Jay Jay the Jet Plane
is a CGI
children's television cartoon fiction
series. It has about 60 episodes. The characters are mostly talking airplanes
, and a helicopter
, and some humans, and two talking ground vehicles, based at a fictional Tarrytown Airport in the USA. The episodes are commonly distributed in pairs, with one header sequence and one end credits for each pair, and each pair is 25 minutes long. Produced by John Semper
, the series tries to be educational and teach life and sometimes moral lessons to children (and sometimes also to parents).
The series premiered originally on November 2, 1998 on TLC, but later moved to PBS Kids on June 11, 2001 with the same episodes plus new episodes in 2001 and in 2005.
The original voice of Jay Jay and several of the other characters was talented voice-over actor Mary Kay Bergman, best-known for her work on South Park. In late 1999, however, Bergman committed suicide.
In 2006, new episodes were produced featuring new characters, including a red Latino plane named Lina. The new episodes feature a beginning segment called "Jay Jay's Mysteries", in which Jay Jay and Lina solve mysteries such as how planes fly and how the five senses are used. The mysteries segment is followed by a story pulled from the original version of the series, making the "new" episodes a repackaging of a new format with old episodes tacked on to the end.
In Portuguese it is called "Jay Jay, o Jatinho"
Before the well-known animated series there was a short non-animated series made in or around 1994, where the characters were still images of real models and did not talk, but was narrated similar to early episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine or Theodore Tugboat It contained three videos: Jay Jay's First Flight, Old Oscar Leads the Parade, and Tracy's Handy Hideout.
Possible inspirations for the show are Budgie the Little Helicopter and Jimbo and the Jet Set.
- Relationship words for the aeroplane characters refer to being in loco parentis for purposes of upbringing and education, not to biological parenthood.
- The story says that the aeroplane characters were made in factories.
- The aeroplanes depict a typical family. Information from the makers of the series says that their (mental) ages are as stated; but Jay Jay and Tracy act more as if they were around the beginning of teenage.
The planes and ground vehicles are CGI characters.
Young plane characters
Older plane characters
- Big Jake. Male. Adult. Father figure. Cargo carrier. Propeller-driven.
- Savannah. Female. Adult. Mother figure. Supersonic airliner. She was made at Savannah in Georgia (USA), hence (in the story) her name.
- Oscar. Male. Old adult. Grandfather-like figure. Old biplane.
- Brenda Blue: Woman in bib-and-brace overall and usually wears either red or blue cap. In charge of the airport, and is the mechanic. She does not use the airport's control tower but communicates with the planes by a portable two-way radio from the ground. Played by actress / child psychologist Eve Whittle and Vanessa Stacey in the UK version.
- Mrs. Blue: is Brenda Blue's mother who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
- Miss Jones: is a deaf librarian at Tarrytown Library who knows American Sign Language.
- Easy O'Malley. He founded EZ 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).
- There are other human characters who appear from time to time.
- Tarrytown Airport is run by a small firm called EZ Airlines.
In Tarrytown is a school called the Michael O'Tarry School.
- Breezy: is a Monarch butterfly. One episode shows Jay Jay following Breezy's long autumn migration from Tarrytown to a hibernation site in a mountaintop forest.
- Bobby Bee and Billy Bee: are two bees. They first appear in the episode Catch the Buzz where they accidentally get into the electronics of Big Jake and Herky (in that order) causing locomotor ataxia forcing Big Jake and Herky to land until Brenda Blue goes inside them and investigates.
- The lightning bugs at Lightning Bug Lake.
Abilities and needs of the characters
Going into places impossible for planes (outer space and underwater) happens only in dreams that some of the characters have. A few episodes have a geographical fault and show an airstrip on land at the North Pole
. One pair of episodes shows Santa Claus
Each of the plane characters seems to have a biological part including a stomach, that needs the same food as humans eat, and a mechanical part that needs fuel and engine oil. Some of the things that the planes are reported as doing off-camera, would need them to have foldaway arms to handle items with, but those arms are never seen on camera.
- Tarrytown: is in a hilly area with enough rain to keep the land green, and frost and snow sometimes in the winter. There are forested mountains and desert near.
- Tarrytown Airport: is a place where Jay Jay and his friends live and Brenda Blue works.
Tarrytown town and airport are never seen in moving-camera shots, and therefore are likely real miniature sets which were photographed and those photographs were used as backgrounds in the CGI images. The airport runway may be a CGI ground plane texture mapped with a photograph of real fullsize or miniature tarmac.
- Tarrytown National Park
- Smiling Meadow.
- Sandy Landing
- Pangabula Island
- Tarrytown Quarry
- Sunshine Desert
- Tippy Toppy Peak
- Frosty Pines.
- Echo Canyon.
