The Magic School Bus (1994–1997)

TVSeries


The Magic School Bus (TV Series 1994–1997)

In a small grade school, one class has a unique way of learning about the world with their teacher, Ms. Frizzle. To illustrate the science concepts they discuss, they always take a field trip on the Magic School Bus, a magic vehicle that can go anywhere and be anything as the class explores space, the arctic, the human body, and more in order to have a firsthand experience of the principles of science.
Canada
USA
IMDb   7.8 /10
TheMovieDb    8.1 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity  
Creators
Creator Joanna Cole
Creator Bruce Degen
Creator Kristin Laskas Martin
Information
Release Date1994-09-09
Runtime30min
GenreAnimation, Adventure, Comedy
Content RatingTV-Y (TV-Y)
AwardsAwards3 wins & 11 nominations
CompanySouth Carolina ETV, Nelvana, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
CountryCanada, USA
LanguageEnglish
Ms. Valerie Frizzleas Ms. Valerie Frizzle
Carlos Ramonas Carlos Ramon
Keesha Franklinas Keesha Franklin
Dorothy Annas Dorothy Ann
Phoebe Tereseas Phoebe Terese
Wanda Lias Wanda Li
Ralphie Tennellias Ralphie Tennelli
The Produceras The Producer
Arnold Perlsteinas Arnold Perlstein
Andre Ottley-Lorant
Andre Ottley-Lorant
Timas Tim
Arnold Perlsteinas Arnold Perlstein…
Max Beckford
Max Beckford
Timas Tim
Female Produceras Female Producer…
Renessa Blitz
Renessa Blitz
Janet Perlsteinas Janet Perlstein…
Announceras Announcer…
Calleras Caller
Ashley Brown
Ashley Brown
Calleras Caller
Calleras Caller…

The Magic School Bus (TV series)

The Magic School Bus is an animated children's television series, based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. Running originally from 1994 to 1997, the series received critical acclaim for its use of celebrity voice talent and combining entertainment with an educational series.


Plot

Miss Frizzle embarks on adventures with her class on the eponymous school bus. As they journey on their exciting field trips, they discover locations, creatures, time periods and more to learn about the wonders of science along the way.


Voice cast

  • Lily Tomlin as Miss Frizzle
  • Amos Crawley (Season 1) and Danny Tamberelli (Season 2-4) as Arnold Perlstein
  • Daniel DeSanto as Carlos Ramon
  • Tara Meyer as Dorothy Ann 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 Wanda Li

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113September 10, 1994December 3, 1994
213September 9, 1995December 2, 1995
313September 14, 1996December 25, 1996
413September 13, 1997December 6, 1997

Production and broadcast

In early 1994, The Magic School Bus concept was made into an animated series of the same name by Scholastic Entertainment and it premiered on September 10, 1994. The idea for the TV series was developed by former Scholastic Entertainment Vice President and Senior Editorial Director Craig Walker. Scholastic Entertainment president Deborah Forte explained that adapting the books into an animated series was an opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way". During this time, Forte had been hearing concerns from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for kids and minorities across the globe. Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd. contributed some of the animation for this series. The theme song, called "Ride on the Magic School Bus", was written by Peter Lurye and performed by Little Richard. The voice director was Susan Blu; two of the writers for the series were Brian Meehl and Jocelyn Stevenson.

Broadcast history (television airings)

In the United States—from 1994 until 1997—The Magic School Bus originally aired on PBS (being the first television airing). It aired on PBS as part of its children's block. On PBS through South Carolina's SCETV network, it was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The last episode aired (on PBS) on December 6, 1997. By the series' end, it was among the highest-rated PBS shows for school-age children. After the final episode, the show on the PBS lineup was subsequently rerun intermittently until September 25, 1998. On September 26, 1998, PBS dropped the show from its lineup in order to make room for more programs aimed at preschoolers. On that same year, Fox network (in the United States) acquired the original TV series. After Fox network acquired the TV series, it was moved to the Fox Kids block and it ran there until 2002.

Fox Kids (on the US television) used the series as a weekday offering to fill educational television mandates for its affiliates. It aired repeats from 1998 to 2002. On September 27, 2010, The Magic School Bus was broadcast through a daily run in Qubo on US television. Then it aired on NBC (on Saturday mornings). Both the Fox Kids and Qubo airings used a shortened version of the opening. Also the PBS, TLC, and Discovery Kids airings (on US television), CBC Kids (on Canada television), and the VHS and DVD versions used the original version of the opening.

