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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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?


The girls were all fired in the fifth season because of the low ratings on the show. (And because Joey and Mathew Lawrence were a big hit with audiences and seemed to supplicate their need on the show). 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 »


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


Featured in NBC 75th Anniversary Special (2002) See more »


Ave Maria
Performed by Nell Carter
See more »

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User Reviews

Warm, funny 80s sitcom.
6 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Gimme A Break was in the sitcom line-up, on NBC in the 80s. NBC had many quality sitcoms on the air in the 80s, such as Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts Of Life, Silver Spoons, etc. Gimme A Break, was certainly in the same league as any of NBC's other popular comedy shows. It was warm, funny, and presented many contemporary topics that modern families struggle with, such as teen sex, drugs, alcoholism, dating, etc.

Nell Carter played the main character, Nell Harper. On the show, Nell often got to display her considerable singing and dancing talents. This made the show quite entertaining overall. And Nell held this show together, with her no nonsense brand of comic delivery. She had a feisty charm, that made her shine above the rest of the cast. Her co-star Dolph Sweet (who played the family patriarch, Carl Kominski), was lackluster by comparison. Only Thelma Hopkins, as Nell's best friend Addy Wilson, had nearly as much comedic talent as Nell. If you like 80s sitcoms, I'd highly recommend watching Gimme A Break on DVD.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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