of police in Glenlawn, California. After the death of his wife, Margaret, he asks her friend, Nell Harper, to come in to keep house and take care of his children, Katie, Julie, and Samantha, in short, be like a mother to them. Later, Carl's father, Stanley, moves in. Around the same time, Nell takes in young Joey Donovan as her foster son. Written by Anonymous

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Comedy

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Release Date:

29 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gimme a Break!  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(137 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A running gag throughout the series involved the Kaniskys' goldfish, Gertrude. The fish died in the first episode only to keep coming back in subsequent episodes. See more »

Goofs

In Season 1 Nell's mother's name is Emma Harper in later seasons her mother's name is Maybelle Harper. See more »

Quotes

Samantha: What's a cliché?
Nell: [serving breakfast] A black woman serving pancakes to a white kid.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mama's Family: Mama's Boyfriend (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Merry Christmas Stranger
Performed by Nell Carter and Telma Hopkins
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User Reviews

 
Don't Gimme A Break Until After Season 2
29 August 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Nell Carter as an overweight housekeeper, a devout guardian to 3 teenage white girls and a force not to be reckoned with whenever she dealt with the Chief of Police - Carl Kanisky, pretty well sums up what this 1980s sitcom is about.

I found the show hilarious when I was a kid and faithfully tuned in during the first 2 seasons. Nell Carter was unmatched for laughs - I'd always be belly rolling on the floor in laughter, especially the episode where she stays at her friend Angie's and was enraged over Angie's lovable and talking teddy 'Mr. Bear'.

Nell was good friends with Carl's wife and before Mrs. Kanisky died of cancer and went floating up to the Sitcom Heavens above, made Nell promise to look after the family after her ultimate demise. Nell kept that promise, always going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the Chief and the girls 'behaved themselves'.

It was no easy task. Grandpa Kanisky was a major treat in upsetting the household with his senile wit and slapstick comedy of errors - the moment when he spilled Nell's partially completed jigsaw puzzle off the table was priceless! There was also the moment when Carl said he wanted to have a father and son 'talk', but grandpa said, "You already have 3 children, Carl. There's nothing left for me to tell you."

That was the Gimme A Break! I loved, but it all changed after season 3 and I quit tuning in after that. The theme song I loved was replaced with another tune, Joey Lawrence (and later his brother) was thrown in as the new cute kid and "Nell Harper" wasn't the same anymore.

She was no longer the self conscious, overweight and frumpy housekeeper I adored, but turned into a sassy, well dressed and (by the help of new writers) a totally different woman.

Things got worse later on when the Chief died, the girls went their separate ways and new characters like 'Addy' came into the picture. The setting was EVEN moved from GlenLawn, California to New York City! The show had the most changes I've ever noticed in a sitcom!

To say Nell Carter had an attitude during the show's run makes perfect sense, considering the show's format underwent major changes by Season 3 and became a 'shadow of it's former self'. Allegations from Rosie O'Donnell about Nell's bad behavior during the final seasons adds to the demise of what it once was.

My recommendation: check out Gimme A Break!, but only the first 2 seasons. It all goes downhill from there by the 3rd.


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