Disney's big break

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Television series
German title Disney's big break
Original title Recess
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 1997-2001, 2003
length 25 minutes
Episodes 129 in 65 episodes in 3 seasons
genre Children's and youth series
idea Joe Ansolabehere ,
Paul Germain
music Denis M. Hannigan
First broadcast September 13, 1997 on ABC
first broadcast
November 21, 1998 on RTL Television

Disney's Big Break is an American animated series produced by the Walt Disney Company in 1997. It tells the life of students during break times at school . The series comprises over 60 episodes, mostly consisting of two stories.

In addition to the series, there are three special episodes in film length: the cinema film Disney's Big Break: The Secret Mission , the DTV film Disney's Big Break: Merry Christmas and the DTV film Disney's Big Break: We're fifth graders .



The main plot revolves around fourth graders TJ Detweiler, Vince LaSalle, Gretchen Grundler, Ashley Spinelli, Mikey Blumberg and Gus Griswold . The clique experiences numerous adventures in the school yard (and occasionally in the school building). Most of these stories deal with everyday and relationship problems, some of which are typical for children of their age, but often also at the adult level. It is not uncommon for a prank on the part of TJ or a misconduct on the part of students and / or teachers to precede the adventures. TJ's clique has made it their self-imposed task to be there for and help their classmates, or to stop students who are doing nonsense. Their activities are made more difficult by problematic classmates, such as Randall Weems, the schoolyard dog . Or by the teachers who insist on school rules and / or disapprove of the activities of TJ's group. Especially the retired teacher and court supervisor Ms. Finster has the group always on the kieker.

The series is also distinguished by the fact that most of the stories are not related to each other (although in subsequent episodes reference is sometimes made to previous adventures). As a result, the series remains particularly varied.


The children attend the “Third Street” elementary school , named after its founder, Thaddeus T. Third III . It was built, as shown in the cartoon Disney's Great Break: The Secret Mission , before the 1970s. In episode 6 of the 1st season ("The Unknown Speedy") it is indicated that the incumbent mayor of the city was already in this school.

Most of the time the series takes place in the school yard, during the long break. Often the main characters are also in the classroom and / or in the cafeteria. The schoolyard has an organized "system of government", a witty corruption of the social hierarchy on US school playgrounds and in public. Students are "ruled" by a sixth grader who is appointed by the previous "King" on the last day of school of the year. Individual students and groups are allowed to occupy their own areas for themselves, their clubhouses and / or forts.

Some adventures also take place outside the school premises, for example in the Kelso’s kiosk near the school, and there are also class trips.

Location of the school

Different episodes give different, sometimes contradicting, indications of where the school is. In the episode "Spinelli's Artwork", for example, the pale noses on their PC zoom in on the Arkansas / South Dakota area . In another episode, Ms. Finster mentions the Arkansas Standard Achievement Test . Other episodes mention Alabama , Illinois, and Pennsylvania .

The city in which Große Pause takes place is never named, but obviously has a high proportion of German-Americans . There is a neighborhood called “Little Bavaria ”, the characters sometimes speak German in the US version (Spinelli: “Jawohl, mein Kommandant.”) And many of the main characters have German names, for example Gustav Griswald and Gretchen Grundler .

Time and duration of the big break

The actual time of the big break is never really clarified. In some episodes the class clock is adjusted, whereupon the teacher Miss Grotke mentions that the break actually only starts at ten o'clock. However, the large clock usually shows different times when the children are sent off for break. TJ remarks in one episode: "We only get 40 valuable minutes of long break every day."

