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For four fact filled seasons from 1994 to 1998, "The Magic School Bus" paved the way for kids to believe that science was cool. As the television landscape continues to devolve, it's refreshing to see the Bus resurface in this Complete Series collection. Charming and educational, this animated delight is comprised of 52 thirty minute episodes. Ms. Frizzle (voiced by the distinctive and invaluable Lily Tomlin) takes her class of enthusiastic students on trips filled with fantasy and wonder. Astronomy, biology, geology, physics, chemistry, paleontology, and just about every other "ology" gets a visit or two through the course of the various field trips. However, if you're shopping "The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series," you probably want to know what is included with your investment.

Packaging: The box set looks great. The cover is done in a 3-D lenticular design that already ups the cool quotient. Each of the eight DVDs is enclosed in its own case within the set with complete episode information for easy access. Each individual season has thirteen episodes over two of the DVDs.

Content: 52 episodes at approximately 22 hours of complete running time. Recommended ages 4-10. English or Spanish language options.

Bonus Material: A 24 page kids activity guide is a nice addition (though not the most sophisticated presentation I've ever seen). More valuable is the Parents' Guide. This tool helps you orchestrate lessons with your kids and makes this an invaluable teaching tool. I, personally, love that "The Magic School Bus" advocates parent involvement as opposed to being just another TV show to plant your kids in front of (although that's certainly an option too).

Easily recommended, but perhaps cost prohibitive, there are smaller packaging choices available if you're on a budget. The ones I'm listing are new sets to DVDs (although episodes will overlap if you have previously released compilations). That is a potential pitfall to this buying strategy. If you want to collect "The Magic Bus," there are past DVD releases and new DVD releases and, if you're not diligent, it would be very easy to purchase some of the same episodes under different titles. The Complete Series choice will eliminate this possible duplication and offers every epsiode (some never before on DVD).

These two lower price compilation have an assortment of 12 episodes each:
(1) Blast Off! From Sea To Space
(2) Field Trip Fun and Games

Or even smaller, these four sets have about 90 minutes of content that bring episodes relating to a specific topic together:
(1) The Human Body
(2) Super Star Power
(3) Takes a Dive (coral reefs, tidal zones, etc)
(4) Takes Flight (weather, flying, etc.)

I love and respect "The Magic School Bus." Educational TV can be interactive and entertaining! KGHarris, 8/12.
66 comments|278 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
"Magic School Bus" was a major part of my TV-watching experience when I was a child. So honestly, watching the series today is a trip down memory lane -- and despite some scientific changes (such as computer advances or Pluto being exiled), "Magic School Bus: The Complete Series" still stands as a good, educational show for kids.

The story series around Ms. Valerie Frizzle (Lily Tomlin), an eccentric elementary-school teacher who dresses according to the episode's theme. She has a sentient lizard named Liz, and a school bus that can transform into whatever the episode requires.

She has a class of about eight students, who never seem to have math class or anything that requires them to actually stay in the building. Instead, Ms. Frizzle takes them on daily field trips, which the shape-shifting/time-traveling/shrinking bus allows them to do... in a very hands-on manner.

So the class goes on adventures in the digestive system, the bloodstream, a pickle jar, space (multiple times), the desert, a rotting log, an anthill, the Cretaceous Period, the water cycle, the bus's engine, a toy plane, Herp Haven, a beehive, an old monster movie, the Arctic, a magic pinball machine, muscles, the rainforest, a chicken egg, the swamp, the interior of a nose, electrical currents, a computer, a coral reef and so on.

And they learn about all sorts of things -- erosion, stars, cells, friction, ecosystems, microbes, recycling, tidepools, muscle oxygenation, reptiles, bats, light tricks, sound etc. Nothing is hugely in-depth, but they give a pretty good start for kids.

"Magic School Bus" was made in the mid-1990s, but it's actually held up quite well. Except for a few things that have changed (Pluto and home computers), most of the science stuff in this series is still pretty valid. It conveys sometimes-complex scenarios (muscle oxygenation) in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.

And they mix it up with plenty of comedy (Ms. Frizzle's entrances are always... unique) and some explicit demonstrations of just how these things work (a frictionless baseball game!). One warning for adults, though: lots of puns. LOTS of puns.

