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Works Out Gets Planted In the Rainforest

"Fi-fye-fo-fum; only plants chow down on air, water, and sun."
Ms. Frizzle

The Magic School Bus Gets Planted is an episode of the third season of Scholastic's The Magic School Bus.

Plot

The class is putting on a stage production of the classic European folk-tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, but Phoebe, who is in charge of props, can't build a fake beanstalk, let alone grow a real one. In order to do the play, Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the Magic School Bus and Phoebe tells her that she should grow the beanstalk herself. So Liz uses the bus to turn her into one with a paucity of leaves. Liz waters her and she tries to think big to grow. But nothing happens. When the class realizes that she needs food, Keesha tries to feed her a bag of Cheesy Weezies, but she tells her she's not hungry for people food. So the rest of the class ponders the kind of food plants need and how they get it. So Ms. Frizzle takes them to the bus to find out what plants need to grow, leaving Liz to keep an eye on the garden, giving her a Plant-o-graph (a megamagnifier hooked up to a TV) to do so.

When the rest of the class enter the bus, Ms. Frizzle shrinks and accelerates it into the soil under a sweet potato plant. Once inside, the class comes across a soil mite and the roots, which are growing due to getting enough food. The class notices that they are sucking up the water and when Arnold states, "It's good thing we're not any smaller, otherwise, we'd get sucked up too," Ms. Frizzle shrinks the bus even smaller. It goes into the water and the class notices that the roots are growing root ears. The bus ends up getting sucked up along with the water and Phoebe watches in horror as she thinks she's going to stay a plant forever.

The bus ends up inside one of the roots surrounded by water and the class informs Phoebe that plants derive water from the soil rather than food. So the class continues to navigate through the root and Phoebe then catches a glimpse of their schoolmates entering the auditorium to watch the play. Liz hides her under a box so that she is inconspicuous in their eyes. She watches through the screen of the Plant-o-graph to find the the bus has made its way inside the stem and shoots up. Ms. Frizzle thrusts it faster so it goes higher in speed. Just then, Phoebe starts to become weak and the bus ends up inside one of the leaves. The class exits the bus and learns that leaves look a lot different from the inside out and that the dark, green blobs that make them green are called chloroplasts. Keesha notices an opening below and Ralphie, being the food expert he claims to be, takes a whiff, only to fall off and narrowly save himself from falling in. A gust of air suddenly shoots out from it and blows him back up. The class then learns that the leaves are bringing in fresh air. Despite learning all of this, the class is still perplexed of what kinds of food plants eat.

Little does the class know, their schoolmates are waiting in the auditorium for the play to begin and Phoebe is feeling hungrier. They tell her to think about the weather as the clouds recede, exposing the shining sun. They view the chloroplasts circulating through the leaves and Ms. Frizzle offers them spacesuits which they use to travel inside them. They notice that the chloroplasts are heading for the sunlight and Ms. Frizzle informs them that they are experts at catching the sun's rays. The class also learn that they soak the sun in and it gives them energy. They also take in air and water as well. When Wanda gets sprayed by a white substance, she exits the plant's cell wall and tastes it to realize that it is sweet. The rest of the class exits the cell wall and get a taste of it themselves. They surmise that it is probably sugar that is food for the plants, meaning that they make their own food, with a mixture of air, water, and sun. They inform this to Phoebe, who is feeling very weary due to the box blocking the sunlight and air. So the class returns to the bus and escapes from the plant. They approach the box and lift it, only to realize that Phoebe is missing.

Liz has brought Phoebe backstage and the class finds her there. While they attempt to provide her sunlight, Ms. Frizzle stalls the audience, Liz transforms the bus to a crane, and uses it to open the skylight to expose the sunlight to Phoebe. As she struggles to make any food, the play starts to where a boy named Jack (played by Wanda) lived in poverty with his mother (played by Keesha). Phoebe then feels the water coming into her roots and stem. The play continues with Jack selling the cow (played by Ralphie in the front and Arnold in the back) in deference to his mother to make money. Ralphie and Arnold then remind Phoebe that she needs air and to open the holes inside her leaves to breath it in. As the play continues, Jack decides that instead of selling the cow, he should trade it for magic beans offered to him by a peddler (played by Tim). Unfortunately for Phoebe, she can't feel the sunlight. When comes the part where Jack's mother gets mad at him for bringing only beans back and throws them out the window, Keesha reminds Phoebe to use her chloroplasts to suck in the sunlight. But she struggles and Ms. Frizzle then gets to the part where the beanstalk grows overnight. So the class reminds Phoebe to open up her leaves, but she is too scared to do so. So Keesha encourages her to do so and she succeeds, growing as high as the building.

As the play ends, the class gets an encore and congratulates Phoebe for her performance. She states that she owes it all to the water, sun, and air, the three ingredients plants use to make their own food. Liz uses the bus to transform her back into a human and she climbs down from the beanstalk. Arnold offers her a Mallow Blaster, and Ms. Frizzle concludes "Fee fi fo fum, only plants chow down on air, water, and sun." The class laughs.

Trivia

  • This is the first time a character becomes a plant. The second time is in "Pigs in the Wind". Coincidentally, they are both centered on school plays.
  • This episode and "Goes to Seed" are the only two in the original series about plants, and both have Phoebe as the central character due to her fascination of them.
  • The beanstalk appears again in Ms. Frizzle's yard in "Gets Charged".
  • Arnold doesn't say "I knew I should have stayed home today," in this episode.
  • It is revealed that Phoebe's biggest fear is being on stage, which means she gets stage fright.
  • This is the second appearance of Cheezie Weezies, an in-universe brand of cheese puffs from the third classic book, Inside the Human Body (1989), in the TV programs; the first in For Lunch.
  • This is the third time the class does a play. The first two are Gets Ants in Its Pants and Out of This World
  • Cast:
    • Arnold - the cow's back half
    • Carlos - the giant
    • Dorothy Ann - the princess
    • Keesha - Jack's mother
    • Liz - the goose
    • Phoebe - the beanstalk
    • Ralphie - the cow's front half
    • Tim - the peddler
    • Wanda - Jack Spriggins
  • Wanda cross-dresses for the first time in this episode. In addition, she, Arnold, and Ralphie all have roles of the opposite gender in the play (Wanda as Jack, and Arnold and Ralphie as the cow).
    • She cross-dresses for the second time in the Producer Says segment of In the Zone.
  • Chloroplasts would be mentioned again in "Ghost Farm".

Goofs

  • Phoebe should have already known that plants make their own food, as in "Gets Eaten" she and Ralphie did their Two-Beach-Things-That-Go-Together-Report on dune grass and the sun, and she says that like other plants, dune grass uses the sun’s energy to make its own food.

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