Squidward sees a large box being delivered to SpongeBob and Patrick. They open the box, which contains a giant flat-screen television. Patrick and SpongeBob throw the television away but keep the box. Squidward asks why they threw the television away, and SpongeBob explains that "We don't need television, as long as we have our... imagination." Squidward, not wanting any part of this, asks for the television, and they let him have it. Once he takes the TV back inside his house, he realizes that the remote control is missing and he goes back outside for it. He hears SpongeBob and Patrick begin - supposedly - to mountain climb inside the box and, annoyed by their stupidity, he gives the box a hard kick. A sound of an avalanche suddenly erupts from the box, shocking Squidward. Concerned, he taps the box, prompting another avalanche. Squidward hears a critically injured SpongeBob and Patrick saying that their limbs are frozen and that they have to cut them off, and rushes over to the box, opens it, and the noises immediately stop. He questions them about the noises, but they act oblivious and he leaves. Suddenly, the sound of a helicopter is heard and Squidward ducks. Realizing that it is coming from the box, he angrily opens the box and confronts them again. SpongeBob simply tells him that all of it is coming from their imagination. Squidward says that he has plenty of imagination, to which Patrick replies, "Good, now all you need is a box." Squidward gets a box, attempts to imitate SpongeBob and Patrick's experiences, and fails. After kicking his box in anger, he hears the sound of police sirens outside. Thinking that his kicking of the box is the cause, he goes outside with his box to apologize. He is quick to realize that the noises are coming from the box SpongeBob and Patrick are playing in. Furious, he kicks the box he was holding, which Patrick retrieves, saying, "Whoopee! Another box!"
Squidward then begins watching TV to get his mind off the box, but all the programs that are on involve boxes. He then hears a space shuttle launch. As he tries to think of how they could possibly manage to make such realistic sound effects, it dawns upon him that they are probably using a tape recorder. Angered, he marches outside and demands the tape recorder from SpongeBob and Patrick. SpongeBob tells him that they do not have a tape recorder, which Squidward does not believe. He decides to join them in the box to see how they are managing to make the sound effects. After being asked where he wants to go, he asks to go to "Robot-Pirate Island." However, he sees nothing but SpongeBob and Patrick closing their eyes and saying stereotypical phrases of robots and pirates (Arrr, You'll walk the plank for that, beep beep, etc.) Squidward returns to his house and soon hears the sounds of an epic robot-pirate battle. Having enough, Squidward decides to sneak in the box after SpongeBob and Patrick go to bed to find a device that could make the sound effects. The show cuts to late at night, when a pirate victory celebration is heard.
Once SpongeBob and Patrick abandon the box and go to bed, Squidward sneaks outside and enters the box, looking for something that would make the noise. Squidward finds no such device after a scan of the box. Realizing that the box is, in fact, empty, Squidward wonders if it really was their imagination that caused the sound effects, but he immediately dismisses the notion, thinking that it is ridiculous. He mockingly starts pretending to be a race car driver, but suddenly he begins to hear noises. He imagines himself racing, and feels all the movements of actually driving a race car. However, in reality, these sounds and movements are due to a garbage truck hauling the box away. It is then dumped into the landfill, and Squidward flies out of the box, landing face-first in a pie. The next day, SpongeBob and Patrick realize the box is gone and they decide to visit Squidward, and Patrick says "I hope he's not too down in the dumps today."
The title card appears to be an animated television transition. This is mostly seen on vintage televisions when you change the channel. During the initial airings of this episode, viewers were confused on what it was supposed to be.
"Idiot box" is a slang term for TV.
This episode was used on a famous voiceover on YouTube.
Plots of this episode were later used in the first part of the LeapPad Interactive Book and Cartridge SpongeBob SquarePants Salty Sea Stories, which was released in 2003 by LeapFrog Enterprises, exactly 1 year after this episode aired on television. The music was composed by Jay Cloidt in the Interactive Book and Cartridge.
Music from "Count Duckula" and "Danger Mouse" is used in this episode.
While Squidward is watching TV, it is all about boxes in respective channels: documentary, educational, soap opera, and sports.
SpongeBob saying "Imagination" whilst showing a rainbow with his hands.