How can a show about recess be made when there’s no recess in high school?
Jayde Atchison // Staff Writer
In 1997, one of the most iconic television shows of my childhood, Recess, was on every day after school. I watched it for the next nine years until it hit its finale and I went on to high school. (Whether or not I watched a cartoon show for longer than I should have is not up for debate at this time). The Recess gang never got to showcase what their high school experience was like, but that was never a sore spot in my adolescence. Sure, I dressed as Ashley Spinelli for Halloween in my early twenties (who didn’t), but I never craved closure from the show. In my mind, Recess belonged in a vault of nostalgic memories, later to be discussed at dinner parties, first dates, and to my younger siblings when comparing their weird late 2000’s shows to my superior pre-Y2K ones.
This Disney remake is one of many in the era of reboots (Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, etc.), but this one is different in that it is not backed by Disney. This one is a passion project. A fan-made film that has no association with the Walt Disney franchise, nor the creators of the original show. Due to its independent nature, there is an Indiegogo campaign which is raising money for final production costs, although the filming portion was completed over a two-day period back in July.
The premise of the new Recess follows TJ and the gang in high school as they work their way through “issues like love, peer pressure, social media, identity, etc.” This all sounds fine, except we’ve already been bombarded by teen-based shows with a darker edge, like Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Pretty Little Liars, to name a few. Recess revamped doesn’t sound far off that route, especially with a teaser like “something more sinister than a break-up is brewing at Third Street High.” Don’t get me wrong, I have been hooked into my fair share of teen dramas—but after binge-watching one or two with the same dark twists, it gets predictable and tiresome. Unless the twist has something to do with Spinelli’s spy parents, I am not here for it.
There are perks to donating to the creation of this film, such as a social media shout out for $20, your name in the credits for $100 – (name on the big screen without the acting ability? Sign me up)— or a cast-and-crew-signed TJ hat for a scandalous $500. If this sounds up your alley, go ahead and make your dreams a reality. The creators of the film are not trying to gain money for profit or entry into any festivals, but are just trying to cover the costs of rentals, hair and make-up, and post-production. For a Disney reboot, this one seems to have pure intentions, as the film would be available online for everyone to enjoy for free.
Nonetheless, I haven’t been able to find the same level of enthusiasm for this remake as others. My memories are painted with childhood life lessons taught by the original Recess, like when TJ learned that not everyone is going to like you, and how that’s okay. I am skeptical of what lessons a group of teenagers can teach me this time around. If it’s anything like what some of the other shows have offered, such as “don’t get involved in Satanic cults,” well, I probably don’t need another teen show to remind me.
A few favourite memories rush through my head when I think of Recess: The Ashleys Tire Clubhouse, King Bob on his recliner at the top of the playground, Swinger Girl, the uncontrollable kindergartners. This is the Recess I want to remember.
Are the Ashleys going to have a new clubhouse that is just as cleverly hidden and posh on the inside? If not, are they going to be hanging out in a Regina George-esque mansion? Some of the best parts of the original television show were the outrageous locations and set ups, and it will be interesting to see if the remake touches on them. And most importantly, did they include an exact shot-for-shot replica of the hula hooping scene with Spinelli and Ms. Finster? If not, I will riot.
In conclusion, “this whomps.”