Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (game show)

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This article is about gameshow with this title. For the 1989 game, see Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (video game). For the 1999 game, see Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time.
Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?
Format Game Show
Created by Broderbund
Presented by Kevin Shinick
Starring Lynne Thigpen
The Engine Crew
Opening theme "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?" by The Engine Crew
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 115 [1]
Location(s) Kaufman Astoria Studios
Queens, New York
Running time approx. 28 minutes
Original channel PBS
Original run October 7, 1996 (1996-10-07) – December 12, 1997 (1997-12-12)
Preceded by Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Related shows Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? was an American half-hour children's television game show loosely based on the computer game of the same name created by Brøderbund Software. The program lasted two seasons on PBS, consisting of 115 episodes, which ran from October 7, 1996 to December 12, 1997, with reruns airing until October 2, 1998. The show starred Lynne Thigpen as "The Chief", Kevin Shinick as "ACME Time Pilot Squadron Leader" and "The Engine Crew" as various informants. The show replaced Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, and was recorded entirely at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York City.


Before the show begins, the viewing audience sees Carmen Sandiego in her V.I.L.E. headquarters (In Season One, Carmen appears in a Fourth wall type of narration, in Season 2, a surveillance nano-probe films Carmen's lair unnoticed) complaining to herself about something and quickly plots to steal the historical "seed" that led to its existence. Carmen then summons one of her V.I.L.E. henchmen and tells them what to steal and where to go. In Season One, she shines an Info-Beam on them to give them the details of the object in question. In Season Two, she tells them to bring it back to her in a Loot Orb (Cybersphere) when they have it. The Chief then appears and tells the audience that Carmen's chosen henchman has stolen something from the past and if the stolen object is not returned within 28 minutes, history will change forever. The show then begins with the Engine Crew preparing the ACME Chronoskimmer (a top-secret spaceship capable of time travel) for launch.

Round One[edit]

Three players (ages 10–14), known as "Time Pilots" compete. The contestants are given 100 Power Points to begin the game. The Chief briefs the contestants what was stolen and when it was stolen from. Various skits are performed which give clues to the location where the villain went to, like the Cluefinder from World which is locked into someone from the past or the future. After the skit, three possible answers or locations are shown to the contestants. They simultaneously select their answers, then reveal them to Kevin. The viewer can see the individual choices represented by an individual color (pink, green, or blue). They can see which choice the contestants made by the lights in front of them, before they actually reveal their answer. Any contestant with the correct answer scores 10 Power Points. Otherwise, their score remained the same.

At one point in the game, Carmen's henchman would provide a clue from the viewscreen. The points in time visited follow the historical progression of the "seed" that was originally stolen and it is repeatedly emphasized that all the history traveled through will be erased unless the artifact is returned. Therefore, the final point in time will always be the present or else very near the present. The typical course of the round is as follows:

  • Data Boost: At two points during the game (one in the second season), there is a Data Boost. This starts out with the episode's villain doing something to the Chronoskimmer. In Season One, a Data Boost is also done in order to replenish the Fact Fuel. In Season two, following the attack of the episode's villain, the Engine Crew reports the problem to Kevin and tells him to do a Data Boost which would solve the problem. Kevin reads clues in a given subject and gives the contestants a choice of 2 or 3 answers. The first contestant to buzz-in and guess the correct answer scores 5 Power Points; otherwise, they lose 5 Power Points. Several questions like this are asked according to time. As Kevin says: "All our fact fuel ("data" in season 2) is verified by Encyclopædia Britannica."
  • Global Pursuit: After one skit is performed, the Global Pursuit round is played. This is played like the Chase in World, for a series of questions with three possible answers are asked. Only one contestant can buzz in for 5 Power Points up or down.
  • Ultimate Data Boost: This series of questions are the final ones for the round. This is just like a normal Data Boost, but the questions are worth plus or minus 10 Power Points, and again, several questions are asked according to time. The two contestants with the highest score move on to Round Two, while the third-placed contestant is eliminated from the game. In case of a tie for second place, Kevin will read clues to a famous person or place. The first contestant to buzz in with the right answer moves on to Round Two. Like in World, the last clue, if needed, would contain the correct answer.

There are also other ways to gain clues:

  • Cluefinder: The Cluefinder going off means that it has detected a clue. This would have Kevin bring a specific person or object on the Chronoskimmer where they give information on their time. On one occasion, Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared through the wheelchair access part of the Chronoskimmer. On another occasion, the Cluefinder went off twice with the first one bringing on a radio mystery show narrator and other one being the Chief from World.
  • VILE Villain: The show's villain will either be found via Nano-Probe Intercept of VILE Headquarters, appear on the view screen, or on the Time Pilot's podiums via a green spotlight, giving the next clue.
  • Collision Alert: The Collision Alert went off where Kevin converses with another Kevin.
  • Parallel Universe: A Parallel Universe drags the ship into where the good is evil, and the evil is good, and clues are given by Commisaar (an evil Chief) and an evil Kevin.
  • Omnicia: On occasion, Kevin would run out of clues and ask the Chief to contact an omniscient informant known as Omnicia.
  • Engine Crew's Clues: The Engine Crew sang the clues of the year from the Engine Room. On other occasions, the Engine Crew are in the Chronoskimmer's cafeteria conversing with Libby the Cafeteria Robot.
  • Intruder Alert: The Intruder Alert alarm alerted Kevin to an intruder in his bedroom. When he gets there, he finds his mother there who gives him info about a specific point in Kevin's life.

