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Gimme A Break! - The Complete Second Season


TITLE: GIMME A BREAK! - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (CANADIAN RELEASE)


Info:

DVD Release Date: January 16, 2007 (VEI)
Color/1982-83
MSRP: $34.95 CDN
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx. 9.5 Hours
Audio: English
Subtitles: No Subtitles; Unknown if it has Closed Captioning
Special Features: Bonus Episodes - Gimme A Break! - Season Three - "Joey (Part 1)"; Kate & Allie - Season Three - "The Reunion"


Introduction:

Gimme A Break, I sure deserve it. It's time I made it to the top. Earning herself Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for her portrayal of Nellie Ruth "Nell" Harper, Nell Carter brings this 1980s TV show to life. Gimme A Break! focuses on the spirited, but by no means typical, Kanisky family consisting of a widowed Police Chief father, his three daughters, ranging from grade-schooler to troublesome teen, and their vivacious housekeeper Nell. With her strong opinions and humorous maternal instincts, Nell's role extended far beyond that of a normal housekeeper, giving the sitcom its punchy premise. This 3-disc set of Gimme A Break!'s sophomore season contains all 22 episodes, a preview episode from the series' third season that introduces to us a pint-sized Joey Lawrence, as well as a bonus episode from the forthcoming Third Season DVD release of another feel good sitcom from the 80's - Kate & Allie.

Featuring guest appearances in its Second Season by Hollywood Legend Don Rickles, musical act The Pointer Sisters, Michael Dudikoff (Cobra, the American Ninja films), Harrison Page (ER, Sledge Hammer!, Ally McBeal, JAG), Marcia Wallace (Match Game, The Bob Newhart Show, The Simpsons), Gimme A Break! is the dearly loved comedy that is chock-full of both wisecracks as well as tear-jerks.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The second season of Gimme A Break premiered on NBC on October 2, 1982. From October-December 1982, it aired on Saturday nights at 9:00-9:30PM. It was moved to Thursday nights at 9:00-9:30PM from January-August 1983. Nell Carter received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for this season. Joining the cast in season 2 as recurring characters were John Hoyt as Grandpa Stanley Kanisky, Jane Dulo as Grandma Mildred Kanisky as Jane Dulo and Pete Schrum as Uncle Ed Kanisky. While John Hoyt would remain with the show for seasons 3-6, Jane Dulo and Pete Schrum weren't seen beyond this season. Grandma Kanisky had passed away after season 2, and Grandpa moves into the Kanisky household in season 3.

Memorable episodes included "Nell Goes to Jail," in which Nell takes on the telephone company. Sam won't admit an imaginary friend isn't real in "Sam's Imaginary Friend." Havoc results when Grandpa comes for a visit in "Grandpa's Visit." Julie and Katie clash over a football player in "Katie Steals Julie's Jock." Sam is terrified when the chief is injured in "Sam Faces Death". The chief is angry to learn one of the girls smokes in "Julie Smokes." The girls' aunt challenges the chief for custody in "The Custody Suit." Nell recounts the formation of the Doo-Wop Girls (with the Pointer Sisters) in "The Return of the Doo-Wop Girls."

There were many notable guest stars this season. Arlene Golonka played Maxine in "Brother Ed and the Hooker" and "Eddie Gets Married." Marianne Muellerleile was Betty, Lewis Arquette was Kramer, Dennis Burkley was Dr. George Avery and George Memmoli played Phil in "Porko's." Frank Bonner guest starred as Officer Baxter and Eugene Roche was Officer Jerry in "The Chief's Gay Evening." Harrison Page played the recurring role of Hamilton Storm in "Sam Faces Death" and "The Centerfold: Parts 1 and 2." Alvernette Jimenez played the recurring role of Nell's friend, Angie, in "Nell Goes Door to Door." Alice Ghostley appeared as Mrs. Falkenberg in "Love Thy Neighbor." William Schilling played the Officer/Policeman in "The Centerfold: Parts 1 and 2." Donnelly Rhodes guest starred as the Mayor in "The Centerfold: Part 2." Alan Oppenheimer appeared as Mr. Daniels in "The Custody Suit." Anita, June and Ruth Pointer (The Pointer Sisters) appear as the Doo-Wop Girls in "The Return of the Doo-Wop Girls." Miriam Flynn played Mrs. Brandt, Robert Costanzo was Mr. Brandt and Marcia Wallace was the secretary in "Glenlawn Street Blues." Don Rickles played Max in the spin-off attempt (to be called "Max" or "The Don Rickles Show"), "Nell and the Kid." Michael Dudikoff appeared as Greg Hartman in "Nell Gets Sick."


