Jay Jay the Jet Plane
|Jay Jay the Jet Plane|
|Also known as||Jay Jay (for short)|
|Genre||Children's television series|
|Theme music composer||Parachute Express|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||62 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Picture format||SDTV 480i|
|Original release||December 13, 1994 –|
November 25, 2005
Jay Jay the Jet Plane is an American live-action/CGI-animated musical children's television series based at the fictional Tarrytown Airport, which aired on The Learning Channel and PBS Kids. The series has 62 episodes, and is centered on a group of aircraft who live in the fictional city of Tarrytown. The episodes are commonly distributed in 25-minute-long (as without commercials) pairs, with one header sequence and one end credits for each pair. Each episode contains one or more songs.
The theme song and the majority of the other songs were written by well-known children's singer/songwriter Stephen Michael Schwartz, and sung by his popular musical group, Parachute Express. Created by David and Deborah Michel, the series is intended to be educational and to teach life and moral lessons to children (and sometimes also to teenagers and parents).
In late 1994, a short live-action series was produced at AMS Production Company in Dallas, Texas, with real model plane characters, and handcrafted human characters; they had the same personalities as in the later series. This original series was narrated similarly to the first eleven seasons of Thomas & Friends or Theodore Tugboat. Three videos were released: Jay Jay's First Flight in December 1994, Old Oscar Leads the Parade in February 1995, and Tracy's Handy Hideout in October 1996. This original series was narrated by and features the voices of John William Galt. These three were known as the "pilot series".
On November 2, 1998, the CGI-animated/live-action series premiered on The Learning Channel as part of the Ready Set Learn block. Debi Derryberry took on the role of Jay Jay after Bergman's death in 1999, with no new characters voiced by her. The show was close captioned by the National Captioning Institute with the old close caption credit logo when seen on the Learning Channel back then. The Learning Channel pulled the series on March 14, 2000. On June 11, 2001, all episodes began broadcasting on PBS Kids; the end credits changed, and additional episodes were created from 2001–2005. VHS and DVD editions were released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment through 2003 as part of their "Columbia TriStar Family Fun" collection. Additional distribution was added with Tommy Nelson, the children's division of book publisher Thomas Nelson, although the series is not overtly "Christian". Voice actress Mary Kay Bergman provided the original voice of Jay Jay, Herky, Savannah, and Revvin Evan. After her death, Debi Derryberry and Donna Cherry replaced her.
In 2005, new episodes were produced featuring additional characters, including the red Latina plane Lina. Each episode begins featuring a Jay Jay's Mysteries segment in which Jay Jay and Lina explore such things that may be mysteries to the intended age group, such as how planes fly, and how the five senses are used. The mysteries segment is followed by a story that comes from the original episodes of the series, so in effect, the new series repackages previously broadcast content.
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- The backgrounds were miniature sets (usually built on two 4 by 8 feet (1,200 mm × 2,400 mm) sheets of plywood).
- The humans, including Brenda Blue, are live action people and shot in front of a greenscreen.
- The planes were computer models created in Maya and a proprietary software.
- The movement of the planes was recorded by playing out the scene with wood models equipped with magnetic position sensors. The planes had a switch to aid landing and taxiing, due to some minor fluctuations in the magnetic positioning data.
- The planes' faces and lip synching were done by face tracking, a technique where reflective spots are put on a voice actor's face. The voice track is digitally recorded along with the spot data. Then the face is rendered using a form of parametric animation.
- Head movement and other effects were done by joysticks.
A number of proprietary software systems were used:
- Data/audio recording and smoothing were done on a Windows machine.
- Daily cuts were done on "Compaq Alpha" computers running a 64-bit version of Windows NT 4.0.
The planes and ground vehicles are CGI characters, while the humans are live-action actors.
Relationship words for the airplane characters refer to being in loco parentis for purposes of upbringing, and education, not to biological parenthood. The story says that (some of) the airplane characters were made in factories.
Some of the stories describe characters as doing actions off-screen that would need foldaway arms (e.g. Big Jake digging holes), but those arms are never seen on-screen.
- Jay Jay. Male. Child. Small blue (originally brown in the pilot series) jet plane. He is the titular character and main protagonist of the series. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and in the CGI/live-action series, originally Mary Kay Bergman, then replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
- Tracy. Female. Child. Small pink jet plane who is Jay Jay's best friend forever. She has normal hearing, but understands American Sign Language. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Sandy Fox in the CGI/live-action series.
- Snuffy. Male. Child. Small green propeller monoplane who is a good friend of Jay Jay and Tracy. He is equipped for skywriting. In episode consistency (which depends on the order), one episode says that he has not flown further away from Tarrytown than Lightning Bug Lake, but other episodes show him flying much further; in "Catch the Buzz", Snuffy still has not got rid of his original shyness, but in many other episodes he shows no sign of shyness. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Sandy Fox in the CGI/live-action series.
