ABC Afterschool Special

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This article is about the ABC television series. For other uses, see After School Special (disambiguation).
ABC Afterschool Special
ABC Aferschool Special Title Screen.jpg
Original title card
Genre Anthology
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 25
No. of episodes 154
Production
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Color
Original run 1972 (1972) – 1997 (1997)

The ABC Afterschool Special is an American television anthology series that aired on ABC from 1972 to 1997, usually in the late afternoon on week days. Most episodes were dramatically presented situations, often controversial, of interest to children and teenagers.[1] Several episodes were either in animated form or presented as documentaries. Topics included illiteracy, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. The series won 51 Daytime Emmy Awards during its 25-year run.[2]

In 2004 and 2005, BCI Eclipse and Sunset Home Visual Entertainment issued six DVD collections of episodes from the series that had been produced by Martin Tahse, each collection containing four episodes. A boxed set, in the shape of a school bus, was also released containing all of the DVD releases, with a detailed information booklet of all the specials on the set and including an extra DVD of two specials that had previously not been released on DVD. The DVDs are currently out of print.

List of specials[edit]

Season One (1972-1973)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Last of the Curlews Animated special about a father and son who go hunting, and debate whether or not to kill an Eskimo curlew, which may become [and may now be] extinct.
Follow the Northern Star A young boy helps his friend escape slavery through the Underground Railroad.
Santiago's Ark An imaginative, determined 14-year-old Puerto Rican boy builds a boat in which to sail around Central Park. Co-starring Bill Duke (Commando, Predator, Action Jackson) and a pre-Hill Street Blues René Enríquez. Followed in 1975 by the sequel Santiago's America.
William: The Life, Works, and Times of William Shakespeare Special introducing William Shakespeare to young people through sketches, readings and music.
The Incredible, Indelible, Magical Physical, Mystery Trip Animated special about two youngsters who are miniaturized and travel through their uncle's body to understand more about his health. Features the first appearance of Timer, a character later featured in ABC's Time for Timer shorts.
Alexander The story of a retired clown and his undying love for children. Starring Red Buttons, Robbie Rist (Kidd Video, The Brady Bunch) and Jodie Foster.

Season Two (1973-1974)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Rookie of the Year 11-year-old Sharon Lee (Jodie Foster) encounters opposition when she joins her brother's Little League baseball team, which happens to be all male. (1972 was when girls were first allowed on Little League teams.) Co-starring Steve Gustafson (Short Circus member "Buddy" from The Electric Company); based on Isabella Taves's book Not Bad For a Girl.
My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel Joseph Grant, Jr. (Ike Eisenmann from the Witch Mountain movies) is shocked when his parents announce their decision to separate. Beau Bridges portrays Joe, Sr.
Psst! Hammerman's After You! A sixth-grader has a run-in with the class bully, who then wants to meet with him after school. Starring Lance Kerwin (James at 15, Enemy Mine) and Willie Aames (Eight Is Enough, Charles in Charge, Bibleman); based on Betsy Byars's novel.
Cyrano Long-nosed Cyrano de Bergerac (voice of José Ferrer, Dune) helps an army officer woo Roxanne (voice of Joan Van Ark), the woman Cyrano himself loves, in this animated version of Edmond Rostand's play.
Runaways A small-town teenage girl teams up with a younger but wiser boy for survival. Co-starring Moosie Drier; written by Clyde Ware (Coward of the County).
The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head Timer shrinks down two youngsters and shows them around their teenage sister's head, to discover how the mind works.
The Crazy Comedy Concert Live action/animation special geared to educate young people about classical music. Starring Tim Conway and Ruth Buzzi.

Season Three (1974-1975)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Sara's Summer of the Swans Teenage Sara (Heather Totten) must confront the problems regarding her handicapped brother. Co-starring Brady Bunch alums Chris Knight and Eve Plumb; based on Betsy Byars's novel.
The Bridge of Adam Rush 12-year-old Adam (Lance Kerwin) adjusts to a new way of life when his mother remarries and moves their whole family to the country.
Winning and Losing: Diary of a Campaign The 1974 Senate race is seen through the eyes of two teen-aged girls, each a campaign volunteer for George McGovern (Democrat) and Leo K. Thorsness (Republican).
The Toothpaste Millionaire Aspiring 12-year-old entrepreneur Rufus (Tierre Turner, Devil Times Five) decides to create and sell his own brand of toothpaste. Co-starring Wright King (Planet of the Apes).
The Skating Rink A teenager with a stuttering problem overcomes his shyness to become a championship figure skater. Based on Mildred Lee's novel; co-starring Cindy Eilbacher (of My Mother the Car infamy) and Rance Howard.
Santiago's America A Puerto Rican boy is invited to a prestigious conference in Los Angeles. With no money, he re-builds a broken taxi to get there. Bill Duke and René Enríquez reprise their roles.
The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing 12-year-old T.K. (Jodie Foster) invites her grandfather to join a "secret" club. Co-starring Tierre Turner; based on Jean Robinson's book.

