Scholastic Video // 1994 // 1329 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 21st, 2012
Beware Ms. Frizzle. She's up to no good.
In the mid-'90s, the world was introduced to this red-haired teacher and apparent witch. Ms. Frizzle has a passion for learning and she can't wait to share it with her classroom of ethnically diverse children. If that means flying them straight into the sun, then so be it.
You see, Ms. Frizzle has a secret. She has the ability to turn her school bus into anything she wants and take the kids up close and personal to the most exciting realms of learning. Sure, this usually involves placing children in grave danger, but that's the price of a public education.
Episodes roll out like this: The kids get together in their classroom and talk about a specific issue, like recycling or dinosaurs or something. Ms. Frizzle shows up, all hopped up on teaching, and fans the flames of her pupils' yearning for knowledge. She then takes it up a level, launching an impromptu field trip, packing the kids into her school bus, and unleashing her Satanic mojo to turn the bus into a submarine or a spaceship or a micro-sized vessel to travel in the bloodstream and they're off. The kids cling to their seats for dear life, as Ms. Frizzle abuses the laws of space-time, and they sometimes gets turned into sea anemones.
The Magic School Bus is pretty crazy and often fairly nightmarish. Yet, I have to admit, it's so goofy and laden with energized learning, it has to be considered a success. The series is dated and its age shows in this hit-and-miss transfer quality, but the sheer outlay of the imagination should keep your kiddos engaged in the wild adventures of Ms. Frizzle.
Each episode tackles a specific piece of education. They get into the human body, travel back in time, swim underwater, learn about the food chain, investigates coral reefs, and...well, 52 things in total because that's how many episodes the series coughed up. The topics are varied and far-reaching, so no matter what your offspring finds interesting, there should be something here that grabs them.
This set is a big one, with episodes spread over eight discs. Thankfully, they're contained in slim cases, making the package weigh a bit less than a Subaru WRX. Once you hit play, it's mediocre standard def 1.33:1 full frame and Dolby 2.0 stereo all the way, but the target audience shouldn't care. While there are no on-disc extras, the set does come with a decent activity book and parent's guide.
Weird stuff, but good educational fun. Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scholastic Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1329 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Activity Booklet