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After School Specials 1982-86


TITLE: AFTER SCHOOL SPECIALS - 1982-86


Info:

DVD Release Date: May 24, 2005 (BCI Eclipse)
Color
MSRP: $12.98
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Specials: 4
Running Time: Approx. 180 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 1 minute per disc
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English - no closed captioning
Special features: Bonus Photo Galleries.


Introduction:

Noted as one of the most popular television series of the 70s and 80s, the “After School Specials” produced by Martin Tahse, which originally aired on ABC from approximately 1972-1998, are now available for the first time ever on DVD. A hit during its run in the opulent disco era, the “After School Specials” became a favorite of parents and youth alike tackling issues that still affect today’s family such as substance abuse, eating disorders, teen pregnancy and sexual behavior, racism, divorce and child abuse, just to name some. 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 Fesitval, 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.


Specials Included:

A total of six DVD sets have now been released. The first two (1974-76 and 1976-77) were released on October 12th, 2004. Volumes 3 and 4 were released on January 11, 2005. This review covers Volume 6 with specials from 1982-86. Volume 5, which was also released on May 24th, features specials from 1981-82. Each set contains four specials. The four specials on Volume 6 include:

Two Loves for Jenny (aka Between Two Loves) - Robert Reed is a high school music teacher and orchestra conductor who recognizes unusual musical abilities in a young violinist (Karlene Crockett). She joins his orchestra, and he encourges her to study in order to enter a contest where first prize is a scholarship to a music conservatory. She hesitates, however, because her boyfriend (Lance Guest) is also a musician and plans to enter the same contest in the same category. She is torn between her love of music and her fear that the competition will jeopardize the relationship with her boyfriend. Several surprises are in store when she realizes the importance of her dreams and desires. This special originally aired on 10/27/82 and runs approximately 44 minutes, 44 seconds. It was based on the young adult novel by Sandy Miller. Robert Reed, who was known to be a bit cranky on The Brady Bunch, gives a great performance as the old music teacher Mr. Forbes. This was one of Lance Guest's early roles. He has also been in Halloween II and The Last Starfighter. Good peformances by the entire cast and some pleasant sounding violin music.

Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? (aka Andrea's Story: A Hitchhiker Tragedy) - Andrea (Michele Greene) and her boyfriend David (Moose Drier) innocently hitch a ride with a mild gentleman. David gets dropped off first, leaving Andrea to continue a few more blocks. Neither David nor Andrea are prepared for the consequences. Andrea walks into her house a few hours later, avoids her parents, and shuts herself in her bedroom: the burden of dealing with the fact that she was just raped is overwhelming to her. When they find out, her father (Matt Clark) is outraged and her mother (Carrie Snodgress) won't talk about it. David, however, vows to take action and find the man who did this to Andrea. He returns day after day to the spot where they were picked up and at last he sees the car and gets a license number. At the police lineup, Andrea sick to her stomach with anxiety, is able to recognize her her attacker. Her decision to press charges and appear in court must then be made. The outcome is believable and totally truthful. This special orginally aired on 12/17/83 and runs approximately 44 minutes, 26 seconds. It was based on the young adult novel by Gloria Miklowitz. It won a total of five Emmy Awards: Best Director of a Dramatic Special, Best Cinematography of a Dramatic Special, Best Composer of a Dramatic Special, Best Art Direction in a Dramatic Special, and Best Editing for a Dramatic Special. This was one of the most stunning specials that I've watched on any of the sets. It seemed so real. Hitch hiking was a big fad at the time this special was made, and it sent an important message. Michele Greene would go on to appear L.A. Law several years later. Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) plays Andrea's brother in one of his early roles.

Ace Hits the Big Time - Ace Hobart (Rob Stone) moves with his mother and sister to New York City, where his sister assures hm he will be "creamed" by the agressive gang, the Purple Falcons. The first day of school, Ace arrives wearing an eye patch (to cover a sty) and a wild-looking jacket he got at a garage sale. The Falcons take one look at this strange guy and think he's the toughest thing they've ever seen. Figuring it's better to have Ace with them than against them, they invite him to join the Purple Falcons. The fun rolls along as Ace discovers the Purple Falcons are major cream puffs. He falls in love with the only girl member of the Falcons (Karen Petrasek), they become involved in a low-budget Hollywood movie, and Ace rescues his girl when she is kidnapped by the rival Piranhas, who become jealous that they're not in the movie. It's all fun, all the time with great music, hot dance numbers, and a love balled in this delightful story of trying to fit in. This special originally aired on 04/02/85 and runs approximately 42 minutes, 51 seconds. It was basd on the young adult novel by Barbara Beasley Murphy and Judie Wolkoff. This was not the most serious After School Special. How tough is a group called the Purple Falcons? How many gang conflicts are settled by a peace offering of a cake? The music and dance numbers are fun and are a 80's flashback. Rob Stone is known for his role as Kevin Owens on Mr. Belvedere. James LeGros and Wallace Langham also make appearances.

