RECESSOriginal medium: Television animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1997
Creators: Joe Ansolabehere and Paul Germain
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There's nothing new about setting an animated cartoon series in an elementary school, and running stories about the school's inmates and their juvenile adventures. Just as an example, the Archie crowd has been done at various age levels, and at least one of his TV shows was about him and the gang when they were not much older than the Little Archie series
depicted them. But the grade-school equivalent of his Riverdale High was never even remotely like The Third Street Elementary School, where Disney's Recess was set.
There, there was a club for girls named Ashley (each of whom had a brother named Tyler and a sister named Brittany), with a palatial on-campus clubhouse disguised as a pile of used tires. There was a playground king, who held court high atop Ol' Rusty, the school's jungle gym. Kindergartners wore war paint, and their territory was seldom visited by any but the most intrepid upper-grade explorers. All this was presided over by Muriel P. Finster, an ancient harridan who used to be fun, allegedly at least, but by the time the show aired was feared by most right-thinking kids.
The show was created for Disney by writer/producers Joe Ansolabehere (Hey Arnold!, Duckman) and Paul Germain (Rugrats, The Simpsons). Later, the two collaborated on creating Lloyd in Space. It debuted as part of ABC's two-hour One Saturday Morning on September 13, 1997. Others that helped kick off One Saturday Morning are Pepper Ann and Doug.
It focused on a half-dozen friends: T.J. (for Thomas Jasper) Detweiler, 10, was a natural leader and generally acknowledged to be the head of the gang. He was voiced by a succession of actors Ross Malinger (who has mostly done face acting) did him in the first season, and Andrew Lawrence (who has also been heard in King of the Hill and the Lilo & Stitch series) after that. Vince LaSalle, 11. voiced by Rickey D'Shon Collins (Tucker Foley in Danny Phantom) was one of the school's best athletes. Mikey Blumberg, 10, was chubby and mild-mannered, preferring poetry and ballet to more confrontational activities. He was voiced by Jason Davis, another face actor with relatively few voice credits, at least when he merely spoke. His singing voice was done by Robert Goulet (Jaune-Tom in Gay Purr-ee). Gus Griswald, 9, was the new kid in the group his military family moved around a lot. His voice was provided by Courtland Mead (several voices in A Bug's Life). Gretchen Grundler, 11, was brainy enough to do 6th-grade work and beyond, if she was of a mind to try. Her voice was done by Ashley Johnson (Terra in Teen Titans). Gretchen carried a very intelligent small machine called Galileo. Galileo's vioce was Eric Idle (Pinky's mom). Spinelli, 11, was the group's tough girl. Her secret shame was that her first name was. Ashley. (Her middle name was Funicello, after 1950s Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.) Her voice was done by Pamela Segall Adlon (Dewey in Quack Pack),
Miss Finster's voice was April Winchell (Tanya in Mighty Ducks). She was often accompanied on the playground by Randall Weems, notorious snitch, who was voiced by Ryan O'Donohue (Matt in Batman Beyond). Other voices heard include Dabney Coleman (Ashton Philips in Jumanji), Tress MacNeille (Babs Bunny), Frank Welker (Jabberjaw), Elizabeth Daily (Buttercup in Powerpuff Girls), and Toran Caudell (Tripod in 101 Dalmatians.).,
Aside from its Saturday morning slot, Recess made the rounds of other Disney programming blocks, both daily and weekend. New half-hour episodes finally stopped being produced in 2001, at which time it went into reruns on The Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Disney CX and other Disney venues. Also, there were feature-length movie versions. Recess: Miracle on 3rd Street, which functions as the show's Christmas special, was released directly to video on November 6, 2001; and Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade came out the same way on December 9, 2003. Recess: School's Out, also known as Summer Vacation: The Ultimate Recess, was released to theatres on February 16, 2001.
The show has been popular since it first appeared, and its reruns are still going strong.