Cartoon Retrospective: The Magic School Bus

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus" (You're reading it!)
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man"

The Magic School Bus

Look at that bus' grin. It doesn't get more magical than this, boys and girls.

I really don't have a gauge on where other people's opinions lie on "The Magic School Bus" series. This was never a series I talked about with my friends, or really made a big deal about at all. That doesn't mean I didn't love it though. Way back when I was in elementary school, I would religiously wake up for school an hour before I realistically needed to--sometimes even earlier--in order to watch The Magic School Bus. I have the fondest of memories freezing under my blanket every morning as I enjoyed Ms. Frizzle and class' wacky adventures.

Quickly children, into the scab!

For anyone not familiar with what The Magic School Bus series is about, I'm ashamed to be relating with you. I kid; I'm honestly not really sure how popular the show was. The cartoon is based on a Scholastic book series by the same name. The show revolves around a class of average students with a not-so-average teacher named Ms. (Valerie Felicity) Frizzle. Ms. Frizzle happens to own a magical school bus, which is the initiator of all the action. Naturally, the class takes a different "field trip" every episode. With the help of the bus, the class is able to experience Ms. Frizzle's lessons as opposed to just sitting in a class and listening. It's not uncommon at all for the class to climb into the bus, and shrink down to the size of ants. A trip to Pluto is also entirely possible with the help of the bus. In one episode, the class even shrinks down to take a trip into the human blood stream via an open scab. Ewww.

Meet the class. Gotta love the ethnic diversity.

So yeah, the show's kinda nuts. What saves the show from being too nuts though, is the characters. Each one has a distinct personality and--at least for me--are each very memorable. At the forefront is the extremely eclectic teacher, Ms. Frizzle. Frizzle's great; she's always super enthusiastic and gives the show a lot of energy. Frizzle's ability to keep her cool, even in the face of immediate danger, is always fun to watch. Apart from the always topical dresses though, Frizzle is more or less a static character. The more interesting characters are the kids in Frizzle's class. Each have very distinct personalities, and are constantly discovering problems, finding solutions, and learning lessons. I don't want to go on and on, but there are a few of the class members that I really like. Arnold, for starters, is probably the most prominent of the kids. Any time the situation becomes dire (which is often), Arnold slings his catch phrase: "I knew I should've stayed home today!". Arnold's basically the stereotypical wimp. Then there's Ralphie. He's the outspoken one, and is always unintentionally causing trouble. Dorothy Ann is another essential character as she's the brains of the class and is constantly spouting her own catch phrase: "According to my research...". Describing each character at length would probably make you--dearest of readers--want to punch a kitten. I'm all about kitten safety here, so lets move on.

Whoa, hey. Watch the PDA you nine year olds! Sheesh!

It's honestly hard to remember the quality of the humor in this show, as it's been so long. The great thing about The Magic School Bus though, is that humor is secondary--if not tertiary. For me, this show was genuinely interesting. Back when I was a kid, I knew very little about, well, everything. So when the class would, lets say, take a trip inside a plant to learn about photosynthesis, I was fascinated. It's really a genius idea for a show because the writers are able to explore any educational topic they want, and always have a plausible (and highly interesting) way to be able to explore the chosen topic. There's another episode where the class learns about the rain cycle by literally transforming the students into water, and putting them through the entire cycle: From evaporation, to cloud, to freezing rain. Damn, that's one magic-ass bus. Sometimes the lessons are less bus-focused though, and more practical. An example off the top of my head is when the bus takes the kids to the north pole. In that episode, the bus breaks down and the kids learn all about the properties of heat, and the ways to best retain it. As I mentioned earlier, space travel isn't an obstacle when the Magic School Bus is on the scene. The episode where Frizzle and the class take a trip into space, is a pretty great one. I was actually able to find this episode on YouTube. Oh YouTube, what would we do without you? Anyways, I think this clip of the episode does an excellent job of showing you everything that I just told you. At least watch the shows introduction, as the music is downright funky!

I could probably rattle off different episodes, and how interesting they were, all day. I have a feeling, though, that kitten punching feelings may quickly set in if I were to do that; again, I'm all for the kittens. But I hope I was able to convey my love for this show adequately. It was really the creative approach to educational topics, as well as the wacky characters, that drew me in as a kid. Having watched the above clip, my suspicions about this show being less appealing now than it was back in the day, are more or less confirmed. Watching the class take field trips to strange places is still fun, but the show's not nearly as fascinating now that I'm in college, and not grade school.

