ABC Weekend Special

ABC Weekend Specials

Main title card
Genre Saturday morning anthology
Starring Cap'n O. G. Readmore
Theme music composer Tommy Leonetti (1977–90)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 17
Running time 30 min.
Original network ABC
Original release September 10, 1977 (1977-09-10) – August 30, 1997 (1997-08-30)
Related shows

The ABC Weekend Special is a weekly 30-minute anthology TV series for children that aired Saturday mornings on ABC from 1977 to 1997. It featured a wide variety of stories that were both live-action and animated. Similar to both the ABC Afterschool Special and The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie that had started five years previous, the ABC Weekend Special differed in that it was primarily aimed at younger viewers following ABC's Saturday Morning cartoon lineup, whereas the ABC Afterschool Special was known for its somewhat more serious, and often dramatic storylines dealing with issues concerning a slightly older teen and pre-teen audience. With the debut of the ABC Weekend Special, some of the early ABC Afterschool Specials that had been targeted towards younger viewers were subsequently repackaged and re-run instead as ABC Weekend Specials.

The presenters/hosts for the ABC Weekend Special throughout the years

Beginning in 1979, the series was hosted by Michael Young, who served as host of the show for two seasons.

In 1981, ventriloquist Willie Tyler and his puppet Lester took over as the new hosts of the series, appearing in an opening segment introducing that week's episode as well as an ending segment wrapping up the show and often recommending the book that that week's episode had been based on.

In 1984, the puppet character Cap'n O. G. Readmore took over as host of the series, along with Jon "Bowzer" Bauman. The character also starred in five animated episodes of the show, as well appearing in animated Saturday morning PSAs encouraging children to "read more".

Title sequence

During the series' tenure on Saturday Mornings, ABC Weekend Specials had three main opening title sequence packages, all of which included storybook/literary elements and characters in varying forms.

September 10, 1977–August 1990
The Pop-Up Book

The original opening, designed and animated by Rick Reinert Studios, consisted of a stack of books on a library desk accompanied by a rhythmic disco theme tune in the background. A larger book in the middle of the display (with the show's title printed on the cover) magically opens, with the ABC logo printed on the first page. Various figures from literature and intertitles pop up from out of the book. The intertitles read Children's Novels for Television and Short Story Specials respectively. The series title "blossoms" into view at the end of the intro.

This was the longest running umbrella sequence in the show's broadcast history.

September 1990–September 1994
Reading is Magic

With a new decade comes a new visual sequence and theme song. For this package, Weekend Specials combined computer animation with live action elements as neighborhood kids discover the wonders of reading with a turn of a page and a little bit of magic. When the enchanted books are open, the readers become part of the story... from cowboys to undersea explorers to cave kids. One of the books (with the series title printed on the cover) magically grows and flips open, with Cap'n O.G. Readmore ushering the readers for fun and adventure.

This opener was animated by San Diego-based American Film Technologies, with key animation by comic book artist Terrie Smith.

September 1994–August 30, 1997
Adventures in Reading

During the mid-1990s, the graphics package was again updated. This CGI opener takes place back at the library, where we pan through a row of books. The camera stops at a book with the ABC Circle signature printed on the side. The logo then magically pops out and grows arms and legs and leaps to a book on a nearby desk. It opens the book and dives into an array of worlds and universes inhabited by letters! The Circle figure fights off combatants at a medieval castle, swings a vine in the jungle and flies through the solar system in its spacecraft. The Circle figure ends its journey on the front cover of a book with the show's title beside it.

Closing Credits

The closing sequence varied over the years. In the '70s and '80s, a short version of the theme played as a bookmark floats into view, gently landing in the closing Pop-Up Book. An intertitle fades in: Recommended by the National Education Association. The latter title was used until c. 1983.

List of episodes

Listed by original airdate, however many of the episodes were put into heavy rotation, continuing to air in reruns for years after their original airdate.

Short Story Specials (1977)

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
1 Valentine's Second Chance 1977.Jan.29
2 The Haunted Trailer 1977.Mar.26
3 My Dear Uncle Sherlock 1977.Apr.16
4 Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine 1977.Apr.30

Season 1 (1977–1978)

14 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
5 The Winged Colt (Part 1) 1977.Sep.10
6 The Winged Colt (Part 2) 1977.Sep.17
7 The Winged Colt (Part 3) 1977.Sep.24
8 The Ransom of Red Chief 1977.Oct.22
9 Portrait of Grandpa Doc 1977.Nov.05
10 Trouble River (Part 1) 1977.Nov.12
11 Trouble River (Part 2) 1977.Nov.19
12 Tales of the Nunundaga (Part 1) 1977.Nov.26
13 Tales of the Nunundaga (Part 2) 1977.Dec.03
14 Escape of a One-Ton Pet (Part 1) 1978.Jan.07
15 Escape of a One-Ton Pet (Part 2) 1978.Jan.14
16 Escape of a One-Ton Pet (Part 3) 1978.Jan.21
17 Soup and Me 1978.Feb.04
18 The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy 1978.May.06

