Recess (TV series)
The main characters of the series. From left to right: Vince, Spinelli, Mikey, TJ, Gretchen, and Gus.
|Created by||Paul Germain
Rickey D'Shon Collins
Erik von Detten
|Composer(s)||Denis M. Hannigan|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||127, plus 4 movies (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Germain
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Walt Disney Television Animation
Paul & Joe Productions (seasons 5–6)
Plus One Animation
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television (2000-2001) (seasons 4-6)|
|Original network||ABC (One Saturday Morning)
UPN (Disney's One Too)
|Original release||August 31, 1997– December 9, 2003|
Recess is an American animated television series created by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere (credited as "Paul and Joe") and produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, with animation done by Grimsaem, Plus One Animation, Sunwoo Animation, and Toon City. The series focuses on six elementary school students and their interaction with other classmates and teachers. The title refers to the period of time during the school day in which children are not in lessons and are outside in the schoolyard, in North American society. During recess, the children form their own society, complete with government and a class structure, set against the backdrop of a regular school.
In 2001, Walt Disney Pictures released a theatrical film based on the series, Recess: School's Out. It was followed by a direct-to-video second film entitled Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street that same year. In 2003, two more direct-to-video films were released: Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade and Recess: All Growed Down. The characters also made an appearance in a 2006 episode of Disney's Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
Recess premiered on ABC on August 31, 1997, as part of the One Saturday Morning block (later known as ABC Kids). Beginning on September 11, 1999, it also began airing on UPN as part of its block, Disney's One Too. The series ended on November 15, 2001, with 127 episodes and six seasons in total. The success and lasting appeal of the series saw it being syndicated to numerous channels, notably Toon Disney, Disney Channel, and Disney XD.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Primary voice cast and characters
- 3 Production
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Films
- 6 Voice cast
- 7 Critical reception
- 8 DVD releases
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Recess portrays the lives of six fourth graders—popular and confident Theodore J. 'T.J.' Detweiler (Ross Malinger), athletic Vince LaSalle (Rickey D'Shon Collins), tough girl Ashley Spinelli (Pamela Segall Adlon), gentle giant Mikey Blumberg (Jason Davis), smart Gretchen Grundler (Ashley Johnson), and a shy new kid Gus Griswald (Courtland Mead)—as they go about their daily lives in a highly clichéd school environment at Third Street Elementary School, where students have set up a microcosm of traditional human society complete with its own government, class system, and set of unwritten laws. They are ruled by a monarch, a sixth grader named King Bob, who has various enforcers to make sure his decrees are carried out. The society has a long list of rigid values and social norms that imposes a high expectation of conformity upon all the students.
Recess is illustrated to be a symbol of freedom—a time when children can express themselves and develop meaningful relationships. Most episodes involve one or more of the main six characters seeking a rational balance between individuality and social order. They are often defending their freedom against perceived threats by adults and school administration or social norms. The group's leader, T.J. Detweiler, tends to have the most complete vision of this struggle, though even he has times when he inadvertently leads the group too far toward an extreme of conformity or non-conformity, and needs to be drawn back to even ground by his loyal friends.
The show's introductory music, art design and style often evoked the feel of prison escape movies such as The Great Escape, and the playground hierarchy and school administration were often depicted in ways that paid homage to common themes in such films. Additionally, many episodes parody classic films such as Good Will Hunting, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Few Good Men.
Primary voice cast and characters
Theodore Jasper "T.J." Detweiler (voiced by Ross Malinger in season 1; Andrew Lawrence in seasons 2–6): T. J. is the main protagonist of the series. He is the ringleader of his five best friends, and usually spends time planning pranks against the teachers. He is rarely seen without his red baseball hat, which he always wears backwards. His catchphrase is "Whomps", which he uses as a child-friendly substitute swear for something unpleasant. T. J. has good leadership skills, a talent for public speaking, and in "Good Ol' T. J.", his talent for charming his way out of any situation is revealed. Despite his troublemaking acts, he is very concerned about the well-being of his fellow students and often rallies them and convinces them to work together to stand up for their rights. His siblings include an older sister (around 17 or 18) named Becky, who was seen in Recess: School's Out (voiced by Melissa Joan Hart); he claims to have an older brother, though this is never confirmed. It is implied he has a (mutual) crush on Spinelli.