As per usual, feel free to share any memories you may have, or wish you had (?), about The Magic School Bus. General cartoon talk is always welcome as well. Keep it classy duders and duderettes!

--JJWeatherman <3 <('-'<) -- (Kirby loves me)

31 Comments
32 Comments
Posted by JJWeatherman

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus" (You're reading it!)
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man"

The Magic School Bus

Look at that bus' grin. It doesn't get more magical than this, boys and girls.

I really don't have a gauge on where other people's opinions lie on "The Magic School Bus" series. This was never a series I talked about with my friends, or really made a big deal about at all. That doesn't mean I didn't love it though. Way back when I was in elementary school, I would religiously wake up for school an hour before I realistically needed to--sometimes even earlier--in order to watch The Magic School Bus. I have the fondest of memories freezing under my blanket every morning as I enjoyed Ms. Frizzle and class' wacky adventures.

Quickly children, into the scab!

For anyone not familiar with what The Magic School Bus series is about, I'm ashamed to be relating with you. I kid; I'm honestly not really sure how popular the show was. The cartoon is based on a Scholastic book series by the same name. The show revolves around a class of average students with a not-so-average teacher named Ms. (Valerie Felicity) Frizzle. Ms. Frizzle happens to own a magical school bus, which is the initiator of all the action. Naturally, the class takes a different "field trip" every episode. With the help of the bus, the class is able to experience Ms. Frizzle's lessons as opposed to just sitting in a class and listening. It's not uncommon at all for the class to climb into the bus, and shrink down to the size of ants. A trip to Pluto is also entirely possible with the help of the bus. In one episode, the class even shrinks down to take a trip into the human blood stream via an open scab. Ewww.

Meet the class. Gotta love the ethnic diversity.

So yeah, the show's kinda nuts. What saves the show from being too nuts though, is the characters. Each one has a distinct personality and--at least for me--are each very memorable. At the forefront is the extremely eclectic teacher, Ms. Frizzle. Frizzle's great; she's always super enthusiastic and gives the show a lot of energy. Frizzle's ability to keep her cool, even in the face of immediate danger, is always fun to watch. Apart from the always topical dresses though, Frizzle is more or less a static character. The more interesting characters are the kids in Frizzle's class. Each have very distinct personalities, and are constantly discovering problems, finding solutions, and learning lessons. I don't want to go on and on, but there are a few of the class members that I really like. Arnold, for starters, is probably the most prominent of the kids. Any time the situation becomes dire (which is often), Arnold slings his catch phrase: "I knew I should've stayed home today!". Arnold's basically the stereotypical wimp. Then there's Ralphie. He's the outspoken one, and is always unintentionally causing trouble. Dorothy Ann is another essential character as she's the brains of the class and is constantly spouting her own catch phrase: "According to my research...". Describing each character at length would probably make you--dearest of readers--want to punch a kitten. I'm all about kitten safety here, so lets move on.

Whoa, hey. Watch the PDA you nine year olds! Sheesh!

It's honestly hard to remember the quality of the humor in this show, as it's been so long. The great thing about The Magic School Bus though, is that humor is secondary--if not tertiary. For me, this show was genuinely interesting. Back when I was a kid, I knew very little about, well, everything. So when the class would, lets say, take a trip inside a plant to learn about photosynthesis, I was fascinated. It's really a genius idea for a show because the writers are able to explore any educational topic they want, and always have a plausible (and highly interesting) way to be able to explore the chosen topic. There's another episode where the class learns about the rain cycle by literally transforming the students into water, and putting them through the entire cycle: From evaporation, to cloud, to freezing rain. Damn, that's one magic-ass bus. Sometimes the lessons are less bus-focused though, and more practical. An example off the top of my head is when the bus takes the kids to the north pole. In that episode, the bus breaks down and the kids learn all about the properties of heat, and the ways to best retain it. As I mentioned earlier, space travel isn't an obstacle when the Magic School Bus is on the scene. The episode where Frizzle and the class take a trip into space, is a pretty great one. I was actually able to find this episode on YouTube. Oh YouTube, what would we do without you? Anyways, I think this clip of the episode does an excellent job of showing you everything that I just told you. At least watch the shows introduction, as the music is downright funky!

