22 December 2004 | raysond
The ABC After School Specials
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.