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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1987   1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   … See all »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 12 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Nell Harper (137 episodes, 1981-1987)
...
 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)
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

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Release Date:

29 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Allo Nelly Bobo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(137 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first show in NBC's all-star Thursday night line-up. This would eventually become known as "Must See TV", and would eventually include shows like Cheers (1982), Family Ties (1982), The Cosby Show (1984), Hill Street Blues (1981), Seinfeld (1989), L.A. Law (1986), ER (1994), Friends (1994), Will & Grace (1998), and The Office (2005), and would dominate the network ratings from the '80s into the 2000s. 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

Gimme a Break
Music by Jay Graydon
Lyrics by Richard Page
Performed by Nell Carter
(Second theme song)
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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.


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