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Recap / The Magic School Bus S 2 E 4 Going Batty

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The Magic School Bus Going Batty

Original airdate: September 30th, 1995
Subject: Bats
Focus Student(s): Keesha, Ralphie

In the show's second Halloween special, it's parent-teachers night and the class is preparing their exhibit on nocturnal animals. When Ms. Frizzle shows up in a vampire cape, though, Ralphie becomes convinced that she has become a vampire.


Tropes

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Producer laughs when Liz dressed as a tiny bat manages to scare him. She's rolling on the floor in stitches as he is joining her.
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  • Arbitrary Skepticism: About vampires. Although this is more justified in that Ms. Frizzle before has appeared during the day and drunk things that are most definitely not blood-related. Also that she dressed in the cape for an exhibit on nocturnal animals.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Ralphie turns himself and the entire class into bats. He thinks this will happen to their parents, but they're just wearing costumes.
  • Batman Gambit: Ms. Frizzle pulls one by "acting like a vampire" as Ralphie puts it. By appearing as a classic villain and whisking the parents away to visit bats at a castle, she started the class on another field trip. This is confirmed when she and Liz share a wink.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Phoebe says a bad pun that sounds like Carlos's kind of joke.note 
  • The Cape: Ms. Frizzle wears one for this episode.
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  • Doing In the Wizard: At the climax, where it seems that the parents have been turned into bats and are hanging from a chandelier, Ms. Frizzle then undoes the shackles that are tethering her and the parents, and they take off their fake bat features.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Happens a couple of times outside the castle (complete with Hanna-Barbera's "Castle Thunder" Stock Sound Effect).
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Lampshaded. The episode ends on Ralphie and Ms. Frizzle sharing a hearty chortle as his mother looks at them, puzzled.
  • Expressive Mask: The rubber vampire mask Ralphie goofs around in at the start of the episode.
  • Fainting: Seeing Ralphie in a vampire mask horrfies Arnold, causing him to faint.
  • Friendly Scheming: See Batman Gambit and Trickster Mentor; it is strongly implied that she deliberately led Ralphie to believe that she was a vampire as a pretext for another field trip.
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  • Generation Xerox: Most of the parents and grandparents are much like their young charges. Mr. Ramon, with his bad puns and identical looks, is the most blatant.
  • Imagine Spot: Ralphie has several: first is Ms. Frizzle with vampire fangs and giving an evil laugh; then seeing her sprout wings and swoop at the camera; and third, picturing her drinking blood and changing their parents into vampires.
  • Loud Last Name: This is how the rest of the parents react to Mr. Ramon's corny puns and jokes, very similar to the First Name Ultimatum reactions his son Carlos gets.
  • Mama Bear: Inverted; Keesha finally believes Ralphie when she thinks that Ms. Frizzle is going to bite her grandmother. She then swoops into the dark and charges.
    Keesha: DON'T YOU DARE BITE MY GRANDMOTHER!
  • Nobody Poops: Averted with the bats. Ms. Frizzle corrects Mr. Ramon by calling it "bat guano".
  • Noisy Nature: The bats audibly squeak at times, not unlike the bats in the Scooby-Doo cartoons (complete with similar Stock Sound Effects).
  • Not Helping Your Case: As Ralphie points out, Ms. Frizzle didn't just wear The Cape. She took the parents to a deserted castle, fed them tomato juice which resembled blood, and was talking very much like Dracula. Ms. Frizzle doesn't seem to mind the accusation, though, and implies that it was a Batman Gambit.
  • Only Sane Man: Keesha for most of the episode, though at one point she has a Not So Above It All moment. She points out that the bats are mammals since their babies drink milk, and that the parents are drinking tomato juice.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: For Ralphie at least, up to the point where the class follows Ms. Frizzle and the parents to the spooky castle. The minute the bus turns into a bat, though, as Arnold puts it, "And THIS is turning into a field trip."
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Some of the children are convinced by Ralphie's assertion that Ms. Frizzle is a vampire and go to rescue their parents before she can turn them. However, when they get there, their parents are already hanging from the ceiling with bats' wings wrapped around them. Phoebe's response?
    Phoebe: I love you anyway, Daddy. I'll love you forever.
  • Trickster Mentor: Ms. Frizzle. Given Bat!Liz lands on her shoulder and they share a wink, she likely knew that Ralphie would inadvertently allow the class to learn about bats.
  • Vampire Vords: How Ralphie says all of his vampire lines.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: While wearing earmuffs, Arnold as a bat runs into a pillar in the dark. Tim pulls off the earmuffs and reminds Arnold that as bats they need to be able to hear in order to navigate.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: When the class find a live bat in their attic, Carlos say it's creepy, but Phoebe say it looks kind of cute.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Ralphie. He compares Ms. Frizzle's new look to the vampires in his comics, forgetting that he's in an educational environment, not a horror story. Keesha lampshades this.

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