By JJWeatherman 31 Comments
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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)