The 1980s were a glorious time of cartoons that didn’t need to have any sort of educational value. And when they tried to do so, it was always through thinly-veiled Public Service Announcements thrown in to fill a cartoon’s running time at the end of the show. There may have been five minutes left going into that commercial break, but the story was wrapped up, and it was time to teach the young ones a “lesson.”
With the advent of the Children’s Television Act of 1990, this method of education became a relic of the decade we had just come out of, but for those of us who grew up during that time, it was awesome. We will forever cherish the time when “educational” involved He-Man and She-Ra discussing Bad Touch, a member of GI Joe taught me about proper skin care in the sun (and how not to fall off a cliff), and when we didn’t care what the Transformers had to teach us…we were just fascinated that they COULD teach us something.
And kids today are so much smarter than we ever were. Can’t find the correlation, can you?
One segment I do remember from my childhood (and probably because it aired during a good portion of my earliest years) was “One to Grow On,” which aired on NBC from 1983 until 1989, and featured actors from NBC’s then-awesome prime time lineup helping us to become well-informed young citizens.
The actors were all people who were familiar to child audiences (some of them children and teenagers themselves when they appeared in the segments), and they covered important topics like noise pollution, fire safety, drugs, honesty, Stranger Danger, making money, being the youngest, getting lost, caring for pets, underage drinking, showing off, and yes, the uncomfortable art of…uncomfortable touching. If it was of a moral or ethical dilemma, “One to Grow On” covered it. If it was deemed an apparent life struggle of a child, “One to Grow On” covered it. The celebrities got on the level of the young audience to help them solve their problems.
Each segment – ran roughly 1 to 2 – minutes each, and immediately following the end credits of a cartoon. While the “host” of the segment always someone familiar to us, the children who appeared in the scenarios weren’t (or maybe not to be, I was young when these aired), but one face I do recognize from a few of them is Jaleel White, because he’s obviously everybody’s child in every scenario.
And they all had one thing in common…the acting isn’t the greatest. Especially this one.
Uploaded by Jude Law (I’m sure it’s not THAT Jude Law)
I’d love to know who this kid is, because she is playing such a perfect brat. Kids could take a cue from her and not act like this. Ever. “Bonkers” is not an excuse for bad behavior, but she redeemed herself in the name of not having to go to an accordion recital. That is, until the next time “something isn’t FAIR!”
The segments always ended with the “host” using the same final line…
“I’m (Insert Name Here), and that’s one to grow on!”
The title of the segment comes from the custom of putting an extra candle on a birthday cake as – you guessed it – “one to grow on.”
The segments were replaced on September 9, 1989 with the ongoing “The More You Know” segments, which, of course, are something we’re all familiar with. The reason for the end of “One to Grow On” had to do with NBC no longer airing cartoons beginning with the 1989-1990 season. So while we are all familiar with “The More You Know,” there was a time before it, when we had our own informational segment.
I may not be crazy about what NBC airs these days, but in the 1980s, they were at the top of their game, and these segments just add to what made NBC great to grow up with. As a child of the 1980s and 1990s, I spent MANY hours watching NBC (though I mostly watched CBS and ABC Saturday Morning blocks), and watching these have jogged my memory.
So, whenever you’re ready, and you have some time to spare, here’s almost three hours’ worth of Public Service Announcements that were one to grow (up) on! Of course, you don’t have to watch them all in one shot, but you know you will…or will come pretty darn close to one sitting.
Go on, what you’re doing right now is not nearly as important as this…unless you are working, which leads me to my next question…what are you doing reading this at work?!
I hope you enjoyed this fun little trip down memory lane, back to a time when NBC was a huge contender in the famous Big Three, and they did stuff like this.
The more you know, you’ll always have one to grow on.
Oh, do you see what I did there?!
Obscure? Overlooked? Not loved? None of this describes Allison, but it does describe some of the things she likes to find while hunting the interwebs. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can find more like it (and much more) at her blog, Allison’s Written Words. She’d also love if you followed her blog on Facebook, and you can contact her via Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
Allison believes in the power of suggestion to do the right thing…when Jason Bateman gives that suggestion. I’m Allison Venezio, not a well-known ’80s celebrity, and this is one to grow on!
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.wordpress.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords) and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
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