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Recess Wiki
"I've counted the ceiling tiles 13 times already. There's 1,678. You hear me? 1,678!"

"The Break In" is the first episode of the first season of Recess, as well as the debut episode of the series, which was first broadcast on September 13th, 1997. However, a sneak peek was shown on August 31st, 1997. It was the name of the pilot episode of Recess.



T.J. Detweiler is punished with no recess after an unsuccessful attempt of his gang to raid the kitchen's "good food"; seeing how deranged he has become, the rest of his friends try to break him out by enlisting the help of the other students on the playground.

Main Story

The show starts with lunch, which is an inedible and volatile Tomato Surprise, a boy named T.J. Detweiler decides to try and get to the good food kept in one of the freezers in the kitchen before the cafeteria. However, he is caught by a teacher named Muriel Finster and is punished with no recess. T.J.'s gang hears the news and convinces people throughout the school to help save him.

Their quest leads them to King Bob, who is the king of the playground. King Bob calls T.J. "some dumb kid". A tomboy named Ashley Spinelli then gives a speech, calling everyone including King Bob "some dumb kid". King Bob then decides that "the dumb kid should be free" and mobilizes his entire dominion (Third Street School) to work together to break in and save T.J..

However, T.J. has already busted himself out by then. Moreover, just as he whoops in celebration, he finds out that the gang is in the lunchroom (where he was being held captive). Unfortunately, recess is over, and T.J. yells in despair, though he praises the gang's efforts nonetheless. The gang consists of people such as Ashley Spinelli, Vince LaSalle, Gretchen Grundler, and Mikey Blumberg.



  • Vince Lasalle: "Poor T.J.. He's really losin' it in there."
  • Mikey Blumberg: "A kid without recess? It's too horrible for words!"
  • Ashley Spinelli: "Well, I say we go in there and bust him out!"
  • Gretchen Grundler: "An admirable suggestion, Spinelli, but any escape attempt has a 70% likelihood of failure."
  • Mikey Blumberg: (after some thinking) "Wait! I got an idea! Let's go ask the Guru Kid!"



  • Coloring/continuity error: When T.J. and Spinelli first come out from under the table in the beginning of this episode, Spinelli's lips briefly turn the same color as her skin.
  • Animation/audio error: When the Diggers appear for the first time, Dave is talking to the rest of the four main characters, however, the animation shows Sam talking.
  • Animation/continuity error: When Gretchen first shows the aluminum foil to the Kindergartners, it has a shiny, "glow" effect on it. When the Kindergartners begin chasing them, the "glow" is gone.
  • Animation/continuity error: When the doors to the kitchen are first shown, there are no signs on them. When the gang approach them, they have "DO NOT ENTER" signs on each of them.
  • Animation/continuity error: When Spinelli says "I'm in!" for T.J.'s plan, she is seen having one eyelash on both of her eyes for a few frames while she is blinking.
  • Animation/continuity error: Spinelli has nostrils three times.
    1. When Spinelli plans an "admirable suggestion" for four members of the gang.
    2. When four members of the gang sees the Diggers fighting while they are trying to dig a hole.
    3. When Spinelli says to T.J. that she is sorry if she never got him in time.
  • Animation/continuity error: When the students see the Swinger Girl being injured from swinging on-the-top, Spinelli has no eyebrows.

International Versions


  • Editing error: When the "DO NOT ENTER" signs are first shown, they are left in English, but right before the camera pans to T.J., the signs are re-written in French. When T.J. goes through the doors, they are back in English.
  • Editing error: The sign on the refrigerator that says, "THE GOOD FOOD", is translated in French when it is first shown, however, after T.J. touches it, it is back in English.



  • The clip with the Kindergartners using a rope to climb into the school was reused for the intro.
  • Gus does not appear in this episode. He makes his first appearance in "The New Kid", making this episode and "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff" the only episodes where Gus does not make an appearance.
  • When the kids are working together to break T.J. out of the cafeteria, a different version of the theme song to the series is played.
  • This episode is included as a bonus on the DVD of Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, and as a bonus on the Finnish VHS and DVD copy of Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
  • On the official One Saturday Morning Recess website, an audio clip of T.J. saying "Cover me, I'm going in" was included on T.J.'s character page, and video clips of Vince saying that a kid needs finesse to speak to someone of King Bob's stature, Spinelli telling King Bob that technically everyone is "Some dumb kid", and Gretchen trying to distract the Kindergartners were put on the character pages for Vince, Spinelli, and Gretchen respectively. The video clips were later put on the Toon Disney website when Recess joined the lineup in 2003. 
  • This episode was adapted into chapter book form for the book One Saturday Morning: Without Friends, You're Nothing in 1999, along with stories based on Disney's Doug and Pepper Ann.
  • Some recordings, including the early ones, were heard in the Recess Gag Reel.
    • Early recordings of the episode include the part where the gang were trying to make decisions to save T.J.[1] and the other when Cornchip Girl was referred as "Frito Girl" with Vince's slightly different line from the finished episode.[2]
    • T.J. shouting "No, no, NO!" was heard in the reel, with Ross Malinger trying to shout it at first, then finally did it the next time.[3]
    • One of the scenes involving around Randall and Miss Finster was heard in the reel, with Ryan O'Donohue and April Winchell doing a recording session together.[4]

