For most students in America, recess is one of the most beloved parts of the school day. You can run around, have some freedom outside the classroom, and get to know your peers on a social level. So, it makes sense that Disney chose to focus on the concept for an animated series. And, it also makes sense that it was a hit.
Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere created Disney’s Recess — also known simply as Recess — back in 1997. Originally airing on ABC’s “One Saturday Morning,” the show found homes on other networks as well, such as the Disney Channel. Aside from its success on television, it also inspired four movies. Adults also enjoyed the series, as it was smartly written and concocted. That should be no surprise, as Ansolabehere also helped work with the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold! during its early seasons, which has also stood the test of time.
If you happened to miss Recess when it was first on the air, there’s good news. Recess is streaming online on Disney+, and you can catch up on all six seasons. Here are some of the best ways to watch and stream Recess.
How to Stream ‘Recess’ – Exclusively on Disney+
Recess is one of the fan-favorite Disney original movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream Recess and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Recess”
- 5. Tap on “Recess”
- 6. Tap the PLAY button
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
When Was It On TV: August 1997 – November 2001
Creators: Paul Germain, Joe Ansolabehere
Starring (voices of): Andrew Lawrence, Rickey D’Shon Collins, Ashley Johnson, Pamela Adlon, Jason Davis
Synopsis: Recess focuses on a group of elementary school students, lead by T.J. Detweiler (voiced by Lawrence in the majority of seasons) who try hard to fight against social norms and figure out their place in society, all during the time when school (and recess) are in session.
Recess focuses on a group of six fourth-graders who are finding their place in a school environment where social class matters. Within their school, they’re expected to abide by a particular list of rules, with other students expecting their peers to conform to social norms.
How Many ‘Recess’ Seasons Are There?
Recess aired for six seasons on various networks. There were 127 episodes total, not including the movies.
Recess Season 1
26 Episodes | August 1997 – January 1998
The first episode of the series explores T.J. Detweiler’s lack of recess and the necessary “court appearance” for raiding the kitchen of all of its “good food.” The second episode discusses what it’s like being new. Even though Gus is quickly embraced by the group, his labeling of “New Kid” by King Bob makes him a target anyway. Gus later learns about the art of the jinx in the episode “Jinxed,” and the feeling of power, after Bob temporarily gives him the title of “King Of The Playground.” The kids have adventures inside, like in “Teacher’s Lounge” where they’re trying their hardest to figure out what the forbidden room is even like.
Recess Season 2
25 Episodes | September 1998 – February 1999
In “Operation Field Trip,” A.J. and the gang need to find a way to fix a broken school bus. Later on in the series, the gang pairs up with kindergarten kids in hopes of gaining amusement park passes — but T.J. has a problem bonding with the younger children. To keep his level of importance, King Bob instructs the other kids to make a statue of him so that people will always remember his legacy. A stray cat joins the gang in “Operation Stuart,” but the kids end up fighting over who actually owns him.
Recess Season 3
16 Episodes | September 1999 – January 2000 (On ABC)
Randall tries his luck at stand-up comedy in the episode “Stand Up Randall.” T.J. not only gets a black eye, but breaks his collarbone this season. After having to stay inside to heal, he befriends an unlikely group that he later needs to stand up for. In the season finale, the Ashley’s concoct a rating system that ends up hurting everyone’s feelings.
Recess Season 4
46 Episodes | September 1999 – July 2000 (On UPN)
Recess is actually canceled in the seventh episode of the season after the government decided to take it away. As a result, the kids face lethargy. Gus gets in trouble after he’s pressured to shoplift candy from a store called Kelso’s.In “The Candidates,” there’s a big battle between Vince and Gretchen when they’re both up for the job of class president. In “Nobody Doesn’t Like T.J,” T.J. tries his hardest to form a legitimate friendship with Gordy. Mikey resorts back to childhood after turning ten in the episode “Bonky Fever,” and Vince starts proving himself as a young chef.
Recess Season 5
9 Episodes | September 2000- January 2001
The shortened fifth season includes the second two-parter episode of the series, titled “Lawson and his Crew,” which addresses the gang’s feelings as the feel like they’re being replaced on the playground. In another episode, they try to figure out who’s been removing all of the balls from the playground.
Recess Season 6
5 Episodes | October 2001 – November 2001
The first episode of the season, “Terrifying Tales of Recess,” pays homage to “Tales of the Crypt” and features three spooky stories. Mundy loses his bad-boy reputation when he does a good deed, and A.J. starts doubting his own leadership capabilities in separate episodes.
What Are the Best ‘Recess’ Episodes?
Like with many cartoons, a few episodes will always play in the minds of the viewers. Here are some of the most memorable ‘Recess’ episodes that you won’t want to miss.
Season 2, Episode 18: “Weekend at Muriel’s”
After Spinelli’s parents are unable to find a babysitter, they bump into Miss Finster, who agrees to take over the job. While her friends act like she’ll suffer a terrible fate, Spinelli ends up having fun with her teacher, which is an outcome even she didn’t predict.
Season 2, Episode 11: “The Substitute”
When Miss Grotke gets sick, the kids have to deal with Mr. E, who treats the class more like a boot camp, with push-ups and sit-ups. Still, the kids manage to take a liking to him — except for A.J. This episode stands out since most sitcoms or cartoons that deal with a substitute have a different approach.
Season 2, Episode 4: “Outcast Ashley”
Ashley A. makes the grand mistake of forgetting about a very special “popular” holiday and gets kicked out of the group. When she takes a chance on Gretchen as a friend, Gretchen finally gets to feel like she’s in with the cool kids. This episode was important since it showed that even rivalry cliques could form solid friendships.