Season Four (1975-1976)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
It Must Be Love ('Cause I Feel So Dumb!) A 13-year-old boy has a crush on a cheerleader at his school and dreams up creative ways to try to impress her.
Fawn Story The McPhail siblings - Jenna, Toby and Louisa (Kristy McNichol, Poindexter Yothers and Karen Obediear) - discover a wounded deer, which they nurse back to health. Co-starring Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati). Poindexter is the brother of Corey and Tina Yothers.
The Shaman's Last Raid Despite his failing health, a Native American medicine man is determined to teach his great-grandchildren the traditions of the Apache nation. Based on Betty Baker's novel; starring Dehl Berti (Wolfen, Invasion U.S.A., Bullies).
The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon Tired of ridicule for being short, sixth-grader Duffy (Ike Eisenmann) buys a mysterious book which enables him to "Think Big" - quite literally. Based on Jean Robinson's book. Co-starring Lance Kerwin, Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan's Island) and Jerry Van Dyke (Coach, My Mother the Car).
Me and Dad's New Wife 12-year-old Nina Beckwith (Kristy McNichol) does not know how to react to her new stepmother. Co-starring Lance Kerwin, Melendy Britt (voice of the title character on She-Ra: Princess of Power), Leif Garrett and Jimmy McNichol (Kristy's real-life brother). Based on Stella Pevsner's novel, "A Smart Kid Like You".
Blind Sunday In order to better understand his blind girlfriend, teenage Jeff (Leigh McCloskey) spends an entire day blindfolded. Co-starring Robert Ridgely (as Jeff's dad), Cindy Eilbacher (sister of Lisa), and a pre-L.A. Law Corbin Bernsen.
Dear Lovey Hart: I Am Desperate Teenage Carrie Wasserman (Susan Lawrence) takes up writing an advice column for her school newspaper. Based on Ellen Conford's novel. Co-starring Al Eisenmann (brother of Ike) as Carrie's brother Jeff.

Season Five (1976-1977)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Francesca, Baby In this adaptation of Joan Oppenheimer's novel, teenager Francesca James (Carol Jones) deals with her alcoholic mother Lillian (Melendy Britt) by joining the support group Alateen. Co-starring Jody Britt (Melendy's real-life daughter).
P.J. and the President's Son Update of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. A delivery boy and the President's son (Lance Kerwin in a dual role) meet and hit it off. It does not hurt that each is an exact double of the other; for mutual amusement, they decide to swap identities. Co-starring Harry Kerwin (Lance's real-life father) and a pre-Star Trek Rosalind Chao.
Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid A football coach (Dave Madden) tries to mediate a conflict between his star quarterback (Brandon Cruz) and the boy's father (a pre-Days of our Lives Joseph Mascolo). Co-starring real-life football great Alex Karras (Blazing Saddles, Webster).
My Mom's Having a Baby Curious about his mom's pregnancy, a ten-year-old seeks answers to where babies come from.
The Horrible Honchos The neighborhood youth gang makes a pact to bully and torment the new kid on their 17th Street turf. Based on Emily Cheney Neville's novel The 17th Street Gang. Starring Kim Richards (Assault on Precinct 13, Tuff Turf).
Very Good Friends Sensitive Kate (Melissa Sue Anderson) gradually comes to terms with the accidental death of her younger sister, in this adaptation of the award-winning novel by Constance Greene.

Season Six (1977-1978)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Hewitt's Just Different A mentally challenged 16-year-old attempts to make friends with his neighborhood peers. Starring Moosie Drier, Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island) and Tom Gulager (son of Clu Gulager).
The Pinballs In this adaptation of Betsy Byars's novel, three orphans (one portrayed by Kristy McNichol) from very different backgrounds find themselves living with the same foster couple, while all three wait to be adopted.
Michel's Mixed-Up Musical Bird Live-Action/animation special featuring Michel Legrand in a true story about the bird that inspired him while studying at the Paris Conservatory of Music.
It Isn't Easy Being a Teenage Millionaire When 14-year-old Melissa Harrington (Victoria Paige Meyerink) wins the lottery, she thinks she will never have to worry about money - or anything else - again. Unfortunately for her, fate has other plans in store...
The Rag Tag Champs A 14-year-old baseball player and his manager-uncle find themselves at odds over their different interpretations of the philosophy "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". Starring Larry B. Scott (The Karate Kid, Revenge of the Nerds, Super Force).
Mom and Dad Can't Hear Me Teenage Charlie Meredith (Rosanna Arquette, Desperately Seeking Susan) is used to acting as the ears of her deaf parents, but she's ashamed when she introduces her peers to them; because of their reactions, the elder Merediths come off as being out-of-touch.
It's a Mile From Here To Glory

After a high school track star is crippled by a near-fatal accident, he must learn to depend on others for day-to-day living. Based on Robert C. Lee's novel.

