Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
|Where on Earth is|
|Developed by||Phil Harnage|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||40|
Michael E. Uslan|
Michael E. Uslan
|Editor(s)||Miriam L. Preissel|
|Running time||30 minutes (with commercials)|
The Program Exchange (1994–present)|
20th Television (UK airings; 1994-present)
|Original release||February 5, 1994 – January 2, 1999|
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?|
Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?
Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? is an American animated television series based on the series of computer games. The show was produced by DIC Entertainment/Program Exchange and originally aired Saturday mornings on FOX during the Fox Kids block. Its episodes have subsequently been repeated on the Fox Family, PAX and the short-lived girlzChannel. Reruns of the series currently air on The Worship Network and Qubo. The series won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program in 1995 and in the same year was spun off into a Where in the World-styled video game entitled Carmen Sandiego Junior Detective.
History, development and production
The need for the show was facilitated by the Children's Television Act. Said Andy Heyward, CEO of DIC in March 1994, "I would like to say that people felt it was a competitive property in its own right, but I think that Congress pushed it over the top." The script for every Earth episode had to meet the approval of Brøderbund Software, which created and, at the time, owned the Carmen franchise. Their cause for concern was the level of the violence on other FOX children's shows such as X-Men and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Brøderbund did not require this of the creators of the World and Time game shows that aired on PBS, presumably since PBS, as the creator of such shows as Sesame Street, had a long-standing reputation for non-violent, educational children's programming. As with the rest of the Carmen Sandiego franchise, the show's basic premise had the ACME Detective Agency attempting to stop the title thief and her V.I.L.E. gang from stealing artifacts around the world. Specifically, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? followed the adventures of two teenaged ACME detectives named Zack and Ivy, who were also siblings, but their last name was never stated nor was their mysterious lack of parents or a guardian ever explained. Notably, the show was portrayed as taking place inside a virtual reality computer game of a live-action kid referred to only as "The Player." Although Earth took the premise of the series more seriously than the Brøderbund computer games or the zany World game show, most elements of the series, such as giving V.I.L.E. agents gag names ("Buck N. Bronco," "Dee Tritus," etc.) and having Carmen commit spectacularly impossible thefts, were faithfully maintained. However, Earth often showed how V.I.L.E. perpetrated such spectacular thefts, whereas the computer games left this to the user's imagination and "serious" villains, such as Lee Jordan and Dr. Maelstrom, were not given such funny names. The World game show also explained how such thefts were committed although their explanations were humorously nonsensical. Originally, episodes of Earth were quite similar to the typical "formula" of the computer games. An outrageous theft would be committed somewhere in the world and Zack and Ivy, guided by the Player, would try to retrieve the loot and capture Carmen Sandiego. Though the loot would typically be recovered, Carmen, who usually had some kind of "master plan," would always escape. At the start of the second season, time travel was added into the show when Carmen built her own time machine and travelled back in time to the American Revolution. Time travel would continue to recur throughout the rest of the show's run. However, this structure began to be abandoned as the writers started to explore the nature of Carmen's character. Early on, it was established that Carmen only stole for the challenge of it and that she had her own ethical code, but as it progressed, the show began to increasingly focus on her "good" side and on her weaknesses. By the show's fourth and final season, Zack and Ivy were regularly teaming up with their former nemesis to stop considerably less moral criminals from taking over V.I.L.E. and such. Nevertheless, the show never portrayed Carmen returning to ACME or giving up her thieving ways. Since they obviously continued to approve the scripts, Brøderbund apparently did not have any qualms about this direction, though they did not incorporate it into any of their games. However, the lead characters of Earth were featured in Carmen Sandiego Junior Detective, released in 1995.
Like the basic plot of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? line of video games, Carmen Sandiego and her organization V.I.L.E. have stolen items and it is up to the ACME agents Zack and Ivy (under the guidance of the Chief) to put a stop to her.
- Carmen Sandiego (voiced by Rita Moreno) – An international thief and the head of V.I.L.E. Despite the name of her organization, she has a strong code of morals and only steals for the challenge of it. She was a former agent of the ACME Detective Agency.
- Chief (short for Computerized Holographic Imaging Educational Facilitator) (voiced by Rodger Bumpass) – The head of ACME. His role consisted of providing exposition, information, alerts of Carmen's recent crime, and comic relief. He had a very intimate professional and personal relationship with Carmen. He once also had a robotic body while working with Carmen back when she was still part of the ACME Detective Agency.