Though the kids have the appearance of having been chosen so no ethnic group would feel left out, they're each given a pretty decent characterization. One is sensible and bookish, one is strong and impulsive, one is idealistic and always talking about her "old school," one is overimaginative, one is a clown, et cetera.

It's been around for almost two decades, but "Magic School Bus: The Complete Series" has actually aged pretty well, and is still a solid form of education/entertainment.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 30, 2012
Suitable for ages 3+ these animated adventures combine entertainment with education to help kids "learn about science in a fun way". Each episode is a half-hour long. Only 54 were made in the mid-1990s, with no plans to make any more, unfortunately, as they are wonderful. I LOVE THEM ALL.

Joyful and uplifting, The Magic School Bus children's cartoon series is rare because it is one of the few completely free from violence and brutality. (Studies have found that youngsters tend to mimic "fantasy" negative behavior seen on TV - which anyone with some common sense knows - so why is there so much, and for decades? Especially since, as other research shows, children actually prefer non-violent entertainment.)

Recently I sent a relative the full set of 54 for her grandchild (aged 4, whom she was looking after while her daughter had to be away on mid-wifery training) and was told "She has watched and watched the Magic School Bus over and over, all of them".

The complete collection is finally available again. Don't miss!
44 comments|92 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 15, 2012
FYI: Unlike the television broadcast and the individual DVDs you can purchase - the DVDs in this set do NOT have any closed captioning or subtitles so the material is inaccessible to children with hearing loss. We were so disappointed.
33 comments|119 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 1, 2013
The movies themselves are great, but quality of the DVDs needs to be improved. Music and background effects are missing on some discs, only the dialogs can be heard. But when we played with the audio function on our DVD player and switched to Spanish language we didn't have that problem. We e-mailed the company, waiting for the response.
11 comment|29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 11, 2013
I grew up on the Magic School Bus. Honestly, this is one reason I understand basic science the way that I do. (I also know basic literature from Wishbone and basic geography from Carmen Sandeigo.)This came exactly as described, and there is also an activity book. I don't have kids yet, but when I do, I hope they'll cherish this series as much as I did!

This set is the complete series, packaging is great, and DVDs work well. I can't ask for much more.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 30, 2013
I bought this set for my five year old daughter's birthday. I had never watched the show until after I ordered it. Shortly after ordering the set and before the item was delivered, netflix had the magic school bus season 1 available. I watched it on netflix while I waited for the item to arrive. I was very impressed. I started to show some episodes to my daughter on netflix and she loved them. Then shortly after I received the item, netflix made the complete series available to view. What I didn't like about the DVD set is that there is no option for closed caption/subtitle. I show most of the shows to my daughter with subtitle (she is a very advanced reader) and the fact that there is no option for the subtitle is a bummer. Netflix does have that option. But even with this negative point, I still give the set five stars. My daughter is learning so much. I would recommend this set to anyone considering the purchase. Well spent $40. I am very satisfied.
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on March 15, 2013
Comments:Disc 3 doesn't work properly. You can't access the disc menu. The disc auto plays the first episode and then shuts off preventing access to any other episodes, if there are any on this disc (there are supposed to be several episodes). We haven't tried all the discs, but many of them and they've all worked fine and we've enjoyed watching those although we wish it had closed captioning or subtitles for our hearing impaired child.
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on April 27, 2015
We love the series and were so excited when it arrived. However, now that it's been a few months and we've been able to watch all 8 dvd's we noticed a problem with discs 4 & 5 - the voice tracks are fine but there are no sound effects! It's too late for me to return the set so we'll just have to deal with it, but it is really disappointing.
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on October 26, 2013
I don't know if it's to make room for two audio tracks (English and Spanish) but the video quality is really quite terrible. There are significant artifacts which makes it look just plain ugly on an HDTV. This is far below normal DVD quality. I expected more from a reputable company like scholastic, but this is bad even for pirating standards. I can even stream these episodes over the Internet on Netflix and that looks significantly better then these DVDs.

Two stars because my son enjoys the show, but I would have absolutely not bought this had I known the video quality was so awful.
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