When the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars, a meme quickly spread across Facebook showing Miss Frizzle, the eccentric teacher from The MagIc School Bus, saying, “B**ch, please. I drove a bus full of kids there ten years ago.”
Many people who grew up in the 1990s have fond memories of The Magic School Bus, a charming animated series in which Miss Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin) took her elementary school students on extraordinary “field trips” into outer space, under the ocean, and even inside the human body. Now, all 52 episodes are available in an eight-disc DVD box set.
The Magic School Bus ended production in 1997 (though it continues in reruns), so some of the scientific information taught is a bit out of date. Pluto is still called a planet, needless to say. But the show is very effective at making difficult concepts relatively easy to understand, and young viewers will enjoy the running jokes (like the endless stream of “relatives” quoted by Miss Frizzle) and pun-heavy dialogue.
Of course, no one should expect a show in which children are sent into space or turned into wild animals to be 100% scientifically accurate. But the makers of The Magic School Bus came up with a clever way to get around this, ending each episode with a “producer” (voiced by Malcolm Jamal-Warner, aka Theo Huxtable) explaining the more questionable parts of the story (and, in some cases, admitting they put something in as a joke).
The show is entertaining and educational, and I’m going to encourage my kids to watch it when they’re old enough. This set really should have included more special features, though. Aside from a small activity book, there isn’t anything else – even though disc #8 only contains three episodes. (The rest contain seven apiece) The video and sound quality isn’t much better than VHS, either.
If only The Magic School Bus had remained in production long enough for an episode about how DVDs work…