ABC Afterschool Specials (TV Series 1972–1997) Poster

(1972–1997)

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Part of the cultural fabric of America
cadfile5 February 2005
Sometimes a TV show passes into the cultural fabric of the country. The ABC Afterschool Special is one of those shows.

It aired for more than 20 years providing a monthly dose of drama to pre-teens and teens during the school year in the hours after school before dinner. The specials were TV movies that explored the angst and problems that real kids experienced. They were little morality plays that while not being preachy, showed that actions have consequences.

Some of the known young stars of the times appeared including some who are stars now. For many it was one of their first jobs in the industry and for others it was their way of contributing to the community.

Stars included Ben Affleck, Heather Langenkamp, Jane Kaczmarek, Brandon Cruz, Christopher Knight, Melissa Sue Anderson, Kristy McNichol, and Scott Baio, and my favorite Lance Kerwin.

My favorite was Lance Kerwin. He appeared in several of the specials including "Pssst! Hammerman's After You!" and "The Boy Who Drank Too Much" with Scott Baio. Those two shows are my favorite. Baio also was in several specials.

The series came to an end as Oprah Winfrey took over the time slot on many stations in the early 90's. A local station would keep more of the advertising money by airing syndicated programs like Winfrey's talk show, reruns of old TV shows, or the tabloid shows like Judge Judy. Just like the toy companies killed the Saturday morning cartoons, money became more important than the community. Whenever I get overcome with the dreck on between 4 and 6 PM I wax nostalgic for those specials.

The specials also added to our cultural lexicon. Whenever someone is getting overly dramatic or sentimental how often to hear a response like "This isn't an Afterschool Special." Some the specials have been collected on DVD but I would like to see the specials come back. The ABC Afterschool Special holds a special place in my heart along with Schoolhouse Rock and American Bandstand.
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8/10
The ABC After School Specials
raysond22 December 2004
It is very surprising that no one has not yet written a comment about this landmark period of the culture of kids who grew up watching these specials every weekday afternoons after school during the 1970's and into the 1990's. It is also surprising that more parents didn't object to the ABC After School Specials,but the After School specials certainly objective to them since the babyboomers who were tuned in to these classic special presentations when they were kids are now getting their kids to watch them,and those who had never seen them before,or if they know anything about them that became the ABC-staple for over 25 years producing 154 episodes. The series,which appeared on weekdays(which came on during Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons)which ran on the ABC-TV network on October 14,1972 to the final run of the series on July 1, 1997,was aimed at latchkey kids who had to fend for themselves after school. Rather than treat the captive demographics to escapist fantasies network executives and the head of children's entertainment over at ABC addressed the kids with some of the parables on social issues,teenage problems,parents getting a divorce,the dangers of drugs and alcohol,first love,and other things that would affect the social and climate areas of children,mostly dealt with kids who were in the middle (junior-high)and the high school level,since the majority of the ABC After School Specials audience were older kids,and kids that were in upper elementary who were tuning into the show. And since they weren't getting enough attention from their parents,which in tuned made them furious about this,since this was a show that gave kids the right to be heard,and in some of the episodes of this series,you'll see why this was grand entertainment from the kids as well as adults.

Let me focus my attention on the early specials that were produced by Martin Tahse from 1974-1977. These episodes were shot on location in a shadowy style,put together by a shuffling soundtrack free sequence,but in all this was the best of the specials that came out of that period. Though these early episodes lack the topical viewpoints that later on defined the series-teenage pregnancy,drunk driving,and the experimentation of drugs and drug substances and others were the hotbed of discussion here,and in some of the episodes brought more anxiety on behalf of the audience. The episodes,which are timeless classics like "The Emergency"(1974),where a young boy is bully in school by his peers and learns to not to fight back,but stands his ground in confronting the situation. The others dealt with absent or complete zombie father figures,along with distracted or compromised mothers,were basically everywhere in the After School Specials. Even the onslaught of stupidical and monstrously neglectful parents were the backbone of some of the specials that dealt with lesson of responsibility and so forth. An example of this is the episode intitled "Francesca,Baby"(1976),and another dealing with children in foster care was the subject of the 1977 episode intitled "The Pinballs" and so much more. After Tahse left the series in 1977,the episodes went deeper into their subject matter as the years and the next decade progressed. Subject ranging from child care,teenage mothers,and teenage crime,not to mention rape were kept a minimum,but were rarely discussed in some of the segments.

