Because those commercials are just rotting your brain and causing that Christmas money to burn a hole in your pocket!
It’s the first Throwback Thursday of the new year, and I thought, “well, why not kick off the new year with something different.” Don’t worry, the commercials aren’t going anywhere, just something that aired during the commercials is honing in on the commercials’ territory for this week.
If you grew up in the 1980s, and even before that, you probably remember a type of wraparound programming called the “interstitial.” These were usually “host segments” or Public Service Announcement segment that would air in the commercial break immediately following one program, before the next one starts, or within the program during the commercial breaks. Turner Classic Movies, “FYI” on ABC, School House Rock on ABC, and In The News on CBS are among the most well-known. A contemporary example, that still airs today (just like the ones on Turner Classic Movies) is NBC’s The More You Know. I’m going to take a look at some of these interstitials over the next few weeks, but I wanted to start with the interstitial that came before we all started saying “the more you know!” This one has an equally catchy title, with equally catchy actors bestowing important knowledge during our otherwise un-knowledgeable Saturday morning viewing.
That series was One to Grow On, and immediately followed cartoons on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup, beginning on September 17, 1983. Their goal? Bestow the young viewing audience with important life lessons in a very short amount of time.
Segments would start with a short animated introduction, going into a title screen with an animated television, and the presenter appearing on the screen, with this introduction:
“Hi, I’m (Insert Name Here), and I’ll be right back with ‘One to Grow On!'”
Unless you were the Bateman siblings, then it was all plural.
Between 1983 and 1986, a commercial would immediately follow this introduction, with the segment re-formatted in 1986 to not include a commercial break.
Segments would involve a situation or dilemma that a child could be facing – lying, destroying property, friendship issues, stranger danger, nutritional habits, proper manners, handling one’s temper, inappropriate behaviors by adults, earning money, saying no to drugs, confidence, getting help when lost, responsibility, and fear of the dark were some of the many topics covered. If it was ethical, involved personal safety, or was something a kid could relate to, it was “one to grow on.”
There was even a segment on the loss of a loved one (in this case, the death of a best friend), and at any age, that can be hard-hitting. Having gone through that earlier this year, it is difficult deal with. I’m 38 and it is hard, so I could never imagine being a kid or teenager and having to deal with it.
After the situation is introduced, the host talks about what just happened, and offers up the solution to the scenario, concluding with the child/children/teenager resolving the situation. The “scenarios” were a bit cheesy in their delivery, but they reflected real life, and covered situations that affect both teenagers and younger children.
And, after all is said and done, the host closes out the segment with…
“I’m (Insert Name Here), and that’s ‘One to Grow On!'”
Short, sweet, to the point, and…you probably learned something important.
As I said, our cartoons certainly weren’t handling that back in the 1980s.
Running two minutes in length, the segments were hosted by stars of NBC programming of the time, with one segment featuring baseball player Ozzie Smith talking about chewing tobacco, and how it has nothing to do with playing baseball. Even then-First Lady Nancy Reagan participated in One to Grow On!
Among the NBC stars contributing to the segments were the aforementioned Bateman siblings, Jason and Justine (both in separate segments, as well as together for one segment), Perry King and Thom Bray (from Riptide), Dwight Schultz and Mr. T, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon, Soleil Moon Frye, Lisa Welchel, Michael Gross, Estelle Getty, Betty White, David Hasselhoff, Ricky Schroeder, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Joel Higgins (Silver Spoons), Michael Landon, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe, Richard Moll, Jackee Harry, Michael J. Fox, Tina Yothers, and Byron Allen, among others. The actors appeared in multiple segments over the years, obviously as long as their shows were on the air.
As for the children in the segments, I don’t recognize any of them, but did spot a very young Jaleel White in a few of the segments as “Jerry.” There are also multiple segments featuring “Becky” and “Terri.”
I can’t find any information on how many segments were made, but I did find a playlist of segments, with some videos featuring segments thrown in. This seems like a pretty complete list, sans the filler.
There’s others floating around YouTube (like the one with the Batemans) that I hadn’t seen before last week.
I vaguely remember One to Grow On, but I certainly can’t forget that music. Most of my Saturday morning was spent watching ABC and CBS in the 1980s and 1990s.
Graduating from One To Grow On, to The More You Know
One To Grow On aired until September 2, 1989, and was succeeded by The More You Know a week later. That segment airs to this day, still tackling all the important topics of life, and it still features NBC celebrities (with a few political figures thrown in).
The segment title even resulted in the launch of an Educational/Informational block of programming on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup in 2016. Both segments hit on the right amount of nostalgia, even with their delightful cheesiness, they really did teach a good lesson.
Isn’t that what matters most?
And hey, if you laughed at what you saw, you were still learning something.
And that, my friends, is…
I had to!
Have a great Throwback Thursday!