- Ivy (voiced by Jennifer Hale) – ACME detective who has short red hair, green eyes and is eighteen years old. She is the elder of the show's star siblings. Her skills include having multiple black belts in martial arts and being an expert pilot. She can get frustrated easily, such as hating it when Zack calls her "sis" (as was the case in "The Stolen Smile") or when Carmen is getting away. In episode one, Ivy is revealed to have a personal grudge against Carmen for a theft that occurred pre-series.
- Zack (voiced by Scott Menville) – ACME detective who has blond hair, blue eyes and is fourteen years old. He is a genius and a computer engineering prodigy who can speak over 20 languages and has a photographic memory. He takes cases less seriously than his sister Ivy. It should be noted that Zack's jacket has his name misspelled as Zak.
- The Player (played by Joanie Tucker in Season 1, Justin Shenkarow in Season 2, Asi Lang & Joanie Pleasant in Season 3–4) – The only live-action character on the program, always seen from behind as a computer player at the beginning and closing of the show.
As Carmen Sandiego became less villainous and evolved into more of an anti-hero, other characters began to fill her original role as the show's antagonist. The following villains are:
- Dr. Sara Bellum – Carmen Sandiego's former mad scientist who makes all sorts of gadgets for Carmen Sandiego and her V.I.L.E. agents to use. In one episode, she tried to flood the Atacama Desert in Chile to retrieve the Giant of the Atacama, all while dressed as Carmen Sandiego in an effort to take over V.I.L.E. Eventually, Carmen, Zack and Ivy stopped Sara Bellum's mad plan in time. However, in the episode "Follow My Footsteps," she returned to V.I.L.E. It is possible she might be pretending to help Carmen or she has reformed. Her name is a pun on "cerebellum," a part of the brain.
- Dr. Gunnar Maelstrom (voiced by Tim Curry) – A hostile and extremely violent criminal whose archenemy is Carmen Sandiego. Maelstrom considers her a threat because she and Chief captured him back in her detective days at ACME in 1985 and got him sent to Folsom State Prison in northern California after stopping his plan to raise and steal the wreckage of the Titanic. In "Maelstrom's Revenge," he escapes from prison by using a bomb attached to his watch as a diversion so he could escape through the back door. Carmen Sandiego was forced to team up with Zack and Ivy to help capture him and send him back to prison before he could complete his new plan to steal Noah's Ark.
- Mason Dixon – The henchman who betrayed V.I.L.E. in numerous ways in the episode "Timing is Everything." It began in 1989 when Carmen and Mason were in Amsterdam to steal a Rembrandt painting. Mason was captured and sentenced to 7 years in prison, while Carmen escaped from the police. When Mason was released, Carmen began searching for a Civil War era sofa in the Appomattox Courthouse. The caper failed, resulting in Carmen being furious with Mason. As retaliation, he stole Carmen's time machine and went back to 1989 to change the outcome of the Rembrandt theft so Carmen would go to jail and he would go on to run V.I.L.E. as the world's greatest thief. In this alternate reality, Carmen becomes Mason's henchman and has low self-esteem because she "almost always [gets] caught." Mason, with Carmen's unwilling aid, began stealing a series of items that would change the outcome of the Civil War. Carmen helped Zack and Ivy recapture him and take back control over V.I.L.E., making her the world's greatest thief once more. His name is a play on the surveyors Mason and Dixon who drew the border between Maryland and Pannsylvania in the 1760s known as the Mason–Dixon line.
- Lee Jordan (voiced by David Coburn) – The only ACME agent to have "officially" captured Carmen Sandiego. He was perhaps the most accomplished of all of ACME's employees and as such, had quite a conceited attitude about himself. He was often flirtatious with Ivy (much to her disgust), who hated his arrogance. He went on hiatus from ACME for an indeterminate amount of time, during which his outlook on his career took a drastic turn. Embittered by his fame and the lack of challenge the concept of fighting crime had become, he quit working for ACME and helped Carmen Sandiego escape in order to train to be a V.I.L.E. agent. However, his impulsive and unscrupulous nature clashed greatly with Carmen Sandiego's more refined, pessimistic approach and because of that, he was fired. Infuriated by this, he joined the ranks of former V.I.L.E. agents who sought to usurp Carmen Sandiego from her title as 'the world's greatest thief.' He was foiled twice in this endeavor, both by the combined efforts of ACME and Carmen Sandiego, but still remains hostile, violent and dangerous. Unlike Carmen Sandiego, he sees nothing against putting another person's life in danger to further his own personal gain and has even kidnapped and used a hostage as blackmail to force Carmen Sandiego into working for him.
