The Magic School Bus (TV series)

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The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus title credit.jpg
Genre Educational adventure comedy
Based on The Magic School Bus
by Joanna Cole
Bruce Degen
Developed by Alison Blank
Kristin Laskas Martin
Jane Startz
Voices of Lily Tomlin
Lisa Yamanaka
Danny Tamberelli
Daniel DeSanto
Tara Meyer
Erica Luttrell
Maia Filar
Stuart Stone
Renessa Blitz
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Theme music composer Peter Lurye
Opening theme "Ride on the Magic School Bus", performed by Little Richard
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 52 (list of episodes)
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) South Carolina ETV
Scholastic Entertainment
Distributor Nelvana
Original network PBS Kids
Picture format SD: 4:3
Audio format Dolby Surround
Original release September 10, 1994 (1994-09-10) – December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)
Followed by The Magic School Bus Rides Again
External links

The Magic School Bus is a Canadian/American Saturday morning 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 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.



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

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.

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 legend 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

In the United States, The Magic School Bus originally aired on PBS as a part of its children's block, PBS Kids, 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 October 1998. Fox Kids Network, in a hasty effort to fill educational television mandates for its stations, aired repeats on its weekday block from September 1998 to September 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. Based on information from their website, Qubo no longer carries The Magic School Bus in their programming lineup.

The Magic School Bus was also seen on TLC from February 24, 2003 until 2008, and aired on the Ready Set Learn block on Discovery Kids from 2004 to 2009,[3] TVOntario 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 1999 to 2004. In 2005, Nelvana sold the series to Latin America's Cartoon Network.[6] Child-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), 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), 1999 to 2002.

Home media

The series was originally released on VHS by KidVision between 1995 and 2003, and on DVD by Warner Home Video between 2002 and 2013. Only the DVDs contain the funding credits. In the home video releases, all the episodes are uncut 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]


Jason Fry, in a column for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal, expressed an overall appreciation for the show, but wrote that the episode "The Magic School Bus Gets Programmed" should have been about the perils of Internet searches and network concepts surfacing at the time, rather than an old-fashioned technology-run-amok story about the respective roles of programmer and machine (although he conceded that the episode was ten years old).[9]

Tomlin won a Daytime Emmy for her role as Ms. Frizzle.[10]

Awards and nominations

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
1995 Lily Tomlin (for playing "Ms. Frizzle") Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Won
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 2001, 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 have been released for the Nintendo platform.

Revival series

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 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 (2013-08-03), PBS - The Magic School Bus Ending Credits and Fundings, retrieved 2018-10-20
  6. ^ Dinoff, Dustin (November 7, 2005). "Deals for Toons, Docs at MIPCOM". (accessed through ProQuest. Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  7. ^ Jacobs, Larry; Bastien, Charles E. (July 31, 2012), The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series, New Video Group, retrieved 2016-07-10
  8. ^ "Netflix Announces Top Rated, Award Winning Scholastic Television Shows now Available as Kids Go Back to School | Scholastic Media Room". Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  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 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  10. ^ "Biography: Lily Tomlin". American Theater Wing. May 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  11. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (June 10, 2014). "Netflix Orders New Children's Show Based on 'Magic School Bus". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Scholastic is Bringing The Magic School Bus 360 degrees to Netflix". Coming Soon. June 11, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  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. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  16. ^ Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (January 4, 2017). "Celebrity cameos, familiar voices to ride 'Magic School Bus' reboot". CNET. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  17. ^ Serrao, Nivea (February 9, 2017). "Kate McKinnon to voice Ms. Frizzle in Netflix's 'Magic School Bus' revival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  18. ^ Stanhope, Kate (September 5, 2017). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Updates 'Magic School Bus' Theme Song for Netflix Reboot". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
  19. ^ "New to Netflix in September: 'Pulp Fiction', 'Jerry Before Seinfeld' and More". August 23, 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-23.

External links

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