Ashley Funicello Spinelli (voiced by Pamela Adlon): Spinelli going by her last name Spinelli, is a wrestling fan and is the tomboy of the group. Although small for her age, Spinelli maintains a tough-guy image, is strong and often tries to use violence to solve her problems. During the gang's endeavors, Spinelli is the one who gets reluctant kids to talk, usually by threatening or intimidating them. With her reputation, a lot of Spinelli's problems happen when she is shown to have a weakness, as she prefers to be feared and respected. While she doesn't dislike her first name since she was named after her great aunt, the first woman to win the Iditarod Sled Race, she kept it hidden because she does not want to be associated with "The Ashleys", a clique of snooty popular girls. She has a talent for art, though she claims she "only does it to blow off steam". Her aggressive and tough personality has gotten on the good side of Miss Finster multiple times. She secretly has a crush on T. J. and speaks with a frontal lisp.
Vincent Pierre "Vince" LaSalle (voiced by Rickey D'Shon Collins): Vince is the most athletic student at Third Street School. Along with his superior athletic ability comes a bit of an ego, but in the end he always knows his friends are the most important. His athletic/competitive skills are far superior, so much so that he seems to excel at most, if not all, challenges, such as cooking, golf, and even made-up playground games. He has a rivalry with Erwin Lawson, a fifth grader. He has an older brother named Chad who he thinks is the coolest boy he knows, even if his peers see him as a geek. His catchphrase is "Whompinbobyulah!" to exclaim surprise. Popular and proud, he is T. J.'s right-hand man in nearly everything.
Gretchen Gloria Grundler (voiced by Ashley Johnson): Gretchen is an academically talented and extremely intelligent student. She is usually known as the "Smart Girl" on the playground. A child prodigy, she has shown the ability for academic feats that other students in her grade find complicated. She is still a kid at heart and her imagination sometimes gets the better of her, as she is still very naive despite her IQ. She is assisted by an interactive, calculator-sized, hand-held machine called a Galileo (voiced by Eric Idle), which she loves very much. She is not very good at getting out of trouble, as she is too trustworthy and honest. Though her friends don't share her scientific curiosity, Gretchen considers the gang much more important than finding intellectual colleagues. She also has a unique talent with yo-yo's.
Michael "Mikey" Blumberg (voiced by Jason Davis; singing voiced by Robert Goulet): Mikey is an overweight, mild-mannered, and philosophical 10-year old. He is good at playing goalie in soccer due to his height and weight. He writes poetry, performs ballet, and believes in notions of peace that are often dismissed by the others. Though Mikey is known for being a "sweet-souled giant", there have been times where Mikey is revealed to have a dark side (particularly apparent when others take advantage of him or do not take him seriously). Mikey is also a precociously talented singer.
Gustav Patton "Gus" Griswald (voiced by Courtland Mead): Gus is a new student in Third Street Elementary. He was absent in the first episode but was introduced in the following episode as "The New Kid". Gus is usually naive to the rules of the playground and its traditions. Gus comes from a military family, and therefore had to move around frequently (he has attended 12 schools in six years before he began attending Third Street). He is an ace dodgeball player nicknamed "El Diablo", but gave up the game after he made a little boy cry by hitting him in the face with a dodgeball. Even though he is a very good dodgeball player, Vince mentions that Gus is the worst kicker in the school. He also plays the guitar, and is typically a timid, unpopular boy. However, he has great leadership abilities when they are drawn out of him, and his sense of right and wrong is equal to T. J.'s in these instances.
Recess first premiered on ABC on August 31, 1997, as a "sneak preview", and later transmissioned to ABC's Disney's One Saturday Morning programming block on September 13, 1997. The series' success spawned three direct-to-video titles Recess Trilogy: Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street in 2001, Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade and Recess: All Growed Down in 2003; and one theatrical film, Recess: School's Out, which was released on February 16, 2001. The series ended on November 5, 2001; reruns continued to air on ABC and UPN until September 2, 2003.