Face at the Edge of the World (aka A Desperate Exit) - Jed (Rob Stone) and Charlie (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) have been best friends forever. When Jed learns that Charlie has committed suicide, he is astonished as well as devastated. Why would Charlie do such a thing - and without any warning? Then Jed begins to wonder if there were signs - did he overlook something that might have saved his friend's life? Jed sets out to solve the mystery of Charlie's suicide. With the help of his girlfriend and a Japanese fisherman, Jed slowly unravels Charlie's pains and fears that he never talked about, including a complex puzzle in his life, his mother. This special originally aired on 09/17/86 and runs approximately 41 minutes, 11 seconds. It was based on the young adult novel by Eve Bunting. This is my personal favorite on the set. It featured two stars from sitcoms that I watched regularly at the time: Rob Stone from Mr. Belvedere and Malcolm-Jamal Warner from The Cosby Show. It is one of the few specials I remember seeing in high school. I didn't think I could remember so many details from 15+ years ago. Unfortunately, I don't think suicide can often be so easily understood as in this special.


Packaging:

Previous After School Specials have had creative packaging designed as Trapper Keeper style notebooks and school lockers. The school theme is continued with this volume. The packaging is designed to look like a yearbook. The cover, which features a photo of Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Rob Stone, opens up like a book revealing some black and white photos as part of a Class of '82-86 Honor Roll. Michele Greene, Kirk Cameron, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Rob Stone, and Robert Reed are among those pictured. On the other side, there are some color photos from the four specials. There is a standard keepcase that holds the two discs found in the middle cardboard case of the package. The back of the package has four small photos with some more information on the specials including the cast and original air dates. Inside the back flap, there are more detailed summaries of the specials along with some quotes from various newspapers.

There is a single-wide keepcase that houses the two dvds. The front has the logo and some quotes from various newspapers on the specials. The back has 4 small, black & white photos and lists the specials by disc. The discs are orange and yellow in color and have the After School Specials logo on them with a background of people holding diplomas in the air.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very similar to the previous releases. A neat 3-D animated sequence opens the dvd menus. These are the same sequences and kinds of menus as used on the last 2 sets. It goes from a camera's point of view. First, you see a door opening and then the camera goes down a hallway with some video clips playing on the school's walls and finally out an exit door. The 3-D sequence runs about 16 seconds and features a musical ditty in the bakground. The main menus continue the school theme with a lined paper backround with music playing and various video clips from the specials are played. There is a 'Chapters' submenu with four chapter stops per episode. Various sounds are played such as a paper being torn, pencil writing, eraser, and photocopier when you choose different options on the menus. The menus and packaging are the best overall features of the sets.


Video and Audio Quality:

These specials likely didn't receive any remastering. The quality is about the same as you would find on a VHS tape, but these won't deteriorate any more. I wouldn't let the quality affect your viewing of these specials. There is a lot of grain and some occasional video glitches, but I've seen many more poor quality tapes. I think a lot of the video problems have to do with the low budgets of the specials, and these really couldn't be improved that much even if they received some restoration. There are two options to play them: Dolby Digital Stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no captions or subtitles. I've always enjoyed hearing the music score in these specials. The music added a lot to the feel of them.


Special Features:

Bonus photo galleries that are on each disc are the only extras included once again. There is about 51 seconds on each disc with various screenshots from the specials are shown while background music is playing. The images aren't that great quality. It would have been better to see some high quality behind-the-scenes type or publicity photos. Some commentaries by Martin Tahse or an interview with him would have been enjoyable.

I'm not sure if it ever aired, but in a packet I received there was a VH1 "When After School Specials Ruled The World" program which was scheduled to air in May 2005. It was to feature key talent and the producer from BCI's releases of the After School Specials.


Final Comments:

If you are a sitcom fan, this volume probably offers you the most stars from the 70's and 80's. Robert Reed, Kirk Cameron, Rob Stone, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner are featured on this set. These specials provide a lot of nostalgia. It is fun to see some actors before they became household names. The packaging and menus are very creative. Unfortunately, the video and audio quality is really not up to that same excellence. I wouldn't let that affect your viewing that much. While the hairstyles and clothing may be a bit dated, these specials still have important messages that still resonate today. 24 of Martin Tahse's 26 produced After School Specials have been released so far.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.0/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 05/26/05

To purchase the 1982-86 DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007VY4K4/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Other After School Specials available on DVD:

1974-76 (Volume 1)
1976-77 (Volume 2)
1978-79 (Volume 3)
1979-80 (Volume 4)
1981-82 (Volume 5)


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