The Magic School Bus (TV series)

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The Magic School Bus
Created byAlison Blank
Kristin Laskas Martin
Jane Startz
Based onThe Magic School Bus
by Joanna Cole
Bruce Degen
Developed byAlison Blank
Kristin Laskas Martin
Jane Startz
Directed byLawrence Jacobs (S1, S4)
Charles E. Bastien (S2-S3)
Voices ofLily Tomlin
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Lisa Yamanaka
Danny Tamberelli
Daniel DeSanto
Tara Meyer
Erica Luttrell
Maia Filar
Stuart Stone
Amos Crawley
Max Beckford
Andre Ottley-Lorant
Opening theme"Ride on the Magic School Bus", performed by Little Richard
ComposersPeter Lurye
Fred Barton (seasons 2-4)
Country of originFrance
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes52
Executive producers
  • Michael Hirsh (S1-3)
  • Alison Blank (S1-3)
  • Kristin Laskas Martin (S3-4)
  • Hasmi Giakoumis (S1)
  • Vince Commisso (S2, 4)
Running time26 minutes
Original release
NetworkPBS, PBS Kids, France 3, Global Television Network Family Channel
ReleaseSeptember 10, 1994 (1994-09-10) –
December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)

The Magic School Bus is an American-Canadian animated children's television series, based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. The series has received critical acclaim for its use of celebrity talent and combining entertainment with an educational series.[1] Broadcasting & Cable said the show was "among the highest-rated PBS Kids shows for school-age children."[2] A reboot titled The Magic School Bus Rides Again began on Netflix on September 29, 2017.

Plot[change | change source]

A cyborg named "Ms. Frizzle" embarks on exciting adventures with her pet chameleon called Liz Ard and her class known as the Frizzlers on her eponymous vintage Spanish steam-diesel hybrid autonomous school minibus referred as the Magic School Bus. As they journey on their secret field trips, they discover locations, creatures, time periods and more things to learn about the wonders of science along the way.

Voice cast[change | change source]

  • Lily Tomlin as Valerie Felicity "V.F." Frizzle, Sr., F.R.I.Z.
  • Amos Crawley (Season 1) and Danny Tamberelli (Season 2-4) as Arnold Perlstein
  • Daniel DeSanto as Carlos Ramon
  • Tara Meyer as Dorothy Ann "D.A." Hudson
  • Erica Luttrell as Keesha Franklin
  • Maia Filar as Phoebe Terese
  • Stuart Stone as Ralphie Tennelli
  • Max Beckford (Season 1) and Andre Ottley-Lorant (Season 2-4) as Tim Wright
  • Lisa Yamanaka as Wildcat Wanda Li
  • TBA as Valerie Felicity "V.J." Frizzle, Jr. the Magic School "M.S.-B." Bus

Production and broadcast[change | change source]

Scholastic Entertainment, Nelvana, Bardel Entertainment and PBS Kids made The Magic School Bus books into an animated television series. It began on September 10, 1994. Many parents and teachers wanted Scholastic Entertainment, Nelvana, Bardel Entertainment and PBS Kids to help girls and minorities learn more about science. Scholastic Entertainment, Nelvana, Bardel Entertainment and PBS Kids president Deborah Forte, Patrick Loubert, Delna Bhesenia and Pamela Aguilar said that making the books into an animated series helped kids "learn about science in a fun way".[3]

Advertisements[change | change source]

Each episode of the series ran for 30 minutes. There was a Producer Says part at the end of each episode when The Magic School Bus had no advertisements. There were no advertisements on international television, VHS, and DVD. The Producer Says part was taken out when The Magic School Bus had advertisements. This way, there was enough time for advertisements. Sometimes the episode faded to black at the start of the advertisements. When there are no advertisements, the episode faded to black and then faded back in.

Writers[change | change source]

Peter Lurye wrote the song played at the beginning of the show. It was called "Ride on the Magic School Bus". Famous rock' n 'roll singer Little Richard sang it.[4]

Brian Muehl and Jocelyn Stevenson helped write the show. They also worked on Fraggle Rock.

Broadcast history[change | change source]

In US[change | change source]

In the United States, The Magic School Bus originally aired on PBS as a part of its children's block, PBS Kids, through South Carolina's SCETV network. It was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The final episode aired on December 6, 1997. The series then aired reruns on PBS until October 1998. Fox Kids Network, in a hasty effort to fill educational television mandates for its stations, aired reruns on its weekday block from September 1998 to September 2002. Beginning on September 27, 2010, The Magic School Bus started a daily run on child-oriented network Qubo in the US, and on Saturday mornings on NBC. The Fox Kids and Qubo airings both used a shortened version of the opening. The Magic School Bus was also seen on TLC from February 15, 2003 until 2008. It also aired on the Ready Set Learn block on Discovery Kids from 2004 to 2009.