main characters


Theodore Jasper "TJ" Detweiler
The leader of his best friends. TJ has light brown hair, is a bit chubby and freckled. He wears an upside-down red baseball cap, a white T-shirt, a green jacket, blue flared pants, and red and white shoes. TJ is always honest, open and very direct, he has a strong sense of right and wrong. He hates it when others are bullied or when someone threatens his friends. However, he doesn't always pay attention to what he says, which is why many adults (especially the teachers) perceive him as disrespectful. He often plans fancy pranks with his clique to annoy his teachers and classmates. He is therefore a hero in the schoolyard and is known as the “prince of pranks”, and because of his many awards, he would be suitable as the “king of the schoolyard”. But when King Bob resigns, TJ will not be his successor, but King Freddy , because only sixth graders are allowed to become “King”. TJ's biggest dream is to one day become President of the United States.
Vincent Pierre "Vince" LaSalle
Vince is a very talented athlete and has been called "cool" several times. He's wearing a green number one basketball jersey, including a dark gray T-shirt, black shorts, and black and white athletic shoes. He is one of the few African American students and therefore dark-skinned. He is also a skilled cook and golfer. Vince is very ambitious, it is difficult for him to turn down bets and challenges. For this reason, he sometimes appears a little boastful and offends bystanders. However, he is just as understanding and always apologizes for the inconvenience his behavior has caused. Vince's older brother Chad is a geek and nerd, his parents are very strict.
Ashley Funnicelo Spinelli
A very boyish girl who loves wrestling . She has black, actually shoulder-length hair, which she never really combs, but has tied up with hair ties to form two protruding ponies. Spinelli wears an orange ski hat, a red dress with a black leather jacket, red and yellow striped knee socks and gray boots. She is only addressed by her last name because she is ashamed of her first name. Spinelli is very spirited, says her opinion very clearly and occasionally lets his fists fly. This gets her into trouble more often until her parents send her to a ballet school. When that didn't help, Spinelli discovered chalk painting, which calmed her. Mr. and Ms. Spinelli have a boring appearance, but are secret agents part-time.
Gretchen Priscilla Grundler
Gretchen is the group's genius. She is very slim and has long, red hair that she has tied in two pigtails. She has oversized, protruding front teeth , freckles and glasses. She wears a light blue dress with white sleeves and a pink bow around her stomach, pink socks and brown and white street shoes. Gretchen is above average intelligent, her hobbies are all mathematical and intellectual in nature. She is rather shy and always strives for politeness and an adult way of speaking. However, she occasionally tends to “spiritual heights” and disciplines the group. Gretchen has a kind of PDA called “Galileo”, which she received from her uncle and which almost has a human personality.
Michael "Mikey" Blumberg
He is the calm and “softie” of the group. Mikey has blonde, tousled hair and always wears a beige T-shirt and brown pants. He is very overweight and the oldest and largest in the group. Mikey writes poetry, dances ballet and sings. That is why his classmates often laugh at him or even harass him. For fear of becoming just as ruthless and mean as the older ones, Mikey refuses to become more mature and adult herself - which in turn regularly causes further problems with her peers and older ones. However, Mikey has talents too: he has an amazingly deep singing voice and no one can beat him at an eating contest. Furthermore, he is a skilful goalkeeper, as you can see in the episode “The Football Tournament”.
Gustav Patton "Gus" Griswold
The new student in the class. Gus is short, blond, wearing glasses and green clothes. His father works in the US military and is the opposite of his shy little son. Gus is the most fearful of the group and likes to raise concerns about planned pranks and adventures. On the other hand, he knows a lot about military technology and has a decidedly tactical sensitivity. He is also a gifted dodgeball player and feared as "El Diablo". Gus' middle name appears in the episode "Like Father Like Son". His dream is to follow in his father's footsteps.

