The Magic School Bus (TV series)

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The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus title credit.jpg
Based onThe Magic School Bus
by Joanna Cole
Bruce Degen
Developed byAlison Blank
Kristin Laskas Martin
Jane Startz
Voices ofLily Tomlin
Lisa Yamanaka
Danny Tamberelli
Daniel DeSanto
Tara Meyer
Erica Luttrell
Maia Filar
Stuart Stone
Renessa Blitz
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Theme music composerPeter Lurye
Opening theme"Ride on the Magic School Bus", performed by Little Richard
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)South Carolina ETV
Scholastic Entertainment
Original networkPBS
Picture formatSD: 4:3
Audio formatDolby Surround
Original releaseSeptember 10, 1994 (1994-09-10) –
December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)
Followed byThe Magic School Bus Rides Again
External links

The Magic School Bus is a Canadian-American 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 voice talent and combining entertainment with an educational series.[1] Broadcasting & Cable said the show was "among the highest-rated PBS shows for school-age children."[2]

A revival series titled The Magic School Bus Rides Again was released on Netflix on September 29, 2017 and lasted until April 13, 2018.


Valerie Frizzle embarks on adventures with her class on the titular 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[edit]

Lily Tomlin as Miss Valerie Felicity Frizzle, the science teacher of Walkerville Elementary School.

• Amos Crawley (Season 1) and Danny Tamberelli (Season 2-4) as Arnold Perlstein, a bespectacled boy .

Daniel DeSanto as Carlos Ramon, a class clown.

• Tara Meyer as Dorothy Ann Rourke, the class bookworm.

Erica Luttrell as Keesha Franklin.

• Maia Filar as Phoebe Terese, the new girl in Ms. Frizzle's class.

Stuart Stone as Ralphie Tennelli, a class athlete.

• Max Beckford (Season 1) and Andre Ottley-Lorant (Season 2-4) as Tim Jamal, an artistic student.

Lisa Yamanaka as Wanda Li, a tough tomboy and the youngest member of the class.



• Miss Valerie Felicity Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin)

• Arnold Perlstein (voiced by Amos Crawley and Danny Tamberelli)

• Carlos Ramon (voiced by Daniel DeSanto)

• Dorothy Ann Rourke (voiced by Tara Meyer)

• Keesha Franklin (voiced by Erica Luttrell)

• Phoebe Terese (voiced by Maia Filar)

• Ralphie Tennelli (voiced by Stuart Stone)

• Tim Jamal (voiced by Max Beckford and Andre Ottley-Lorant)

• Wanda Li (voiced by Lisa Yamanaka)


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 13 September 10, 1994 December 3, 1994
2 13 September 9, 1995 December 2, 1995
3 13 September 14, 1996 December 25, 1996
4 13 September 13, 1997 December 6, 1997

Production and broadcast[edit]

In 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 show was thought up by former Scholastic Entertainment Vice President and Senior Editorial Director Craig Walker. Scholastic Entertainment president Deborah Forte said that adapting the books into an animated series was an opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way".[3] Around that time, Forte had been hearing concerns from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for girls and minorities across the globe.[3] Each episode of the series ran for 30 minutes. Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd. contributed some of the animation for this series.

When The Magic School Bus was syndicated on commercial networks, the Producer Says segment at the end of each episode was cut out to make space for commercials. The Producer Says segments were only seen when the series was shown on non-commercial networks, international networks, VHS, and DVD releases. Within the episodes, there were also time points where the episode fades out and then fades back in after a series of commercials are shown. On non-commercial networks, VHS, and DVD releases the scene immediately fades back in right after it fades out as no commercials are shown.

The show's theme song called "Ride on the Magic School Bus" was written by Peter Lurye and performed by rock 'n' roll musician Little Richard.[4]

The show's voice director was Susan Blu, two of the writers for the show were Brian Muehl and Jocelyn Stevenson, who also worked on Fraggle Rock.

On the PBS version, the show was funded by the National Science Foundation, Microsoft Home, the US Department of Energy, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the annual financial support from the viewers/stations of PBS.[5] The show was close-captioned by the National Captioning Institute when it aired on PBS.

Broadcast history[edit]

In the United States, The Magic School Bus originally aired on PBS as a part of its children's block, PTV, through South Carolina's SCETV network; it was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The last episode aired on December 6, 1997. The series then aired reruns on PBS until September 1998, when the series was dropped altogether in order for PBS to make room for more programs aimed at preschoolers.