Season Seven (1978-1979)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
One Of a Kind A free-spirited woman realizes her daughter is no longer a child, and experiments with giving her more independence. However, the girl is puzzled by this sudden lack of attention; it seems like her mom is pushing her away.
A Home Run For Love In 1947, a young white boy and an elderly black man enjoy a warm and wonderful friendship, based on their mutual love of the Brooklyn Dodgers...and of Jackie Robinson in particular. Co-starring Anne Ramsey (The Goonies, Throw Momma from the Train, Deadly Friend, Scrooged) and Edie McClurg; based on Barbara Cohen's novel.
Gaucho A young Puerto Rican New York boy knows his mother misses her homeland. Accordingly, he becomes an errand boy for a small-time hood, in order to earn enough money that she can move back to the Caribbean. Based on Gloria Gonzalez's novel; co-starring Danny De La Paz (3:15, City Limits, Miracle Mile).
Dinky Hocker Overweight teenager Susan "Dinky" Hocker (Wendie Jo Sperber) is obsessed with food and cannot stop eating. Finally she turns to a friend, who helps make changes in her eating habits. Co-starring June Lockhart and Alan Oppenheimer as Dinky's parents; based on the novel by M. E. Kerr.
Make Believe Marriage High school students take a marriage course, where they are coupled up and must complete assorted everyday tasks that go with married life. Co-starring Janina Mathews (a "Short Circus" alum, reprising her role - sort of - as "Gail" from The Electric Company).
The Terrible Secret After teenage Bobbie Marston experiences a hit and run, guilt takes its toll on her everyday life. Co-starring a pre-Terminator Michael Biehn.
Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid Wealthy-but-lonely Calvin Brundage (Robbie Rist) is granted seven wishes by a genie. Calvin uses them in an effort to impress Melanie Gamble (Cynthia Nixon - The Manhattan Project), the most popular girl in his school. But things do not work out the way he anticipated. Co-starring Christopher Hewett (The Producers, Mr. Belvedere) and Butterfly McQueen.

Season Eight (1979-1980)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Which Mother Is Mine? Arthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Joan Oppenheimer's novel My Other Mother. 16-year-old Alexandria (Melissa Sue Anderson, Happy Birthday to Me) is stunned when her biological mother arrives to take Alex away from her adoptive parents. Co-starring Marion Ross and Woody Eney (who played Bill, the serial rapist of whom Arnold Jackson and Kimberly Drummond [Gary Coleman and Dana Plato] ran afoul in the Diff'rent Strokes episode "The Hitchhikers").
A Movie Star's Daughter Shy teenager Dena (Trini Alvarado) enrolls in a new school and does not make friends easily...until it is discovered that her father is famous actor Hal McKain (Frank Converse - Solarbabies, Dolphin Cove). Overnight, she becomes the most popular student in school - but this brings its own problems.
A Special Gift Arthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Marcia L. Simon's novel. A 14-year-old basketball star, deciding he needs a new challenge, takes up ballet. Then he worries about what friends and family will think of his decision. Co-starring real-life brothers Al and Ike Eisenmann.
The Late Great Me! Story of a Teenage Alcoholic A 15-year-old girl takes up drinking to impress a boy; instead, she soon develops a serious problem.
The Heartbreak Winner: One Girl's Struggle For Olympic Gold Bruce Malmuth directed this adaptation of Michael Bonadies's novel The Gold Test. Ambitious teenage figure skater Maggie MacDonald (Melissa Sherman) learns what champions are truly made of when she meets a paraplegic youngster.
Where Do Teenagers Come From? 12-year-old girl wonders about all of the changes that's happening to her body. Sequel to My Mom's Having a Baby.
What Are Friends For? Two inseparable 12-year-old girls (Melora Hardin, Dana Hill), each one the daughter of a separate divorcing couple, are determined to keep their friendship alive despite the odds. Stephen Gyllenhaal directed this adaptation of Mildred Ames's novel.

Season Nine (1980-1981)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
A Family of Strangers A widower with two daughters (Danny Aiello) marries a widow with one daughter, creating a blended family.
Schoolboy Father When high school senior Charles Elderberry (Rob Lowe) discovers that his summer girlfriend has given birth to his child, he decides to fight for custody. Co-starring Dana Plato (Diff'rent Strokes), Sharon Spelman (The Blob, Angie) and Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life).
The Gymnast A pre-Baywatch Holly Gagnier stars as 16-year-old Ginny Coker, who's determined to become a world-class athlete.
Stoned Jack (Scott Baio) is a motivated high schooler, until he experiments with marijuana and falls in with a fast crowd; soon he's dabbling in harder drugs, such as LSD and cocaine. Will he wise up before it's too late? Co-starring Largo Woodruff (The Funhouse, Coward of the County).
A Matter of Time Teenager Lisl Gilbert (Karlene Crockett) must find the inner strength to deal with her mother Jean's (Rosemary Forsyth) impending death from cancer. Co-starring Rob Lowe.
Run, Don't Walk A teenage girl does not know how to deal with being in a wheelchair, after an accident leaves her paralyzed. Then she befriends a boy in the same situation, and the future suddenly looks brighter for both of them. Starring Toni Kalem, Scott Baio, Dee Wallace and Hal Williams (227).
My Mother Was Never a Kid A teenage girl is convinced that her mother does not understand the younger generation. Mysteriously, she is sent back in time and meets her mother as a teenager. Based on a novel by Francine Pascal (creator of Sweet Valley High).

