Principal Prickly wants to replace the school jungle gym, Old Rusty. When it's about to be torn down to put up a new jungle gym, T.J. and the rest of the gang plan to stop that from happening. He soon involves the whole school and beyond.
It was a typical recess at Third Street School, when Principal Prickly appears with two men who tape off Old Rusty. Then Principal Prickly informs the students that Old Rusty is going to be torn down to make way for a new jungle gym, which upsets them because so many great memories happened there, but when recess is over, T.J. decides to stay behind.
When the construction workers arrived, T.J. refused to move, forcing them to leave, but then Miss Finster appeared and ordered him to come down, but he still refused, and this inspired T.J.'s friends to support his protest, which in turn, inspired a number of other students to support his protest. After some discussion, Principal Prickly decides to confront the students personally, and after unsuccessfully trying to get them off, he resorts to calling their parents, who then recall their own memories of playing on Old Rusty, and join their children's protest (among them Swinger Girl's mother, the president of the PTA and Superintendent Skinner's brother-in-law.) Then Principal Prickly finally relents and lets them keep Old Rusty, but their victory is short-lived, as Gretchen had warned, the old structure is insufficient to hold the weight of so many protesters and begins to buckle. Old Rusty collapses from the excess weight; the children, distraught over all their effort to save it only for it to collapse. However, the construction workers recognize Old Rusty's components, which - despite their age - are compatible with new parts, they then reconstruct Old Rusty using parts from both the old jungle gym and the new jungle gym, creating New Rusty.
- Animation error: When the kids are singing "We Shall Not Be Moved", Miss Grotke was sitting next to one of the kids' parents. After Principal Prickly tells everyone that they can keep it, she's sitting next to a construction worker.
- Animation error: When the kids are singing "Kumbaya" on Old Rusty, some of the students are not moving their mouths.
- Animation error: When Judy got on Old Rusty she was on the top but when Prickly told the parents that he was going to replace it she was on the bottom.
- This is Principal Prickly's first appearance onscreen; he was previously mentioned in The Break In.
- This episode was adapted as a children's tie-in picture book, along with episodes of the other two shows on One Saturday Morning, Doug and Pepper Ann, which got their own books.
- The song "We Shall Not Be Moved" was later released on the One Saturday Morning audio cassette along with the main title.
- T.J. mentions having an older brother in this episode---however, he's never seen or mentioned ever again after this episode. It's implied that during production, "he" was changed to a "she," making "him" T.J.'s older sister, Becky Detweiler.
- Or if not, T.J. and Becky's brother could've went to college and moved out, or he was a deleted character.
- Old Rusty is replaced with New Rusty at the end of the episode, however, the jungle gym is still refered to as Old Rusty later on.
- Even though this is Episode 2B of Season 1, Gus Griswald fails to appear at all in this episode despite his first appearance in Episode 1B of Season 1. It could be possible that this episode takes place before he moved to town. The tie-in picture book wrote him back into the story.
- The protest chants used by T.J. and the kids are more well-known as the protest chants used by protesters during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.
- The men appearing with Principal Prickly in the beginning of the episode were made to resemble series creators Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere.
- This episode was skipped in the Czech dub.
- This was the only episode written by Joseph Purdy.
- This was the final episode Paul Tibbitt worked on.
- Recess is revealed to be 15 minutes long in this episode; however it is shown and said to be 40 minutes in other episodes.
Foreign Dub Titles
Note - Some dubs leave the title in English
- French: "L'union Fait La Force" ("Unity is Strength")
- German: "Wir Wollen Unseren Shrotti" ("We Want Old Rusty")
- Italian: "Il Vecchio Arruginito" ("Old Rusty")
- Japanese: "オンボロ・ジムは誰のもの？" ("Who Took Away the Jungle Gym?")
- Latin Spanish: "La Vieja Ruina" ("The Old Ruin")
- Spanish: "El gran enfrentamiento en el parque infantil" ("The great confrontation in the playground")
- T.J. Detweiler/2097 student - Ross Malinger
- Vince LaSalle - Rickey D'Shon Collins
- Ashley Spinelli - Pamela Segall-Adlon
- Gretchen Grundler - Ashley Johnson
- Mikey Blumberg - Jason Davis
- Miss Finster/Mom #1 - April Winchell
- Principal Prickly - Dabney Coleman
- Miss Grotke - Allyce Beasley
- Construction Worker #1/Dad #1 - Phil Proctor
- Construction Worker #2/Randy - Gregg Berger