To think that ABC started it with the Afterschool Special. NBC followed with Special Treat, which, unfortunately, was long gone by the time CBS rebooted their Afternoon Playhouse into Schoolbreak Special in 1984. The Playhouse format wasn't working, so CBS figured they needed to try to cut into ABC's audience.
For 12 years, it worked. Unlike the Afterschool Special, CBS didn't have any animated entries in their series. Like their competitors, CBS used this time to tackle some difficult issues facing teens and young adults. Never was this more evident than in the 1987 season finale, "An Enemy Among Us", which starred Danny Nucci, Dee Wallace Stone ("E. T.", "Poltergeist"), and Gladys Knight.