"In the Rainforest" is the eleventh episode of season three and the thirty-seventh episode overall of the animated children's series The Magic School Bus. It originally aired on December 15th, 1996.
The kids rent a rain-forest cocoa tree as an Earth Day present for Ms. Frizzle, but when the harvest arrives, there's only one shriveled cocoa bean and a note from Inspector 47 reporting that, for reasons unknown, the tree isn't producing beans. Dorothy Ann and Tim become rainforest investigators as Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the rainforest to meet the impeccable inspector, who keeps a tidy, mud-free cocoa grove.
Dorothy Ann is heard narrating the events of the plot that started on Monday morning on Earth Day, the day the class celebrates taking care of the earth, and they had ordered a surprise Earth Day present from Ms. Frizzle from the rain-forest rental catalog. The gift has yet to arrive, however, and Tim was still struggling with his essay assignment on what Earth Day means to him. Phoebe feels that Earth Day means thinking about how the plants and animals live together. Tim, however, fails to comprehend the meaning. The present arrives just in time and Ms. Frizzle comes out of the closet riding a unicycle, with the globe as its only wheel. The class offers Ms. Frizzle the gift and Liz opens it to find a note saying that Ms. Frizzle has rented a tree in the rainforest, offering her assistance to preserve all the plants and animals in the forest. She also comes across a picture of a cocoa tree and a shipment of cocoa beans the cocoa tree produces for one year. But when Ms. Frizzle opens the container, there is only one cocoa bean inside. Ms. Frizzle comes across a note inside that reads that the cocoa tree is temporarily experiencing a cocoa bean shortage, which is signed by a mysterious person named Inspector 47.
So Ms. Frizzle takes the class on a trip to the rainforest and transforms The Magic School Bus into a blimp that flies to the sky. Dorothy Ann is offered a detective outfit and a magnifying glass, as well as her own RFI license (RFI stands for "Rain Forest Investigator) and a handbook. Tim also becomes Dorothy Ann's partner and while the latter is in charge of the investigation, Tim is in charge of "the big picture". The Magic School Blimp eventually arrives at the rainforest on a search for the cocoa tree and the class, after being offered pictures of the cocoa tree each, skydive out of the blimp before using their parachutes to land safely below the ground. They realize how many different trees, animals, and insects reside in the rainforest. Dorothy Ann and Tim continue their search for the cocoa tree and finally come across it. Dorothy Ann says she and Tim have to dust for fingerprints and Tim also adds that according to the picture, the tree should be covered with pods. Tim then notices that there are only flowers around the tree's bark and Dorothy discerns them and states that the cocoa tree appears to have stopped making the pods since there were no signs of the pods being picked. Just then, they get caught in a trap and are left suspended by a net with a rope attached to it.
After Carlos jokingly states "Looks like this case is all wrapped up", the class then comes across a French man who mistakes the class as cocoa tree thieves and find that Dorothy Ann is the rainforest investigator. So the man apologizes and frees the class. They learn that the man is Inspector 47 and he owns the rainforest. When he meets them, he tells them the plight of the rainforest. When Dorothy Ann tells Inspector 47 about the case, the latter mentions Inspector 46, who Inspector 47 says is jealous of his work and put a curse on the cocoa beans. When he leaves, Dorothy Ann and Tim wonder if the bugs and peccaries have anything to do with the missing cocoa beans. Wanda then comes across a hummingbird with pollen in its beak. The hummingbird goes into the flower and flies away. Tim then gets the facts of the hummingbird carries pollen for the flower, pollinating them so they turn into seeds and fruits, which prompts him to come to the conclusion that the beans on Ms. Frizzle's cocoa tree didn't pollinate. Dorothy Ann then states that it is a case of missing pollen, only to learn that there is no pollen missing in the flowers of the cocoa tree. A bee then arrives and lands on one of the flowers. When Arnold thinks the bee is going to pollinate the flower, Dorothy Ann disagrees, stating that the bee is too big to fit through a cocoa flower. Tim then suggests that there has to be a tiny insect to carry pollen between flowers in cocoa trees.
