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Reviewed April 9th, 2004 by David Nusair


The Recess saga comes to a close with Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade. This DVD assembles three episodes and turns them into a 62-minute long mini movie. All the characters return, from series hero T.J. to Principal Prickly, ensuring that fans of the show receive exactly what they’ve come to expect.

The first episode begins with the Recess gang returning to school after their summer holidays. As T.J. informs us via voice-over, he’s convinced this is going to be their best year yet. But as he soon discovers, changes have been made and not for the better. Though they had assumed they’d be getting a new teacher, the group’s once again stuck with the cantankerous Miss Finster. Worse yet, Principal Prickly has been forced to remove the playground equipment by the Board of Education to save some money. This doesn’t sit well with T.J., who makes the radical decision to boycott school until the playground is reinstated. While his classmates proclaim him a hero, the Board of Education doesn’t take kindly to T.J.’s attempt at starting a revolution.

The second story features T.J. meeting the so-called King of the Playgrond, who has heard about T.J.’s antics with the Board of Education. T.J. is soon informed of a special club that’s exclusively for fifth and sixth graders, which T.J. is shocked to learn about (it’s a secret club, you see). But when T.J. and his friends discover the way all the members of the club treat those that are younger than them, they band together to put a stop to the dastardly behavior.

The third and final story takes place on Halloween, with Spinelli fearing that she’s perhaps grown too old to celebrate the holiday by dressing up. This leaves T.J. and the gang forced to remind Spinelli that it’s not how old you are, but how young you feel.

Audio: Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade is surprisingly presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which is probably overkill for something like this. Nevertheless, the sound is impressive, though the fact that this was created for Saturday morning television is never exactly hidden.

Video: Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade is presented with a very impressive full-screen transfer, a transfer that’s crisp and colorful. Nothing to complain about here.

Extras: Aside from a batch of Disney bonus trailers (Teacher’s Pet, MXP: Most Xtreme Primate, Freaky Friday, The Lion King 1˝, Lizzie McGuire: Fashionably Lizzie and Growing Up Lizzie, Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Prelude to a Storm, Recess TV series, and Disney Party Game), the disc also includes the first two episodes of recess, entitled “The Break In” and “The New Kid.” Quality is about on a par with the rest of the episodes, though subtitles are absent despite being included with the other episodes.

Conclusion: Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade is purportedly the end of the Recess saga, making this a must-see for fans of the series.


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