Gimme a Break! (1981–1987)

TV Series  |   |  Comedy
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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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6   5   4   3   2   1  
1987   1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   … See all »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 12 nominations. See more awards »


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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 / ... (82 episodes, 1982-1987)
 Joey Donovan (77 episodes, 1983-1987)
 Addy Wilson (68 episodes, 1983-1987)
Howard Morton ...
 Officer Ralph Simpson / ... (49 episodes, 1981-1986)


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

29 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Allo Nelly Bobo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(137 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Nell and the Kanisky family lived at 2938 Wells Drive. See more »


The front door of the set has a brass mail slot, but exterior shots are of a door with no slot. See more »


Katie: Dad, it's hard for Nell to stick to her diet when you're stuffing your face like that.
Chief: I'm not stuffing.
Nell: Right. He's eating for two in case he gets pregnant.
Chief: See what happens? You take away their trough and they get vicious?
Nell: It's no problem. I'm eating clean, lean, and healthy. After all, you are what you eat. Another helping of jackass, Chief?
See more »


Featured in I Love the 80's 3-D: 1981 (2005) See more »


Gimme a Break
Music by Bob Christianson
Lyrics by Bob Garrett and Marley Sims
Performed by Nell Carter
(First theme song)
See more »

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User Reviews

Holds up surprisingly well 30+ years later
26 November 2014 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

I was 9 years old in 1981 when this show debuted. Though I watched Gimme a Break from the start, it goes without saying that I lacked the maturity at that age to fully understand the adult humor and social issues being explored.

As Gimme a Break only enjoyed average ratings at the time, it was not a big candidate for syndication. As a result, it has been decades since I last saw the show.

I caught it again recently on YouTube, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was better than I remembered as a kid, perhaps because I could fully understand everything now. It's funny, charming, well-written, and even manages to tackle some serious issues. Most notably, it holds up surprisingly well today, which can't be said for many of the more popular sitcoms at the time.

The show was also fairly unusual in that its strongest episodes were in the first two years. Most successful shows take some time to find themselves, but Gimme a Break hit its stride early. Sadly, the show started to slip starting from season 3. Nell Harper's increased creative control was part of the problem. She was a very talented actress and singer, but not so much on the creative side. The series really took a nosedive in its final season when the girls left and the setting moved to New York.

Even so, this was a good show, and in fact deserved better ratings when it was on the air. Try watching it again, and I bet you'll enjoy it more the second time around.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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