The class rides the bus on a search for a cocoa tree replete with pods and comes across a slippery mud zone, as well as a pack of peccaries. It comes to a complete stop and the peccaries dash away. The class are ejected out of The Magic School Bus and comes across a bunch of cocoa trees with pods and cocoa beans. Dorothy Ann looks through her magnifying glass and finds a tiny insect on one of the flowers, which Ms. Frizzle says is a midge fly, which carries the pollen from the flower to one cocoa tree to the next, and the pollinated flowers turn into pods filled with cocoa beans to make chocolate. Tim gets it all in the picture and gets splashed by water. Ms. Frizzle points to a bromeliad on top of a tree. So Tim climbs the tree to take a closer look. He looks inside the bromeliad and finds a small pool of water inside, which a slug is drinking, an iguana is taking a bath, a frog is laying eggs, and the eggs are hatching into tadpoles. Dorothy Ann reminds him that the bromeliad has nothing to do with the cocoa tree and states that the class should get the midge flies back to Ms. Frizzle's tree to pollinate the flowers. But Tim reminds her of what would happen if the midge flies die and that he and Dorothy Ann would revert back to where they started. Dorothy Ann, however, refuses to concede and becomes adamant to the midge flies being the key to pollinating the cocoa tree. Tim suddenly loses his balance and falls into a pond of mud, and a swarm of flies fly around him. This is where Tim tells Dorothy to get her magnifying glass to give to him and Tim learns that the mud wallows also provide a great home for the midge flies. Tim then learns that Inspector 47 got rid of the peccaries, which got rid of the mud wallows, which got rid of the insects, which also got rid of the cocoa pods because the cocoa flowers never got pollinated. Dorothy then learns that Inspector 47 was responsible for the death of cocoa beans in the cocoa tree after all. But Keesha started to wonder how Inspector 47 got rid of the peccaries before Ralphie encounters a stampede of peccaries.
The class enters The Magic School Bus and Dorothy Ann and Tim get caught in the stampede to take a ride on each peccary. Dorothy Ann hops off of the peccary, but Tim is left taking a ride on the other. Dorothy Ann then comes across Inspector 47 and tells them that the peccaries are very vital for cocoa beans. But the inspector scoffs at this and Dorothy Ann shows him the midge flies who pollinates the flowers of the cocoa trees to produce beans from the tree, and the midge flies need mud wallows to breed in, and mud wallows are made by peccaries. When Dorothy Ann becomes perplexed as to why the peccaries left the mud wallows, Tim returns and notices that there was no ground to wallow in because of Inspector 47 covering the rainforest with artificial turf. Inspector 47, who wanted to save on the dry cleaning bill, becomes contrite and Tim reminds him that he was oblivious to the fact that he was messing up the big picture, which is that the rainforest is replete with trees, plants and animals that are connected in a number of ways and all the connections of the big picture form a web of life. He then concludes that every animal, plants, and even people are part of the web, which is what Earth Day is all about. So Inspector 47 gets rid of the artificial turf and gets the peccaries back into the mud; the mystery has been solved and the class leaves the rainforest via the Magic School Bus.
Several months later, Ms. Frizzle receives another shipment of cocoa beans and gets a plentiful number of them this time, as well as a note from Inspector 22 informing that a number of cocoa beans has been produced in the cocoa tree. The class cheer in delight when they learn that the writer of the note is actually the man they knew as Inspector 47, and he's been promoted.
- Inspector 47 is the caller himself during the producer segment. And it is also the only time in the producer segment that has two callers talking to each other rather than talking to the producer.
- This is one of the few times we see normal school buses.
- Going by production order, this is the 12th episode of Season 3.
- When The Magic School Bus drives through the mud, the class get dirty. Yet after they escape from the mud, they are clean.