Season 2 (1978–1979)

11 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
19 The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody 1978.Sep.09
20 The Contest Kid and the Big Prize 1978.Sep.16
21 If I'm Lost, How Come I Found You? (Part 1) 1978.Sep.30
22 If I'm Lost, How Come I Found You? (Part 2) 1978.Oct.07
23 The $1000 Bill 1978.Oct.28
24 Little Lulu 1978.Nov.04
25 Soup for President 1978.Nov.18
26 Weep No More, My Lady 1979.Feb.10
27 The Horse That Played Center Field (Part 1) 1979.Feb.24
28 The Horse That Played Center Field (Part 2) 1979.Mar.03
29 The Puppy's Great Adventure 1979.May.12

Season 3 (1979–1980)

12 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Production Company Synopsis
30 The Big Hex of Little Lulu 1979.Sep.15 ABC Circle Films
31 The Contest Kid Strikes Again 1979.Sep.22 ABC Circle Films
32 The Girl with ESP 1979.Oct.20 ABC Circle Films
33 The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (Part 1) 1979.Nov.03 ABC Circle Films
34 The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (Part 2) 1979.Nov.10 ABC Circle Films
35 The Incredible Detectives 1979.Nov.17 Ruby-Spears Productions
36 The Revenge of Red Chief 1979.Dec.15
37 The Puppy's Amazing Rescue 1980.Jan.26 Ruby-Spears Productions
38 The Gold Bug (Part 1) 1980.Feb.02
39 The Gold Bug (Part 2) 1980.Feb.09
40 The Trouble with Miss Switch (Part 1) 1980.Feb.16 Ruby-Spears Productions Rupert Brown and Amelia Daley are classmates at Pepperdine Elementary School who discover that their substitute teacher, Miss Switch, is a witch complete with a magical talking cat named Bathsheba. She tells the children that the wicked witch Saturna has taken control of the Witches' Council and has condemned the fair Miss Switch with the aid of her Computer Witch. Rupert suggests bewitching a certain football player's number at the big game to ensure victory, but Saturna causes the spell to backfire so that the visiting team wins. Rupert comes up with another plan, but asks Miss Switch to let him and Amelia accompany her...
41 The Trouble with Miss Switch (Part 2) 1980.Feb.23 Ruby-Spears Productions Miss Switch and Bathsheba fly to Witch Mountain with Rupert and Amelia. Saturna sends out her bats to attack them, which causes the broom to splinter; some bats carry Miss Switch away, while the others drop Rupert, Amelia and Bathsheba down a well. Miss Switch finds herself in the council room, where the Witches' Council prepares their verdict. The children and Bathsheba get out of the well, and sneak in disguised as witches. Just as Miss Switch agrees to be banished, her friends reveal that her ability to spread love and joy is the most original witchcraft idea of all. The Witches' Council banishes Saturna and appoints Miss Switch the new Head Witch.

Season 4 (1980–1981)

8 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
42 Scruffy (Part 1) 1980.Oct.04 Scruffy is a puppy with beautiful eyes, a loving heart and an eager intelligence, born in a deserted house she shares with her mother, Duchess. When a fire destroys their home and nearly destroys them, the dogs are briefly adopted by their kindly rescuers who cannot bear to send them to the animal shelter and a possible untimely death. Soon, however, Duchess insists that she and Scruffy set off to find her original owners. But tragedy strikes when two trigger-happy farmers mistake the dogs for sheep killers, and Scruffy is left on her own in the countryside...
43 Scruffy (Part 2) 1980.Oct.11 The orphaned pup, frightened and freezing, returns alone to the big city and finds an affectionate new master, a ragged but regal Shakespearean street performer named Tibbles. Scruffy successfully howls her way into his act and cleverly learns every trick the old man can teach. Unfortunately, their happiness is only fleeting – Tibbles has a heart attack and collapses, and Scruffy, while chasing an ambulance, tumbles into a swirling river...
44 Scruffy (Part 3) 1980.Oct.18 Butch, a tough Bulldog, rescues the drowning Scruffy and takes her to join his motley family of strays; mistreated by humans, these dogs have set up a canine commune in an abandoned station wagon. Next, Butch and Scruffy are betrayed by a thief named Catlin and his dog Caesar, are caught by dog catchers and thrown in the pound to face their doom. Luckily, they are saved just in time to live happily ever after with their new adopted family and with puppies of their own.
45 Arthur the Kid 1981.Jan.03
46 Zack and the Magic Factory (Part 1) 1981.Jan.10
47 Zack and the Magic Factory (Part 2) 1981.Jan.17
48 Mayday! Mayday! (Part 1) 1981.Jan.24
49 Mayday! Mayday! (Part 2) 1981.Jan.31

