November 5, 2001 – The Final Episode of the Animated Series Recess Airs
“You know what, guys? Here we are talking about how much we need T.J., when the fact is, I think right now, T.J. needs us.”
On November 5, 2001, the 65th and final episode of the animated series Recess aired in syndication. Although a popular series, at the time, Disney had a 65-episode rule with its animated series, effectively canceling the series. It was one of the longest running shows on Disney Saturday morning programming block. The final episode was comprised of two segments: Mundy, Mundy and Lost Leader. It starred Andy Lawrence as T.J., Ricky D’Shon Collins as Vince, Pamela Segall as Spinelli, Jason Davis as Mikey, Ashely Johnson as Gretchen, Courtland Mead as Gus, April Winchell as Miss Finster, and Dabney Coleman as Principal Prickly.
Mundy, Mundy begins with T.J. commenting that the bully Mundy and his cronies are charging kids to play in an area of the playground known as the “Cheese Box.” As Vince kicks the ball in kickball, it ends up nearly hitting a kindergartener, until Mundy catches the ball and saves her. His friends tell him to move before the word spreads that he did something nice. T.J. and his friends, however, see the whole thing, and word spreads like wildfire. Suddenly, everyone thinks he’s a hero and a saint, and they follow him around the playground. His friends threaten T.J. and his gang unless they ruin Mundy’s reputation once again. Gus then pretends to have been gravely injured by, in the hopes that everyone will turn their backs on the former bully. Unfortunately, the plan backfires, and the kids continue to follow Mundy around. Wherever Mundy goes, although he tries to bully other people, he’s seen as a great guy. T.J. has to go to Plan B, and they ask Mundy’s friends for all of the horrible things that Mundy has done through his life. The gang then prints a newspaper detailing all of his misdeeds, but it only turns the playground against T.J. and his friends, rather than against Mundy. T.J. then gets an idea for Mundy to be seen doing a misdeed, and Mundy is given a bat to destroy the Cheese Box. Mundy chickens out at the last minute, unable to destroy the Cheese Box after all. Mundy is now a reformed individual, and he thanks T.J. for his help.
In Lost Leader, T.J. is the leader of a mission to retrieve the gang’s lucky bat, being held hostage by the Ashleys. Although seemingly well executed, the plan falls apart, as is the Ashleys’ clubhouse. The whole gang is given a week’s detention. T.J. is dejected, as he believes his plans keep falling apart, and he decides to give up planning for good. After his declaration, Lawson challenges T.J. and the gang to a baseball game, but T.J. still refuses to come up with a plan, still wallowing in his failures. The gang attempts to come up with plans individually and compare, but the gang can’t even agree on how to run a meeting. Gretchen’s plan is to come up with robot versions of the Ashleys, Gus suggests they use his dad and his army contacts, Mikey wants to throw the Ashleys a picnic, Spinelli isn’t sure her plan is legal, and Vince refuses to share his plan. The gang realizes that T.J. needs them more than they need him, and decide to work to make T.J. less angry at himself. The group pretends to come up with a plan that won’t involve him. T.J. confronts Gretchen, angered that they called him out as a bad leader, and takes over the plan completely. Once T.J. takes over again, the gang is able to retrieve the lucky bat, and admit to T.J. that their horrible plan was a ruse to get him back in the game again. The gang wins the game against Lawson, and the episode ends with T.J. coming up with another plan.