On US television, after its permanent disappearance from PBS in 1998 --in order for PBS to make room for other new programs aimed at preschoolers on its lineup-- and Fox Kids in 2002, TLC and Discovery Kids (on US television) chose to air it. On US television, TLC aired it from February 24, 2003 until 2008 while Discovery Kids aired it from 2004 until 2009 (as part of the Ready Set Learn block). In Canada, it aired on CBC Kids (from 2000 until 2003), Teletoon, and Knowledge Network. In the United Kingdom, it aired on Channel 4, Nickelodeon, and Pop. Since 2005, Canada-based studio Nelvana acquired the original TV series and sold it to the Latin American versions of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. As of 2021, the show is currently distributed by 9 Story Media Group.


Home media

The series (through home media) was released on VHS from 1995 to 2003, DVD from 2002 to 2013, DVD (by New Video Group) in Region 1 (which are the rereleases of the Warner Home Video DVDs) on July, 31, 2012, and Netflix on August 15, 2013.

The series was originally released on VHS. The series on VHS was distributed by KidVision (a division of WarnerVision Entertainment) between 1995 and 2003. On DVD, it was distributed by Warner Home Video (through Warner Bros. Family Entertainment and WarnerVision Entertainment) between 2002 and 2013. With the exception of the opening funding credits, these masters are uncut (including the funding credits --closing only-- , closing logos, and Producer Says). All the ending segments (except the opening funding credits) remain intact. These masters (VHS and DVD) is the only home media out of the three masters that has the funding credits.

On July 31, 2012, New Video Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1, as well as rereleases of the Warner Home Video DVDs. These masters do not contain the funding credits, but the Producer Says segments are still intact. On these DVDs, the 1985 Nelvana closing logo is replaced by a 2004 Nelvana closing logo.

On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the series' availability on Netflix. Again, these masters (like the DVDs on New Video Group) do not contain the funding credits, but again the 1985 Nelvana closing logo and Producer Says segments stay intact.


Reception

In a 2007 column for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal, Jason Fry expressed an overall appreciation for the series, but wrote that the episode "The Magic School Bus Gets Programmed" illustrated the rapid pace of technological change over the ten years since it first aired. He explained the episode presented an old-fashioned "technology-gone-amok" story about the respective roles of programmer and machine that was no longer relevant to children growing up in 2007. He suggested that an updated version of the episode would have focused instead on the perils of Internet searches and on network concepts surfacing at the time.


Awards and nominations

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YearAwardCategoryNomineeResultRef
1995Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Graphics and Title DesignThe Magic School BusNominated
USA Environmental Media AwardChildren's Animated Program
1996Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Performer in an Animated ProgramLily Tomlin as Ms. FrizzleWon
NCLR Bravo AwardOutstanding Program for Children or YouthThe Magic School BusNominated
Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Children's Animated Program
Outstanding HairstylingMilton Buras (for episode "Halloween Special"
Outstanding Performer in an Animated ProgramLily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle
1997Television Critics Association AwardOutstanding Achievement in Children's ProgrammingThe Magic School Bus
Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Performer in an Animated ProgramLily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle
Outstanding Children's Animated ProgramThe Magic School Bus
1998ALMA AwardOutstanding Program for Children or Youth

Games

Numerous computer and video games associated with the series were released from 1994 to 2000, and were typically amalgamations of storylines from both the original book series and the television show. The games were published by Microsoft Home.

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. This is the only game to be released on a Nintendo platform.


Revival series

On June 10, 2014, a new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°. 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. 9 Story Media Group would produce the series. Producer Stuart Stone, who voiced Ralphie in the original series, explained that The Magic School Bus 360° will feature some of the original voice actors in different roles. The series' 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.

In February 2017, Netflix announced that Saturday Night Live cast member Kate McKinnon was cast in the role of Fiona Felicity Frizzle, the younger sister of Ms. Frizzle, now Professor Frizzle, again voiced by Lily Tomlin. By this point the title of the series had been changed to The Magic School Bus Rides Again. Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the theme song. On September 29, 2017 the series premiered on Netflix.


Film

On June 25, 2020, a film adaptation was announced and Elizabeth Banks is cast to play Ms. Frizzle.