The teaching staff

Director Peter "Petey" Prickly
He's the principal of Third Street Elementary School . He is tall, stoutly built and wears glasses, he has a strong mustache, black hair combed back and always wears fine suits. Prickly hopes to be able to move up from elementary school to middle school one day , even if he decided against the change when he was given the opportunity - as a token of gratitude for the loyalty that Miss Finster and his students have shown him ( and because of the salary that did not meet his expectations). Prickly often conveys the image of a bitter, old school principal who is fixated on his own career, but secretly he admires TJ and his friends for playing tricks on him over and over again (which reminds Prickly of his own childhood). He also has an older brother named Paul Prickly who also runs an elementary school.
Miss Muriel P. Finster
A retired substitute teacher who works as a break supervisor. Miss Finster is corpulent but very fit. She has light gray, frizzy hair, usually wears a dark yellow dress with purple checks and reading glasses with chains. A silver whistle always hangs around her neck . Miss Finster is respected and feared by all students. She likes to bark or use a megaphone to summon the students. Thanks to her "private spy" Randall Weems, she always knows exactly who has been doing what and when. In some episodes it is mentioned that in her youth she was slim and pretty and also very kind. That changed suddenly shortly after she started at school. What exactly led to their change is unknown, the reasons often contradict each other. Most likely, however, that her temper turned after she was the victim of several particularly nasty pranks. Miss Finster served in the Army and on Guam in previous years . Even if she is very strict and prone to draconian punishments, she can be very empathetic and give good advice, especially towards Spinelli.
Miss Alordayne Grotke
The fourth year teacher on Third Street. She is an African American, interested in esotericism and wants to convey spiritual values ​​to the children. Even so, she is very popular as she is warm and kind. She is also a gifted magician . It is representative of the liberal zeitgeist of the 1990s in the USA and the associated political correctness , which is repeatedly discussed ironically in the framework plot.
Hank the caretaker
Hank is the school's house technician and cleaner. He is chubby, has a bushy, gray-brown side parting and a strong mustache. He is wearing a gray workers shirt with a name tag and brown trousers with a black belt. Hank had a brief romance with Miss Finster. He is portrayed as a somewhat lazy person, but one episode reveals his mathematical genius and the fact that he is a savant .
Miss Lemon
Miss Lemon is a lean, petite, but sprightly woman with tousled, gray hair, a yellow shirt and light gray leggings. The school secretary has her office directly in front of that of the principal, it also serves as a waiting room. Miss Lemon is usually in a grumpy mood, very meticulous and assigns many bureaucratic tasks to Menlo. She also likes to quarrel with Miss Finster.

Minor characters

Randall C. Weems
He's basically the main antagonist of the series. Randall is lean, rather small and has a slight hump. He has short, slightly curly and red hair and always looks pale. He is wearing a gray-blue t-shirt and dark green pants. Randall is the least popular student of them all and has no friends. The reason for this is his self-chosen "main task": telling other classmates. In fact, Randall is constantly scurrying through school and across the playground, looking for naughty students, and he always has a small notepad in his hands. As soon as a student does anything (even if it is marginal), Randall writes it down and immediately runs to Miss Finster. As a thank you for this he gets a cookie from her, and he can also take things out for which others get in trouble. The only classmate Randall gets on reasonably well with is Menlo. Significantly, Randall's father is a sneak himself.
King Bob
The "king" of the playground. His real first name is Robert , his last name is not mentioned. King Bob is sixth grader, he is slim and tall and at first glance looks haughty and self-indulgent. He has tousled, black hair, his trademark is his bushy eyebrow that has grown together in the middle ("monobrow"). He wears a white sweater with a blue “8” on the front, khaki pants and red and white sneakers. As a sign of his royal dignity, King Bob holds a large hockey stick in his hands and wears a yellow hockey helmet that he has transformed into a crown. He even adorns himself with a large, red cape. King Bob spends most of his time sitting in a battered armchair and thinking up strange schoolyard rules. He often gives medals and awards to TJ and his friends.
The Ashleys (Ashley Armbruster, Ashley Beaulet, Ashley Quinland and Ashley Tomassian)
The four girls are best friends and all share the same first name. They are considered it-girls at school and spend their free time with beauty and fashion trends, tea parties and dolls. They are dressed accordingly elegant and modern. Unfortunately, they are all equally snooty and scheming, they consider themselves to be the absolute elite of the student body. The Ashleys differ from each other with the first letter of their surname (for example with "Ashley A."), but Ashley T. and Ashley B. are dark-skinned. They also have a set of rules that every "Ashley" must adhere to. The Ashleys have their own clubhouse in the schoolyard (a huge pile of tires on the outside, but very comfortable and luxurious interior) and are often the target of pranks on TJ and his friends. In turn, the latter are just as likely to be victims of intrigue and harassment devised by the Ashley's. When the girls try to force Spinelli to join the club (after all, her first name is "Ashley"), they fail miserably.
The Diggers (Dave and Sam)
They are twin brothers who both wear the same outfit: yellow hard hats, blue worker's overalls , gray-green T-shirts and gray and black steel toe shoes. They wear gray and black protective gloves on their hands and both wear glasses. They only differ in that Sam wears a red bandana and Dave wears a white breathing mask. The diggers spend all of their free time digging holes whenever and wherever. From time to time they help TJ and his friends make their plans come true. In one episode, the two separate and it turns out that Dave is a control freak who nags everyone, and Sam without his brother is completely disoriented and cannot finish anything that has started. However, there are some inconsistencies in the relationship between the two. In the episode, in which Sam and Dave quarrel and finally split up for a while, we learn that the two supposedly met in kindergarten. However, in another episode, the two testify that they inherited their equipment from their father, which suggests that they are brothers.