- Cherry Tree Lake
How the series was produced
The series was produced by Modern Cartoons
in their works in Oxnard, California
, USA. Unlike Thomas the Tank Engine
, this series used a mixture of techniques:
- The backgrounds were miniature sets (usually built on 2 4'x8' sheets of plywood)
- Brenda Blue was a live action actress 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 that had 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". This is a technique where reflective spots are put on a voice actor's face. The voice track is being digitally recorded along with the spot data. Then using a form of parametric animation the face is rendered.
- Head movement and other effects were done by joysticks.
The complex mathematical and CGI issues were solved by Frank Ford Little, PhD.
A number of proprietary software systems were used:
- The data/audio recording and smoothing was done on a Windows machine.
- The daily cuts were done on "Compaq Alpha" computers running a 64-bit version of Windows NT 4.0.
In the episode Supersonic Jay Jay Savannah has to carry Jay Jay on her back, and Jay Jay wavers about somewhat compared to Savannah: this seems to show that in the CGI package used, one character could not be parented to another character as can be done in Poser.
- At first, Jay Jay the Jet Plane came in comparison to Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends within 1994-1995. The show was shot using live-action models, mainly the jets built to scale, and crafted humans, such as Brenda Blue and E.Z. O'Malley. This version was named the "pilot series", leading up to the CGI series of Jay Jay. The personalities of the characters were as in the current version.
- Consistency between some of the episodes depends on the order of the episodes. For example, one episode says that Snuffy 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.
- Sometimes the planes taxi on the town streets.
- Each episode contains one or more songs. Each song only seems to occur in one episode.
- The theme songs lyrics are: "The sun is rising high up over Tarrytown, with friends taking off and friends touching down. That's where you'll find, that one-of-a-kind, Jay Jay. Jay Jay the Jet Plane. Never been another little guy like this, so much in love with the sky like this. So buckle up tight, it's a magical flight with Jay Jay. Jay Jay the Jet Plane. 'That's me!'". But the word "little" is pronounced as "legal".
- The first 20 stories show the propellers spinning very slowly. Beginning with the story "Picture Day", the propellors are made to look more believable. The remaining stories have the propellors spinning rapidly (unless a character is underwater). Also before "Picture Day" the characters had lights but they did not appear to function. The opening theme has the propellers spin rapidly. This opening is used for the entire series.
Jay Jay's Mysteries
10 new episodes
- The Mystery of Plants
- The Mystery of Weather
- The Mystery of Size and Shape
- The Mystery of Flight
- The Mystery of the Five Senses
- The Mystery of Water
- The Mystery of Bugs
- The Mystery of Time
- The Mystery of Stars and Planets
- The Mystery of Dinosaurs
- Lina: Jay Jay's New Friend. She speaks Spanish and English at the same time.
- Montana: Safari plane. Mental age adult female. Largely green, has cowboy hat, 2 propeller engines, skids or floats instead of wheels. On the show, she is purple, but on the website, she is green.
- Captain Bob: Firefighting plane. Mental age adult male. Red and yellow. Has floats on legs at ends of wings. Undercarriage missing or retractable. Probably can land on water and take off from water. Has a firefighting water scoop.
- Solar: Mental age young male. Yellow. Long wide wings. 6 propellers driven by electricity from solar panels covering the tops of his wings.
- Truckee: Dump truck. Mental age "boy".
The series is broadcast over many of the 379 member stations of the Public Broadcasting Service
of the United States
The series has been broadcast in Britain.
In Malaysia, the series aired on TV2 in Malaysia, and is still airing over the RIA channel on Astro
In Singapore, the series aired on MediaCorp TV(Kids Central)
- 89: Jay Jay's First Flight
- 90: Tracy's Fantastic Journey
- 91: Herky's Bright Idea
- 92: Old Oscar Steals the Show
- 93: Jay Jay's Colorful Cover-Up
- 94: Old Oscar Leads the Parade
- 95: Snuffy's Birthday Surprise
- 96: Tracy's Magic Moment
- 97: Jay Jay and the Sparkleberry Tree
- 98: Tracy's Handy Hideout
- 99: Herky Uses His Head
- 100: Snuffy and the Snowman
- 101: Spending Time with Big Jake
- The New Plane: Snuffy comes.
- 102: Tracy's Shooting Star: meteors.
- Upsy Downosis: The planes catch an epidemic of a disease that makes planes fly upside down.
- 103: Opposites : finding things which are like other things in an opposite kind of way
- Tracy's Sonic Boom
- 104: Jay Jay's Butterfly's Adventure: Jay Jay follows a monarch butterfly south to its winter hibernation site.
- The Singing Meadow: The planes find a hummingbird colony.
- Tracy's Snuggly Blanket: Tracy is reluctant to give up her comfort blanket.
- 106: Fire Engine Evan: Evan comes.
- Tracy's Candy Catastrophe: Tracy eats too much candy.
- 107: Tuffy the Tiny Tow Truck: Tuffy comes.
