October 14, 1972 (1972-10-14) – July 1, 1997 (1997-07-01)
The ABC Afterschool Special is an American television anthology series that aired on ABC from October 14, 1972 to July 1, 1997, usually in the late afternoon on week days. Most episodes were dramatically presented situations, often controversial, of interest to children and teenagers. 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.
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.
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.
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 groupAlateen. Co-starring Jody Britt (Melendy's real-life daughter).
In this adaptation of Betsy Byars's novel, three orphans (one portrayed by Kristy McNichol) from different backgrounds find themselves living with the same foster couple, while all three wait to be adopted.
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.
Mom and Dad Can't Hear Me
Teenage Charlie Meredith (Rosanna Arquette) 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.
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 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.
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). 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.
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.
Holly Gagnier stars as 16-year-old Ginny Coker, who's determined to become a world-class athlete.
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, quaaludes, and cocaine. Will he wise up before it's too late? Co-starring Largo Woodruff and Anthony C Sena.
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.
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?. Laurence Lau also appears.
Amanda Plummer 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 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 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 (Melinda Culea) struggles with her mother Ellen's (Patricia Elliott) total dependency on her.
17-year-old Amy Watson (Helen Slater), 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) 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. Now senior angel Gabriel (James Earl Jones) 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 and Meg Ryan.
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.)
It's No Crush, I'm in Love
A high school girl (Cynthia Nixon) 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.
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. Directed by James Scott and starring Adolph Caesar.
Actor Kevin Hooks 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) 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.
Hard-working 16-year-old Julia (Katherine Kamhi) does not realize that her mother Eleanor (Beth Howland), 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), she realizes she's every bit as worthy of Eleanor's support and encouragement as is her pampered sister.
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.
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.
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) 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. Adam Sandler has a cameo as a pusher.
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). Robyn's real-life father Ernie Lively portrays her character's dad. Co-starring Renee O'Connor.
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 remarriage.
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.
Teenage girl struggles with her mother's illness from breast cancer.
Long Road Home
Teenager Hank Atkins (Micah Dyer) 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.
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.
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.
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.