Packaging:

This 3-disc set contains all 22 episodes fromt he second season (1982-1983). The colorful packaging for this Canadian release is similar to the Season 1 set by VEI. It comes in a thin outer cardboard box with three slim cases. The cover art features a color cast photo of Lara Jill Miller, Kari Michaelson, Laura Hendler, Nell Carter and Dolph Sweet. There is a gold background and the Gimme A Break! logo is in a red circle in the upper left corner. There are five circular photos of the cast members in various tints in the upper right corner. On the back of the box, there is a synopsis of the set, the starring and production credits and a listing of the bonus episodes. There are 5 circular photos from the episodes near the top of the box and 5 more (including guest stars like Harrison Page, Marcia Wallace, Michael Dudukoff, The Pointer Sisters and Don Rickles) on the bottom. Once again, Nell Carter is featured on the spine of the box. The DVD specs are listed on the bottom of the box. The three slim cases that slide out from the right of the outer box are black once again, unlike the first Universal set which had clear plastic slim cases. The slim cases feature the same photo as the cover art. There are 5 different photos on each case that correspond to the episodes on that particular disc. Episode titles and original airdates are listed on the back of the slim cases. They added the original airdates for this release but neglected to include the episode summaries like season 1. Maybe for season 3 they can include the summaries, original airdates and major guest stars. There is just black space inside the cases. This space could have been used for some additional photos, trivia or quotes from the series. The discs use the same photo as the cover art (they sure got a lot of mileage out of that single photo). There are 3 additional small photos and the show title font on each disc. Disc 1 is purple and holds episodes 1-8, Disc 2 is yellow and has episodes 9-16 and Disc 3 is red/orange and contains episodes 17-22 and the bonus episodes.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are rather plain looking, but they get the job done and are easy to navigate. They lack the theme music of Universal's Season 1 set. A less cropped version of the cast photo that is used throughout the set is used on the main menus. There are 5 more circular, tinted photos in the top right of the screen and the Gimme A Break logo in a red circle on the left. There are options for "Play All" and "Episodes" in a bar near the bottom of the screen which also mentions VEI's website - www.visualentertainment.tv . Bonus episodes are found on the third disc. When you select Episodes, it takes you to a sub-menu. There are 4 episodes on each screen. A still image from the episode is shown in a picture frame. The episode titles are super-imposed on the stills in yellow text. When you highlight the episode, the text turns to light blue and finally to green upon your selection. The episodes menu lack the original airdates and episode summaries that Universal set used on their Season 1 set. The bonus episodes menu is set up the same way, with photos in picture frames. An added feature for this release is chapter stops. There are no scene selection menus. A thing that I would like to see them change for the next release: after you finish an episode, the next one automatically starts instead of going back to the main menu.


Video and Audio Quality:

Comparing this release with season 1, the video quality doesn't appear to be quite as good and the audio quality is about the same. Overall, the episodes are all very watchable and look better than what I remember watching on the USA Network. Some look a bit grainy, despite the fact the show was shot on tape. There doesn't appear to be any major tape glitches in them. There are no more than 8 episodes per disc, so there are no compression issues. All episodes appear to be unedited and in their original broadcast order, running over 24 minutes in length. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the music had to be changed. For the closing logo enthusiasts, these episodes have the Alan Landsburg Productions logo super-imposed at the end of them. A Universal/MCA logo even managed to sneak its way onto the end of one of the episodes on the third disc.