Fox Kids used the program as a weekday offering to fill educational television mandates for its affiliates, airing repeats from 1998 to 2002. Starting September 27, 2010, The Magic School Bus started a daily run on 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, and aired on the Ready Set Learn block on Discovery Kids from 2004 to 2009,[3] TVOntario, [3] Disney Junior Canada, and the Knowledge Network in Canada and Pop, Channel 4 and CITV in the United Kingdom, with no plans to make more episodes. 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 2008 to 2013. In 2014, Nelvana sold the series to Latin America's Cartoon Network.[6] Kid-oriented network Qubo showed episodes between 2010 and 2012. 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), Spacetoon in the Middle East from 2000 to 2017, 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), Arutz HaYeladim (Israel) (1995 to 1999), and has run on TVO Kids from 2007 until the present time.

Home media[edit]

The series was originally released on VHS by KidVision (a division of WarnerVision Entertainment) between 1995 and 2003, and on DVD by Warner Home Video (through Warner Bros. Family Entertainment and WarnerVision Entertainment) and between 2002 and 2013. Only the DVDs contain the funding credits. In the home video releases, all the episodes are uncut and un-edited with the Producer Says segments intact. In the UK, it was broadcast until mid-2007 when it was removed off the air on Pop channel.

On July 31, 2012, New Video Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[7]

On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the entire series would be available on Netflix.[8]


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 said 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.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1998 The Magic School Bus ALMA Award for Outstanding Program for Children or Youth Nominated
1997 The Magic School Bus Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program Nominated
1997 Lily Tomlin (for playing "Ms. Frizzle") Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Nominated
1997 The Magic School Bus Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming Nominated
1996 Lily Tomlin (for playing "Ms. Frizzle") Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Nominated
1996 Milton Buras (for episode "Halloween Special") Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling Nominated
1996 The Magic School Bus Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program Nominated
1996 The Magic School Bus NCLR Bravo Award for Outstanding Program for Children or Youth Nominated
1996 Lily Tomlin (for playing "Ms. Frizzle") Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Won[10]
1995 The Magic School Bus title designers and graphic artists Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Graphics and Title Design Nominated
1995 The Magic School Bus (for episode "...Meets the Rot Squad") USA Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated Program Nominated


Various 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. 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 be released on a Nintendo platform.

Revival series[edit]

On June 10, 2014, a new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°.[11][12] 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.[13][14] 9 Story Media Group would produce the series.[15] 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, California, United States and Toronto, Ontario, Canada with Susan Blu as the Los Angeles voice director and Alyson Court as the Toronto voice director.[16]

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.[17] Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton performs the theme song.[18] The series was released on Netflix on September 29, 2017.[19]


  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 March 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Green, Michelle Y. (July 28, 1997). "Scholastic Productions banks on Best-Sellers". Broadcasting & Cable. Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA ) Inc. 127 (31): 48.
  3. ^ a b c d Clarke, Melanie M. (June 20, 2005). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable. Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc. 135 (25): 30.
  4. ^ Little Richard on IMDb
  5. ^ RoadRunnerCoyote2015 (August 3, 2013), PBS - The Magic School Bus Ending Credits and Fundings, archived from the original on August 6, 2019, retrieved October 20, 2018
  6. ^ Dinoff, Dustin (November 7, 2005). "Deals for Toons, Docs at MIPCOM". (accessed through ProQuest. Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. ProQuest 399041793. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ Jacobs, Larry; Bastien, Charles E. (July 31, 2012), The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series, New Video Group, archived from the original on January 28, 2013, retrieved July 10, 2016
  8. ^ "Netflix Announces Top Rated, Award Winning Scholastic Television Shows now Available as Kids Go Back to School | Scholastic Media Room". Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  9. ^ 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 July 3, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  10. ^ "Biography: Lily Tomlin". American Theater Wing. May 2007. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (June 10, 2014). "Netflix Orders New Children's Show Based on 'Magic School Bus". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 25, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  12. ^ "Scholastic is Bringing The Magic School Bus 360 degrees to Netflix". Coming Soon. June 11, 2014. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  13. ^ "Kidscreen » Archive » 9 Story boards Netflix's Magic School Bus reboot". Kidscreen. February 10, 2016.
  14. ^ Koch, Dave (June 18, 2014). "Three New Animated Series, Reboots All". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  15. ^ "The Magic School Bus 360 delayed to 2017". Coming Soon'. December 3, 2016. Archived from the original on December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  16. ^ Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (January 4, 2017). "Celebrity cameos, familiar voices to ride 'Magic School Bus' reboot". CNET. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  17. ^ 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 July 30, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  18. ^ Stanhope, Kate (September 5, 2017). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Updates 'Magic School Bus' Theme Song for Netflix Reboot". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  19. ^ "New to Netflix in September: 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jerry Before Seinfeld' and More". August 23, 2017. Archived from the original on August 23, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2017.

External links[edit]