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Holiday Special (The Magic School Bus)

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"Holiday Special" is a Christmas-themed episode of the animated series The Magic School Bus. Despite being a Christmas special, it also doubles as a Hanukkah one and an episode about recycling, fitting in with the series' scientific motif.

Synopsis

The episode begins with a very shortened version of The Nutcracker ending at a theater. In the audience, Wanda gives a standing ovation, only for Ralphie to snap her out of what ended up being a daydream by letting her know she doesn't have to pound away at the soda bottle in her hand. Embarrassed, she says that she was thinking about something as she rejoins the other students in their recycling run. During it, her complaining reveals why she isn't thrilled with doing this - she's planning to go to see The Nutcracker, using a toy soldier she owned to give away to get in instead of buying a ticket. When Ms. Frizzle finally arrives, ready to get everything going, Carlos lets her know Arnold hasn't shown up. Wanda adds in with that she'll miss the show, her toy soldier falling out of her backpack in her haste. Arnold arrives soon after, apologizing for his tardiness. Before heading for the bus, Wanda catches sight of a rock Arnold had in his coat pocket and complimented it on how it looked, leaving him flattered yet left behind. Regathering his wits, he finds the toy solider and, thinking it was also garbage, tosses it in his bin.

On the way to the recycling center, the kids end up singing a variation of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", using the items they're recycling. Arriving at the recycling center, Phoebe and Wanda are awed by the sight of the place, with Wanda questioning what they do here exactly. They're soon met by its owner and Ms. Frizzle's cousin, Murph (voiced by Dolly Parton), who introduces them to her center and invites them to go ahead and dump their things. In the process, Wanda catches sight of the toy soldier and vainly tries to stop Murph from sending it away, unable to be heard due to Murph's earphones. The toy is washed, melted down, and turned into plastic pellets. Arnold profusely apologizes over it, admitting he didn't know and that he had a lot on his mind. Wanda doesn't blame him, but instead his idea. Ms. Frizzle catches that and, with a smirk and a wink to Liz, her pet lizard, decides to indulge in Wanda's wish: that recycling had never been invented. Despite Murph warning her on it, Ms. Frizzle goes forward, firing up a device that removes everything recycled - starting with the recycling center.

As the bus drives on, it takes out a forest as they're forced to use more trees for paper. However, Wanda is only thinking of her toy soldier and thinks it's worth it. Entering the city, she takes note of the recycling bins and causes them to revert to trash and recycling trucks into garbage ones. Ralphie gets gravely concerned over it all and Phoebe asks Ms. Frizzle to stop the bus so they can figure out what's going on. Stopping and getting off, Wanda still sees no problem with it as they enter the park. However, the bus turns its device on the playground and benches. Despite the kids not knowing what's going on, Wanda still pushes them to get back to school. However, when she gets there, the bus quickly turns on it, transforming it into a dump. Wanda's self-importance gets the better of her, however, and when she mentions that the theater's probably a dump by now, it accidentally turns the device on the bus, reverting it into its base elements. Through this, they finally figure out what was going on - that the new items across the city were being made through the ones being recycled. Armed with two of Miss Frizzle's gadgets (a miniature recycling plant and a bus mold) and with their own version of "Jingle Bells", Murph and the kids set out to rebuild the bus. Through this, Wanda comes to realize that recycling is important. During a third song, the bus restores the areas transformed and, with Murph's help, ends up using the plastic pellets to make more toy soldiers. Wanda notes that everyone could do, but Arnold reveals that he can't - his grandmother's sick and he has to go with his family to her. Wanda's disheartened by it, especially realizing he'd be on a train on the first night of Hanukkah but it can't be helped. Before leaving, he returns her backpack and, after he leaves, she discovers that he left his rock in it as a gift.

Later, on the train, Arnold sets off on his trip when "The Dreidel Song" starts playing. Idly wandering into the car behind them, he is shocked to see his class, Ms. Frizzle, and Murph all back there. He asks why they aren't at The Nutcracker and Wanda admits there were much more important things than a play. As a gift, she ends up giving him a pouch of the plastic pellets. The episode ends with a short song about recycling by Murph, revealing that the extra car was actually the bus.

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