The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. A couple of the episodes have noticeably lower volume than the others, but you can easily adjust that on your remote. There doesn't appear to be any subtitles on this set like the Season 1 set by VEI. There is no mention of closed captioning on the packaging either.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc and the running times:

Disc 1
---------
1 - 20. Nell Goes to Jail (10/02/82) (24:46)
2 - 21. Brother Ed and the Hooker (10/09/82) (24:54)
3 - 22. Sam's Imaginary Friend (10/16/82) (24:50)
4 - 23. Grandpa's Visit (10/23/82) (24:53)
5 - 24. Take My Baby, Please (10/30/82) (24:56)
6 - 25. Porko's (11/06/82) (24:46)
7 - 26. The Chief's Gay Wedding (11/13/82) (24:55)
8 - 27. Katie Steals Julie's Jock (11/27/82) (24:45)

Disc 2
---------
9 - 28. Sam Faces Death (12/04/82) (24:55)
10 - 29. Nell Goes Door to Door (12/11/82) (24:57)
11 - 30. Love Thy Neighbor (12/18/82) (24:56)
12 - 31. Love, Kidney (01/06/83) (24:34)
13 - 32. Julie Smokes (01/13/83) (24:56)
14 - 33. The Centerfold: Part 1 (01/20/83) (24:45)
15 - 34. The Centerfold: Part 2 (01/27/83) (24:57)
16 - 35. The Custody Suit (02/10/83) (24:47)

Disc 3
---------
17 - 36. The Return of the Doo-Wop Girls (02/17/83) (24:57)
18 - 37. Eddie Gets Married (02/24/83) (24:56)
19 - 38. Grandpa Robs a Bank (03/03/83) (24:49)
20 - 39. Glenlawn Street Blues (03/10/83) (24:56)
21 - 40. Nell and the Kid (04/28/83) (24:57)
22 - 41. Nell Gets Sick (05/05/83) (24:56)

Bonus Episodes
----------------------
Gimme A Break! Season Three - "Joey (Part 1)" (10/27/83) (24:57)
Kate & Allie Season Three - "The Reunion)" (09/30/85) (24:28)


Special Features:

Two bonus/preview episodes are found on the third disc.

Gimme A Break! Season Three - "Joey (Part 1)" (10/27/83) (24:57) - This is the episode which introduces us to Joey Lawrence as six-year-old orphan Joey Donovan. There were probably better episodes that they could have included, but perhaps giving you a taste of part 1 of a 2 parter will make you want to purchase Season 3 when they release it.

Kate & Allie Season Three - "The Reunion" (09/30/85) (24:28) - The premiere episode from Kate & Allie's third season. This episode features a guest apparance by Patricia Richardson. VEI is releasing Kate & Allie - The Complete Third Season on February 6th.

It would be nice to hear some audio commentaries and see some bloopers or other promotional material on the future releases, but most fans will probably just be satisfied with the unedited episodes.


Final Comments:

It has been a very long road to DVD for the second season of Gimme A Break. This set was originally scheduled to be released on October 3, 2006. We heard just 4 days before that date that this set was being delayed until early 2007. Some people who had pre-ordered it from amazon.ca were fortunate enough to receive their copies before the date was changed in Amazon's system. We've never heard the reason for the delay. I had speculated that the date had been pushed back, because I thought Universal was getting ready to release the second season. That still hasn't happened. It is strange that people in the U.S. got the first season several months before it was released in Canada. It is the other way around this time. We still have no idea if/when Universal will release the second season in the U.S., but it is certainly nice to have VEI as fallback if Universal were to abandon the series. I know some people may be hesitant to order it online from amazon.ca , but I have ordered from them in the past and the delivery was very fast and hassle-free. These are Region 1 (North America) DVDs, so they will play fine in your DVD player. This set is priced affordably at around $24 CDN/$21 US. While I don't think Season 2 was quite as strongfrom start to finish as Season 1, there were still many hilarious moments this season and you'll want to continue building your collection.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 01/14/07

To purchase the DVD if you live in US, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000I2KQOU/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

To purchase the DVD if you live in Canada, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000I2KQOU/ref=nosim/sitcomsonline-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=191908

For much more information on the show, visit our extensive fan site: Gimme A Break Online


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