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Netflix and Scholastic team up for 'Magic School Bus' reboot

It's unknown whether Lily Tomlin will reprise her role as Ms. Fizzle in the rebooted 'Magic School Bus' series.
It's unknown whether Lily Tomlin will reprise her role as Ms. Fizzle in the rebooted 'Magic School Bus' series.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

According to an E! Online report on Wednesday, Scholastic Media and Netflix have teamed up to revive the children’s animated series, “The Magic School Bus.” The new series – “The Magic School Bus 360°” – will launch in 2016.

The rebooted series will be a modernization of the original series, which ran from 1994-98. While it’s been confirmed that the central character, Ms. Frizzle, will be a part of the new show, it’s unknown whether Lily Tomlin – who voiced the character originally – will reprise the role or if a new voice actor will be cast.

Like its predecessor, “The Magic School Bus 360°” will focus on science and will encourage viewers to utilize the scientific process and to ask questions. The initial rebooted season will include 26 30-minute computer-animated episodes that will run exclusively on Netflix’ streaming video service.

Netflix acquired all 52 episodes of the original “Magic School Bus” in August 2013 and followed up by attaining another of Scholastic’s classics, “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” in February.

Personal Take

Obviously, the only carryover character worth bringing back from the original series to “The Magic School Bus 360°” reboot would be Tomlin. Most of the original, then-children voice talent went on to more work in Hollywood, but none that are worth noting. It’s that way with voice actors who break into the business this way.

Tomlin, in comparison, was an established on-screen actress/comedienne before landing the original “Magic School Bus” gig. If she doesn’t revive her Ms. Fizzle characterization, whoever does it is sure to fall short of the mark Tomlin set.

One has to wonder if “The Magic School Bus 360°” has what it takes to survive in today’s children’s TV landscape. Intelligent programming isn’t exactly the norm when it comes to the stuff offered up for our kids these days.

“The Magic School Bus” is a great idea – and proven success in the 1990s – but are today’s kids up to the challenge of programming that requires them to pay attention for more than five minutes? For society’s sake, let’s hope so.

With the increase of original programming from Netflix, “The Magic School Bus 360°” chose the right place to rebirth itself.