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The TV show Gimme a Break was a comedy starring Nell Carter. She played the vivacious character Nell Harper. Nell had agreed to be the housekeeper for her friend's family after she became ill and passed away. The husband of her friend was Police Chief Carl Kanisky. He was raising 3 teenage daughters alone. Nell helped out with the girls by lending an ear and giving them a woman's perspective. Nell and the chief butted heads many times but at the end of the day, they were still family.

The oldest daughter was Katie Kanisky. She was the beautiful blonde but not the brightest Kanisky in the household. Often times, she wouldn't understand something so Nell or her middle sister would have to explain it to her. She eventually opened a boutique but it went out of business.

The middle child was Julie Kanisky. She was the typical brain and loved to show it. Katie was an easy target for Julie. She loved to show how smart she was and usually at Katie's expense.

The youngest of the girls was Samantha Kinisky. She liked to be called Sam. Sam was a tomboy through and through. Climbing trees and playing ball was all in a day's work for Sam. Once she hit her later teens, she then became somewhat boy crazy.

Later in the series, along came little Joey Donovan played by Joey Lawrence. He was an orphan/con-artist that won the hearts of Nell and the whole family. He moved in with them and they were his foster family.

Midway through the series the father dies. It's very tough on the whole family. Not long after that Katie moves away to San Francisco for a job. Julie gets married, has a baby, and her family moves to San Jose. Sam ends up moving to New Jersey to go to college. Nell moves to New York with Joey and her best friend Addy.

NBC
6 Seasons, 137 Episodes - Canceled
October 29, 1981
Drama
6.4/10
Gimme a Break!
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Gimme a Break! Full Episode Guide

  • Nell is forced to look at her mother in a whole new light when she finds out that she's dating again. As it turns out, the lucky man is a jazz musician her mother knew long before she decided to get married, and now they're rekindling their romance.

  • Nell is wooed by an African man who invented chocolate chip cookies in his African country. She is given a necklace by him, and is given a proposal to be his wife. She tells Addy that they should all move to Africa if she decides to accept his proosal, but in the end she declines it, when he tells her his mother wants him to marry a pure woman who hasnt had sex before. She is however, mad that she gave back the expensive necklace that she was given by him.

  • Nell tries to convice Samantha to stay in college, and in the end, is successful at doing so. She also is successful at helping a fellow studen of Sam's to both stand up to his father and get his book published.

  • Nell finds out that it is Parents Week at Littlefield College in New Jersy, and she is upset that Samantha didn't invite her to attend it. However, she decides to go anyways. When she arrives at the college, Samantha is stunned to see her, and she begins to barge in on student's lives. She sits in on an English class of Sam's, and Professor Dudley gets upset with her. Afterwards, she meets a boy who wants to switch his career from Teaching to Fashion design, but cant stand up to his father, who is actually Professor Dudley. In the end, Sam and Nell are about to go to bed as Sam tells her a secret she has been keeping from her. She is in love with a student named Eric, and she and he are going to drop out of College and get married and move to South Dakota, where the two will live on a farm, since he doesn't have enough money to stay in school. Nell drops to the floor when she hears this.

  • Nell's plan to keep her job by setting Joey up with her boss's daughter, Molly, backfires when Joey really likes the girl. Now, he'd much rather spend time with Molly than with anybody else in the family, including his own brother.

  • Joey insists that his teacher, Mr. Gronimeyer, doesn't like him, so Nell invites him over to the apartment to talk about Joey's behavior. But problems arise when Mr. Gronimeyer trips on Maggie's skateboard and threatens to sue the family for damages.

  • Joey begins to have a crush on Maggie, and at her husband's birthday party, Nell finds out that he wants to leave New York behind and move to Georgia.

