Top positive review
108 people found this helpful
on May 20, 2012
"Magic School Bus" was a major part of my TV-watching experience when I was a child. So honestly, watching the series today is a trip down memory lane -- and despite some scientific changes (such as computer advances or Pluto being exiled), "Magic School Bus: The Complete Series" still stands as a good, educational show for kids.
The story series around Ms. Valerie Frizzle (Lily Tomlin), an eccentric elementary-school teacher who dresses according to the episode's theme. She has a sentient lizard named Liz, and a school bus that can transform into whatever the episode requires.
She has a class of about eight students, who never seem to have math class or anything that requires them to actually stay in the building. Instead, Ms. Frizzle takes them on daily field trips, which the shape-shifting/time-traveling/shrinking bus allows them to do... in a very hands-on manner.
So the class goes on adventures in the digestive system, the bloodstream, a pickle jar, space (multiple times), the desert, a rotting log, an anthill, the Cretaceous Period, the water cycle, the bus's engine, a toy plane, Herp Haven, a beehive, an old monster movie, the Arctic, a magic pinball machine, muscles, the rainforest, a chicken egg, the swamp, the interior of a nose, electrical currents, a computer, a coral reef and so on.
And they learn about all sorts of things -- erosion, stars, cells, friction, ecosystems, microbes, recycling, tidepools, muscle oxygenation, reptiles, bats, light tricks, sound etc. Nothing is hugely in-depth, but they give a pretty good start for kids.
"Magic School Bus" was made in the mid-1990s, but it's actually held up quite well. Except for a few things that have changed (Pluto and home computers), most of the science stuff in this series is still pretty valid. It conveys sometimes-complex scenarios (muscle oxygenation) in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.
And they mix it up with plenty of comedy (Ms. Frizzle's entrances are always... unique) and some explicit demonstrations of just how these things work (a frictionless baseball game!). One warning for adults, though: lots of puns. LOTS of puns.
Though the kids have the appearance of having been chosen so no ethnic group would feel left out, they're each given a pretty decent characterization. One is sensible and bookish, one is strong and impulsive, one is idealistic and always talking about her "old school," one is overimaginative, one is a clown, et cetera.
It's been around for almost two decades, but "Magic School Bus: The Complete Series" has actually aged pretty well, and is still a solid form of education/entertainment.