Gimme a Break! was a sitcom which aired on NBC from October 29, 1981 until May 12, 1987. It starred stage actress Nell Carter as the housekeeper for a police chief and his three daughters, who were left without a mother after she died.
The sitcom took place in a fictional town of Glen Lawn, California. Nellie Ruth "Nell" Harper (Nell Carter) agrees to be a housekeeper for the Kanisky household as a special favor to her late friend, who was the wife of police chief Carl Kanisky (Dolph Sweet). His three daughters were (oldest to youngest) Katie (Kari Michaelson ), Julie (Lauri Hendler ), and Samantha ("Sam"; Lara Jill Miller ). Officer Ralph Simpson (Howard Morton ) was a dopey police officer who worked with Carl. During the second season, Carl's parents, Grandpa Stanley (John Hoyt ) and Grandma Mildred (Jane Dulo ), were occasionally seen. Grandma, however, passed away after that season, and Grandpa moved in with Carl and his family.
The third season saw occasional appearances of Addy Wilson (Telma Hopkins), Nell's childhood friend who worked as a teacher. Joey Donovan (Joey Lawrence) was a six-year-old orphan who joined the Kanisky household that year. Addy became a regular cast member one year later. That same year, Julie married Jonathan Maxwell (Jonathan Silverman), a pizza-delivery man, who moved into the household.
The fifth season saw the passing of the chief (Dolph Sweet had died), and Jonathan became the head of the household. In order to keep the falling ratings from dropping, the producers of Gimme a Break! made several changes after the fifth year. Katie moved to San Francisco; Julie, Jonathan, and their baby, Nell, moved to San Josť; and Samantha attended college in New Jersey. Addy got a job in New York City, so Nell and Grandpa and Joey came to New York to join her. There, they discovered Joey's irresponsible father, Tim, who showed him his brother, Matthew (played by Matthew Lawrence, Joey's real-life brother), and left them with Nell and Grandpa. Marty (Paul Sand ) was their landlord who also owned a Mexican restaurant under the name "Esteban."
While the show was very successful, it relied heavily on a formula that wasn't deviated from very much throughout the series: there was always unintentional as well as intentional comedy stemming from Nell's success (and sometimes lack of success) with losing weight. To her credit, Carter did not suffer from typecasting as a result of the way her character was written in the series.
This series was the first major gig for Joey Lawrence, who would again have a notable television role on Blossom.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 11:22:40