- Snuffy's Snowman: Snuffy makes a snowman and wonders where to keep it.
- 108: Tuffy's Buried Treasure
- Snuffy's Thanksgiving: about Thanksgiving.
- 109: Snuffy and the Colors of Fall: about autumn.
- Snuffy's Birthday Surprise
- 110: A Trip to Skylandia: a dream that Jay Jay has.
- Brenda's Mother's Day: While tidying up for Brenda's mother coming, parts of different orders get muddled.
- 111: Picture Day Snuffy's propeller blocks his face when taking pictures. He later learns how to stop his propeller horizontally to where it looks like a mustache. (However in the previous 20 stories, his propellor was always able to land like this.)
- :Tracy's Song: Tracy's plan to sing at a concert is spoilt by laryngitis.
- 112: Hide and Seek
- Big Jake's Birthday Surprise
- Grumpy O'Malley
- 114: Snuffy's First Day at School: Oscar is the teacher.
- Supersonic Jay Jay: Jay Jay takes some of Savannah's fuel.
- 115: Tuffy's Trip to Pangabula: Tuffy and some of the planes fly to Pangabula Island.
- Tuffy's Adventure in Pangabula: a storm would have blown the sparkleberry tree down, but Tuffy saved it.
- 116: Jay Jay and the Stars at Night: astronomy
- Hero Herky: Herky rescues a stranded skier and it goes to his head.
- Tracy's Tree: a tree seedling grows in Tarrytown airport runway.
- Jay Jay's Bad Dream
- 119: Evan Gets His Wings: Evan flies by dangling from a balloon.
- Snuffy Sees the Big Picture: hay fever.
- 120: Jay Jay's Winter Parade: A blizzard and hard frost and power blackout foul up Tarrytown's plans for their "First Day of Winter" parade.
- Snuffy's Seasons: Snuffy learns about the seasons.
- 121: Switcharound Day: Herky and Savannah try doing each other's jobs.
- Snuffy's Missing Friend: Snuffy loses his shadow.
- 122: Missing You: Big Jake is away on business.
- Tippy Toppy Peak: Savannah teaches Tracy how to fly high.
- 123: Tracy's Treasure Hunt
- Jay Jay's New Wheels: Jay Jay needs new wheels because his old wheels are wearing out.
- Jay Jay's Christmas Adventure, part 2: and Jay Jay etc help him to deliver presents.
- 125: Jay Jay and the Magic Books: Jay Jay was going to fly to Redwood Village, but the trip is rained off.
- The Counting Game
- 126: Babysitting Blues: Tracy babysits Snuffy.
- Jay Jay Earns his Wings: a caterpillar turns into a monarch butterfly.
- 127: Herky Jerky: dancing. Herky invents a dance
- Upside Down Waterfall: A new geyser in Tarrytown National Park.
- 128: I'm Being Followed by the Moon: Snuffy dreams of flying to the moon.
- Something Special: Evan goes off the road and gets stuck.
- 129:Plane of a Different Color: Tracy tries new color schemes.
- Hiccup Havoc: Herky gets hiccups
- 130: Concert Day at Tarrytown Airport
- Snuffy's Favorite Color
- 131: And That's the Tooth: Snuffy loses a milk tooth.
- Big Jake's Team: Big Jake trains some of the planes as firemen.
- 132: I Love your Funny Face : competition making funny faces
- Snuffy's Rainbow : Snuffy tries to find what a rainbow is
- 133: The Buddy System; Jay Jay and Tracy run out of fuel in Sunshine Desert.
- The Great Tarrytown Black-Out: Herky follows Tracy too much.
- 134: Jay Jay Meets the Cloud King: A dream that Jay Jay has.
- The Merit Badge
- 135: Are We There Yet: Jay Jay and Snuffy and some others fly to Pangabula Island. It is Snuffy's first long flight.
- Problem in Pangabula: The sparkleberry tree suffers from drought.
- 136: Jay Jay's Dinosaur Hunt; Big Jake dug holes to install runway lights; Jay Jay and Tracy and Herky think that the holes are dinosaur footprints.
- Dough Nutty: Herky eats too many doughnuts.
- 137: Snuffy Discovers the Ocean: Snuffy dreams of going underwater.
- Jay Jay's Speedy Delivery
- 138: Dog Gone Doggy: Brenda Blue boards someone's dog, and it runs away.
- Herky's Cap Chase : chasing hats which got spilt on a windy day
- 139: The Three Little Planes : A planned trip out is rained off, so Big Jake tells Jay Jay and Tracy and Herky a story
- I'm Swamped: Jay Jay and some others collect a "swamp lily" (perhaps Crinum americanum) in the Okeefenokee Swamp.
- 140: Old Oscar Leads the Parade
- Revvin' Evan's Day
In foreign versions of the show, the human characters are often replaced with different actors. For example, in the Korean
version of the show, a Korean actor takes the role of Brenda.