  • Nell decides to quit her job so she could stay home with the boys. So Nell decides to get a new job instead. When she told Joey that, he was delighted. Then the phone rings and the company wants Nell to come to her interview. Nell tells Joey to watch Matthew, but he's still mad at him. So she calls Matthew and he comes with his guitar ready to go to a guitar lesson that Nell forgot. But Joey still won't take Matt to his guitar lesson. Nell's mom advises her to let the apron strings go, and to let Joey grow up. So while talking to Joey, she hears a puppy coming from Matthew's bedroom. They find the puppy outside the fire escape in a box, so she tries to get the puppy inside and her shoe's caught in the fire escape. Nell calls for Maggie to help. But she's scared of heights. Then a fireman comes and with a crowbar, gets her boot out of the fire escape. The fireman says that Joey's the hero who came to him asking him to bring his crowbar. Nell then tells Joey he can participate in

  • Nell has a better job in her company as a book editor. However, that tears her away from staying with the boys. When Joey tells Nell that he's doing a Walk-A-Thon fund raiser for his school & wants to sign up sponsors. But Nell doesn't want Joey to go alone with Matthew wandering the streets of New York. But Grandpa disagrees. Joey also has to take Matthew to his guitar lesson as well. After school, Joey decides to go get sponsors, and takes Matt with him. When Joey goes to a doctor's office, he tells Matt to wait for him. Then Matt hears music coming from next door & sees a band rehearsing. Then the band lets Matt jam with them. Joey finds that Matt's missing and he searches all over for him. When he arrives home, he asks Marty for his help and Marty called the police. Nell enters & Marty tells her Matt's missing. Nell takes the receiver while Marty looks @ his restaurant. Nell is mad at Joey for losing his brother. Then Marty finds Matt & took him home. Joey's mad at Matt

  • Nell decides to buy a Christmas tree, as does Addy, who both know that it costs too much for one in New York. As the gang begins to celebrate Christmas New York style, Joey tells Matthew that there is no such thing as Santra Claus, and Nell blames Marty for the whole thing. In the end, Nell realizes that Marty always didn't believe in Santa Claus because he never got the toy train he saw in a store window when he was a child. In the end, Nell invites him to Christmas dinner, and on Christmas morning, he is surprised to see the toy train he has always wanted, which both Addy and Nell say they didn't get for him. Thus, proving to both Joey and Matthew that there is a Santa Claus afterall.

  • As Nell and her mother are at the bank, a con man shows up, tries to attempt to fool Nell to take her mother's life savings, and is successful in doing so, as Nell falls for his trap.

  • Joey begins to run ilegal gambling tickets from the staff at El Gatspacio, and Nell is horrified when she finds out he was picked up for running them.After Nell brings Joey home, she tries to teach him that gambling is wrong. When her lecture doesn't work, she finally confides in Marty, who uses the game "Candyland", as an example that it is wrong for Joey to gamble, bets Joey all their money, and in the end wins, teaching Joey a lesson that it is very wrong for people to gamble their money that they worked so hard to get in the first place.

  • After Addy is laid off at the University for going on strike, Nell hires her as an assistant at Mcdillon and Loud's publishing company where she works. When Nell thinks Addy is too slow at reading manuscripts, she fires her, and Addy, upset at Nell's attitude towards her, refuses to ever speak to her again.

  • Nell is fed up with the new apartment in New York, and tells Addy she wants to go back to Glenlawn to get some of that good California air inside of her again. When Gradpa calls, he tells her that he sold the house to leave Glenlawn behind and move to New York with her. She then meets her upstairs tennant Mrs. Tercobi, who bakes her a cake. In the end, Nell knows that if she can make it there, she can make it anywhere, after being inspired by Frank Senatra's "New York, New York".

  • Nell tries to get a job at a famous New York publishing company. She then decides to rent an apartment in Greenwich Village where she, Addy, Joey and Matthew move into.

  • Sensing that Joey isn't really happy living with his father, Nell flies back to New York and hatches a plan to get him back. But Joey and Matthew's father has his own thoughts about what's best for the boys.

  • Nell continues to talk Samantha out of moving to Sanfransisco with Katie. She then realizes that Samantha is still 17, and she has legal control over her still. Addy finally calls Nell and tells her that Samantha did get the scholarship, and that it was a computer error. An excited Samantha, decides that she is going to college afterall. Nell finally sees Julie and Jonathan to the front door as they say their goodbyes. Nell knows that the girls are all grown up now, and that she has the house to herself.

  • As she is at a Greek restaraunt with her freinds, Nell's purse is stolen, which upsets everyone. However, the two Grek waiters have their own plan of getting the purse back for her.

  • When Nell's grandmother passes away and leaves her a nice amount of money, she decides to split it with the family, and decides to let them spend it on something that is fun since it was found. Nell goes to the bank and finds out that her check has bounded, and needs the money back, but in the end, everyone had bought her something with the money that they had given her, since she is always giving them things and money everytime they need it.