Round Two[edit]

With Kevin on command, the third-placed contestant goes back to the present time, while the top two contestants warp to the present or near-present day, where they must activate the Loot Tractor Beam to bring back the stolen artifact away from the day's villain and place safely on board. The Chief lists eight events, and were related to the artifact that was stolen. The events appear on the board, and the contestant leading after the first round is given the option on who goes first. If there is a tie between the contestants, a coin toss decides who chooses (the coin tosses are shown in the 2nd season). Whoever goes first must now list all the eight events in reverse chronological order. As long as the current contestant continues to list events in chronological order, they can continue playing. If the contestant picks an event that breaks chronological order or if they take too long, their turn ends, and their opponent must start again from the beginning. The first contestant to successfully list all eight events in reverse chronological order, recovers the artifact, wins the game, and advances to the Bonus Round to capture Carmen and the day's villain, while the runner-up is eliminated from the game and wins a CD player and Carmen Sandiego merchandise.

Bonus Round: The Trail of Time[edit]

The winning contestant has given 90 seconds begins the Trail of Time round, where he/she answers questions at several "Gates" posed by Carmen, with each Gate themed to a particular period of time. The Engine Crew points the contestant to the next gate along the trail. All questions are related to the artifact that was stolen in that day's show, and are dual-choice. Following the crew's directions, the contestant runs to the first gate and presses a button to activate the question. If the contestant answers correctly, the gate will open automatically. Otherwise, the contestant must operate a device to manually open the gate, using up time. The contestant then runs to the next gate and the process is repeated. After the first two or three gates, the contestant captures the day's villain who stole the artifact from the beginning of the show. If the contestant can get through all six gates before time expires, he/she energizes the Capture Crystal, which they take over and place in the Chronolock Chamber at the edge of the studio, to capture Carmen and win a computer system. Otherwise, Carmen escapes and the contestant receives a 32-volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica and a portable music system with a collection of music (changed to an ACME Time Net mission pack and the music system in Season 2)

In the first season, Carmen was captured in a spherical cage. In the second season, she was captured in a Capture Crystal. In the first season, the episode's winning time contestants always wear bicycle helmets. In the second season, they were without helmets. The show always ended with Kevin, the contestant, and the Engine Crew saying: "At ACME Time Net, history is our job, and the future is yours!" and then they headed back to the present-day as the end credits are shown.


Season 1 lasted 65 episodes and ran from Monday October 7, 1996 to Friday January 3, 1997. Season 2 lasted for 50 episodes and ran from Monday October 6, 1997 to Friday December 12, 1997. [1] Reruns of the show continued on PBS until Friday October 2, 1998.

V.I.L.E. gang[edit]

Other than playing the Engine Crew, Owen Taylor, Jamie Gustis, Alaine Kashian, and John Lathan as well as James Greenberg (who was also one of the show's producers) and Paula Leggett Chase also portrayed Carmen's V.I.L.E. henchmen:

