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Gets Swamped Goes Cellular Sees Stars

Goes Cellular is the sixth episode of the fourth season of The Magic School Bus. It is about cells.


It's the night Arnold is to receive the Great Rock Admirers' National Institute of Tectonics Experts' Rocky Award, which has never been awarded to a kid before. He's also mentioned being the youngest member of GRANITE. The class waits for him in the lobby of the Walkerville Hotel. Ms. Frizzle arrives wearing a red dress, but there's still no sign of Arnold. Carlos suggests maybe he ran out of Sea Wheedies and went to buy more. Ralphie, disgusted, says he can't believe he eats them. "He hasn't been able to eat anything else since he heard he was getting the Rocky Award," says Phoebe. It's soon announced to go in the ballroom, to which Phoebe exclaims, "We can't go in without Arnold!" Soon, they hear someone whisper. Wanda immediately believes it's Ralphie, to which he replies it wasn't. It's coming from behind the red curtain and actually Arnold, who's completely orange, which he found out that morning, much to his horror. Dorothy Ann suggests they try to wash it off. She tries to drag him to the bathroom, but he objects because he's afraid someone will see him, so they go outside to the parking lot and try to do so. Since the orange wouldn't come off, Dorothy Ann wonders if it is in his skin, rather than on it.

As Phoebe helps Arnold put his shirt back on, he asks, "But how did it get there? How's my skin different from, let's say, Phoebe's?" This triggers a field trip, with everyone but Arnold and Phoebe shrinking down with the bus. As Carlos, Tim, and Dorothy Ann explore the skin above Phoebe's left eyebrow, Keesha, Ralphie, and Liz are on Arnold's glasses. Ms. Frizzle and Wanda remain in the bus, which has become a decoration on Phoebe's headband. Ms. Frizzle shrinks those on Arnold and Phoebe's foreheads down even more so they're at the cellular level. Meanwhile, Phoebe tries to keep Arnold calm, but a dog comes up behind them and takes his Sea Wheedies, making them chase after it. Realizing someone will see him inside the hotel, they both hide behind a potted plant. Phoebe gets an idea on how to hide the orange, and grabs Arnold by the arm, pulling him into the kitchen.

As Keesha, Ralphie, and Liz try looking for a source of the orange in Arnold's skin, they're suddenly bombarded by flour. Phoebe covers Arnold's hands and face as they hide under a catering cart, but he wipes it off, saying he looks like a pumpkin pie. That's when he remembers that Janet stayed with him and his parents a few weeks back. "I bet she made me orange!" he says. "It's just the kind of thing she would do!" Then he notices a bowl of Sea Wheedies on another cart. On their foreheads, the rest of the class decide to go under it to see if the orange stops in Arnold's and if there's any at all in Phoebe's. Once they're there, Arnold and Phoebe's skin cells begin multiplying at the same time and push them out.

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Arnold hears the head chef announce that dessert is ready to be served. He panics, telling Phoebe that the awards are after that. She hushes him and uses the Mega Magnifier to check on Keesha and Ralphie's progress with his skin. They tell her they don't know what's making him orange. "You guys aren't giving up, are you?" she asks, saddened. Keesha says that they had no choice due to being pushed out by the skin cells and says there's nothing else they can do. Ms. Frizzle turns the bus into a helicopter, picks up the rest of the class and Liz from Arnold and Phoebe's foreheads, and lands on Arnold's last Sea Wheedie.

"I'm doomed," Arnold says. "And I'm down to my last Sea Wheedie." Seeing the bus, Phoebe yells out, "Arnold, no!" He tosses the Sea Wheedie in his mouth and asks, "You say something, Phoebe?" "Arnold, whatever you do, don't--" He swallows. "--swallow. The bus was on that Sea Wheedie. You just ate our class!" He yells, "Oh, no, not again!"

Inside Arnold's stomach, the rest of the class notices it is more orange than the last time they were there, and then see a fresh Sea Wheedie lose its seaweed coat, revealing an orange center. The bus follows it to his small intestine and into his bloodstream, and they realize that the beta carotene in the Sea Wheedies is what's making him orange.

Looking at Arnold's stomach, Phoebe wonders out loud where the rest of the class is, but he says he doesn't want to think about it. He just wants to stop being orange. Suddenly, they're caught by the head chef. Arnold is soon called for his award, and he covers his face as he walks to the stage. In his bloodstream, Ms. Frizzle turns the bus into a "villi bus" to absorb all the orange, which works. His skin is changed back to normal as he steps onto the stage. He coughs out the bus and thanks Ms. Frizzle and his classmates as he accepts his award. At the end, as the class is having dinner, he learns it was the Sea Wheedies that turned him orange. The head chef serves Arnold's dinner saying to do his cells a favor and eat other types of food besides just Sea Wheedies. Ms. Frizzle says, "As I always say, take care of your cells and your cells will take care of you." Carlos ends it by asking, "Hey, Arn, orange you glad you're not orange anymore?" prompting the class to say their usual response, "Carlos!"


  • This is the second time an animal takes something from Arnold and Phoebe, prompting them to chase after it, the first time being in "The Busasaurus". Coincidentally, this is also the second time where it's implied that Phoebe has a crush on Arnold.
  • This is also the second time Arnold swallows the bus, the first time being in "For Lunch".
  • Arnold states that his favorite color is orange.
  • This episode takes place after the events of "For Lunch", which is referenced several times in this episode (Wanda remembering Arnold's digestive system and Carlos mentioning the last time they visited the small intestine) and a similar continuity occurs in "The Battle for Rock Mountain", having continuity with "Kicks Up a Storm".
  • Phoebe doesn’t say "At my old school…" in this episode.
  • Phoebe's eyes are hazel and Arnold's are brown, as seen in close-ups of them. His are also brown on the KidVision Holiday Special DVD cover, but hers are green on the KidVision cover of the NTSC Creepy, Crawly Fun! DVD. However, their eye colors are not shown in the rereleases of both DVDs.
  • This is the third time the kids enter the bloodstream. The first two are "Inside Ralphie" and "Works Out".
  • The entire class (except for Arnold) wore the same formal clothes they wore in "Holiday Special", and this is the second episode they are dressed in formal attire. This also marks the first and only time in the original series that Arnold is in formal attire.
  • Phoebe borrows Tim's "Frizzled" catchphrase in this one.
  • Arnold's suspicions of Janet are a continuity nod to her using him to prank the class in "Gets a Bright Idea".
  • Arnold is actually suffering from carotenosis, which is the orange discoloration of the outer skin due to the excess intake of carotenoids (the orange pigment is actually not named in the episode). This episode may even be the only notable depiction of carotenosis in fiction and popular culture.
  • Unlike in the book “Inside The Human Body”, Arnold ends up coughing up the Bus and the class out of his body, however In the book, they did exactly what the class did in the episode, (go back up the way they came), except they found their way out by having Arnold sneeze them out.
  • Going by production order, this is the sixth episode of Season 4, and the 20th episode to be switched in streaming order. The episode was completed on September 3, 1997.


  • Arnold has green eyes. However, his eyes are brown in this episode.
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