- Herky. Male. Child. Small yellow helicopter. In the pilot series, he spoke with a stutter (like famous Looney Tunes character Porky Pig), provided by John William Galt, who voiced all the other characters. In the CGI series, he rolls his "R"s whenever he speaks, and often pronounces stressed "er" as long vocalic "r" (), e.g. "I'm Herky" as [aim hki], with a strong high-rising pitch accent on the last "-y". He has skids instead of wheels, and cannot taxi on the ground. Voiced by Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series, and replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
- Big Jake. Male. Adult. Silver Lockheed Super Constellation. Cargo carrier. Propeller-driven. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series.
- Savannah. Female. Adult. Silver supersonic airliner. She was made at Savannah, Georgia, hence her name and Southern accent. She somewhat resembles the Concorde supersonic jet. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series, and Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series, and later replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
- Old Oscar. Male. Senior. Old green biplane (grey in the pilot series). Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series.
Ground vehicle characters
- Revvin' Evan. Male. Red fire engine, Cousin of Tuffy. Voiced by Mary Kay Bergman, and replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
- Tuffy. Female. Blue and orange towtruck, Cousin of Revvin Evan; has a speech impediment. Voiced by Marie Danielle.
- Brenda Blue: Woman in blue clothing and usually wears a red cap or a blue cap. In charge of the airport, and is the ace mechanic. She does not use the airport's control tower but communicates with the planes by a portable two-way radio from the ground. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and played by Eve Whittle in the US version and Vanessa Stacey in the UK version of the CGI/live-action series.
- Mrs. Blue: Brenda Blue's mother, who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
- Miss Lee: a deaf and silent librarian at Tarrytown Library who knows American Sign Language.
- E.Z. O'Malley: He founded E.Z. Airlines, and his cousins are Grumpy O'Malley (lives at Dewdrop Farm), Pierre O'Malley (lives in France), and Tex O'Malley (lives in Texas). (Note: here the letter 'Z' is pronounced 'zee', not 'zed'.) Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and played by Brian Nahas in the CGI/live-action series.
- Other human characters appear from time to time.
- Breezy: a monarch butterfly.
- Bobby and Billy Bee: as their names suggest, two bees.
- The lightning bugs at Lightning Bug Lake.
- The blue whale in the ocean.
- Lina: Jay Jay's new friend and Old Oscar's niece from far away.
- Montana: Safari plane.
- Captain Bob: Firefighting plane.
- Peter Petey: Big Truck. Makes funny jokes to his friends. People think he is handsome.
- Solar: Yellow. Long wide wings. 6 propellers driven by electricity from solar panels covering the tops of his wings.
- Truckee: Dump truck.
- Tarrytown is in a hilly area with enough rain to keep the land green, and frost and snow sometimes in the winter; forested mountains and a desert are nearby.
- Tarrytown Airport is where Jay Jay and his friends live, and Brenda Blue works. It is also run by a small firm called E.Z. Airlines.
- Main Hangar
- Kids' Hangar
- Revvin' Evan's Firehouse
- Herky's Hangar
- Observation Tower
- Old Oscar's Barn
- Tarrytown National Park
- Smiling Meadow
- Sandy Landing has a waterfront area.
- Pangabula Island
- Tarrytown Quarry
- Sunshine Desert
- Tippy Toppy Peak
- Frosty Pines
- Whistlin' Pines
- Echo Canyon
- Cherry Tree Lake
- Crystal Cave
- Lightning Bug Lake
- Michael O'Tarry School
- Andy's Donut Shop
- Farmer Dale's Ranch
Sometimes, the planes taxi on the town streets.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)||Original network|
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot series||12||December 13, 1994||October 29, 1996||Direct-to-video|
|1||12||November 2, 1998||December 21, 1998||TLC|
|2||14||January 4, 1999||March 14, 2000|
|3||14||June 11, 2001||July 20, 2001||PBS Kids|
|4||10||September 5, 2005||November 25, 2005|
Common Sense Media gave the series a four out of five stars, saying, "Parents need to know that this series offers young fans life lessons such as valuing friends, overcoming shyness, and learning to like yourself. Kids will enjoy the often funny antics of 6-year-old Jay Jay and his friends. Don't be surprised if you catch your preschooler singing along with the show's simple songs."
- Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 442–443. ISBN 978-1476665993.
- "Amazon.com Jay Jay's First Flight VHS". Amazon.com.
- "Practical MoCap: Motion Capture for TV". Creative Planet Network. Retrieved May 9, 2018.