Season 5 (1981–1982)

6 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
50 The Puppy Saves the Circus 1981.Sep.12
51 The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County 1981.Sep.19
52 Bunnicula, the Vampire Rabbit 1982.Jan.09
53 Miss Switch to the Rescue (Part 1) 1982.Jan.16 Rupert Brown and Amelia Daley receive a mysterious gift from a spooky old crone: a ship inside a bottle with a tiny man as its passenger. Rupert opens the bottle, releasing its occupant – an evil Warlock named Mordo – who kidnaps Amelia. Rupert calls upon the good witch, Miss Switch, to use her magic powers to rescue Amelia. Using her witches' encyclopedia, she traces Mordo and Amelia to the year 1640, when Mordo was imprisoned in the flask for developing an evil potion that turns people into trolls. Traveling back in time on her broomstick, Miss Switch and Rupert find Amelia on Mordo's pirate ship, where the warlock is about to administer his potion to the town's mayor. They manage to rescue Amelia, but lose the mayor to Mordo's clutches who is transformed into a troll named Thaddeus...
54 Miss Switch to the Rescue (Part 2) 1982.Jan.23 Upon their return to the present, Amelia and Rupert learn from Miss Switch's magic book that the real power behind this diabolical plot is Saturna, the wicked witch whom Miss Switch and the children had helped to banish to the Island of Fire and Ice. As Saturna vows to get her revenge, Amelia begins to fade away and then vanishes – a disappearance Miss Switch knows will be permanent unless Amelia is rescued by nightfall. Amelia returns to normal just in time with the help of Thaddeus the troll, who drinks the potion which also transforms him back into the mayor. Miss Switch returns the children to school; Rupert asks her if they'll ever see her again and, as she flies away on her broomstick with Bathsheba, Miss Switch uses her magical powers to write the words "Who Knows?" on the blackboard.
55 The Joke's on Mr. Little 1982.Feb.06

Season 6 (1983)

9 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
56 The Haunted Mansion Mystery (Part 1) 1983.Jan.08
57 The Haunted Mansion Mystery (Part 2) 1983.Jan.15
58 The Red Room Riddle 1983.Feb.05
59 Horatio Alger Updated: Frank and Fearless (Part 1) 1983.Feb.12
60 Horatio Alger Updated: Frank and Fearless (Part 2) 1983.Feb.19
61 All the Money in the World 1983.Mar.19
62 The Secret World of Og (Part 1) 1983.Apr.30
63 The Secret World of Og (Part 2) 1983.May.07
64 The Secret World of Og (Part 3) 1983.May.14

Season 7 (1984)

9 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
65 Cougar! (Part 1) 1984.Jan.07
66 Cougar! (Part 2) 1984.Jan.14
67 Cougar! (Part 3) 1984.Jan.21
68 The Dog Days of Arthur Cane (Part 1) 1984.Feb.18
69 The Dog Days of Arthur Cane (Part 2) 1984.Feb.25
70 A Different Twist 1984.Mar.10
71 The Amazing Bunjee Venture (Part 1) 1984.Mar.24
72 The Amazing Bunjee Venture (Part 2) 1984.Mar.31
73 Bad Cat 1984.Apr.14

Season 8 (1984–1985)

8 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
74 Henry Hamilton, Graduate Ghost (Part 1) 1984.Dec.08
75 Henry Hamilton, Graduate Ghost (Part 2) 1984.Dec.15
76 The Bollo Caper 1985.Feb.02
77 The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf (Part 1) 1985.Feb.23
78 The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf (Part 2) 1985.Mar.02
79 The Return of the Bunjee (Part 1) 1985.Apr.06
80 The Return of the Bunjee (Part 2) 1985.Apr.13
81 The Velveteen Rabbit 1985.Apr.20

Season 9 (1985)

9 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
82 The Adventures of Con Sawyer and Hucklemary Finn (Part 1) 1985.Sep.07
83 The Adventures of Con Sawyer and Hucklemary Finn (Part 2) 1985.Sep.14
84 Jeeter Mason and the Magic Headset 1985.Oct.05
85 Cap'n O.G. Readmore's Jack and the Beanstalk 1985.Oct.12
86 Pippi Longstocking (Part 1) 1985.Nov.02
87 Pippi Longstocking (Part 2) 1985.Nov.09
88 Columbus Circle 1985.Nov.23
89 The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (Part 1) 1985.Nov.30
90 The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (Part 2) 1985.Dec.07

