Follow TV Tropes


Recap / The Magic School Bus S 3 E 13 Family Holiday Special

Go To

The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special

Original airdate: December 25th, 1996
Subject: Recycling
Focus Student(s): Wanda, Arnold
Thank goodness no one was wearing clothes made out of recycled materials!

While the class prepares to deliver recyclables to a plant, Wanda's in a hurry to donate her toy nutcracker to see its namesake Tchaikovsky ballet. Things go From Bad to Worse when Arnold accidentally tosses in Wanda's toy with his recyclables, and Wanda blames the idea of recycling.


  • Adult Fear: Arnold can't celebrate the holidays with his class because his family's going to go see his sick grandmother. Not to mention that he had packed a nice gift for Wanda— a colorful rock on a chain— and before he could give it to her, accidentally destroyed her toy nutcracker.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    Wanda: It's okay, Arnold. I don't blame you.
    Arnold: You don't?
    Wanda: (angrily) No, I blame your crummy idea!
    The rest of the class: Oops.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Wanda wishes that recycling was never invented. She comes to regret it.
  • Advertisement:
  • Chekhov's Skill: The class is able to restore the bus by melting all the products it was turned into, and pouring the liquids into molds. Later on, Arnold suggests doing the same thing with the plastic pellets to get Wanda's toy back, and his idea is a success.
  • Christmas Episode: Complete with It's a Wonderful Plot and references to The Nutcracker.
  • Cry Cute: Wanda when her nutcracker gets dismantled into reusable plastic pellets.
  • Daydream Surprise: The episode starts with Wanda watching The Nutcracker ballet, and her clapping to the ending movement. Then she's snapped out of it and realizing she's crushing a plastic bottle.
  • Do They Know Its Christmastime: A holiday special. The word "Christmas" is only ever mentioned at the end, when the whole class cheers "Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa!!" and Hanukkah gets a few passive mentioned, but the only celebration that's brought up is a long school break, something a child of any faith can enjoy.
  • Advertisement:
  • Green Aesop: Naturally. It's an episode about the importance of recycling.
  • Hidden Depths: The entire class is surprised that tomboyish Wanda is looking forward to seeing The Nutcracker.
  • Hope Spot: Discussed; Arnold and Wanda after the recycling plant is un-recycled think that maybe her toy is at school since it got changed back. When they go, however, the bus then converts the school into a dump site - without recycling, all that waste had to go somewhere.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: When Wanda loses her nutcracker, she wonders what the world would be like without recycling. Murph is against the idea but encourages Liz to turn the bus into an "un-recycling" machine to show what happens.
  • Misplaced Retribution: After her nutcracker is turned into plastic pellets, Wanda says she doesn't blame Arnold (which she should since it was his fault), but instead "his crummy idea" and the idea of recycling.
  • Musical Episode: After all, it would be a waste to have Dolly Parton as a guest star if she didn't get to sing!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Wanda regrets all the damage she caused due to getting rid of recycling, especially when the bus hits itself with the "un-recycling ray". Likewise, she feels guilty when she sees Arnold's gift after chewing him out for most of the episode.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Arnold including Wanda's toy with the recyclables in his bin leads to it getting turned into plastic pellets, and kicks off the plot.
  • Special Guest: Dolly Parton as Ms. Frizzle's cousin Murph. She previously appeared with Lily Tomlin in 9 to 5, so this is also a case of I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Instead of going to see the ballet, the whole class accompanies Arnold on a lonely train ride to see his sick grandmother, Wanda included.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Turns out Wanda, the class's token tomboy, loves ballet.
  • To the Tune of...: The songs are about recycling, but sung to the tune of Christmas Songs, plus one Hanukkah song and one fully original song. The songs parodied are "The 12 Days of Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "Here We Come A-Caroling," and "I Had a Little Dreidel."
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Liz recycles the paper that Cousin Murph was going to use to write a letter to the Producer, going through a long process to turn a newspaper into a sheet of reused paper. Liz then blows her nose on the paper, making it, "reduced, reused and recycled." Murph then decides to contact the Producer via voicemail.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: