Perhaps I shouldn't admit this, but I held off watching the "movie". Not having the time had something to do with it, but more so was the fact that I knew about T.J.'s wave 'goodbye'. (Animated or not, I really like the guy.) Seeing the ending was like saying 'farewell', but I wasn't just saddened by the wave, I was also quite angry. Taking The Fifth Grade was a result of Disney's infamous 65-episode limit. The shorts that were included were created to be part of future episodes of an aborted season. (That's why "A Recess Halloween" was set so much later in the year than the other two.) On the one hand, I guess as a fan I should feel grateful that Disney even cared enough to fill out those three shorts into an hour-long feature. However, in watching the episodes, I found them to be every bit as strong and interesting as those of the gang in fourth grade, particularly "No More School" and "A Recess Halloween". The first saw Teej once again standing up for what he believes in the face of adults who threaten him and also should know better — both in what they do, and to challenge someone with the principles young Mr. Detweiler has proven he has. The latter showed Spinelli going through what every kid goes through at that age: the realization that childhood is giving way to adolescence and what that change means for one's perception by their peers, by their friends, and of themselves. I agree with the opinion that "Grade Five Club" was a little heavy-handed, but you expect to be smacked over the head with an Aesop every once in a while, insults to one's intelligence notwithstanding. Combined with the reception, entertainment value, and strength of the (real) movie, School's Out, not to mention the potential for more stories and character depth and development as they matured, there was no reason for the show to end other than some executive's asinine and arbitrary decision, and Taking The Fifth Grade proves it. In summary: If you're a big Recess fan, you're probably going to feel much the same as me. If you're a more casual fan or thinking about getting into the show, go ahead and pick up the DVD; it's available for about $10 on Amazon or Overstock and it's worth the money. (Go ahead and pick up All Growed Down too.) And if you're Michael Eisner, go to hell.
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