|The Magic School Bus|
|Based on||The Magic School Bus|
by Joanna Cole
|Theme music composer||Peter Lurye|
|Opening theme||"Ride on the Magic School Bus", performed by Little Richard|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||26 minutes|
|Audio format||Dolby Surround|
|Original release||September 10, 1994 –|
December 6, 1997
|Followed by||The Magic School Bus Rides Again|
The Magic School Bus is an animated children's television series, based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. Running originally from 1994 to 1997, the series received critical acclaim for its use of celebrity voice talent and combining entertainment with an educational series.
Miss Frizzle embarks on adventures with her class 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.
Main article: List of The Magic School Bus characters
Main article: List of The Magic School Bus episodes
|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|
In early 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 TV series was developed by former Scholastic Entertainment Vice President and Senior Editorial Director Craig Walker. Scholastic Entertainment president Deborah Forte explained that adapting the books into an animated series was an opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way". During this time, Forte had been hearing concerns from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for kids and minorities across the globe. Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd. contributed some of the animation for this series. The theme song, called "Ride on the Magic School Bus", was written by Peter Lurye and performed by Little Richard. 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 Magic School Bus originally aired on PBS (being the first television airing). It aired on PBS as part of its children's block. On PBS through South Carolina's SCETV network, it was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The last episode aired (on PBS) on December 6, 1997. By the series' end, it was among the highest-rated PBS shows for school-age children. After the final episode, the show on the PBS lineup was subsequently rerun intermittently until September 25, 1998. On September 26, 1998, PBS dropped the show from its lineup in order to make room for more programs aimed at preschoolers. On that same year, Fox network (in the United States) acquired the original TV series. After Fox network acquired the TV series, it was moved to the Fox Kids block and it ran there until 2002.
Fox Kids (on the US television) used the series as a weekday offering to fill educational television mandates for its affiliates. It aired repeats from 1998 to 2002. On September 27, 2010, The Magic School Bus was broadcast through a daily run in Qubo on US television. Then it aired on NBC (on Saturday mornings). Both the Fox Kids and Qubo airings used a shortened version of the opening.  Also the PBS, TLC, and Discovery Kids airings (on US television), CBC Kids (on Canada television), and the VHS and DVD versions used the original version of the opening.
On US television, after its permanent disappearance from PBS in 1998 --in order for PBS to make room for other new programs aimed at preschoolers on its lineup-- and Fox Kids in 2002, TLC and Discovery Kids (on US television) chose to air it. On US television, TLC aired it from February 24, 2003 until 2008 while Discovery Kids aired it from 2004 until 2009 (as part of the Ready Set Learn block). In Canada, it aired on CBC Kids (from 2000 until 2003), Teletoon, and Knowledge Network. In the United Kingdom, it aired on Channel 4, Nickelodeon, and Pop. Since 2005, Canada-based studio Nelvana acquired the original TV series and sold it to the Latin American versions of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. As of 2021, the show is currently distributed by 9 Story Media Group.
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.
On August 15, 2013, Scholastic announced the series' availability on Netflix.
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.
|1995||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Graphics and Title Design||The Magic School Bus||Nominated|
|USA Environmental Media Award||Children's Animated Program|
|1996||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program||Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle||Won|||
|NCLR Bravo Award||Outstanding Program for Children or Youth||The Magic School Bus||Nominated|
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Children's Animated Program|
|Outstanding Hairstyling||Milton Buras (for episode "Halloween Special"|
|Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program||Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle|
|1997||Television Critics Association Award||Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming||The Magic School Bus|
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program||Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle|
|Outstanding Children's Animated Program||The Magic School Bus|
|1998||ALMA Award||Outstanding Program for Children or Youth|
Main article: The Magic School Bus (video game series)
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.
Main article: The Magic School Bus Rides Again
On June 10, 2014, a new series was announced by Netflix and Scholastic Media titled The Magic School Bus 360°. 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. 9 Story Media Group would produce the series. 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.
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. Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the theme song. On September 29, 2017 the series premiered on Netflix.
On June 25, 2020, a film adaptation was announced and Elizabeth Banks is cast to play Ms. Frizzle.