Disney Channel added Recess to their lineup on September 3, 2003. Fillmore!, The Legend of Tarzan, and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command were all pre-empted in favor of a 90-minute showing of the series. It temporarily ceased airing on September 2, 2005, but resumed on August 26, 2008 replacing The Buzz on Maggie, and continued until June 30, 2010.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||26||August 31, 1997||January 17, 1998||ABC|
|2||25||September 12, 1998||February 27, 1999|
|3||16||September 11, 1999||January 22, 2000|
|4||46||September 12, 1999||July 17, 2000||UPN|
|5||9||September 9, 2000||January 6, 2001||ABC|
|6||5||October 31, 2001||November 5, 2001||UPN|
Crossover with Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch: The Series featured an episode titled "Lax" that featured the cast of Recess, when T.J. and the gang go on a school vacation to Hawaii. Notably, Recess was the only series that crossed over with Lilo & Stitch: The Series that was not a Disney Channel Original Series, and whose production had already ended before Lilo & Stitch: The Series first aired.
Disaster strikes when Dr. Hämsterviel and his henchman, Gantu, try to use an escaped alien experiment to make everyone relaxed while he takes over the world. Luckily, Gretchen saves the day, since she believes work is relaxing.
Recess: School's Out
Recess: School's Out is an animated film directed by Chuck Sheetz and is based on the television series where the characters must intercept a gang of anti-recess terrorists plotting to bring about a new ice age to eliminate the institution of recess. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and was released theatrically nationwide on February 16, 2001.
Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade
- Ross Malinger as T.J. (season 1)
- Andrew Lawrence as T.J. (seasons 2-6 and movies 1-3)
- Myles Jeffrey as T.J.
- Rickey D'Shon Collins as Vince
- Jason Davis as Mikey
- Courtland Mead as Gus
- Ashley Johnson as Gretchen
- Pamela Adlon as Spinelli
- April Winchell as Miss Finster
- Ryan O'Donohue as Randall
- Dabney Coleman as Principal Prickly
- Allyce Beasley as Miss Grotke
- Erik von Detten as Erwin Lawson
- Diedrich Bader
- Tony Jay
- Tress MacNeille
- Justin Shenkarow
- Francesca Marie Smith
- Paul Willson
- Gregg Berger
- Clancy Brown
- Corey Burton
- Anndi McAfee
- Sam McMurray
- Patrick Renna
- Katey Sagal
- Frank Welker
- Travis Tedford
- Kath Soucie
TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz wrote favorably about Recess in their 2016 book TV (The Book), stating that the series is "Easily one of the smartest, most prankishly playful adult cartoons ever passed off as children's entertainment.... Recess is a highly ritualized bit of entertainment that strikes the same notes over and over again, but always in infinite variation and with a surprising eye for psychological grace notes, especially when characters you thought of as brusque and one-dimensional reveal their fears and dreams to one another.
Recess: School's Out
(Released August 7, 2001)
Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street
(Released November 6, 2001)
- "Principal For a Day"
- "The Great Can Drive"
- "Weekend At Muriel's"
- "Yes Mikey, Santa Does Shave"
Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade
(Released December 9, 2003)
- "No More School"
- "Grade Five Club"
- "A Recess Halloween"
Recess: All Growed Down
(Released December 9, 2003)
- The Legend of Big Kid
- Wild Child
- Kindergarten Derby
- All Growed Down (un-aired episode)
- Bonus DVD Episodes titled as "Fans' 3 Favorite Episodes"
- The Challenge
- The Story of Whomps
- One Stayed Clean
- Mifflin, Lawrie (August 11, 1997). "Cable Chief Tries to Bring Cool Into Disney Children's TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Search Results - Entertainment". Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Mitchell, Elvis (February 16, 2001). "As Seen on TV: Making the World Safe for Vacations". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Disney Channel September Info Now Up | Toonzone Forums". Toonzone.net. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
- "Toon Disney - Schedule - This Week's Schedule". Toon Disney. Archived from the original on 2003-08-01. Retrieved 2003-08-01.
"Toon Disney - Schedule - This Week's Schedule". Toon Disney. Archived from the original on 2003-12-06. Retrieved 2003-12-06.
- Sepinwall, Alan; Seitz, Matt Zoller (6 September 2016). TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455588190.
- Alan Sepinwall; Matt Zoller Seitz (1 September 2016). "Why 'Deadwood' Is a Top-10 TV Show of All Time". The Ringer. PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
- "Recess - School's Out". 7 August 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2017 – via Amazon.
- "Recess Christmas - Miracle on Third Street". 6 November 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2017 – via Amazon.
- "Recess - Taking The Fifth Grade". 9 December 2003. Retrieved 1 April 2017 – via Amazon.
- "Recess - All Growed Down". 9 December 2003. Retrieved 1 April 2017 – via Amazon.
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