is a United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
television series produced by the Educational Film Center at Northern Virginia ETV
MHz Networks is a Northern Virginia based independent, non-commercial educational broadcaster operated by Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. The legal broadcast callsigns for the two stations of MHz Networks are WNVC and WNVT...
and aired on PBS
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....
for 16 episodes in 1982. It billed itself as "a 16-part series for young people and their families," with the target audience being primarily preteens and teenagers, and was widely praised by educational groups. The series was later rerun by Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, often simply called Nick and originally named Pinwheel, is an American children's channel owned by MTV Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom International. The channel is primarily aimed at children ages 7–17, with the exception of their weekday morning program block aimed at preschoolers...
in the mid-1980s.
Set in Washington, DC, Powerhouse
focused on the adventures of a racially and ethnically diverse group of six teenagers and young adults from the inner city, based at a community center founded by a woman named Brenda Gaines, who inherited the location from her family. The basic theme of the series is that every person is a source of creativity and power. "We all have a power house deep down inside," as one line said in the show's theme song. Episodes dealt with significant personal issues that affect teenagers such as alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...
, peer pressure
Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member , or a social clique...
, physical fitness, and more, but they were combined with fast-paced action-adventure stories in which the group often had to solve a mystery or prevent a crime. For instance, in one episode they had to uncover the head of a racketeering operation that threatened to put Brenda and Powerhouse out of business. In another episode, they tried to track down the source of a potentially lethal food-poisoning epidemic, a task that took on even greater urgency when one of the group became infected.
One of Powerhouse's
innovations was the use of what the show called Uncommercials
. Since the show ran on PBS, which is commercial-free, the producers created 30- to 90-second commercial-like breaks that would air during the broadcast. Instead of selling products, uncommercials would sell a theme, often in entertaining or humorous ways.
One uncommercial, for example, featured a 12-year-old boy who asked, "How do I get a girl to like me?" Several boys and girls of around the same age then offered suggestions.
Another uncommercial featured Henry Winkler
Henry Franklin Winkler, OBE is an American actor, director, producer, and author.Winkler is best known for his role as Fonzie on the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days...
as a Celebrity Organ, giving advice on how to take care of your lungs.
Another popular uncommercial theme was Don't Just Sit There—Do Something, which encouraged viewers to do something active or constructive.
feature was a salute to a particular youth organization, such as the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions...
; these salutes preceded at least one of the uncommercials.
Cast and characters
- Brenda Gaines (Sandra Bowie)—Brenda is the founder of Powerhouse. Originally her father's gym
The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, that mean a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men...
nasium, she turns it into an after-school youth center, which the rest of the group eventually joins. Brenda is the leader and de facto authority figure of the group, though she treats the rest as friends and equals rather than subordinates.
- Jennifer La Bianca (Domenica Galati)—A friendly brunette teenager, Jennifer has a strong aptitude for mechanics.
- Kevin Jackson (Michael Mack)—18-year-old Kevin is the eldest of the five teenagers. He is the rock of the group, a big brother to whom the younger ones can go for advice and support.
- Lolo Knopke (Jason Kravits
Jason Kravits is an American actor. His film credits include The Stepford Wives and Sweet November. Kravits has served more often as a television guest star. He can be seen in episodes of shows such as Friends; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Yes, Dear; and Gilmore Girls...
)—Lolo is a preteen, one of the younger characters. He is insecure about his appearance because he is very short and has to wear glasses (thus giving him the appearance of a stereotypical nerd
Nerd is a derogatory slang term for an intelligent but socially awkward and obsessive person who spends time on unpopular or obscure pursuits, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Nerds are considered to be awkward, shy, and unattractive...
), but he is also one of the smartest kids in the group.
- Pepper McKenzie (Jessica Prentice)—12-year-old Pepper is one of the most outgoing members of the group, despite being the youngest. She is impulsive and adventurous, and sometimes prone to mischief.
- Tony Dominguez (Michael Wikes)—Tony is a streetwise 17-year-old. He is a good person at heart but sometimes feels like he has to play the tough guy to mask his insecurities.
- "With a Little Help From My Friends (Beginning)"
- "With a Little Help From My Friends (Conclusion)"
- "Life or Breath"
- "Master of the Art"
- "You Make Me Sick"
- "Something for Nothing"
- "Name of the Game"
- "One of the Gang"
- "Something Ventured"
- "Help Wanted"
- "What Have You Got to Lose?"
- "Big Devil"
- "Fit to be Tied"
- "The Short Life of Lolo Knopke"