"Bannon Custody Battle" was the first episode of the series Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and serves as an introduction to the series.
The episode begins in a hut where Race Bannon and Dr. Benton Quest are talking about the state of Race's relationship with the boys, Jonny Quest and Hadji Quest, with Race wanting to be more than a second father to them. The discussion ends with Race telling Benton he is taking the boys and there isn't a thing he can do about it.
After the opening credits, we find Harvey Birdman at his desk dictating into a recorder with Avenger at his side typing until his secretary, announcing Dr. Quest’s arrival, interrupts him. Dr. Quest explains his relationship with Race and how he wants full custody of the boys. After hearing him out Harvey takes the case and asks to speak with the boys, whose name Dr. Quest has a hard time remembering.
The court case begins and we find Race is being represented by Vulturo, who begins the case with his opening arguments, which quickly transition into un-distinguishable words. Vulturo then calls his first witness, Lizardman, from Mystery of the Lizardman, who states that Mr. Bannon was with the children the most. This spurs a long series of appearances of different villains from the original Jonny Quest series that all testify that Race was the better parent of the children. The day ends with Harvey, Benton, and the boys at a bar called The Birdcage where Benton exclaims that the proceedings were going along splendidly and were cause for celebration, to which the bartender pours scotch for all four of them not taking notice of the boys age.
Next day in court, Dr. Quest is called to the stand by Harvey and questioned about his relationship with his boys, but Quest transitions the questioning into an explanation of his research that ends in a display of magic. Vulturo begins his cross-examination and tries to show that Dr. Quest rarely interacts with the boys by asking him if they know how to play baseball. Quest successfully recalls an instance where he had to lecture the boys because they were "hitting a small white spheroid with a cudgel", but is forced to admit that Race was probably the one who taught them.
The case continues with the questioning of Mr. Bannon by Vulturo, who asks Race to state his relationship with the boys. During Race's response, Dr. Quest tells Harvey that Race seems to be acting differently which provokes Harvey to look at his feet and see a cable wrapped around it. Harvey begins following the cable around the courtroom while Race finishes his testimony. When Harvey is called to cross-examine Race, he interrupts Race's response and asks "What do you have to say about this!" while pulling the cable he was following from the wall. However this simply kills the lights causing Harvey to stop a moment to plug the cable back in and find the correct one. Upon finding the correct cable Harvey repeats his previous statement while pulling the cable which causes Bannon to fall over in the witness box.
The judge calls for an explanation to which Harvey explains:
- "A few months ago during The Adventure of the Sunken Safe Deposit Box. Race mysteriously became left-handed and his shoes suddenly had laces when till then, they had always been slip-ons. See the bartender that gave Race a drugged lime daiquiri during The House of Tasteful Men was the same man who, judge, later dinged your Lexus and left without exchanging insurance information. This man created a robot Race Bannon and programmed it to get the boys. And that man, Your Honor, is in this very courtroom"
He then asks the stenographer to read back what he has just said, to which the stenographer has lost track and declares that the typing machine doesn't make any sense. It is revealed that the stenographer is actually Dr. Zin, Dr. Quest’s arch enemy, who's name Dr. Quest hard time remembering. Vulturo then runs out of court and Zin is taken into custody. The courtroom matters end with the janitor plugging the Robo-Bannon back into the wall, which makes it begin dancing to club music.
Harvey and the boys are back in his office where Harvey asks them to give Dr. Quest another shot and has Avenger call Dr. Quest in. Quest enters the room holding a videophone that he is using to call the real Race Benton who it turns out is on vacation. Harvey then states that the robot model of Race was perfect and that the only way he could think of it being that way is if Dr. Zin had a full body mold of Race, to which race replies that his connection is breaking up and ends the call. Dr. Quest says he feels the need to "toot Mr. Birdman's horn" which puts Harvey at ease as Dr. Quest gets much closer than needed to congratulate Harvey. The episode ends with the dog Bandit barking before Avenger grabs him and flies out the window leaving the rest of the characters, except a creeped out Harvey, laughing together before the episode closes.
- The Hanna-Barbara show this episode uses characters and footage from is the Johnny Quest show.
- This is one of the few episodes that make reference to Harvey's relation with the other attorneys from his superhero days.
- Hadji is included in this episode even though Hanna-Barbera had begun to erase him from episodes of Jonny Quest due to people finding his stereotype offensive.
- A few series re-occurrences start in this episode including:
- Avenger killing a smaller animal character (Bandit).
- The episode closing on everyone in Harvey's office laughing.
- Judge Mightor coughing up a random object.
- This was one of the few episodes done with cell animation. It was the only episode animated by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions Inc. In addition to minor color differences, the background design also differs greatly from what would be seen in the second-episode onward.