  • Baron Wasteland (James Greenberg) - The archetypical moustached villain wearing a V-marked eyepatch, Baron Wasteland is, as his name suggests, a wealthy aristocrat who loves pollution and enjoys destroying the environment. His name is a play on "barren wasteland" and he is supposedly from the Industrial Era. His getaway animation showed his body shattering into several triangular shards after telling the Time Pilots he will meet them again and sooner than they think. When assaulting the Chronoskimmer, he would zap it with lightning from his cane which would affect the Fact Fuel after saying "Going somewhere, Time Tykes? I don't think so." and laughs. He was dropped from the show after the first season and is the only villain on the show to not be adapted into the newer version of the computer game, although the game featured a different villain holding the title of baron, that being Baron Grinnit ("grin and bear it").
  • Buggs Zapper (James Greenberg) - Buggs Zapper is a gangster with a fear of insects who wears a pinstriped suit and constantly carries around an old-fashioned bug sprayer. He was introduced in the second season, replacing Baron Wasteland. In the computer game's manual, it is stated that his only goal in life is to "rub out" the single fly that supposedly torments him endlessly. When assaulting the Chronoskimmer, he would be shown spraying a cloud of pesticide from his bug sprayer into an open hatch while asking "Someone call the externibator?" as he does so. His time era is presumably the 1930s or so. His name is a play on "bug zapper."
  • Dr. Belljar (Owen Taylor, Season 1) & (Jamie Gustis, Season 2) - A cyborg mad scientist, Dr. Belljar, according to the computer game's manual, works as Carmen Sandiego's computerized scientist-in-residence and plans to rewrite history so as to record himself as the world's greatest scientist. His name apparently refers to bell jars. He appeared on both of the show's seasons, but his appearance was drastically retooled for the second season. His getaway animation in the first season showed him disintegrated into a multitude of cubes through a device mounted on his wrist. In the second he was changed to simply vanishing as his body was obscured by television static. In season 1, he assaulted the Chronoskimmer by zapping it with electricity from his fingertips (referred to as the Misinformation Missile attack). In the second season, he sabotaged the systems directly with his own technology (In one scene, he accessed an access panel and said to the camera "Sorry, my PIN number didn't work.").
  • Jacqueline Hyde (Alaine Kashian) - Jacqueline Hyde is a teenage girl who has a split personality, one ("Jacqueline") being sweet and innocent with the other ("Hyde") being evil and insane. She repeatedly alternates between her personalities with each surfacing over the other for only a few seconds or so. As Jacqueline, she has a normal voice and seems soft-spoken, but as Hyde she yells loudly and has a "modulated" voice. She is blonde haired in the 1st season and strawberry blonde in the 2nd. (the show's graphics make it difficult to tell) and she wears a red blazer, a pink blouse, a red miniskirt and knee-length stockings, perhaps to suggest a traditional schoolgirl uniform. Her clothing may indicate she is from the early-to-mid-20th century. Her getaway was morphing herself into a sphere and flying away after turning into her Hyde personality. In the first season, she said "Hey Time Pilots, CATCH!" and then assaulted the Chronoskimmer by throwing an energy orb that would neutralize it and drain some of the Fact Fuel. In the second season, she physically sabotaged the craft at an open maintenance panel quoting "Hey, Time Pilots, want directions to the junkyard?" and damages the part, quoting "Now you're gonna need them!" Her name is an obvious play on "Dr. Jeykll & Mr. Hyde."
  • Medeva (Paula Leggett Chase) - Medeva is a witch from the Middle Ages who mostly speaks in rhyme and whose character is based on birds. After her speech Medeva would blow a kiss and squak like a bird. Her costume also went through some changes between the two seasons. According to the computer game's manual, she graduated from a witch's charm school "centuries ago" and even her victims say she's enchanting. In season one, she said "Anyone feel like shooting the breeze?" and then assaulted the Chronoskimmer by breathing fire at it. In the second, she would cast a spell into an open maintenance panel that would result in various goofy things happening to the engine crew (such as shrinking them where they are menaced by a parrot, getting two of them stuck in rewind, teleporting them to Times Square, turning the engine room into a ticker tape parade, etc.) while quoting "Let's see David Copperfield try that!". Her name seems to be a portmanteau of Medea (a sorceress in Greek mythology) and "diva", or a play on the term medieval, alluding to the time period she originated from.
  • Sir Vile (John Lathan) - Sir Vile is an obsequious medieval knight who bends to every whim of "Lady Carmen". The computer game's manual describes him as an evil knight in "not-so-shining" armor, who has been in a bad mood since the Middle Ages when he failed to corner the market on round tables. In the first season, his armor was a dull silver. But it was altered to a fiery red in the second and he was given the ability to breathe fire. His getaway was also changed to him being swallowed up in flames. In season one, he assaulted the Chromoskimmer by zapping it with lightning like all the male villains then says "So much for the Time Pilots.". In the second season, he was shown ripping a cable out from a maintenance panel and then breathing fire into it while quoting "Thy mechanical beast is no match for Sir Vile". His name, "Sir Vile," implies more than just the fact that he is a knight recruited to work for V.I.L.E., for it is also a play on the term "servile", a reference to how subservient he is to Carmen.


The budget was smaller on this version of the show compared to World. As a result, the grand prize for a winning pilot captures Carmen was a computer system instead of a trip. Pilots on all levels received prize packs of varying sizes which consisted of one or more of the following: a baseball cap, T-shirt, a Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? board game, a Where in the U.S.A. Is Carmen Sandiego? board game, a plastic watch, and a set of the most recent Carmen Sandiego CD-Rom games (all of which also featured the Chief).


The music on the show was performed by The Engine Crew. The music package included the theme song and the songs about clues in the engine room. The theme was played in the opening and closing sequences. When the contestant was heading for the trail of time, the theme was sometimes edited after the crew sang, "We're on the case" and the villains say, "And they're chasing us through history!" (used in first season). In the second season, when the contestant headed for The Trail of Time, the ending was normal instead of the villains singing the end part. The show's main theme song was written by Sean Altman and David Yazbek, and is sung by The Engine Crew.

The show was funded primarily by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1996–1998) and by the annual financial support from the viewers/stations of PBS (1996–1998). Delta Air Lines (1996–1997) and the National Endowment for Children's Educational Television (1996–1997) both provided funding during the show's first season.

A French-Canadian version of the show, titled À la poursuite de Carmen Sandiego (In pursuit of Carmen Sandiego), was aired on Radio-Canada between 1998 and 1999, shortly after the original American version of the show ended. This version of the show stars Brigitte Paquette as "The Chief", Patrick Labbé as "ACME Time Pilot Squadron Leader", and Daniel Dô, Marie-Hélène Fortin, and Widemir Noumil as "The Engine Crew". Gameplay in this version stayed the same as the original, with each pilot going through all six gates and captures Carmen wins a grand prize package that included a mountain bike instead of a computer system.


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