‘Recess’ Vocal Cast
Andrew Lawrence as T.J. Detweiler
While T.J. is the leader of the Gang, who he’s been close to since kindergarten, Andrew Lawrence hasn’t been in as many episodes like the rest of the crew. Reason being, the character of T.J. was voiced by Ross Malinger during the first season. Lawrence took over when the second season began. The character of T.J. is a strong one. In most episodes, he comes off as being an honorable and outgoing kid.
Rickey D’Shon Collins as Vince LaSalle
Vince LaSalle is the most athletic member of the gang. He’s close with T.J. and most of his friends view him as being cool. Rickey D’Shon Collins continued doing voiceover work, most recently in the television show Danny Phantom.
Ashley Johnson as Gretchen Grundler
Gretchen is tall, thin, and without a doubt the smartest member of the gang. She also has a computerized device best known as Galileo. Voice actress Ashley Johnson has recently had a visible role in the Dungeons and Dragons-based series Critical Role since 2015.
Jason Davis as Mikey Blumberg
Mikey is a poet, and one of the sweetest members of the group. Based on his size, many people assume he’d be a bully — but he’s more interested in pursuing his musical talent. So far, voicing Mikey has been the biggest role in Jason Davis’s career, although he did appear on a few episodes of the original Roseanne and 7th Heaven.
Pamela Adlon as Spinelli
Even though she was born as Ashley Spinelli, the character voiced by Pamela Adlon usually goes by her last name, mostly as a way to differentiate from the popular girls with the same name. Adlon is currently starring as Sam Fox in the FX show Better Things and is set to appear in the upcoming Pete Davidson semi-autobiographical film Staten Island.
Courtland Mead as Gus Griswald
Courtland Mead plays Gus, the new kid in the town at the start of the first season. He grew up in a military family, meaning that he moved around a lot and never had the luxury of getting a school picture in the yearbook before joining the other Recess kids. After Recess aired, Courtland Mead voiced the lead character in the series Lloyd in Space.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on ‘Recess’?
Recess occasionally had a guest star voice a character. Here’s a list of the most memorable Recess guest stars.
Katey Sagal as Flo Spinelli
Katey Sagal voices Flo Spinelli, the mom of Ashley Spinelli. She’s appeared in a few episodes, including “Parents’ Night,” “Weekend at Muriel’s,” and “More Like Gretchen.”
Jason Marsden as James Stone
The character of James Stone was short-lived, only lasting one episode in Season Four. That episode was titled “The Spy Who Came in from the Playground,” and it featured James as the suspicious new kid at school. Jason Marsden has since provided his voice to series like The Lion Guard and Young Justice.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind ‘Recess’?
Recess was created by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere, both of who also worked together on the 1994 animated adaptation of Beethoven. Germain is credited as writing 129 episodes of Recess, while Ansolabehere penned 28. But, the two had others helping them. Here are some of the other big names of Recess.
Chuck Sheetz: ‘Recess’ Director
Chuck Sheetz directed 62 episodes of Recess, making him the most prominent director of the series. He’s also worked on a bunch of episodes of The Simpsons, along with the children’s show Llama Llama.
Phil Walsh:’Recess’ Writer
Aside from writing 21 episodes of Recess, Phil Walsh also worked heavily on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and House of Mouse, signifying he was a big part of the Disney network.
Howy Parkins: ‘Recess’ Director
Howy Parkins also worked hard on Recess, directing 42 episodes. His resume includes working as an animation director on shows like Hey Arnold! and Rugrats, meaning that he likely worked with Ansolabehere before.
‘Recess’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
Recess was a popular show for Disney — and the only reason why it was canceled, according to rumors, was that Disney just wanted to make space for something new. Critics were also puzzled by the cancelation, crediting the show for being ahead of its time with some of its characters and plots. A group of fans went so far as to make a live-action movie that explained where the characters of Recess are today, filmed outside of the Disney name.
Where Recess Ranks in the Television Pantheon
Since Recess was on for so many seasons, fans are quick to get nostalgic over it. Both Ansolabehere and Germain are still proud of it, telling Entertainment Weekly that they’d love to revisit the show if they were given the ability. “The thing I’m proudest about has to do with what we talked about initially,” Germain said. “We really felt like we captured an aspect of childhood and talked to our audience about their own experiences. That’s what we wanted to do, and I felt like we really achieved it there.”
‘Recess’ Theme Song
‘Recess’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
1. Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere have admitted that their characters are based on real people.
They reportedly said that the real Spinelli was one of the coolest people they both collectively knew. T.J. was actually based on a close friend that Absolabehere had in kindergarten, named J.P. Heck. Most interestingly, Gretchen is based on Paul’s wife.
2. Vince, Gus, Mikey, Gretchen, and T.J. were all voiced by actual kids.
Pamela Adlon was the only one who was an adult. The good news is that she’s so talented that it’s tough to tell that she’s decades older than her co-stars.
3. Pluto actually makes a cameo.
In the season one episode “Rainy Days,” you can see Mickey’s notorious dog floating away on a doghouse during a dream sequence.
4. TJ’s character was completely redesigned.
When planning his character, he initially had a buzz cut. In his final version, his hair is covered with a baseball hat. His hair also made the change from red to brown.
5. Miss Grotke was used as a way for Germain and Ansolabehere to get political.
The two told Entertainment Weekly that they were two liberals writing for a conservative network, so they used Miss Grotske as a way to get their views across in the name of humor. “If we made fun of her a little bit, we could say what we really thought. It would be a joke. We were making fun of ourselves in a way, if that makes sense,” Ansolabehere said.