||Aufgenommen in die Filmliste "Epilepsie im Spielfilm" von Friedhelm C. Schmitt, siehe auch www.medizin-im-film.de
US-TV-Series 24.04.90, Staffel 7 Episode 6
CBS Schoolbreak Special is an American anthology series for teenagers that aired on CBS from April 1980 to January 1996. The series originally premiered under the title CBS Afternoon Playhouse, and was later changed during the 1984 - 85 season. The concept was very similar to ABC's Afterschool Special.
New York Times
Review/Television; Teen-Agers on the Right Side of Reality
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: March 5, 1990
Television entertainment is often accused, justifiably, of being on a collision course with reality, and images of teen-agers are a particularly good case in point. Most daily headlines about young people are not encouraging as they follow crises ranging from education failures to drug abuse. Last week it was announced that New York City was doubling its staff of lawyers assigned to prosecute juveniles, because of an enormous surge in Family Court cases as well as crimes.
But in television dramas and situation comedies, insistent purveyors of uplift, the accent is nearly always on the positive. Truth and accuracy tend to be overshadowed by demands for emotional wallop. The result can be contrived, sometimes alarming. Yet on the whole a purpose is served. These exercises in inspiration don't just expose young viewers to positive role models. They also remind parents and educators and all those other older citizens that a headline-only diet can also be distorting. Struggling through difficult years, a vast majority of teen-agers are remarkably decent and sensitive.
So bring on the uplift. And that's just what can be found brimming over in two new productions. Tonight's ''A Son's Promise'' is on ABC at 9. Tomorrow's ''Malcolm Takes a Shot,'' a School Break Special, can be seen on CBS at 4 P.M. As it happens, Marian Rees is the executive producer for both films.
''A Son's Promise'' is based on the true story of Terry O'Kelley and his efforts to keep his family in Georgia together. A 15-year-old Terry promises his dying mother that he will not let his six younger brothers be broken up and scattered in foster homes. Against all odds, including a drunken and resentful father, the boy sets out to keep his word, getting curiously little help in the first years. People are unfailingly sympathetic - ''God help you, son, you've got a man's job on your shoulders'' - but not terribly generous with practical help.
Played with rather dour intensity by Rick Schroder, whose career has evolved nicely from playing children in films like ''The Champ'' to being a young cowboy in ''Lonesome Dove,'' Terry becomes the family's breadwinner and disciplinarian, not averse to occasional strappings. The script by Bill Stratton and Robert Inman changes names, uses composite characters and occasionally gets curiously hazy. A campaign to raise money for the family turns puzzlingly sour when Terry refuses to sign certain documents drawn up by the chief organizer. This kind of sensitive detail is simply left hanging as the movie focuses on pushing the right buttons for keeping our tear ducts active.
Despite an irritating soft-focus camera lens, no doubt to make the actors look younger, ''A Son's Promise'' succeeds in being almost as affecting as it intends. Mr. Schroder is supported nicely, especially by Donald Moffat as Terry's grandfather and Veronica Cartwright as a court-appointed guardian. The director is John Korty, who once again in the business of television movies proves invaluably astute.
Squeezed into an afternoon hour, which carries even more commercials than its prime-time equivalent, ''Malcolm Takes a Shot'' falls into a pattern typical of most daytime specials for young audiences. Characters are sketched in rapidly; scenes are brief, and messages are telegraphed with a minimum of subtlety. Still the form has proved surprisingly effective and durable.
Malcolm Jones (Jon Clair) is a high school basketball star whose ego (''I'm young; I'm single; I'm ready to mate.'') is getting in the way of his studies and his playing. At home, his mother (Margaret Avery), a single parent and a tough disciplinarian, warns Malcolm that he's ''letting a lot of things slide lately.'' In school, his English teacher (Susan Ruttan) warns him that he might not graduate and his basketball coach (Tony Lo Bianco) criticizes him for not being a team player. Then in the middle of a big game Malcolm collapses and goes into violent spasms. He has epilepsy.
That is a lot, obviously, for a relatively short television drama to have on its plate but, with Mario Van Peebles as director, the production should prove generally nourishing for its target audiences. Played appealingly by Mr. Clair, Malcolm is thoroughly recognizable as he evolves from being supercool to bitter to just this side of grown up. As an added attraction the basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appears as himself in a couple of Malcolm's dreams, the two playing alone and the awed Malcolm being urged to ''Just do it'' and keep moving on. Diane Baker is the producer for the American Film Institute.
Are these particular teen-ager portraits overly comforting, perhaps even dangerously lulling? Possibly. On the other hand they may help bring a measure of useful perspective to public attitudes.