Season 10 (1986)

9 episodes:

No. Title Airdate Synopsis
91 Cap'n O.G. Readmore Meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1986.Sep.13
92 The Day the Kids Took Over (Part 1) 1986.Sep.20
93 The Day the Kids Took Over (Part 2) 1986.Sep.27
94 Liberty and the Littles (Part 1) 1986.Oct.18
95 Liberty and the Littles (Part 2) 1986.Oct.25
96 Liberty and the Littles (Part 3) 1986.Nov.01
97 The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Part 1) 1986.Nov.08
98 The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Part 2) 1986.Nov.15
99 Santabear's First Christmas 1986.Nov.22

Season 11 (1988)

  1. Cap'n O.G. Readmore Meets Little Red Riding Hood — 1988.Apr.02
  2. Here Come the Littles (Part 1) — 1988.Apr.23
  3. Here Come the Littles (Part 2) — 1988.Apr.30
  4. Here Come the Littles (Part 3) — 1988.May.07

Season 12 (1988–1989)

  1. Cap'n O.G. Readmore Meets Puss 'N Boots — 1988.Sep.10
  2. Runaway Ralph, Part 1 — 1988.Oct.29
  3. Runaway Ralph, Part 2 — 1988.Nov.05
  4. P.J. Funnybunny — 1989.Feb.04
  5. The Monster Bed — 1989.Sep.09

Season 13 (1991)

  1. Ralph S. Mouse, Part 1 — 1991.Feb.16
  2. Ralph S. Mouse, Part 2 — 1991.Feb.23
  3. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great — 1991.Mar.23

Season 14 (1992)

  1. McGee and Me!: The Big Lie — 1992.Jan.25
  2. Cap'n O.G. Readmore Meets Chicken Little — 1992.Apr.18
  3. The Kingdom Chums: Original Top Ten — 1992.May.02

Season 15 (1992–1993)

  1. McGee and Me!: Take Me Out of the Ballgame — 1992.Sep.12
  2. Monster in My Pocket: The Big Scream — 1992.Oct.31
  3. Stanley & the Dinosaurs — 1992.Nov.07
  4. Choose Your Own Adventure: The Case of the Silk King, Part 1 — 1992.Dec.12
  5. Choose Your Own Adventure: The Case of the Silk King, Part 2 — 1992.Dec.19
  6. The Parsley Garden — 1993.Mar.27
  7. The Legend of Lochnagar — 1993.Apr.24
  8. Commander Toad in Space — 1993.May.08

Season 16 (1993–1994)

  1. P.J.'s Unfunnybunny Christmas — 1993.Dec.11
  2. The Magic Flute, Part 1 — 1994.Apr.30
  3. The Magic Flute, Part 2 — 1994.May.07

Season 17 (1994–1996)

  1. The Secret Garden (movie) — 5 November 1994 (ran 69 minutes)
  2. Jirimpimbira: An African Folk Tale — 25 February 1995
  3. P.J. Funnybunny: A Very Cool Easter — 30 March 1996
  4. The Magic Pearl, Part 1 — 4 August 1996
  5. The Magic Pearl, Part 2 — 11 August 1996
  6. The Magic Pearl, Part 3 — 18 August 1996

Other specials

Occasionally, during the Weekend Specials timeslot, ABC aired a series of specials under the title ABC Saturday Morning Specials. Two ABC's Wide World of Sports for Kids specials were also produced in 1994.

List of other specials

  1. The Great Alaska Dog Sled Race — 1993.Mar.06
  2. Rhythm and Jam: Rhythm & Rap — 1993.Sep.18
  3. Rhythm and Jam: Melody & Harmony — 1993.Sep.25
  4. Kids on Ice: A Skating Adventure! — 1994.Feb.12
  5. A Day at the Races — 1994.Jun.11
  6. Money Made Easy: The ABC Kids' Guide to Dollars and Sense, Part 1 — 1994.Apr.02
  7. Money Made Easy: The ABC Kids' Guide to Dollars and Sense, Part 2 — 1994.Apr.09
  8. Crash the Curiousaurus, Part 1 — 1995.Jan.14
  9. Crash the Curiousaurus, Part 2 — 1995.Jan.21
  10. Wild Things: An Earth Day Special — 1995.Apr.22
  11. The Secret of Lizard Woman — 1995.Nov.12
  12. Back to School With Schoolhouse Rock — 1996.Sep.14

External links

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