|The Big House||Gallery||Transcript|
|Season 2 Episode 3a|
|The Big House|
|Original Airdate||September 20, 1992|
|DVD release|| The Best of Season 2|
|Previous Episode||Together at Last|
|Next Episode||The Shot|
While Didi is doing some errands, she leaves Tommy at a maximum-security day care center. Desperate for freedom, Tommy contemplates "escaping."
- - Description from Klasky Csupo.
One day Didi takes Tommy to a daycare center instead of arranging for a babysitter. This particular daycare is very overprotective of their young charges, making it feel like a prison for the babies and toddlers who go there rather than a fun place. In addition to the owner/head of staff, there are two other employees, one who focuses on changing diapers, while the other makes sure the kids get healthy, nutritious food. Didi promises a heartbroken Tommy that she'll be back by five to pick him up, and then leaves. Tommy starts to cry until the woman gave him a ball to play with.
One of the babies notices Tommy as a new kid and introduces himself as Wiseguy. Wiseguy introduces other babies trapped in daycare with them: Crybaby, a baby who constantly cries and screams for attention even when nothing is wrong; Doughboy, an artistic baby who can sculpt anything out of clay-doh quickly and easily; Builder, a baby who always plays with blocks; and Big Justin, a very large baby who is the local bully.
Big Justin notices Tommy and picks on him. Because of Big Justin's actions, Tommy accidentally destroys the cat Doughboy had just sculpted. Tommy apologizes, but Doughboy bursts into tears, and because none of the grownups witnessed the incident, believe Tommy did it on purpose. The result is that the woman in charge puts Tommy in time out for five minutes.
Five minutes pass agonizingly slow for Tommy, but he lasts the entire time without crying. Big Justin is impressed by this, and respects Tommy now, since most babies would have cracked well before time was up. Wiseguy shares a cookie with Tommy, explaining that it was snack time while he was in timeout. Tommy, however, spits it out because it's a variety of cookie he's never had and dislikes. Wiseguy explains there is never any proper treat food given out in the daycare.
Tommy tells Wiseguy and Big Justin he has a plan for getting out, but Wiseguy tells him there's no point. He and Big Justin explain that one of Wiseguy's friends tried to escape once, but they caught him before he could reach one of the windows. Because of this, first they put him in timeout, then they made him pick up all the toys by himself, and finally, they called his mom to pick him up. Wiseguy hasn't seen his friend since then. Tommy is sure though that is plan will work, and tells them to tell all the other kids to meet him behind the swings when they sit down for lunch.
During the after lunch recess, all the kids gather outside in the corner behind the swings to listen to Tommy's plan. Crybaby will get the attention of all the grownups. Meanwhile, Builder will supervise and help build steps so Tommy can reach the front door. And Doughboy will sculpt a key that Tommy can use to open the door and let everybody out. The meeting doesn't go unnoticed by the grownups, who find Tommy's popularity suspicious.
The afternoon goes on, and when there's an opening, the signal is given to Crybaby. Crybaby starts to scream and cry with all his might, gathering the attention of the three grownups. With the adults distracted, Builder and a large group of babies build a series of platforms in order for Tommy to reach the door, while Doughboy sculpts a key and gives it to Tommy.
Tommy reaches the top and tries to put it in the keyhole, but it's soft and Tommy can't turn it. Wiseguy tells Tommy to hurry, because Crybaby can't last much longer. Tommy keeps trying but then the door suddenly opens. It's Didi!
Tommy is overjoyed and leaves the daycare with his mom. Big Justin is upset because Tommy promised they'd all leave, but then his mother arrives to take him home, too.
- This episode may have inspired Paul Germain's later TV series, Disney's Recess.
- This is one of the only episodes to feature only one of the main characters.
- This is one of the first episodes to feature babies other than the main characters.
- "Wiseguy" is played by Pamela Segall, who's the voice of Bobby Hill on the popular Fox series, King Of the Hill. Pamela later returns to Rugrats as Dean in "Angelica's In Love", the young Drew in "Sour Pickles" and Sticky in "The Last Babysitter".
- This episode may be a possible reference to the popular Australian 1980's soap opera Prisoner: Cell Block H, considering Sandra's nasty streak, the way the day-care looks and feels like a prison, also the word "screw" was a prominently used word to refer to the prison officers in Prisoner: Cell Block H.
- In Dayscare when Chuckie has to go to daycare, Tommy made references to the episode, The Big House, where he almost broke out of daycare before anything bad can happen.