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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series

September 21st, 2012

The Magic School Bus - Buy from Amazon: Field Trip Fun & Games or The Complete Series

The Magic School Bus was based on a popular book series that started in 1986. In 1994, the show was adapted as an educational cartoon. Now to celebrate the 25th anniversary, a The Complete Series Megaset has been released. The number of screeners for that series was limited, but I was sent a copy of Field Trip Fun & Games to get a general impression of the show. So how is it?

The Show

The basic setup is simple to explain. Lily Tomlin provides the voice for Ms. Frizzle, a teacher at Walkerville Elementary. But she's not your typical teacher, as she takes her students on field trips on her school bus, which can be transformed into a wide variety of machines (submarine, plane, spaceship, salmon); it can travel to the bottom of the ocean or to outer space; and can even shrink to explore tiny worlds, like the inside of a human body.

In each of the 52 episodes, Ms. Frizzle and her class get into a number of adventures, while learning about important subjects like...

  • Busasaurus
    While visiting with Dr. Carmina Skeledon, the kids learn about palaeontology and dinosaurs. To learn more, Ms. Frizzle takes the kids back in time to the Cretaceous Period where they can see dinosaurs for themselves.
  • Cold Feet
    Liz, the Lizard, is missing from the classroom and the kids are really worried. They find out Liz went to the Herp Haven, so the kids try to go in for a rescue, but they need a way to disguise themselves as reptiles.
  • Goes Upstream
    Ralphy organized a school fish fry, but the class has no luck catching any fish. They do catch Ms. Frizzle. Ms. Frizzle turns the bus into a salmon, so it can find the other fish.
  • Gets Eaten
    Keesha and Arnold are partners for a report, but both of them forgot to bring a pair of beach related items that go together and now they have to improvise with just some pond scum and a tuna salad sandwich. They fumble, but they are saved by the bell and start on their field trip to the beach. Ms. Frizzle says they will find the connection, if they look hard enough.
  • Get Ants in Its Pants
    It's time for the science fair and the theme is social animals. From the title, you can probably guess what animal they choose. Eventually Keesha decides they should make a movie about an ant colony.
  • Butterfly and the Bog Beast
    The kids are trying to decide what their school's mascot will be. After broccoli was rejected, Phoebe suggests butterflies while Janet (Arnold's cousin) suggests Bog Beasts. The rest of the class has to decide which is cooler.
  • In a Beehive
    Tim and Wanda are helping Tim's grandfather by delivering his honey when there's an accident and he loses most of his honey. Now they need replacement honey, but Ms. Frizzle helps out by turning the buzz into a bee to find a hive.
  • Gains Weight
    There's a Slamdunk Exhibition and Phoebe Terese wants to take part. In order to dunk, she needs to defy gravity, so Ms. Frizzle turns the Magic School Bus into a planet, so they can experiment with lower gravity.
  • Plays Ball
    Carlos is trying to play baseball, but they don't have a home plate. When Dorothy Ann comes into the game to talk about her new physics game. Carlos tries to use it as home plate, while Ms. Frizzle decides to take a field trip inside the book to see how baseball would be different without friction.
  • Shows & Tell
    It's time to give out the "I Showed It To You and Told You All About It Cup". It's the Stanley Cup of Show and Tell. Dorthy Ann is eager to go on, but Arnold is late with his pumice collection. And when he shows up, he's brought something new, something Dorthy Ann's never seen before. Fortunately, Ms. Frizzle can help out turning the bus into a Suppose-O-Tron. Now the class can guess what it is, and then test their hypotheses.
  • Works Out
    Ms. Frizzle is training for the Teacherathalon, but it is Carlos that's struggling. Her main competition is Mr. Sinew, who is being trained by Janet. The competition is used to show how muscles work and how respiration is part of the team.
  • Rocks and Rolls
    The class is making a monument to celebrate the life of Captain Walker, the founder of their town. However, in instructions he left, he said he wanted it to be built without human hands. They are already late, when tragedy happens and their statue tumbles down the mountainside. Can they rescue the statue before it is destroyed by erosion? Or is erosion the key.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no bonuses on the three-disc DVD I received, but there are study guides for parents and kids on the Megaset. Also, while the screener I got had 12 episodes for $19, the Megaset is $51 for 52 episode, which is a much better deal.

The Verdict

The Magic School Bus is not my favorite educational show. That honor goes to Bill Nye the Science Guy. However, it is still one of the best with plenty of adventure and entertainment. The Complete Series Megaset is clearly worth picking up with a very low price-per-minute, especially when compared to most other TV on DVD releases aimed at the same target demographic.

On a side note, I forgot how many puns there were in this show.

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