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Makes a Stink Gets Charged Gets Programmed

Gets Charged is the tenth episode of the fourth season of The Magic School Bus. It is about electricity.


It's Valentine's Day and the class is selling light bulbs. When they stop at Ms. Frizzle's house to sell her one, they find that her battery-operated doorbell doesn't work. At first, Keesha questions the bell with a metallic Liz on it, to which Carlos jokingly answers "A Lizardy Bell?" (A pun on the Rugrats' pronunciation of Liberty Bell). While looking for her to tell her the doorbell is broken, Wanda overhears her talking on the telephone. When Ms. Frizzle calls the caller and states that she would love for the caller to "ring her bell". After telling the others, Wanda and the rest of the kids think that their teacher has a boyfriend and that said boyfriend is coming over to visit her for Valentine's Day -- Wanda then says that they have to get Ms. Frizzle's doorbell before her boyfriend comes over. Just then, Liz opens the front door and the class enters their teacher's house. Inside, they realize that everything in the house runs on batteries. Ms. Frizzle invites her class inside her bedroom and offers them a pair of specs to see that the top of Ms. Frizzle's hair is red and the balloon rubbed against it is blue. Ms. Frizzle explains that it's all done by the electrical charges that can only be seen through the specs each of the students is wearing. She also explains that two kids of charges work together, only for the rubbing to get pulled apart once Ms. Frizzle rubs her hair with the balloon, and sparks fly once blue and red charges join back together again.

After learning about the charges, the class leaves to fix the doorbell while Ms. Frizzle gets ready for her "big connection". They get Liz to go inside The Magic School Bus to fix the doorbell while Wanda stays to look out for Ms. Frizzle with a walkie talkie. The Magic School Bus, however, gets caught inside the heart-shaped light bulb.

The Magic School Bus continues to fly inside the light bulb and Wanda tells the class that they could figure out how to fix the doorbell by getting inside one of the wires, which the class complies to. They come across a plethora of electric charges inside the wire and compare it to a current in the river. The bus then enters the skinny wire called the filament, which makes the light bulb glow. They end up inside the battery and get pulled along with the blue charges right before exiting the battery and entering the other wire of the bulb called the electrical circuit. Wanda then learns that the battery is what makes the charges work. When Ms. Frizzle walk to the garage, Wanda attempts to turn off the light bulb and accidentally removes the wire of the bulb. The class inside The Magic School Bus realizes that even when the moving has stopped, the electric charges are still dispersed. Wanda then learns Ms. Frizzle's phrase, "When there's no flow, there's no go, and it's no glow" and continuously connects and disconnects the wire to demonstrate this. When Wanda explains that if the doorbell doesn't get fixed, Ms. Frizzle's lover will leave her, to which her classmates respond with tears swelling in their eyes. To keep Ms. Frizzle's lover from leaving her due to not being able to activate the doorbell, Liz uses The Magic School Bus to exit out of the light bulb and the class, still in miniature size, attempt to help Wanda fix the doorbell by entering the wire of the doorbell. They notice that the charges aren't moving and exit The Magic School Bus to search for the obstacle that's keeping the flow from penetrating. They finally discover that the wire is disconnected and Ralphie ends up dangling from the edge after nearly falling down as Ms. Frizzle arrives at her front door.

As the teacher enters the house, Ralphie manages to climb back inside the wire and Wanda finds the disconnections of the wire between the motor and the battery. Wanda then enters the house and obtains tin foil. She returns to the front porch and wraps it around the wire. The class enters The Magic School Bus and Wanda activates the doorbell, which finally works. The Magic School Bus exits the wire and the rest of the class exits The Magic School Bus to find that Ms. Frizzle is nowhere in sight. So they search for her in the garage to find that the battery to open the garage door is worn out. So Liz uses The Magic School Bus to transform it into a battery and the garage door opens, only for the class to find that it is empty inside. When they hear the doorbell, they run to the front porch and find Ms. Frizzle with an electrician named Mr. Amper. The students also discover had known that her doorbell was broken the entire and it turns out that Ms. Frizzle didn't have a Valentine's Day-date after all -- Ms. Frizzle explains to her students that, after discovering her doorbell was broken, she had called Mr. Amper to come and fix it (which was the conversation that Wanda overhead at the beginning of the episode). Mr. Amper's impressed of the class' work and Ms. Frizzle connects the wires of her doorbell to activate the lights around her house, along with the light bulbs around Mr. Amper's truck. At the end of the episode, after the Producer Segment, Arnold is dressed as Eros/Cupid. Wanda, who is also dressed as Eros/Cupid chases after him with a bow. She eventually shoots him as he is heard saying "ow" off screen.


  • Mr. Ampère is named after the ampere, an SI unit of electric current, and the person who named the unit.
  • If you deinterlace the DVD version of this episode perfectly, without any artifacts from the filter, you can see some flicker on the characters' outlines. This can be done using VLC's IVTC deinterlace filter (when converting) and Avidemux's Decomb Telecide.
  • Arnold and Wanda are dressed as Eros/Cupid at the end of the Producer Says Segment, a Cupid statue resembling Arnold is also seen within the episode.
  • Carlos's joke on the doorbell is a possible reference to how the Rugrats pronounce "liberty".
  • Arnold doesn't say "I knew I should have stayed home today," in this episode.
  • There are many Easter eggs from previous episodes in this one.
  • Although this episode is set on Valentine's Day (February 14), the setting appears to be spring and the weather warm despite the fact that Valentine's Day is during the winter one month before spring would actually begin in the Northern Hemisphere. The weather may have been unseasonable.
  • This is the second time Wanda is seen crying and the first time Phoebe, Keesha, and Liz are seen crying. Wanda's first time was in "Holiday Special".
  • Although this episode and the book The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip are both focused on electricity, neither are adapted from each other despite both having the same subject and having been produced/published at the same time.
  • This is the first and only time the Frizzles's house appears in the series.
    • Going by production order, this is the 9th episode of Season 4, and the 22nd episode to be switched in streaming order. This episode was completed on October 30, 1997.
  • This is the first and only time when Carlos gets mad and annoyed about the doorbell joke.
  • The outfits from Meets the Rot Squad (minus Wanda and Ms. Frizzle; and Arnold's signature yellow and white stripes) are reused when the kids exit the Bus and fix the doorbell.
  • Arnold has only has nine lines of dialogue and is silent for most of the episode, giving the possibility of his voice actor having limited availability.


  • When Wanda activates the doorbell after putting the tinfoil on the wire, the tinfoil is shown floating next to the break in the wire and not covering it.