The Magic School Bus (TV series)

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The Magic School Bus
Based on
Developed by
  • Alison Blank
  • Kristin Laskas Martin
  • Jane Startz
Directed by
  • Lawrence Jacobs (seasons 1-4)
  • Charles E. Bastien (seasons 2, 3 & 4)
  • Susan Blu (Voice Director)
  • Dan Hennessey (Voice Director) (Season 4)
Voices of
Theme music composerPeter Lurye
Opening theme"Ride on the Magic School Bus", performed by Little Richard
  • Peter Lurye (entire run)
  • Fred Barton (seasons 2-4)
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Canada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Hasmi Giakoumis (season 1)
  • Vince Commisso (seasons 2-4)
Running time26 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 10, 1994 (1994-09-10) –
December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)
The Magic School Bus Rides Again

The Magic School Bus is an animated educational children's television series, based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. Originally broadcast from 1994 to 1997, the series received critical acclaim for its use of celebrity voice talent, as well as combining entertainment with an educational series.[1] The series stars Lily Tomlin as the voice of Ms. Frizzle. The theme song is performed by Little Richard.[2]


Ms. Frizzle embarks on adventures with her eight students 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[edit]


Guest Stars[edit]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113September 10, 1994 (1994-09-10)December 3, 1994 (1994-12-03)
213September 9, 1995 (1995-09-09)December 2, 1995 (1995-12-02)
313September 14, 1996 (1996-09-14)December 25, 1996 (1996-12-25)
413September 13, 1997 (1997-09-13)December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)


In early 1994, The Magic School Bus concept was produced into an animated series of the same name by Scholastic Entertainment. It premiered on September 10, 1994. The idea for the show was developed by Craig Walker (former Vice President and Senior Editorial Director of Scholastic Entertainment). The company's president Deborah Forte explained that adapting the books into an animated TV show was the opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way".[3] During this time, Forte had been hearing concerns from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for kids and minorities all across the globe.[3] Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd. contributed some of the animation for this program. The theme song, called "Ride on the Magic School Bus", was written by Peter Lurye and performed by Little Richard.[4] The voice director was Susan Blu; two of the writers for the series were Brian Meehl and Jocelyn Stevenson.


In the United States, from 1994 until 1997, the original run of The Magic School Bus was broadcast on PBS, as part of its daytime children's block (airing on weekdays). It was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The last episode aired on December 6, 1997. By the series' end, it was among the highest-rated PBS shows for school-age children.[5] After the final episode, the original TV series (and show) subsequently continued in reruns intermittently on the PBS lineup. Afterwards, reruns continued on PBS until September 25, 1998 (where PBS dropped the show from its lineup in order to make room for more programs aimed at preschoolers).

In October 4, 1998, Fox network acquired the original TV series and broadcast the show on the Fox Kids block[6] as a weekday offering to fill educational television mandates for Fox affiliates.[7] Reruns continued on Fox Kids from October 5, 1998 until September 6, 2002.

After the Fox Kids reruns, TLC and Discovery Kids chose to air it. TLC aired it from February 24, 2003 until 2008. Discovery Kids aired it from 2004 until 2009, as part of the Ready Set Learn block.[3]

On September 27, 2010, the TV series moved and changed networks once again. It was broadcast through a daily run on Qubo Channel as well as NBC's Saturday morning Qubo block. Reruns continued on both Qubo and NBC until 2012.

In Canada, the TV series aired on CBC Kids (from 2000 until 2003), Teletoon, and Knowledge Network. In the United Kingdom, it aired on Channel 4 (Children Planet Programmes Block) and Nickelodeon. Since 2005, Canada-based studio Nelvana acquired the TV series and sold it to the Latin American versions of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.[8] As of 2021, the show is currently distributed by 9 Story Media Group.

The opening theme song was notably shortened during the show's airings on Fox Kids[9] and Qubo.[10] The airings on PBS, TLC, Discovery Kids, and CBC Kids, along with the VHS and DVD versions, all used the full version of the opening.

Home media[edit]

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.

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.[11]

On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the complete series' availability on Netflix.[12] Currently however only season 1 of the series is available to stream on Netflix.


Critical response[edit]

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.[13]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
1995 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Graphics and Title Design Nominated
Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle Won [14]
USA Environmental Media Award Children's Animated Program Nominated
Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album for Children Fun with Sound: John Wynne, producer Nominated
NCLR Bravo Award Outstanding Program for Children or Youth Nominated
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Animated Program Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling Milton Buras (for episode "Halloween Special" Nominated
Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle Nominated
1997 Television Critics Association Award Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming Nominated
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle Nominated
Outstanding Children's Animated Program Nominated
1998 ALMA Award Outstanding Program for Children or Youth Nominated
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle Nominated
Outstanding Children's Animated Program Nominated


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[edit]

On June 10, 2014, a new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°.[15][16] 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.[17][18] 9 Story Media Group would produce the series.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the theme song.[22] On September 29, 2017 the series premiered on Netflix.[23]


  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. ^ Maher, John (April 21, 2020). "How Peter Lurye Made 'The Magic School Bus' Sing". The Dot and Line. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Clarke, Melanie M. (June 20, 2005). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable. 135 (25). Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc.: 30.
  4. ^ Little Richard at IMDb
  5. ^ Green, Michelle Y. (July 28, 1997). "Scholastic Productions banks on Best-Sellers". Broadcasting & Cable. 127 (31). Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc.: 48.
  6. ^, promo from WUHF;, promo from WSMH.
  7. ^ " | "Magic School Bus" bought by Fox".
  8. ^ Dinoff, Dustin (November 7, 2005). "Deals for Toons, Docs at MIPCOM". (accessed through ProQuest. Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. ProQuest 399041793.
  9. ^ "RARE the Magic School Bus Intro (Fox Kids Version, Incomplete)". YouTube.
  10. ^, Qubo/NBC variant.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Biography: Lily Tomlin". American Theater Wing. May 2007. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Kidscreen » Archive » 9 Story boards Netflix's Magic School Bus reboot". Kidscreen. February 10, 2016.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "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]