In the 70's, the networks, one right after the other, began experimenting with afternoon programming for children. However, this would not bump the usual soap operas & game shows off the schedule on a regular basis, oh, no. Instead, these would air once every 4-6 weeks or so.
This started with ABC and its Afterschool Special, which remained on the air for 25 years (1972-97), often airing on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons. Initially, the network commissioned animated programs, soliciting specials from Hanna-Barbera & DePatie-Freleng, the latter of which made their first sale to ABC with The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip, which we reviewed not long ago. However, it wasn't long before the Afterschool Special was exclusively aimed at teenagers with a series of live-action dramas. Toward the end of the run, the series was turned over to talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who would end up competing against herself in some markets, including mine.
I wish the original "gumball machine" intro was available, complete with its funky theme music, but we'll settle for the later version of the intro.
When they went to the live-action dramas exclusively, ye scribe tuned out.