When Netflix announced “The Magic School Bus Rides Again," I remember all of my friends rejoicing. For many millenials, myself included, the original series was a highlight of our childhood and got kids interested in science. No one would mind when our teacher would pop the Magic School Bus VHS tape (or DVD) as we knew we'd be entertained. From the puns that Carlos and the original Ms. Frizzle made to the revelations Arnold and the students made, audiences would come away with knowing new information they hadn't before.
Her mantra “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” has stuck with me from childhood till now, so you can bet your socks I was excited for the reboot. However, if you were hoping for the same 90's vibe (and animation style) from this Magic School Bus, you may be disappointed. There is change - and a lot of it. Our beloved Ms. Frizzle (still voiced by Lily Tomlin) is now Dr. Frizzle, PhD, and because she's now a professor (who has proclaimed she will be conducting scientific research) her little sister has taken over the classroom. Miss Fiona Felicity Frizzle (voiced by SNL’s Kate McKinnon) is the "new Ms. Frizzle" and I feel like she tries a bit too hard to be like the original with an abundance of play-on-words. A big difference (amongst many) is her style-- unlike her older sister, her 'themed' clothing is more muted (and confined to just her skirts), making me miss the original's whacky sense of style. Her enthusiasm for learning and adventure is infectious, however, and I'm glad that is a constant.
The new CGI animation isn't my cup of tea and I miss the warmth of the old style. Emotions are harder to read with this style (like Arnold's panic), but it does bring a modern and sleek feel to the series. This CGI animation style is commonly seen in today's cartoons, so it's great that the series is catering to the younger audience in this subtle way.
What else is modern and sleek? The school bus! It's gotten a major upgrade with new gadgets that look a lot like what kids nowadays are growing up with (Ipads, wireless talking tools, etc).
The episodes themselves are as educational as always, a major plus for both kids watching and those being nostalgic (or parents having to watch these with their kids). The first was about ecosystems, biomes, invasive species and the Galapagos islands. The second was about engineering, trees, and wind! The third... the ocean! So I may be biased on which is my favourite episode so far because it featured sharks and stingrays. They talk about sharks a lot... this pleases me greatly. They even talk about how fish swim (i.e. how fish use their dorsal, tail, and pectoral fins), their lateral line, the swim bladder and its functions, fish schools, prey-predator interactions, etc.! A little less cool that they still made the connection of people as "shark chow" however. They made it up with the Dr. Frizzle chat after the episode where she says they "almost never, ever hurt people" and that they're just trying to survive-- way to go, Dr. Frizzle!
Like the original series, they have a session after the episode where students and Ms. Frizzle could answer questions about the lessons taught in the episode. Students now can call Dr. Frizzle to talk about the episode and ask any questions -- what a great way to keep the original incorporated! Frizzle being a PhD and being proud of it is a great way to encourage young girls to pursue a career in STEM (always an A++ in my book)!
I'm only a few episodes in, but I'm liking the show as a stand-alone and when I don't compare it to the original. It's a great way for young and old to bond and (possibly) learn something new! I'm not always the biggest fan of change, but the original Ms. Frizzle taught us to always try new things... so, as the Frizzle sisters say, "To the bus!"
have you watched the reboot?
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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