On the heels of one popular children’s show that is getting a second life, word came through, on June 11 that The Magic School Bus, an animated show based off a series of children’s books, would be making a comeback as well. This time around, the animation would be computer-generated and the show will air on Netflix. The new show, entitled The Magic School Bus 360, will premiere in 2016 with 26 episodes in total. The news of the reboot came following the announcement that another educational youth series, Reading Rainbow, would also be returning to screens around the world (albeit through the internet).
The head of Netflix, Ted Serandos, spoke to The New York Times and emphasized that the original run of the series from 1994 to 1997, was quite innovative for its time. It allowed youngsters to learn the importance of science in the everyday world. He promises that the new Magic School Bus series will be just as entertaining and relevant to the youth of today.
The series will feature a modernized version of Ms. Frizzle, the teacher with the wild red hair, who used a “high-tech bus” to take her students on “field trips” that have to be seen to be believed. It will also include amazing moments of discovery and exploration with “relatable humor,” while teaching young viewers skills that will allow them “to critically and creatively to answer questions and solve problems.”
The original animated series, which began airing 20 years ago, is currently streaming on Netflix. According to Serandos, it is the “top” education show of the service, and it is still “remarkably popular” with viewers.
“It teaches science in a way that transcends generations,” he added.
Although there will be a heavy dose of nostalgia to the fans who grew up with the earlier series, the new Magic School Bus will be a bit different from its predecessor. For instance, the new run will have episodes that center around robotics, a sector of science that has grown significantly since the 1990s. There will also be segments that use camera technology to help “motivate [children’s] interest in the sciences.”
The news of a re-imagined version of The Magic School Bus follows a recent resurgence of bringing back education-based series from many peoples’ childhoods. Just last month, a Kickstarter campaign was initiated in hopes of allowing Reading Rainbow to return to the airwaves. The original host of the show, LeVar Burton, asked the public to pledge funds that would reach $1 million goal within a month’s time. Within hours, he surpassed the goal and not even two weeks later, pledges for the campaign are now nearing $4 million.
Serandos hopes that like the original Magic School Bus, the new series will change the way young viewers feel about science. With the advancement of animation, technology and other related factors, The Magic School Bus 360 has the power to help young children “discover the magic and value of exploration and innovation.” Netflix and Scholastic have had conversations regarding other possible joint projects, but none of those has been confirmed.
By Jonathan Brown