  • When Katie announces she's going to close down her store in the wake of a bad break-up, Nell is convinced that she's suicidal. But after enlisting Addy's help to stage a rescue mission, Nell learns the truth about Katie's future plans.

  • When Officer Simpson leaves his cousins adopted children with Nell to babysit for her, her date who is at the house at the time lets Nell see who he really is, when he shows her his feelings that he has for kids, none whatsoever.

  • When Nell's sister, Loretta, decides to leave her husband, she comes to Glenlawn to stay with her family. But amid cries from Mama that she's a home wrecker, Nell isn't sure what type of advice to offer. Lynne Thigpen guest stars.

  • Convinced that she missed out on a receptionist's job because she's black, Nell urges Addy to apply for the same position to see if she gets turned down, too. But the ladies' claims that the hiring manager is a racist aren't exactly accurate.

  • Shocked to discover that Grandpa is dating Sally Parsons -- a woman who's the same age as she is -- Nell enlists the help of Officer Simpson, who used to date Sally himself and is now understandably jealous.

  • Joey's curiosity gets the best of him when he finds the Chief's old gun and accidentally shoots Nell in the foot. Joey tries his best to avoid the subject altogether. But a sudden noise reminds him of just how scared he actually was.

  • Nell decides to quit college and pursue a real singing career. She becomes the manager for an ex-con who wrote a song in jail and decides to put it to music. When Nell and the ex-con go to Skipper Dwane's for amature night to perform the song, Gary Collins is there, and Nell asks him if he liked the song. Gary says he hated it when the ex-con sang it, but when Nell signs it, he insists that he put Nell on his hour magazine show. When Nell goes backstage to tell the ex-con how he did, she freaks when he has a string of floss out and thinks he is going to kill her. She tells him that she thinks he is going to kill him because Gary hated his song.

  • Nell and the gang decorate the Christmas tree as Joey pretends that he is sick, but wants to help out as well. During the Christmas gathering, the family recalls events from the past. In the end, Joey tells Nell that he was only pretending to be sick because he didn't have enough money to buy her a Christmas present, but she tells him it doesn't matter.

  • When she gets wind that Addy is selling her car, Nell thinks she's the first in line to buy it. But Angie's sister has already beaten her to it, which means that Nell will have to convince her that it's a bad idea.

  • Nell finds out that Addy is engaged to be married to her dentist, who has been previously married before, and has several children from each marriage. When Nell decides to accept Addy's engagement as a sign of happiness for her, she helps her select her wedding ring. However, when they begin to quarrel again over the engagement, they both go into seperate elevators, and they break down. Nell gets on her phone and Addy gets on hers and they talk to each other about past times in Alabama to get them throguh this horrific moment. When Nel tells Addy she should call her fiance, his new girlfriend answers, and Addy decides to shut him out of her life forever. Finally, the fire department arrives and gets them to safety.

  • Sam is taking the role of a big sister to a girl named Pam, a kid from a single-parent home. When Pam arrives at the house, Sam has other ideas of her own, when the new neighbor Chip shows up and asks her to light his pilot light on the stove. Nell is then stuck taking care of Pam, and she is a nuissance to her. Nell then finds out from Sam that Pam's mother left her father for a computer repair man, and Nell finds a way to make Pam like her in the end.

  • Nell's mother, Maybelle Harper, comes to Glenlawn to break the news that she's having eye surgery and might never be able to see again. But there's a bright side: Her potential loss of vision has her looking forward to hearing Nell sing again.

  • With Jonathan away in Mexico working on an archaeological dig, Julie decides to enlist in the Navy. But nobody's more surprised than Julie when she fails her physical examination and discovers she'll be stationed shore-side for at least nine months.

  • While continuing to perform on Tony's ship, Nell discovers that he has fallen in love all over again with a woman that Joey befriends on the ship.

  • Nell decides to take her ex-husband's offer up on performing on his ship. While she is on the ship,she finds out that Tony has left his second wife, who is many years younger than Nell.

  • In the wake of the Chief's death, Nell is so saddled with grief that she can't tolerate the mere mention of his name. But it's the last straw when Joey insists on playing in the Chief's old room with a toy train the Chief had given him.

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