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||Stephen Michael Schwartz|
|Opening theme||"Gee, How I Love to Fly" (1994–1996); "Jay Jay the Jet Plane Theme Song" (1998–2005)|
|Ending theme||"Gee, How I Love to Fly" (Reprise) (1998–2000); "Jay Jay the Jet Plane Theme Song Instrumental" (1998–2005)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||62 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Audio format||Dolby Surround|
Jay Jay the Jet Plane is an American live-action/CGI-animated musical children's television series which aired on The Learning Channel, PBS Kids and Smile. The series aired for a total of 4 seasons and has 62 episodes. The series is centered on a group of aircraft that live in the fictional city of Tarrytown and takes place at the Tarrytown Airport. The episodes were commonly distributed in 25-minute-long (without commercials) pairs, with one header sequence and one end credit for each pair. Each episode contains one or more songs.
The theme song and many 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. The series was created by David and Deborah Michel and was intended to be educational to teach life and moral lessons to children.
Early episodes using physical models ('Pilot Series')
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 twelve 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".
CGI and live-action-based episodes
On November 2, 1998, the CGI-animated/live-action series premiered on The Learning Channel as part of the Ready Set Learn block. 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 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 third season episodes of the series, so in effect, the new series repackages previously broadcast content on the subchannel networks Qubo and Smile. It aired on Channel 5 and Tiny Pop in the UK.
A new reboot of the series titled The New World of Jay Jay the Jet Plane has been confirmed through Trilogy Animation Group's website. Unlike the original series, the characters' faces are completely redesigned, and made to look more cartoony. Like the original series, however, it will be CGI-animated and will start streaming on Peacock on June 20, 2022.
The series was produced by Venice, California-based production company Modern Cartoons at their soundstage in Oxnard, California, United States. Unlike Thomas & Friends, this series used a variety of cutting edge animation techniques:
- 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 young and adult planes were computer models created in PowerAnimator in Seasons 1-2 and Maya in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries. Models from the pilot series were made for reference.
- The movement of the young and adult planes was recorded by playing out the scene with wood models equipped with magnetic position sensors. The young and adult planes had a switch to aid landing and taxiing, due to some minor fluctuations in the magnetic positioning data.
- The young and adult planes' faces and lip-syncing 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.
The complex mathematical and CGI issues were solved by Frank Ford Little, Ph.D.
Several 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.
Starting in the pilot series, every character and model plane is voiced by John William Galt.
The young and adult planes and road 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 for biological parenthood. The story says that (some of) the airplane characters were made in factories.
Some of the stories describe characters as doing actions offscreen that would need foldaway arms (e.g. Big Jake digging holes), but those arms are never seen onscreen.
- Jay Jay (voiced originally by Mary Kay Bergman, then replaced by Debi Derryberry after Bergman's death in the CGI/live-action series) is a small, blue (originally brown in the pilot series) jet plane who acts as a brother figure. He is six years old. He is the titular character and main protagonist of the series.
- Tracy (voiced by Gina Ribisi in Seasons 1-2, and by Sandy Fox in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries in the CGI/live-action series) is a small, purple jet plane who is Jay Jay's twin sister and best friend. She has normal hearing but understands American Sign Language. She is six years old.
- Snuffy (voiced by Gina Ribisi in season 1 and season 2, and by Sandy Fox in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries in the CGI/live-action series) is a small, green propeller-driven 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 "Grumpy O'Malley", Snuffy still has not gotten rid of his original shyness, but in many other episodes, he shows no sign of shyness. He is four years old.
- Herky (originally voiced by Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series and later replaced by Debi Dewberry) is a small, yellow helicopter who is Jay Jay's friend. 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. He has skids instead of wheels, and cannot taxi on the ground. He is five years old.
- Big Jake (voiced by Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series) is a silver, propeller-driven hybrid of a Lockheed Super Constellation cargo carrier and Lockheed Electra 10e who acts as a father figure to the young planes.
- Savannah (voiced by Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series, and later by Debi Dewberry following Bergman's death) is a silver supersonic airliner who acts as a mother figure. She was made at Savannah, Georgia, hence her name and Southern accent. She somewhat resembles the Concorde supersonic jet.
- Old Oscar (voiced by Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series) is an old, green (gray in the pilot series) biplane who knows all sorts of flying tricks and acts as a grandfather figure.
- Revvin' Evan (originally voiced by Mary Kay Bergman and later replaced by Debi Dewberry) is a fire engine and is the cousin of Tuffy.
- Tuffy (voiced by Sandy Fox) is a blue and orange tow truck and is the cousin of Revvin' Evan; has a speech impediment.
- Brenda Blue (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) is a woman in a blue jumpsuit and usually wears a red cap or a blue cap, as well as a pair of red high top Converse. She is in charge of the airport and is the airplane mechanic. She does not use the airport's control tower but communicates with the planes by a portable two-way radio from the ground.
- Mrs. Blue is Brenda Blue's mother, who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
- Miss Lee is a librarian who works at the Tarrytown Public Library. She is deaf and cannot speak, as she uses sign language to do so. Tracy and Brenda can translate her.
- E.Z. O'Malley (voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and played by Brian Nahas in the CGI/live-action series) is the founder of E.Z. Airlines, with cousins Grumpy O'Malley (who 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'.)
- Breezy is a monarch butterfly who is good friends with Jay Jay.
- Bobby and Billy Bee, as their names suggest, are two bees.
- The lightning bugs at Lightning Bug Lake.
- The blue whale in the ocean.
- Lina is a red, propeller-driven monoplane and Old Oscar's niece from Mexico.
- Montana is a purple and green, propeller-driven safari plane.
- Captain Bob is a firefighting plane.
- Peter Petey is a semi-trailer truck, makes funny jokes to his friends.
- Solar is a yellow, solar-powered monoplane with 6 propellers and long, wide wings covered by solar panels on the tops of the wings.
- Truckee is a dump truck.
- Fred is a fire engine.
- Big John is Big Jake's brother.
- Tarrytown is a small town 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 the airport where Jay Jay and his friends live, and Brenda Blue works. It is also run by a small firm called E.Z. Airlines consist of the following structures:
- 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 young and adult planes taxi on the town streets.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (United States 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. ASIN 6303398499.
- "Jay Jay the Jet Plane". Yippee TV.
- "Animation Studio | Trilogy Animation| Orange County | United States". Trilogy Animation.
- "resume". Denis Morella Animation Portfolio.
- "Practical MoCap: Motion Capture for TV". Creative Planet Network. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- "Jay Jay the Jet Plane - TV Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. October 19, 2009.