The ABC After School Specials brought a lot,and I do mean a lot of great talent to the series especially with some of the actors that were involved who at the time,made their mark on this show..from Jodie Foster to Scott Baio,Kristy McNichol,Carol Jones,Susan Lawrence, Larry B. Scott,Johnny Doran,Todd Bridges,and so forth. Plus,some of the After School Specials were either live-action or animated and were produced by different companies from Hanna-Barbera,DePatie-Freleng,and others. Now,the earlier episodes of this landmark classic ABC After School Specials are now being released on DVD for your entertainment. Great to watch with the kids who had never seen this before.
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10/10
Bring Back The After School Special
dwhilion27 February 2008
I am a woman that was born in 1965. The times were very different then. Since I have become an adult, I realize that back then, things weren't so bad. I think that every generation views their coming up as harder than the one before theirs. I am a writer. In each book that I write, I try and provide hope and encouragement to the reader. My work covers practical situations that people experience every day. My most recent work is about drug addiction. Whether the reader be an addict themselves or a loved one of someone addicted to drugs, I tried to provide love and support and suggestions that would help either. When I was about half way through this book, I mentioned to my husband, my memory of the ABC After School Special and how vital a program of that nature was at that time. I think that it's a travesty that a program of such high impact, could be replaced with the likes of Judge Judy. In 1975, when I was just ten years old, I watched these After School Specials, every day after school. I enjoyed them. Even though I didn't realize that over 30 years later I would recall not only watching them but all of these years later, FEEL the impact of these shows and appreciate their invaluable message. Our children need these types of programs. Television has become a poison for our young viewers, glorifying violence and sick behavior. They are being programmed to grow into warped adults. Bring back the After School Specials. Let's arm our children with lessons that will enhance their chances of becoming caring adults. In the meantime, I will continue to write material that hopefully can help achieve this to some small extent.
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10/10
What was the cats name?!
I love the after school specials, they are classically corny but I used to enjoy them, wish they would release a DVD, play them on T.V. even in the middle of the night. These after school specials are very nostalgic and full of 1970s and 1980s essence. It would also be interesting for them to re invigorate the series. It is very sad that the quality of programming has disappeared. I used to enjoy the old school PSA's that often accompanied these specials. I cant believe how many stars they had on these, and finally the reason i am here DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE CAT THAT WOULD INTRODUCE THESE? PLEASE RESPOND I believe he wore some type of hat and a scarf if I remember correctly.thanks take care. I wish I had the entire 1970s and 1980s television line up recorded for posterity. That may be an idea for a cable network, one that solely focuses on 1970s and 1980s programming of all kinds, or a channel that focuses on a different decade weekly or something. Im sure there is demand for this type of programming.. I hope thats ten lines...peace
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10/10
Really Wished That This Was Back!
ShelbyTMItchell1 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I really wished that this was back. As a kid growing up in the 1980s. And that it really shows great acting despite a limited budget. As the anthology show that featured young actors or actors that have gone onto bigger things.

With great writing and acting and plus showing a message week in and week out. Of issues like child abuse, bullying, and drinking among other things. With a message to tell.

Now that I have nephews and nieces of my own, seven of them. Wonder why they can't remake this show. As really remember the gumball machine in the intro. That is the trademark of these after school specials. As they appeared once a month if I can remember correctly.

Kids a days are more interested in video games and garbage. Back then, TV for young people was good. Brought back some great memories.
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