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Gimme a Break - Season One

71 customer reviews

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(Feb 14, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Nell Carter shines as Nellie Ruth "Nell" Harper, the role that twice earned her Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations, and helped redefine the meaning of "family." Available for the first time ever on DVD, Gimme a Break! is the funny, hip and sometimes poignant portrayal of the Kanisky family: widowed Police Chief Carl; his three daughters Katie, Julie and Samantha; and their unflappable housekeeper-turned-surrogate mother (Carter). This 3-disc set includes all 19 episodes from Season One, as well as a preview from Season Two, bonus episodes from the smash-hit sitcoms Kate & Allie and Charles in Charge, and a special featurette that takes a look back at other great TV shows of the eighties. Featuring renowned guest stars such as Danny Glover, Rue McClanahan and Helen Hunt, Gimme a Break! is the beloved sitcom that delivers both love and laughs.

Actress-singer Nell Carter provided the heart and soul for this much-loved NBC family series (1981-1987) about a black woman who cares for a white police chief's daughters after the death of their mother. Though some of the show's humor was derived from jibes about Ms. Carter's size and the clash of parenting styles between the no-nonsense Chief (stage veteran Dolph Sweet) and Carter's warm, sassy Nell Harper, Gimme a Break also addressed more serious and emotional subjects with surprising warmth and drama. The debut episode, "Katie the Crook" (which is featured on this three-disc set, along with the other 18 episodes from the 1981-82 season), does a fine job of touching on the tougher issues, as the Chief's three daughters (Kari Michaelson, Lauri Hendler, and Lara Jill Miller) each react to the mother's untimely passing in realistic manners. Other episodes in the first season offer a good blend of humor and pathos, including "Mom's Birthday" (in which Nell allows the family to celebrate their mother through home movies), "The Emergency" (a rare TV storyline about teen birth control), "Your Prisoner Is Dead" (the Chief is traumatized after killing a drugstore burglar, and considers retirement), and "Nell Goes Home" (Nell is rejected by her ailing father during a trip to Alabama). Much of the credit for the show should go to the cast, especially Ms. Carter and Sweet (both who have since passed away), though veteran character actor John Hoyt deserves mention as the family's grandfather; their enthusiasm for and skill behind the roles is undoubtedly a large reason why Gimme a Break still enjoys a following. The first-season set includes a preview of the show's second season (the episode "Nell Goes to Jail"), as well as episodes from Charles in Charge and Kate and Allie, two other popular family sitcoms from the '80s. A 30-minute featurette on '80s TV (the same one featured on the Charles in Charge first-season set) rounds out this fan-pleasing set. -- Paul Gaita

Special Features

Disc 3:
  • The Great 80's TV Flashback
  • Bonus Episode: Kate & Allie "Very Loud Family"
  • Bonus Episode: Charles in Charge "Extracurricular Activity"
  • Bonus Episode: Gimme a Break! "Nell Goes to Jail"

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Nell Carter, Dolph Sweet, Lauri Hendler, Telma Hopkins
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 3
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
    • Run Time: 468 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000CELOW2
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,534 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Gimme a Break - Season One" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By JGC on January 6, 2006
    Verified Purchase
    "Gimme A Break" revolves around Nell Harper (played by the late and very great Nell Carter, may she rest in peace) who moves in with Chief Charles Kanisky (played by the late Dolph Sweet) to help take care of his house and family after his wife passes away. Your entire family will enjoy this NBC sitcom because it is wholesome, realistic, entertaining, and very funny!

    The Season One DVD Set includes 19 episodes from the 1981 - 1982 season.

    Here's ALL the episodes that will be included with the Season One DVD Set (with the original air dates):

    Katie the Crook (10/29/1981)
    In the pilot, youngest daughter Sam comes home with a black eye, and Nell gives her a few lessons on how to fight. Julie and a friend are studying where babies come from, and as the Chief comes home, he walks into the kitchen to find the two kissing. Simpson arrives at the house with Katie, who was picked up for stealing, but was not arrested. Katie has been acting out since the death of her mom.