Season Ten (1981-1982)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
She Drinks a Little 16-year-old Cindy Scott (Amanda Wyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and her younger brother Brett gradually wise up to their single mother Miriam's (Bonnie Bartlett) drinking problem. Cindy wonders if she should join Alateen for help. Arthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Anne Snyder's novel First Step.
Starstruck An aspiring teen folk singer (Trini Alvarado) is torn whether to continue her singing or to accept an educational scholarship. Co-starring Lee Curreri (Fame).
Tough Girl A streetwise teenager (Karin Argoud) is sent to live in the suburbs with her father's new family. Based on Barbara Morgenroth's novel Will the Real Renie Lake Please Stand Up?. Argoud would later be cast as Sonja Harper on Mama's Family. Laurence Lau (Greg Nelson on All My Children) also appears.
The Color of Friendship Two teenagers, one black and one white, hit it off. Starring James Bond III (Def by Temptation), Chris Barnes, Cleavon Little (Blazing Saddles) and Kadeem Hardison (A Different World).
The Unforgivable Secret Amanda Plummer (daughter of Christopher) portrays a 15-year-old who's stunned to discover that her "deceased" father is very much alive...and that's just the beginning of the story. Co-starring Barbara Feldon (of Get Smart fame) and Danny Aiello; based on Hila Colman's novel Tell Me No Lies.
Daddy, I'm Their Mama Now A 12-year-old girl assumes responsibility for her two younger brothers (one of them portrayed by a pre-Wonder Years Jason Hervey), after their mom passes away. Based on Betsy Byars's novel The Night Swimmers.
Sometimes I Don't Love My Mother After the death of her father, teenager Dallas Davis (a pre-A-Team Melinda Culea) struggles with her mother Ellen's (Patricia Elliott) total dependency on her.

Season Eleven (1982-83)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Amy & the Angel 17-year-old Amy Watson (Helen Slater - The Legend of Billie Jean, Supergirl), a depressed high school student, is visited by aspiring angel Oliver after wishing she had never been born. As with George Bailey and Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life, Oliver shows Amy how important she is to the people in her life...particularly her divorced mom, her paternal grandfather (David Huddleston Blazing Saddles Sherlock Holmes in New York, The Wonder Years) and her best friend (who's a lot more troubled than Amy realizes). The twist here is that Oliver himself committed suicide and, as a punishment, was forced to roam the world for years afterward - witnessing the repercussions of his action. (Just think The Heavenly Kid meets A Christmas Carol.) Now senior angel Gabriel (James Earl Jones, Gabriel's Fire) is giving Oliver a chance to redeem himself...by making sure Amy doesn't commit the same mistake as Oliver himself. Also starring Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Equinox, Cutthroat Island) and Meg Ryan (Sleepless In Seattle).
Between Two Loves Teen violinist is torn between her musical career and her boyfriend. Co-starring Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch).
A Very Delicate Matter Teenage girl is shocked when a former boyfriend tells her he has gonorrhea. Not only does she get tested, she must tell her current boyfriend to get tested as well. Co-starring Zach Galligan (Gremlins).
Please Don't Hit Me, Mom Teenager Nancy Parks (Nancy McKeon, The Facts of Life) stumbles upon a case of child abuse. It turns out her new boyfriend (Lance Guest, The Last Starfighter)'s younger brother is regularly beaten by their mom (Patty Duke, whose real-life son Sean Astin portrays the victim in question).
The Woman Who Willed a Miracle A blind, mentally retarded infant with cerebral palsy is left in the care of an elderly English woman who refuses to let him die. Starring Cloris Leachman, M. Emmet Walsh (from Wild, Wild West and The Abduction of Kari Swenson), James Noble (Benson) and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains, Listen To Me).
Have You Ever Been Ashamed of Your Parents? Kari Michaelsen and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as two teenagers - one rich, the other middle-class - who become best friends over the summer. Co-starring Marion Ross (from Happy Days) and ex-Mouseketeer Julie Piekarski.
The Wave High school teacher decides to conduct a social experiment, asking his students to take part. But what they do not know is that the experiment is on mind control. (Previously broadcast on ABC in October 1981 as a standalone special.)
Desperate Lives Helen Hunt plays a young woman who, while on PCP, jumps out of a second-story window.

