Three Places the Rebooted 'Magic School Bus' Must Go
Not to brag, but we're pretty sure we know where Ms. Frizzle's bus is going next.
Concept art for the Netflix Magic School Bus reboot. Image: Scholastic Media
It's only been a few days since Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey capped off its 13-episode run, and already there's news of another beloved science program getting a 21st century makeover. Netflix has ordered a season of The Magic School Bus 360°, a reboot of the blockbuster PBS series that ran from 1994 to 1997.
The first season is scheduled to premiere in 2016, and will consist of 26 half-hour episodes. According to Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos, the original series is the top educational show in the company's catalogue. “It teaches science in a way that transcends generations,” he told The New York Times. “Parents trust it and kids love it.”
Not only parents and kids: plenty of Millennials still take life advice and fashion cues from Ms. Frizzle two decades later. Who wouldn't want to wear a straight-up T-Rex on her back? Incidentally, Ms. Frizzle will be reprising her role, though there's no word on whether Lily Tomlin will voice her in the Netflix version.
The Magic School Bus 360° will have no lack of new material to work through. In the two decades since the original series premiered, the human genome has been mapped, the internet has revolutionized communication, and a guy space-jumped. Even the aforementioned tyrannosaur-print dress depicts an outdated posture for the animal.
So given how much has gone down since the mid-nineties, here are our predictions for where the bus will go in 2016.
A real life magic school bus. Image: Clyde Robinson.
The new show's home is a streaming service, so they have to do an episode set in cyberspace. Perhaps the magic school bus will convert itself into code so it can travel through MMORPG battlegrounds or sepia-tone Instagram pics. Or maybe they'll find a treasure trove of bitcoins, or get a glimpse of the deep web (barring the R-rated parts). Whatever they decide to do, the showrunners would be remiss not to include an episode on the biggest technological advance of the last 20 years.
The International Space Station
The Magic School Bus had great space content right out of the gate. In the pilot, the class gets lost somewhere out by the gas giants, thanks to Arnold's dumbass cousin Janet. But they didn't focus on the spaceflight side of the subject, perhaps because there wasn't a lot going on that would justify it.
But now we have the International Space Station, an orbiting space laboratory equipped with plenty of features to soak up a half-hour. From creating a habitable environment in space to exploring the station's ongoing experiments (and there are some weird ones), the ISS would be a great setting for an episode.
Also, to my recollection, the original series only had one episode set outside the solar system, so there is a whole host of fun stuff to mine there. The kids are likely to check out some of the exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space observatory, or poke around a black hole. You saw it here first.
The Quantum World
The quantum universe is practically begging for a magic school bus to get chucked into it. On this scale, the students would be able to teleport through walls, levitate, check out atoms up close, and exist in multiple places at once. The hijinx practically writes itself.
On top of all that, a quantum episode would provide a great opportunity to introduce nanotechnology to a younger audience. How great would it be to see the magic school bus barreling down a carbon nanotube, for example? The field is only going to become more prominent in the coming decades, so we may as well get kids acquainted with it.
Those are our speculative guesses about where The Magic School Bus 360° intends to take us in the new version, but no doubt they'll surprise us. At least, they better, because the show has big shoes to fill. Big shoes decked out in dinosaur print.