In Canada[change | change source]

The series was widely known in Canada for showing reruns on CBC as part of its children's block, now known as Kids' CBC, from 1999 to 2004. In 2005, Nelvana sold the series to Latin America's Cartoon Network.[5]

In Canada, it ran on Teletoon from 1998 until 2000, and has run on TVO Kids from 1998 until the present time. It was presented internationally by Discovery Kids from 2004 to 2009, and in the UK, Latin America, Australia, Spain, and India by Nickelodeon from 1995 to 2003. It was also shown in the UK by Pop from 2003 to 2007. It aired for some time on Channel 4 from 1996 to 2000. It also aired on CITV from 1995 to 2002. Other airers have included TV Tokyo (1997 to 1999), Kindernet (2003 to 2007), EBS of South Korea (1995 to 1999), Boomerang (Latin America, 2001 - 2008), The Den (Ireland) from 1995 to 2000 and Channel 6 (Israel), 1999 to 2002.

Home media[change | change source]

The series was originally released on VHS by KidVision between 1995 and 2003 and on DVD by Warner Home Video between 2002 and 2013. Only the VHSs and DVDs contain the funding credits. In the home video releases, all the episodes are uncut with the Producer Says segments intact.

On July 31, 2012, New Video Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[6]

On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the entire series would be available on Netflix.[7]

Reception[change | change source]

Jason Fry, in a column for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal, expressed an overall appreciation for the show, but wrote that the episode "The Magic School Bus Gets Programmed" should have been about the dangers of Internet searches and network concepts arising at the time, rather than an old-fashioned technology-run-amok story about the respective roles of programmer and machine (although he conceded that the episode was ten years old).[8]

Tomlin won a Daytime Emmy for her role as Ms. Frizzle.[9]

Games[change | change source]

Various computer and video games associated with the series were released from 1994 to 2001, and were typically amalgamations of storylines from both the original book series and the television show. The games were published by Microsoft Home for the Educational purpose.

A video game titled The Magic School Bus: Oceans was released for Nintendo DS on October 25, 2011, ten years after the release of the last game. The video game, similar to the computer game before it, was likely based on the book, The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor and the TV episode, The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten. This is the only game to have been released for the Nintendo platform.

Reboot series and Films[change | change source]

On June 10, 2014, a new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°.[10][11] The new iteration of the franchise features a modernized Ms. Frizzle and high-tech bus that stresses modern inventions such as robotics, wearables and camera technology. The producers hoped to captivate children's imaginations and motivate their interest in the sciences.[12][13] 9 Story Media Group would produce the series.[14] Producer Stuart Stone, who voiced Ralphie in the original series, stated that The Magic School Bus 360° will feature some of the original voice actors in different roles. The show's voice cast is based in Los Angeles and Toronto with Susan Blu as the Los Angeles voice director and Alyson Court as the Toronto voice director.[15]

In February 2017, Netflix announced that Kate McKinnon was cast in the role of Fiona Felicity Frizzle, the younger sister of Ms. Frizzle, now Professor Frizzle, again played by Lily Tomlin. By this point the title of the series had been changed to The Magic School Bus Rides Again.[16] Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton performs the theme song.[17] The series began on Netflix on September 29, 2017.[18]

References[change | change source]

  1. Moody, Annemarie (March 7, 2009). "Word Knowledge is Power for WordGirl". Animation World Magazine. Animation World Network. Archived from the original on March 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  2. Green, Michelle Y. (July 28, 1997). "Scholastic Productions banks on Best-Sellers". Broadcasting & Cable. 127 (31). Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA ) Inc.: 48.
  3. Clarke, Melanie M. (June 20, 2005). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable. 135 (25). Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc.: 30.
  4. Little Richard on IMDb
  5. Dinoff, Dustin (November 7, 2005). "Deals for Toons, Docs at MIPCOM". accessed through ProQuest. Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. ProQuest 399041793. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  6. Jacobs, Larry; Bastien, Charles E. (July 31, 2012), The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series, New Video Group, retrieved 2016-07-10More than one of |accessdate= and |accessdate= specified (help)
  7. "Netflix Announces Top Rated, Award Winning Scholastic Television Shows now Available as Kids Go Back to School | Scholastic Media Room". Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  8. Fry, Jason (December 10, 2007). "Real Time: From PET to Net; A Kid's TV Show Leaves Your Columnist Pondering a Generation of Immense Change; Online edition". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  9. "Biography: Lily Tomlin". American Theater Wing. May 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  10. Jensen, Elizabeth (June 10, 2014). "Netflix Orders New Children's Show Based on 'Magic School Bus". The New York Times.
  11. "Scholastic is Bringing The Magic School Bus 360 degrees to Netflix". Coming Soon. June 11, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-07-01. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  12. "Kidscreen » Archive » 9 Story boards Netflix's Magic School Bus reboot". Kidscreen. February 10, 2016.
  13. Koch, Dave (June 18, 2014). "Three New Animated Series, Reboots All". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  14. "The Magic School Bus 360 delayed to 2017". Coming Soon'. December 3, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  15. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (January 4, 2017). "Celebrity cameos, familiar voices to ride 'Magic School Bus' reboot". CNET. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  16. Serrao, Nivea (February 9, 2017). "Kate McKinnon to voice Ms. Frizzle in Netflix's 'Magic School Bus' revival". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2017-07-30. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  17. Stanhope, Kate (September 5, 2017). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Updates 'Magic School Bus' Theme Song for Netflix Reboot". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
  18. "New to Netflix in September: 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jerry Before Seinfeld' and More". August 23, 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-23.

Other websites[change | change source]