Season Twelve (1983-84)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
It's No Crush, I'm in Love A high school girl has a crush on a soap opera star but she thinks she is in love with him. At school, she meets her new English teacher, who closely resembles the soap star.
The Hand-Me-Down Kid Tired of receiving hand me downs from her sister, an 11-year-old girl "secretly borrows" her bicycle...which then gets stolen by somebody else. Will our young heroine locate and recover the bike before her sister discovers what's happened? Tracey Gold and Cheryl Arutt portray the sisters; Terry O'Quinn (from the Stepfather movies) plays their dad. Also starring Corey Parker (How I Got into College) and Martha Plimpton (The Goonies); based on a novel by Francine Pascal (creator of Sweet Valley High and Fearless).
The Celebrity and the Arcade Kid Video arcade whiz and teen movie star discover they are exact doubles and decide to switch identities.
Andrea's Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy Teenage Andrea Cranston (Michele Greene) is traumatized after surviving an assault by a stranger from whom she hitched a ride. Co-starring Moosie Drier (of Kids Incorporated fame), Carrie Snodgress (as Andrea's mom), Robert DoQui (from the Robocop movies) and a pre-Growing Pains Kirk Cameron.
The Great Love Experiment Teenagers bait a timid girl to get her involved with various displays of affection. Starring Tracy Pollan (of Family Ties fame), Pete Kowanko (Solarbabies, Date with an Angel, Starcrossed) and Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing, Red Dawn).
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia Real-life brothers River and Leaf Phoenix star in this tale of a 13-year-old boy who has problems reading, which his teachers attribute to laziness. It is ultimately discovered that he has dyslexia.
The Hero Who Couldn't Read A teacher discovers that one of his students, the school's star basketball player, is illiterate. He makes it his mission to teach the boy how to read. Starring Clarence Williams III (The Mod Squad); with real-life basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a pre-Star Trek Michael Dorn.

Season Thirteen (1984-85)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Summer Switch Ken Kwapis (Vibes, Dunston Checks In) directed this adaptation of Mary Rodgers's novel about a man who magically switches personalities with his son...and about the comical chaos that ensues.
Out of Step An aspiring teenage dancer gets the chance to try out for a dance troupe. But will fear of failure keep her from auditioning? (Did someone say Flashdance?)
The Almost Royal Family Family inherits a house on a tiny island between Canada and the United States, outside the jurisdiction of either country. Sarah Jessica Parker stars.
Mom's on Strike An overworked housewife goes on strike, in order to persuade the rest of her family to share household chores. Co-starring a pre-Simpsons Yeardley Smith, George Gaynes (Police Academy, Punky Brewster), Jonathan Ward (Charles In Charge), Mercedes Ruehl (The Last Action Hero, The Warriors) and Sam McMurray (Likely Suspects).
I Want to Go Home Tommy and Mary Sanders (Seth Green, Maddie Corman) go on the run with their divorced mom Louise (Lindsay Crouse). Only belatedly do they realize that Louise has kidnapped them from their dad Tom (John Getz).
First the Egg A group of high school students take part in a parenting class where their first assignment is to 'parent' an egg. Starring Justine Bateman, Jimmy McNichol, Chris Hebert (Fuzz Bucket, The Last Starfighter) and Helene Udy.

Season Fourteen (1985-86)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
No Greater Gift Happy Days alum Anson Williams co-wrote and directed this tale of two terminally ill boys who hit it off in a hospital ward. One of them makes the ultimate sacrifice, in order to give the other a fighting chance at life. Co-starring Betty Thomas (Hill Street Blues) and Jeff Cohen (The Goonies).
Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale Actress Lee Grant directed this contemporary remake of Cinderella aimed at pre-teenagers. Starring Pearl Bailey, Kyra Sedgwick (in the title role), Jennifer Grey, Kelly Wolf, a pre-Melrose Place Grant Show, Melanie Mayron, Stephen Keep Mills and Sylvia Miles (The Funhouse).
Don't Touch A teenage babysitter discovers that her young charge is being molested by a family friend; that's when harrowing memories of the sitter's own past molestation by her uncle resurface. Co-starring Blair Brown (The Bad Seed, The Day My Parents Ran Away), Corey Parker, John Glover (The Chocolate War), Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show) and Danielle Carin; featuring real-life brothers Joey and Matthew Lawrence (Gimme A Break! and Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, respectively).
High School Narc A 22-year-old police officer (Michael E. Knight - All My Children, Date with an Angel, Hexed) poses as a student to sniff out the drug supplier for an inner-city high school.
Can a Guy Say No? A 17-year-old student learns just how deceiving looks can be, when he befriends the prettiest girl in school. It turns out her beauty compensates for unhappiness and low self-esteem...or does it? Starring Steve Antin, Heather Langenkamp, Christa Denton (she was "Monica" on Growing Pains), Khrystyne Haje and Beau Bridges.
Are You My Mother? A teenage girl is stunned to discover that her supposedly-deceased mother is actually mentally ill, and institutionalized. Co-starring Marian Mercer (9 to 5, It's a Living) and Michael York.
Getting Even: A Wimp's Revenge Tired of being bullied at school, a boy starts drawing a master scientist. He begins to imagine what it would be like, as the scientist, standing up to the bullies at school.