Further marginal figures

Erwin Lawson
TJ and Vince's rival is usually mentioned by his last name. He is fifth grader and for that reason thinks he's something better. Lawson is also one of the school hooligans. He has a very limited imagination and doesn't seem to be very educated: he often creates unimaginative, unpleasant nicknames and insults, and Gretchen actually had to explain to him that little pigs are called "piglets".
A child for whom order and organization are more important than his classmates. He is Miss Lemons assistant and sometimes he annoys the rather impulsive Spinelli with his "rule madness". In the episode "The Promise" it is revealed that he and TJ used to be best friends and in another that he was a hyperactive, uncontrollable child until he was named "Director for a Day". Sometimes he still helps TJ today. It is known from the episode "Schülerlotse Mikey" that he is in love with Ashley A.
The Fool Boy (Francis)
A sort of “walking black market” that can provide Third Street students with some useful mini-goods such as: B. Comics, street maps with drawn houses of the teachers and rare aircraft models. His first name was revealed in the episode "The Schieberlehrling".
A conspiracy theorist with a white streak in his brown hair. He got this when he saw that older boys and girls enjoy kissing. Whenever the students are interested in a horror tale or the story of the school, Butch shows up unannounced, usually leaning against a wall or a tree in the shade, with a toothpick in his mouth, and can contribute something to the topic.
The swing Liese
A red-haired girl with a pilot's cap. She rocks in almost every episode and tries to make the rollover. When Spinelli mistakenly believes this, she founds a fan club in honor of the swing Liese.
The crybaby
A third grader with an interesting talent: For money or sweets, he starts to blare loudly and convincingly, which can be very useful as a distraction maneuver. He has brown hair and wears an orange T-shirt and blue pants.
Gelman is a great student and a thug guy. When his favorite victim left school, Gelman was looking for a new whipping boy. He chose Gus as his new victim. He has red hair, wears a black shirt and is tall and plump.
The upside down girl
She hangs upside down on a climbing pole most of the time and is pretty silent. In fact, she is only seen sitting upright in one episode. She has hip-length blonde hair that she has tied in two pigtails. She wears a pink top with ruffles and a white button shirt underneath. Furthermore, she has a pink, short skirt and white pants underneath.
Jimmy the guru
A child who wears his t-shirt as a turban and who spends the entire break sitting on a blanket in a certain place in the schoolyard where other students can visit him and get advice from him. However, the fact that he often speaks in puzzles makes it difficult for his customers to find a solution to their particular problem. He usually sits in the so-called lotus position on a blanket and meditates. In the episode "The False Guru", Spinelli more or less randomly takes on his role as a "wise advisor".
Conrad Mundy
One of the schoolyard rowdies who is proud of his bad reputation. He became the most popular boy in the schoolyard for a short time because he accidentally saved a kindergarten child from a flying ball. But Mundy is dissatisfied with this title and would like to look mean again .
Teresa LaMaise
A little girl with a blue dress and dark hair. She is tearful and fell in love with Gus once. Her father works in the navy and is enemies with Gus's father, as is shown in the episode "Like father, like son". In some episodes like "TJ, the hero of the day" she is referred to as the "Cornchip Girl".
Phil is a boy scout boy and a Thirdstreet student. He has protruding front teeth. In the episode "The Woodchuck Scouts" Mikey and Gus want to become a member of his boy scout club.
The kindergarten children
A bunch of small, wild children. Sometimes they behave like enemies of the schoolyard children, but also like friends. Their leader is a boy with a yellow paper crown. The appearance and demeanor of the kindergarten children is similar to native tribes. In the movie "Disney's Big Break: We're Fifth Graders" they go to first grade and have to behave civilized.
A small, petite and pale girl with glasses who, when she was due to go to kindergarten, found the behavior of the other children scary and fled to the school library. There she taught herself to read and write. Bookworm is intelligent, inquisitive, and polite.
Kirsten Kurst
A fat, red-haired girl. She is very voracious, rude and inconsiderate. She has been secretly friends with Mikey since the episode "Mikey and Kurst".
The pale noses
A group of four boys: Frank, Rodney, Steve and Karl . At school they are considered nerds and “uncool”. They spend all their time in specially allocated basement rooms, where they pursue their hobbies (especially role-playing).

