Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Suit of the Future

Inventions of the future abound in The Jetsons, but only one cartoon used one as the basis for a full, half-hour plot—“The Flying Suit.”

Tony Benedict’s story is interesting in that the audience is the only one that knows what’s happening. The Jetsons and Spacely never realise Cogswell’s scientists have invented a flying suit. The Jetsons and Spacely never realise it was the suit and not Elroy’s pill that caused George to fly. Cogswell never realises the flying suit has been switched for an ordinary one by accident.

George does a fair chunk of flying in this cartoon, on camera and off. Off-camera saves animation because the camera simply takes shots of a background drawing. Here are some exteriors. Note that the establishing painting of Spacely Sprockets is different than the one in “Millionaire Astro.” This version of the building has a little building out front with an “S” on top. The Skypad Apartments also have a large sign on top.

Skypad exteriors.

Whoever decorated the Jetsons’ apartment in “Millionaire Astro” (Art Lozzi?) did the same thing here. The apartment has panels of those green eyeball-like things connected together on a blue background. 21st Century paisleys, I guess (the ‘V’ in the foreground in on an overlay).

More interiors. The last one is from George Jetson's office.

The suit mix-up happens at a dry-cleaners shop. It’s 500 miles from the Jetsons’ apartment. The gag is it’s reachable in 30 seconds. Nice polished floor by whoever painted the background.

Besides the flying suit, other inventions in this one—the VisiPhone in the car (and people think cell phones and handhelds are driving distractions), the daily eyedropper machine (though there never seems to be any pollution in Orbit City), the 15-second dry-cleaning machine and a claw to get hitchhikers off the exterior of a car.

Well, there’s the transport pneumatic tube as well. Here’s the take as it bashes George Jetson in the head. You’d think they’d have invented something to prevent that.

Of course, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon wouldn’t be complete without a cop who doesn’t believe what he sees and remarks something to the camera. In this case, it’s “Get ahold of yourself, Ozone. It’s probably a space mirage.”

My favourite part of the cartoon comes during a sequence involving a bird, which squawks like a parrot even though it isn’t one. The world of the Jetsons is in the sky; if you’re going to design buildings that look like the Space Needle in Seattle, there’s no reason to have action on terra firma. “With all the traffic in the sky these days,” the bird remarks before turning to the audience, “the only safe place for us birds is on the ground.” After being buzzed by airborne Jetson, the bird wonders whether being underground is better.

Today’s endless cycle: George Jetson flying in his living room. It takes 24 frames to repeat the background. Unfortunately, the DVD of the cartoon wasn’t mastered in high-definition. There’s a lot of pixilation and when you use software to turn the frames into a GIF, you get sparkles and colour changes.

George Nicholas animated part of the cartoon. I think it’s him in the scene with Cogswell and the beady-eyed scientist. Others reading this will no doubt name the remaining animators. Jean Vander Pyl plays the receptionist, Miss Galaxy. Howard Morris intones as the narrator, appears as Harlan, Spacely’s flunky, is the executive who “missed a high level cocktail party” for Cogswell’s failed suit demonstration, and holds a briefcase in Spacely’s office. Don Messick adds a voice as an irate driver. Mel Blanc is all over the place, and yells the immortal words “Jetson, you’re fired!”


  1. One of the more memorable episodes of the original series. It also showed if you're poor in the 21st Century, you're still tethered to the ground, unless a flying suit drops on you.

    ( I suppose since they're working on self-driving cars now, having a video phone in the dashboard in the future won't be a problem ....... even though everyone on "The Jetsons" is still having to actively steer their flying cars -- having self-driving vehicles would have completely ruined the premise of the "Jane's Driving Lesson" episode.)

    1. Agreed...very original story about one thing thought to cause the suit to fly when in fact it'
      s the other one.SC

  2. Never understood why a flying suit was such a big deal when everyone already had jet packs.

    And oh my, what is that yellow liquid Spacely's dropping in his eyes? Revenge by Jetson, at last?

  3. There was a similarly themed episode called Test Pilot where George is testing an 'indestructable' jacket.

  4. THE FLINTSTONES regularly had talking animals (usually gadgets) offering commentary, but this is the only time it happens in THE JETSONS. Blanc uses the same voice for the disgusted duck that he uses for many stone age appliances.

    It may be necessary for the plot, but doesn't it seem silly that Harlan first brings the suit in to the cleaners and then goes out to "feed the ol' space meter"- which he should have done before he came in in the first place? And if the dry cleaning is instant, why bother to come back and get it later?

    As is common in most H-B cartoons, human characters always wear the same clothes unless the plot calls for them to wear something else- in this case, George.

  5. Kenneth Muse and Bill Keil also animated this Jetsons episode.

    1. Muse did not do any animation in this episode. In addition to Keil and Nicholas, Ed Aardal and George Goepper did animation- and in a short scene with George driving while talking to Jane on the vis-a-phone, it's either Hugh Fraser or Jack Ozark.

    2. Thanks, Howard. I can't pick out those guys at all so I appreciate your eye.

  6. stymphalian Bird21 January 2016 at 19:14

    And the old tramp end up with the flying suit and decides to head south