Season Fifteen (1986-87)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
A Desperate Exit Teenager is stunned when his best friend commits suicide, and is left with one unanswered question - Why? Based on Eve Bunting's novel Face at the Edge of the World; co-starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Rob Stone.
Wanted: The Perfect Guy Sensing that his mom Ellie (Madeline Kahn) is lonely and looking for companionship, fatherless 13-year-old Danny Coleman (Ben Affleck) places a personal ad for "The Perfect Guy". Co-starring Keith Szarabajka (of The Equalizer fame).
Teen Father Actor Kevin Hooks (of The White Shadow fame) directed this tale of a college-bound 18-year-old (Corey Parker) whose life is turned upside down when his 16-year-old girlfriend announces that she is pregnant.
The Gift of Amazing Grace A teenager (Tempestt Bledsoe, The Cosby Show) is frustrated about being the only member of her gospel-singing family who cannot carry a tune in a barrel. So she writes a song about her problems...and soon discovers she's got musical talent after all, just not where she or anybody else suspected. Co-starring Della Reese (Touched by an Angel).
Supermom's Daughter A career-driven woman opposes her daughter's future plans. Starring Barbara Bosson (Hill Street Blues) and Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei (for My Cousin Vinny).
Divorced Kids' Blues 15-year-old struggles through the politics of divorce as his parents split up. Written by Donald Margulies, who would later win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Class Act: A Teacher's Story A wealthy businessman returns to teaching after conquering the stock market. He inherits a class of underachievers and sets out to make them winners. Starring Ralph Garman (Red State and Family Guy)

Season Sixteen (1987-88)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story Teenager Kevin Casio (Christian Hoff) discovers he has been infected with AIDS by a blood transfusion. Co-starring Florence Henderson and Ronny Cox (as Kevin's parents); featuring Lewis Arquette (as one of his doctors).
The Kid Who Wouldn't Quit: The Brad Silverman Story True story about a teen with Down syndrome who begins attending college classes.
The Day My Kid Went Punk Teenage musician Terry (Jay Underwood - The Boy Who Could Fly) hopes to distinguish himself from "the crowd"...by becoming a punk rocker. Also starring Bernie Kopell, Albert Hague (Fame) and James Noble (Benson).
Seasonal Differences A Christmas Nativity scene is displayed at a high school, where it sparks debate and protest from the student body; this leads to the separation of church and state being examined...formally, and in depth. Co-starring Megan Follows (Silver Bullet, Shattered...If Your Kid's On Drugs).
Terrible Things My Mother Told Me Hard-working 16-year-old Julia (Katherine Kamhi of Sleepaway Camp fame) does not realize that her mother Eleanor (Beth Howland of Alice fame) - who alternately harasses and ignores Julia, yet dotes on lazy younger daughter Katie (Ita DeMarco) - is being emotionally and verbally abusive. But when Julia gets the lead in a school play directed by popular Randy (Ian Ziering - Endless Love, Beverly Hills 90210), she realizes she's every bit as worthy of Eleanor's support and encouragement as is her pampered sister.
Daddy Can't Read Teenager Alison Watson (Cheryl Arutt) does not understand why her father Bill (Edward Albert - Midway, The Rescue) opposes her campaign to promote literacy at his factory...until she discovers that dad himself cannot read. Co-starring Joey Travolta, Michael Jackson (as himself), gymnastics legend Cathy Rigby and blaxploitation star Richard Roundtree.[3]

Season Seventeen (1988-89)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Date Rape A teenage girl is raped by the most popular boy in her school, while on a date with him. Co-starring John Savage (Hair, The Deer Hunter), David Patrick Kelly and a pre-Beverly Hills, 90210 Gabrielle Carteris.
A Family Again In this variation on Ordinary People, a family must come to grips with the sudden death of their eldest daughter (Tonya Crowe - Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Knots Landing). With L.A. Law regulars Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker; also featuring Judith Barsi (The Land Before Time), Rob Stone (Mr. Belvedere), Ricki Lake (Hairspray), Rhea Perlman (Cheers) and Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks).
Tattle: When to Tell on a Friend Four girls on their high school swimming team appear inseparable...until two of them experiment with cocaine and get hooked. Tammy Lauren (The Last Flight of Noah's Ark, Crime of Innocence) portrays one of said addicts; also starring Katharine Ross (The Legacy).
Taking a Stand An entire neighborhood examines their feelings of racism, and take sides after the home of a black family is vandalized by a neighbor. Co-starring Dan Lauria, Betty Buckley (Carrie) and Michael Beach (Lean on Me).
Just Tipsy, Honey Teenager Patty Adams (Ellie Cornell) is in total denial about her mother Carolyn's (Joanna Pettet) drinking problem...which is glaringly evident to everybody else.
The Cheats Three girls steal the answers to their final exam. When the headmistress finds out, she gives those responsible one day to confess...before she expels and/or prosecutes everybody with any connection - no matter how remote - to the theft/cover-up.
Torn Between Two Fathers Actor Richard Masur directed this tale of a divorced couple's teenage daughter, who ends up waging a custody battle of her own. After the girl's natural mother dies in an accident, she sues her natural father for the right to live with her disabled stepdad.