- Asi Lang-Player (Season 3-4)
- Joanie Pleasant-Female Player (Season 3-4)
- Justin Shenkarow-Male Player (Season 2)
- Joanie Tucker-Female Player (Season 1)
- Marsha Goodman-Casting and Voice Director
- Sean Roche-Story Editor
- Lisa Schaffer-Talent Coordinator
|Episode number||Title||Release date||Synopsis|
|1||The Stolen Smile||February 5, 1994|
|2||A Higher Calling||February 12, 1994|
|3||Dinosaur Delirium||February 19, 1994|
|4||By A Whisker||March 12, 1994|
|5||The Good Old, Bad Old Days||March 19, 1994|
|6||Rules Of The Game||April 9, 1994|
|7||Split Up||September 24, 1994|
|8||Moondreams||March 5, 1994|
|9||Music To My Ears||April 23, 1994|
|10||The Play's The Thing||May 7, 1994|
|Episode number||Title||Release date||Synopsis|
|11||A Date With Carmen Pt. 1||September 6, 1994|
|12||A Date With Carmen Pt. 2||September 13, 1994|
|13||Chapter And Verse||April 30, 1994|
|14||Skull and Double-Crossbones||February 4, 1995|
|15||Scavenger Hunt||February 11, 1995|
|16||Hot Ice||February 18, 1995|
|17||All For One||February 25, 1995|
|18||When It Rains||March 4, 1995|
|19||Déjà Vu||March 11, 1995|
|20||Boyhood's End Pt. 1||March 18, 1995|
|21||Boyhood's End Pt. 2||March 25, 1995|
|Episode number||Title||Release date||Synopsis|
|22||The Tigress||September 16, 1995|
|23||The Remnants||September 23, 1995|
|24||Curses, Foiled Again||September 30, 1995|
|25||Birds of a Feather||October 7, 1995|
|26||Shaman Spirits||October 14, 1995|
|27||Follow My Footprints||October 21, 1995|
|28||Labyrinth Pt. 1||October 28, 1995|
|29||Labyrinth Pt. 2: Woman of the Year, 2101||November 4, 1995|
|30||Labyrinth Pt. 3: When In Rome||November 11, 1995|
|31||Just Like Old Times||November 18, 1995|
|Episode number||Title||Release date||Synopsis|
|32||The Trial of Carmen Sandiego||September 9, 1996|
|33||Trick or Treat||October 31, 1996|
|34||Retribution Pt. 1: Unsinkable Carmen Sandiego||March 30, 1998|
|35||Retribution Pt. 2: In Memoriam||March 31, 1998|
|36||Retribution Pt. 3: Maelstrom's Revenge||April 1, 1998|
|37||Timing is Everything||December 5, 1998|
|38||Cupid Sandiego||December 12, 1998|
|39||Can You Ever Go Home Again Pt. 1||December 26, 1998|
|40||Can You Ever Go Home Again Pt. 2||January 2, 1999|
On June 13, 2006, Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment released the first season on DVD. Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released. LionsGate Entertainment has released two of the show's three-part episodes ("Retribution" and "Labyrinth") as full-length direct-to-video films entitled "Carmen's Revenge" and "Time Traveler," respectively. A video of the episode "Timing is Everything" is included with some versions of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Treasures of Knowledge. On July 22, 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment announced that they had acquired the rights to the series and planned on releasing it in its entirety in 2012. They subsequently released Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete series on DVD in Region 1 on February 21, 2012. This 4-disc set contains all 40 episodes of the series. They also released a 10 episode best-of collection the same day.
At TV.com, the show has a user rating 8.5/10 based on 137 votes. At imdb, the show has a user rating of 7.2/10 from 750 users. The show was given a rating of 4 stars out of 5 by CommonSenseMedia, noting that "the show’s format -- which includes trivia sessions, vocabulary and even the characters’ use of foreign language—is designed to pique kids’ interest in these subjects". DVD Talk said: "There's something quite special here, among the action and comedy that feel obligatory for a cartoon, and it's all in how intelligence is respected above all else. The writing staff wisely avoids a dangerous cliché. Often in a series of this sort, we'll get one smart character and one average one, the idea being the smart one will explain everything to the average one and, in essence, us, too. But in "Carmen Sandiego," both leads are cracking brilliant, the twist being that they're just experts in different things, explaining ideas to each other but never dumbing anything down. At last, a show that feels that instead of talking down to kids, you should treat them as the smart young folks they are."
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