I could probably rattle off different episodes, and how interesting they were, all day. I have a feeling, though, that kitten punching feelings may quickly set in if I were to do that; again, I'm all for the kittens. But I hope I was able to convey my love for this show adequately. It was really the creative approach to educational topics, as well as the wacky characters, that drew me in as a kid. Having watched the above clip, my suspicions about this show being less appealing now than it was back in the day, are more or less confirmed. Watching the class take field trips to strange places is still fun, but the show's not nearly as fascinating now that I'm in college, and not grade school.

As per usual, feel free to share any memories you may have, or wish you had (?), about The Magic School Bus. General cartoon talk is always welcome as well. Keep it classy duders and duderettes!

--JJWeatherman <3 <('-'<) -- (Kirby loves me)

Posted by BPM027

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this show.  When Arnold took off his helmet during the Pluto episode and his head immediately turned into a solid block of ice, I basically shat my pants.  Loving these blogs so far, keep it up man.

Posted by JJWeatherman
@BPM027: Oh right, I remember that! I saw every episode multiple times, so things just keep coming back to me. I was crazy obsessed with this show. 
 
And thanks, I will keep these blogs up!  :)
Posted by natetodamax

Meh, The Magic Schoolbus wasn't really a favorite of mine. It was alright, but I never got into it.

Posted by RobotHamster

Thank you for posting this, I loved this show.

Posted by dankempster
@JJWeatherman:  Great blog, JJ. I'd expect no less :)
 
It might surprise you to know we also received this show in the UK, although I can't for the life of me remember which channel it was on. Suffice it to say it was a pretty long time ago, so nostalgia has well and truly set in upon reading this. There's not much for me to say that you haven't said already, except that the episode where the class travel round the bloodstream is one of the most vivid TV-based memories I've retained from my childhood. I guess that's a testament to how entertaining and informative this show was. 
 
One other thing, before I forget - don't you have any love for Liz, the class' pet lizard? That little chameleon had as much personality as any of the other characters.
Posted by JJWeatherman
@natetodamax said:
" Meh, The Magic Schoolbus wasn't really a favorite of mine. It was alright, but I never got into it. "
I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like this show. It just turns out that I did.  :) 
 
@dankempster said:
" @JJWeatherman:  Great blog, JJ. I'd expect no less :) It might surprise you to know we also received this show in the UK, although I can't for the life of me remember which channel it was on. Suffice it to say it was a pretty long time ago, so nostalgia has well and truly set in upon reading this. There's not much for me to say that you haven't said already, except that the episode where the class travel round the bloodstream is one of the most vivid TV-based memories I've retained from my childhood. I guess that's a testament to how entertaining and informative this show was.  One other thing, before I forget - don't you have any love for Liz, the class' pet lizard? That little chameleon had as much personality as any of the other characters. "
Oh man, that's too funny you bring up Liz. I actually had a sentence or two about Liz in there, but I thought the way it was written didn't fit where I put it. I ended up just taking that whole part out because I wasn't sure anyone would remember Liz anyways.
 
But you're right, Liz does have a lot of personality. An astounding amount really considering she never talks. I fail.  :P
Posted by Daveyo520

Carloooooooosssssssssss!~

Posted by dbz1995

Was I too young for The Magic School Bus? I can't ever remember hearing of it.

Edited by JJWeatherman
@dbz1995 said:

" Was I too young for The Magic School Bus? I can't ever remember hearing of it. "

It's possible depending on how old you are. According to Wikipedia, the original airings took place from 1994-1997. After that, reruns played on several various networks until around 2006 though. Seems like you should have at least seen it around once or twice, but idk. 
 
@Daveyo520 said:

" Carloooooooosssssssssss!~ "

xD
Posted by Daveyo520
@JJWeatherman: I used to love that show.
Posted by Somadude

I freaking loved this show!

Posted by BraveToaster

I rarely watched the show, but the theme song was pretty catchy. 
 
Hop on the magic school bus.

Posted by Bevinsky

This show is awesome, loved it as a kid. I have several of the books, might have some VHS's somewhere, and even a few of the PC games too!