Production and publications

The series was conceptualized by Joe Ansolabehere and Paul Germain, produced by Paul & Joe Productions and Walt Disney Television Animation . Directed by Chuck Sheetz, Howy Parkins, Paul Germain, Susie Dietter and Brenda Piluso. The responsible producers were Chuck Sheetz and Mark Drop and the artistic direction was with Eric Keyes . The music was composed by Denis M. Hannigan .

The first broadcast took place from September 13, 1997 to November 5, 2001 on ABC and from the third season on UPN instead. The German first broadcast began on November 21, 1998 on RTL , the last episode was shown by SuperRTL for the first time on May 11, 2003 on free TV. Previously, Disney Channel had already broadcast the series, which has also broadcast the series in many other countries.

A movie with the title Disney's Big Break: The Secret Mission , which was released in 2001, was produced for the series. In the same year, Disney's Big Break: The Christmas Miracle Film came out. Two other films titled Disney's Big Break: We're Fifth Grade (Recess: Taking The Fifth Grade) and Recess: All Growed Down were released in December 2003 as direct-to-DVD productions.


FFS - Film- & Fernseh-Synchron from Berlin was responsible for the German dubbed version .

role Original voice actor German voice actor
Theodore Jasper "TJ" Detweiler Jr. Andy Lawrence
Ross Malinger
Myles Jeffrey
Robert Stadlober (episode 1–52)
Fritz Vogt (from episode 53)
Vincent Pierre "Vince" LaSalle Rickey D'Shon Collins Kim Hasper
Ashley Funnicelo Spinelli Pam Segall Anja Stadlober
Gretchen Prescilla Grundler Ashley Johnson Esra Vural
Michael "Mikey" Blumberg Jason Davis
Robert Goulet (vocals)
David Turba
Thomas Amper (vocals)
Gustav Patton "Gus" Griswald Courtland Mead Hannes Maurer
Director Prickly Dabney Coleman Wilfried Herbst
Miss Dark April Winchell Evelyn Meyka
Miss Grotke Allyce Beasley Hanna Bechstedt
Hank the caretaker John Astin Reinhard Scheunemann
Miss Lemon Tress MacNeille Luise Lunow
Irma Eva-Maria Werth
Randall Ryan O'Donohue Carsten Otto
Digger Dave Konrad Bösherz
Digger Sam Klee Bragger Lucas Mertens
King Bob Toran Caudell Marcel Collé
Erwin Lawson Erik von Detten Robin Kahnmeyer
Gelman Justin Shenkarov Tobias Müller
Mayor Fitzhugh Ronnie Schell Michael Narloch
Menlo Blake McIver Ewing Jan Rohrbach
Ashley A Anndi McAfee
Ashley B. Francesca Smith Susanne Kaps
Ilona Brokowski
Ashley Q Rachel Crane Giuliana Jakobeit
Ashley t Rachel Crane
Ashley Johnson
Butch Kath Soucie Julius Jellinek
The bugger boy Michael Shulman Marius Clarén
The guru Ross Mallinger Jan Rohrbach
Upside down girl Francesca Smith
Teresa LaMaise Aria Noelle Curzon
Jordan Patrick Renna
Jerome Justin Shenkarov
Mr. Kelso Paul Willson Klaus Jepsen
Nurse Kramer Andrea Martin Cornelia Meinhardt
The Bookworm Christine Cavanaugh Marie-Luise Schramm
Conrad Mundy Warren Sroka Vanya Gerick
Kirsten Kurst Mayim Bialik Anja Rybiczka
Tubby Jason Davis
Chad LaSalle Kenny Blank Björn Schalla
Cy Kowalski Justin Shenkarov
Miss Salamony Glenne Headly Maud Ackermann
Antonio Jess Harnell Tom Deininger
Dr. Quilty Tress MacNeille Regina Lemnitz
Dr. Slicer Tim Curry Rolf Schult
Mr. E David Rasche Udo Schenk
Mr. Dudikoff Joey Lawrence Jaron Lowenberg

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