Production Information

  • The storyboards and animatic of the pilot episode were initially created in 1996 to get the show on the air, but was redone with different character designs for the series proper. Selective portions of the animatic were fully animated by Disney's promotional department for pitching and promotional purposes, and as such, were included in an ABC Saturday Mornings promo (With 101 Dalmatians: The Series) on the 1997 VHS releases of 101 Dalmatians (1996) and Doug's Birthday Blues. They were also shown in station IDs for certain ABC stations.[5]
  • Original recording for the episode, as well as audio production of the series, began on August 16th, 1996, with the first take being the part where four members of the gang were trying to make decisions to save T.J.[6]
  • In the original recording for this episode, T.J.'s name was P.J. right before the pilot was animated; it was re-recorded due to his name changing.[7]
  • This and "The New Kid" are the only Recess episodes to premiere in prime-time.
  • When this episode and "The New Kid" were shown on August 31st, 1997 as a sneak peek in prime-time, the episodes were shown in the opposite order.
  • Not every ABC affiliate aired the sneak peek, due to some stations still broadcasting news about Princess Diana's death.
  • This episode was part of the debut of Disney's One Saturday Morning, along with the Pepper Ann episode "Ziterella".
  • This episode, along with "The New Kid", were the only episodes written by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere, the show's creators.
  • Originally, one of Spinelli's plans was to break in using soda and pop rocks near the door. However, this clip was cut due to copyright infringement issues.[8][9]


  • This is the first appearance of the dish Tomato Surprise; it appeared again in the episode "The Terrifying Tales of Recess".
  • The "Good Food" refrigerator makes its first appearance; it appeared again in the episode "The Girl Was Trouble".
  • This is the first time where T.J. gets a detention.
  • This episode marks the first appearances of Miss Finster, Randall, Guru Kid, Swinger Girl, Upside-Down Girl, The Diggers, King Bob, Cornchip Girl, and the Kindergartners.
  • This is one of the only episodes where Spinelli is seen having at least one eyelash; the others being "First Name Ashley", "Swing on Thru to the Other Side", "Mama's Girl", and "Prickly Is Leaving". However, this and "Swing on Thru to the Other Side" are the only episodes where Spinelli is seen having one eyelash on both of her eyes (though, both of them happens for brief times). "First Name Ashley" and "Prickly Is Leaving" have Spinelli to have two eyelashes on each eye, and "Mama's Girl" has Spinelli to have only one eyelash on one of her eyes briefly during her eye zoom (though, this is an animation error).

Foreign Dub Titles

Note - Some dubs leave the title in English

  • French: "L'esprit de solidarité" ("The Spirit of Solidarity")
  • German: "Der Einbruch" ("The Slump")
  • Italian: "La Punizione" ("The Punishment")
  • Japanese: "T.J.救出大作戦" ("Mission Rescue T.J.")
  • Norwegian: "Innbruddet" ("The break in")
  • Polish: "Przerwa" ("Break")
  • Portuguese: "A Invasão" ("The Invasion")
  • Spanish: "El Recreo" ("The Recess") (Spain)
  • Latin Spanish; "El Rescate" ("The Rescue") (Latin America)


Background/Cameo Appearances


  1. Recess Gag Reel: 0:03-0:30
  2. Recess Gag Reel: 4:22-4:27
  3. Recess Gag Reel: 5:36-5:52
  4. Recess Gag Reel: 6:39-6:53
  5. Paul Germain Tumblr Website: "Recess pilot" (2017)
  6. The beginning of the Recess Gag Reel
  7. Recess Gag Reel: 0:05
  8. TV Tropes: "Recess / Trivia" (Created in 2011)
  9. Recess Gag Reel: 0:20-0:26


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