Season Eighteen (1989-90)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
My Dad Can't Be Crazy...Can He? Actress Joanna Lee (of Plan 9 From Outer Space fame) wrote and directed this tale of a teenager and his mom (Wil Wheaton, Loretta Swit) who make up their minds how to deal with a schizophrenic husband/father (Don Murray - Endless Love, Knots Landing).
Private Affairs Teenager Madeline (Kerri Green - Young Harry Houdini, Three for the Road, Lucas, The Goonies) discovers her father's affair with her mother's best friend. Will it tear her family apart? Co-starring Christopher Daniel Barnes, Michael Warren, Nancy Kulp (of The Beverly Hillbillies fame), Lynne Thigpen (Lean On Me, The Warriors), Wendy Brainard (Kids Incorporated) and Christopher Collet.
A Town's Revenge Teenager Eric Nelson (Keith Coogan - The Fox and the Hound, Adventures in Babysitting) urges his town to farm without the use of pesticides, but many of those farmers are resistant to change (that's putting it mildly).
All That Glitters Several high school students (including Marc Price - Family Ties, The Rescue) learn about ethics versus seductive power, when they start a cookie company as their class project. Co-starring William H. Macy.
Over the Limit High school student Matt Thompson (Keith Coogan) must decide whether or not to come forward with the truth about a tragic drunk-driving accident. Co-starring Sam Rockwell (Charlie's Angels).
The Perfect Date A 16-year-old student is sure that his upcoming date with the school prom queen will be perfect. However, the way it unfolds over the evening is as far from perfect as one can get. Co-starring Will Smith, Art LaFleur and Charles Hallahan (Hunter, John Carpenter's The Thing).

Season Nineteen (1990-91)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
A Question About Sex Tracey Gold portrays Shauna Kelly, a cheerleader who advocates sex education at her high school. As a result, she locks horns with her mother Joanne (Cindy Pickett) who's aspiring to a seat on the school board. Co-starring Tom Skerritt (who also directed), Kristin Dattilo, Renée Estevez and Vince Vaughn.
Testing Dirty Having never used illegal drugs in his life, model teenager Will Hatch (Christopher Daniel Barnes) - a competitive swimmer who also works as delivery boy for a medical clinic - is shocked when he tests positive for amphetamines (actually, it was medication for swimmer's ear). He's even more shocked when "speed" is found in his locker, which school security forcibly searches - in his absence - over the test results. Also shocked are: his mom (Alley Mills of The Wonder Years fame) and his girlfriend Carla (Lisa Dean Ryan), who believe in his innocence; swim-team coach Stanley Daniels (Chris Rich) and Will's high-school principal (Art LaFleur), who do not. It does not help that Stan is also Carla's father and Mrs. Hatch's fiance; he even turns against his own daughter, when she's expelled for refusing to take the same drug test as Will. Comedian Adam Sandler has a cameo as a pusher.
Stood Up! After getting stood up for the school prom a high school girl sues her date.
The Less-Than-Perfect Daughter A demanding woman and her daughter knock heads when the latter (Robyn Lively), aspiring to be less reliant on her family, moves in with a troubled friend (Andrea Elson of ALF fame). Robyn's real-life father Ernie Lively portrays her character's dad. Co-starring a pre-Xena: Warrior Princess Renee O'Connor.
It's Only Rock & Roll A teenage musician (Alison Bartlett) finds her song lyrics being scrutinized as too suggestive. Co-starring Davy Jones of The Monkees and Carole King.

Season Twenty (1991-92)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
In the Shadow of Love: A Teen AIDS Story Two high school journalists write a story about a teen HIV support group, and are stunned by some of the stories they hear.
Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 1 Three-part series about high school graduates contemplating their futures, while working at the mall. In "First Impressions", a girl has mixed sentiment about meeting her birth mother for the first time.
Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 2 In "Second Chances", a girl struggles with mixed feelings about her widowed mother's upcoming re-marriage.
Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 3 In "Temptations" the gang prepares to go their separate ways as summer winds down. Meanwhile a recovering teenage alcoholic struggles to stay sober when an old drinking buddy shows up. Co-starring Todd Graff.

Season Twenty-One (1992-93)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Surviving a Break-up Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities and experts to discuss surviving the end of a relationship.
Shades of a Single Protein Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens discussing race relations in America.
Learning Not to Hurt Roz Abrams hosts a special report on youth violence and later moderates a panel discussion.
Girlfriend Two teenage girls, one black and one white, become friends while working on a mural to honor a black classmate killed by random gunfire.

