After School Specials: Class of '82-'86 Review

After School Specials: Class of '82-'86
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The early to mid 80s...the groovy 70s were over, and we were unceremoniously dumped into the gimme gimme greed is good era, rife with yuppies, Iran/Contra hearings, and jellybeans (President Reagan's favorite treat), and we all laughed at the antics of a diminutive (in size, but not in heart), adopted, African American boy named Arnold Jackson as he posed the question we all wanted to know the answer to in 'What choo talkin' bout, Willis?' Yes, what were you talking about, Willis? Anyway, After School Specials, dramatic, sometimes comedic, programs designed especially entertain and teach pre-teens about life and issues they could have very well faced, in terms they could understand in an hour-long format (approximately 45 minutes, without the commercials), were now a television staple. Networks, seeing the potential in reaching a younger audience, began airing primetime sitcoms, that, while they were still comedies, often included more serious tones like drug and alcohol abuse, teen age pregnancy, and so forth in shows like Diff'rent Strokes (1978), The Facts of Life (1979), Family Ties (1982), and so on...this set comes with two DVDs, each containing 2 episodes, or 4 episodes per set. The series (I believe there were something like 26 episodes) was created and produced by Martin Tahse, and won a slew of awards, was really unique in that it was programming for young people that wasn't created to tie into products or sell merchandise, but to speak to them about situations difficult to understand or comprehend, treating its' audience with the respect and intelligence not often seen, not talking down to them but relating to them on a level they understood and appreciated.
The episodes featured on After School Specials 82-86 Vol 6 are as follows;
Two Loves for Jenny (Originally aired 10/27/1982) aka Between Two Loves stars Robert Reed (`The Brady Bunch'), Karlene Crockett (Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story), and Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter). Reed is an widowed architect with three boys who marries a widowed woman with three, wait, wrong show...Reed is a high school music teacher who, after plucking a potential promising student (Crockett) from the manure pile that is the general student population, seeing promise in her ability with a violin, eventually coaxes her to participate in a contest where the prize is a scholarship to a hoity toity music school. The catch is the girl's boyfriend (Guest) also plans to enter the competition, so now she's torn `between two loves', as she so covets the music scholarship, but is afraid the competition will torpedo her relationship (hey baby, boyfriends are a dime a dozen) added bonus, looks for an appearance by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger (no foolin').
Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? (Originally aired 12/27/1983) aka Andrea's Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy features Michele Greene (Abby Perkins on the TV show `L.A. Law'), Carrie Snodgress (The Attic), Matt Clark (Brubaker), Moosie Drier (Oh, God!), and an especially young Kirk Cameron. Andrea (Greene) and her boyfriend David (Drier) thumb a ride with an innocent looking man. After dropping David off first (good idea, Dave), Andrea arrives home much later, avoiding contact with her family (as you can guess, she ended up paying for the know the old saying `Cash, grass, or ash, no one rides for free). Anyway, the truth finally comes out and her parents are torn...Pops (Clark) is understandably angry and Mom (Snodgrass), living in the realm of Neverland, wants to pretend it never happened. Meanwhile, David decides to take matters into his own hands ala Charles Bronson in Death Wish, by hunting the man down and gutting him like a, wait, no, that's not right...what he actually does is track the man down by getting his license plate number and reporting it to the police, who subsequently catch and arrest him, but now Andrea isn't sure if she can deal with facing him in court...all joking aside, this was probably one of the more serious episodes, dealing with a particularly difficult issue...
Ace Hits the Big Time (Originally aired 10/28/1981) features Rob Stone (Kevin Owens on the TV show `Mr. Belvedere') as Horace 'Ace' Hobart (you can see why he went with the nickname Ace). After moving to New York with his family, Ace is warned by his annoying sister that school gang, `The Purple Falcons', will kill him, figuratively speaking. Anyway, Ace shows up to school with an eye patch (a touch of the pink eye) wearing a garage sale jacket, looking just generally weird. The gang, who are actually a bunch of whiffs, decide Ace would fit right in with them, so he joins up and makes time with the only girl member who ends up getting kidnapped by a rival gang because they're jealous about, get this, the fact that Ace and his got picked to appear in a low budget movie and they didn't (no foolin')...sort of a low rent West Side Story, this episode features music, dancing, and even a love ballad (no foolin' again)...actually this one is pretty lively...
Face at the Edge of the World (Originally aired 9/17/1986) aka A Desperate Exit features Malcolm-Jamal `Don't call me Theo!' Warner (`The Cosby Show') and Rob Stone (Kevin Owens on the TV show `Mr. Belvedere'). Jed (Stone) Charlie (Warner) were life-long friends, that is until Jed finds out Charlie decided to check out early, if you get my drift...anyway, Jed, who is obviously crushed by not only the loss of his best friend, but also the fact that he had no fore warning of what his friend was going to do, or why he even did what he did. This drives Jed to delve into Charlie's life, with a little help from some others, to understand the things they never really talked about, things that directly contributed to Charlie's choice to shuck off his mortal coil...
The quality of the video on these DVDs is not the best, but it is as how it was when originally presented, and given these were teleplays made to be presented on television in the 70's, you really can't compare it to today's standards. The packaging is really cool, as the DVDs, enclosed in a regular DVD case, come in a detailed reproduction of a school yearbook. Printed on the inside and the back is a brief synopsis and airdate for each episode, along with the key talent, and the name of the original author for each story.
If you're interested in picking up all these sets (there are six total), there is a bundled package coming out in August 2005, with all the sets enclosed in a replica of a little, yellow school bus, like the one I used to ride...

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Martin Tahse is the most prolific and successful producer of After School Specials. His 26 productions have won numerous awards and prizes including 18 Emmys three Blue Ribbons in the American Film Festival the Peabody Award and First Second and Third Prize in the Chicago Film Festival in the same year - an honor which has never since been matched. His original contributions remain important to today\'s young and adult audiences.System Requirements: Running Time 180 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre:CHILDREN/FAMILY Rating:NR UPC:787364577996

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