    A Good Man is Hard to Find (11/5/1981)
    Nell and Angie go to a bar to pick up men. However, Nell gets sad that she isn't sought after. She then goes home and the Chief decides to fix her up with one of his officers. What he doesn't know is that the officer is just doing the Chief a favor so he can get a better promotion. The Chief throws the man out and tells Nell what happened when she comes out all dolled up. Nell realizes he wasn't interested in her because she is overweight.

    The Second Time Around (11/12/1981)
    A woman hits the Chief's police car, because her contact lens came out . When she meets the Chief to tell him how sorry she was for smashing into his car, she realizes the two went to school together.
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    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Da Man on January 5, 2006
    it's been well over a decade since I have seen Gimme A Break, outside of a brief USA stint around ten years ago, the show has been all but vanished from reruns for far too long.

    As a child in the 1980's, many of my growing up years were spent watching Nell and the Kanisky family. She was a true diva in the sense, she was a funny actress, she could sing, she could act... I was very upset when Nell passed away nearly three years ago.

    While there is much sadness knowing that Nell, Dolph Sweet and Howard Morton are now no longer with us (Sweet passed away in between the fourth and fifth seasons), it is great to have this classic sitcom preserved to watch once more.

    Please buy this set on February 14th, the better it sells, the more likely we are at getting the rest of the seasons as well.
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    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tamra J. Gibson on December 24, 2005
    Verified Purchase
    I am absolutely thrilled to see this great 80's sitcom being released on dvd! Nell Carter was hilarious, as well as her supporting cast, which is quite rare these days. It's been so long since I've seen this show in syndication, I don't even remember alot of episodes in detail. However, I'm hoping the episode when Nell is reunited with her former girl group that dumped her(Special Guest Stars "The Pointer Sisters")is from the first season because it was truly funny!!!

    I just hope Universal does'nt take too long for future releases of this funny sitcom, because I know I'm going to watch season one pretty quickly, considering I have not seen this show since skip was a pup!!! Nell Carter I know you are keeping them laughing in heaven!!!
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    9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MobyDee on December 6, 2005
    I am so glad that Universal is finally releasing "Gimme a Break"! I don't understand y it says just "season one" instead of "Complete First Season" like "Charles is Charge" says,which is another Universal release?! Some extras announced for "GaB" are: Bonus episode of "GaB" from season 2, episode of "Charles in Charge", & an epiosode of "Kate & Allie". Also an 80's retrospective: "the great 80's TV Flashback". I would have preferred some bloopers or new interviews with the surviving cast members. But I will be so glad to get it on DVD since no channel is currently running this funny show!! 5 Stars for the show, 4 for the DVD set & it's bonus features!
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    5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Twiddles42 VINE VOICE on March 5, 2006
    I saw this and decided to give it a spin; I enjoyed it as a kid.

    But that was 1981, I was 9.

    It's now 2006.

    I've enjoyed infinitely more so as, as an adult, I can appreciate the more refined subtleties of adult living (money, relationships, human nature).

    What could have been a merely kitschy 80s sitcom is considerably elevated by Nell Carter's performance. She is a gem who packs a punch in her role as Nell, a maid to a police chief - played by Dolph Sweet. The Chief's wife, Margaret, had recently died and is raising 3 girls on his own and hires her to do the help.

    Back to hyping up the delightful Nell; her work on doing kid-friendly pratfall jokes (e.g. vacuuming the fish tank!) are still fresh and uproarious today, and her take on "politically incorrect" humor only sweetens the pot. This show is refreshingly funny without resorting to crudity that's the norm in today's television. She really makes this show more than the sum of its parts and will instantly grow on you; this show is a CLASSIC. And, the kid jokes still work well on adults.

    Even the product references of the time (Sanka brand coffee) are easily recognized and remembered, but then I'm something of a geek...

    The children are interesting, but the naughty ones (Katie, the 'wild child') is my favorite.

    DVD quality is pretty good and I'm an irrational stickler with this sort of thing. Video compression quality is more or less typical, but it looks good. The source material is fantastic and very well restored. And the audio is crisp and clean; excellently restored too.

    I highly recommend this set to anybody. It's a terrific family show. This set is worth EVERY penny and I hope the remainder of the series comes out soon!
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