Season Twenty-Two (1993-94)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Love Hurts 16-year-old Christie (Holly Shaw) turns to a support group when her boyfriend begins to physically abuse her.
Montana Crossroads Julia Morrow-Wheeler (Jacklyn Zeman) struggles with her daughter Samantha (Kellie Martin) wanting to leave the nest...and, at the same time, with her father Frank's (Don Murray) reluctance to enter a retirement home. Co-starring Michael Cutt (of California Dreams fame).
I Hate the Way I Look Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities and experts to discuss the obsession teens have with their appearance.
Jacqui's Dilemma A pregnant 16-year-old girl examines her choices over what to do with her unborn baby amidst interviews with teens, parents, educators, counselors, social workers and doctors that amplify the issues.

Season Twenty-Three (1994-95)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Boys Will Be Boys: the Ali Cooper Story Not to be confused with the same-named TV series, this chronicles the ordeal of a high-school marching band-member (Ami Dolenz) who becomes the victim of sexual harassment by several male classmates...including some close friends of her elder brother Steve (David Lipper, who later starred as DJ Tanner's rocker-boyfriend "Viper" on Full House). Fortunately, he takes her side (unlike Kyle Wilson in the Moment of Truth Movie Stand Against Fear). Ali and her family decide upon suing the school, after Principal Pritchard (Steven Gilborn) cites the title excuse instead of doing anything to protect her. Directed by Knots Landing star Joan Van Ark, who also portrays Ali and Steve's mom; CHiPs star Larry Wilcox plays their dad. Also starring Jeremy Jordan, and Diff'rent Strokes alum Danny Cooksey.
Magical Make-Over Teenage girl desperately wants to be popular. One day an angel grants her that wish, by giving her a new image every day. But soon, she wishes she could just be herself.
Bonnie Raitt Has Something to Talk About Whoopi Goldberg interviews musician/singer Bonnie Raitt about her life, career and future plans.
Notes for My Daughter Teenage girl struggles with her mother's illness from breast cancer.
Long Road Home Teenager Hank Atkins (Micah Dyer, whose half-brothers are Chad and Rob Lowe) does not know what to think of his dad John's (Jameson Parker) new wife; for one thing, Amanda (Kristen Cloke) is young enough to be John's daughter. Thankfully, however, as Hank takes a long road trip alone with Amanda, the proverbial ice gets broken with a vengeance.

Season Twenty-Four (1995-96)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Fast Forward A teenager is shown how being involved with booze will shape his life...ultimately, he will become a bombed-out derelict (Gerald McRaney).
Episode 2 The film traces the story of the Chicago-born astronomer George Ellery Hale as he struggles to build the greatest telescopes of the 20th century.
Positive: A Journey Into AIDS Documentary following two actors from TV's General Hospital as they research and talk to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Just Chill After the senseless death of his twin brother, a teen drug pusher decides to seek revenge against all who have wronged him in the neighborhood.
Educating Mom Soccer mom Nancy Gallagher (Jane Kaczmarek) feels like a hypocrite when lecturing her kids Jason and Carly (Will Friedle, Lacey Chabert) about the importance of finishing one's education...since Jane herself is a high school dropout. She decides to practice what she's been preaching...by sharing classes with Jason! Co-starring Kevin Connolly (Unhappily Ever After, John Q).
Daddy's Girl Teenage girl, Alica (Elise Neal) meets up with her father for the first time in ten years, and yearns to reunite her family despite their opposition. Featuring Lauryn Hill as Alicia's friend, Malika.
Through Thick & Thin Twin sisters, one slim and one overweight, magically switch personalities, giving them a new appreciation of each other.

Season Twenty-Five (1996-97)[edit]

Episode Synopsis
Too Soon for Jeff In this adaptation of Marilyn Reynolds' novel, a high school senior's (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) future plans change abruptly when he learns his girlfriend is pregnant. Co-starring Ed Begley, Jr., Breck Wilson (Escape from Atlantis) and Jessica Alba (Dark Angel).
Me and My Hormones Three women, each from a different generation, deal with the various changes taking place in their lives. Starring Courtney Peldon, Marion Ross, Bruce Boxleitner (Tron), Sara Gilbert (whose real-life sister Melissa directed) and Chad Lowe.
Teenage Confidential Andrea Mattson's (Lauren Woodland) overprotective parents (Morgan Fairchild and Sam McMurray), out of excessive concern for their daughter's well-being, hire a private eye to shadow her every move. Predictably, this does much more harm than good. Co-starring Danny Cooksey.
Miracle at Trapper Creek Underprivileged and troubled teens join the Trapper Creek Jobs Corp in Montana to learn a trade, work in the wilderness and achieve a solid work ethic.

Reception[edit]

In 1993, TV Guide named the series the best kids' show of the 1980s.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007 (Volume 1). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-3305-6.
  2. ^ Awards for ABC Afterschool Special (1972), retrieved 2009-04-13 
  3. ^ Anchorage Daily News Article – March 13, 1988
  4. ^ TV Guide April 17-23, 1993. 1993. p. 79. 

External links[edit]