Posted by FixerofDeath

I loved the Magic School Bus, not as much as Hey Arnold, but I still loved it nonetheless. My favorite cartoons when I was younger were Rugrats, Pokemon, Rocko's Modern Life, Doug, and my favorite overall--The Angry Beavers. God, I loved the Angry Beavers. You should write a blog about that cartoon.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Yep. Being a kid who didn't have cable for a decent chunk of his childhood, I had to rely on public television for my entertainment. This show was part of that. While I'm sure if I watched it now, I would probably hate it and consider it super cheesy, it still was a pretty awesome show when I was young, despite the fact that it's of questionable educational value. Oh, and the theme song: Bitchin.  

 

Posted by Toxin066

We used to watch the show in school (that, or Bill Nye) whenever there was a substitute teacher. I like the one where they get shrunken and play baseball on the book's page to learn about friction.
  Let's groan together and say: Carloooooooooooooos. I've got pretty fond memories of the show. Cool blog, JJ.

Edited by cap123

Another great choice! the one that always sticks in my head is when they shrink and go inside the body. 
 
I wasn't quite as big a fan as I was of Hey Arnold, but this show had a similar charm :)

Posted by Allprox

Pluto, a planet? puh-shaaaaw!

Posted by Raven_Sword

Actualy didnt really watch this as a kid. We watched it in school sometimes, sure, but I was more into Batman the Animated Series and Animaniacs and stuff like that. 
 
(BTW: you should totaly do one of these two for your next blog if you liked them)
Posted by c1337us

Hey Arnold! Yeah OK but fuck dude you lost me with the Magic School Bus.

Online
Posted by JJWeatherman
@Toxin066 said:
" We used to watch the show in school (that, or Bill Nye) whenever there was a substitute teacher. I like the one where they get shrunken and play baseball on the book's page to learn about friction.
  Let's groan together and say: Carloooooooooooooos. I've got pretty fond memories of the show. Cool blog, JJ. "
Yes, that was a great episode. And, damn you Carlos! 
 
@Allprox said:
" Pluto, a planet? puh-shaaaaw! "
I know, right? 
 
@c1337us said:
" Hey Arnold! Yeah OK but fuck dude you lost me with the Magic School Bus. "
I was trying to do something a little less obvious. I'll probably go back to something a little more mainstream next time... maybe, we'll see.
Posted by Redbullet685
@Toxin066 said:
" We used to watch the show in school (that, or Bill Nye) whenever there was a substitute teacher. "
Same here. Loved this show.
Posted by LordXavierBritish
@c1337us said:
" Hey Arnold! Yeah OK but fuck dude you lost me with the Magic School Bus. "
You should be thankful. 
 
He could have done Arthur. 
  
Posted by c1337us
@LordXavierBritish: My sister loved that show. I had forgotten all about it.
Online
Edited by skrutop

This didn't come out until I was in high school, so while you were learning about Pluto and the bloodstream, I was learning about drinking and girls.  Mine's better :).

Posted by JJWeatherman
@LordXavierBritish: While I did watch some Arthur, it's not nearly as high up on my favorites list. In fact, it's not really on my favorites list at all. 
 
@skrutop said:
" This didn't come out until I was in high school, so while you were learning about Pluto and the bloodstream, I was learning about drinking and girls.  Mine's better :). "
I'm not gonna lie; you've got me beat there.  :P
Posted by ISuperGamerI
@Redbullet685 said:
" @Toxin066 said:
" We used to watch the show in school (that, or Bill Nye) whenever there was a substitute teacher. "
Same here. Loved this show. "
Haha same BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY! Also the Magic School Bus and Arthur were great shows, along with pretty much every other show in the 90s.
Posted by Scrawnto

Dude, the Magic School Bus rocked! I was just starting elementary school around that time, but I was already a super nerd (I wanted to be a paleontologist). I also loved Bill Nye the Science Guy. These retrospectives are pretty neat.

Posted by JJWeatherman
@ISuperGamerI: @Scrawnto: Ha. Please tell me that you guys remember the "Richie, eat your crust!" bit from Bill Nye. 
   
Posted by ISuperGamerI
@JJWeatherman:  Nah I don't remember that but then again I haven't sen the show for about 10 years lol.
Posted by Scrawnto
@JJWeatherman:  I do! It made no sense, and had nothing to do with science. But it still holds up.