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The Magic School Bus (TV series)

The Magic School Bus
TV Logo
Created by Joanna Cole
Bruce Degen
Voices of Lisa Yamanaka
Lily Tomlin
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
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 52 (list of episodes)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Nelvana Limited
Hanho Heung-Up
(Animation Production)
South Carolina ETV
Scholastic Entertainment
Original channel PBS Kids
Audio format Dolby Surround
Original release September 10, 1994 (1994-09-10) – December 6, 1997 (1997-12-06)

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. It is notable 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] On June 10, 2014 Scholastic Media announced that it will be releasing an all-new CG animated series inspired by the original show, entitled "The Magic School Bus 360°." The 26 new half-hour episodes are set to stream on Netflix in 2016.[3]

Production and airing

In 1994, The Magic School Bus concept was made into an animated series of the same name by Scholastic Entertainment, and premiered on September 10, 1994. Scholastic Entertainment president Deborah Forte says that adapting the books into an animated series was an opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way".[4] Around that time, Forte had been hearing concern from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for girls and minorities.[4] Each episode of the series ran for 30 minutes. In the United States, the series 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 September 1998. The Fox network aired repeats 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 use 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 Discovery Kids for a significant amount of time in the US,[4] Pop and CITV in the United Kingdom, with no plans to make more episodes, on November 9, 2002. 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 Cartoon Network.[5] The series continued on these six stations until February 4, 2006.

When The Magic School Bus is syndicated on commercial networks, the Producer Says segment at the end of each episode is cut out to make space for commercials. The Producer Says segments are only seen when the series is shown on non-commercial networks, international networks, VHS, and DVD releases. Within the episodes, there also are timepoints 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.[6]

The show was produced in an animation and audio style reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1970s and 1980s.

The show's voice director is Susan Blu.

Two of the writers for the show were Brian Muehl and Jocelyn Stevenson, one of the creators of Fraggle Rock who later became an executive producer for "Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends" in 2003 and left in 2006.

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.


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).[7]

Tomlin won a Daytime Emmy for her role as Ms. Frizzle.[8]




The series was released on VHS by KidVision between December 13, 1994 and March 3, 1998 and by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment between January 12, 1999 and April 2, 2002, and on DVD by Warner Home Video between May 9, 2006 and August 4, 2009. Both the DVDs and VHS releases contain the funding credits. In the VHS and DVD 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.[9]

On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the entire series would be available on Netflix.[10]


Daytime Emmy Awards

Game revival

A video game, titled The Magic School Bus: Oceans, was released for Nintendo DS on October 25, 2011. The game itself is likely based on the book, The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor. No other games have been released yet.


A new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°. The show will be in CGI and 26 episodes will air on Netflix in 2016.[11] 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 hope is to captivate children's imaginations and motivate their interest in the sciences.[12]


  1. ^ Moody, Annemarie (2009-03-07). "Word Knowledge is Power for WordGirl". Animation World Magazine. Animation World Network. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  2. ^ Green, Michelle Y. (1997-07-28). "Scholastic Productions banks on Best-Sellers". Broadcasting & Cable (Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA ) Inc.) 127 (31): 48. 
  3. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (10 June 2014). "Netflix Orders New Children’s Show Based on ‘Magic School Bus". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Clarke, Melanie M. (2005-06-20). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable (Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc.) 135 (25): 30. 
  5. ^ Dinoff, Dustin (2005-11-07). "Deals for Toons, Docs at MIPCOM". (accessed through ProQuest. Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  6. ^ Little Richard at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Fry, Jason (2007-12-10). "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 December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  8. ^ "Biography: Lily Tomlin". American Theater Wing. May 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Scholastic is Bringing The Magic School Bus 360 degrees to Netflix". Coming Soon. June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ Koch, Dave (June 18, 2014). "Three New Animated Series, Reboots All". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 

External links