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. 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.
11-year-old Sharon Lee (Jodie Foster) encounters opposition when she joins her brother's Little Leaguebaseball 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.
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 very 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...
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)
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 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).
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).
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.
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).
A 12-year-old girl assumes responsibility for her two younger brothers (one of them portrayed by a pre-Wonder YearsJason Hervey), after their mom passes away. Based on Betsy Byars's novel The Night Swimmers.
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).
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
After getting stood up for the school prom a high school girl sues her date.
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, 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)
A teenager is shown how being involved with booze will shape his life...ultimately, he will become a bombed-out derelict (Gerald McRaney).