Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (game show)
|Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?|
|Presented by||Kevin Shinick|
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 |
|Location(s)||Kaufman Astoria Studios
Queens, New York
|Running time||approx. 28 minutes|
|Original run||October 7, 1996– December 12, 1997|
|Preceded by||Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?|
|Related shows||Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?|
Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? Is 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 1, Carmen appears in a Fourth wall type of narration; whereas in Season 2, a surveillance nano-probe films Carmen's lair unnoticed) complaining to herself and plotting to steal the historical "seed" of her complaint. Carmen then tells one of her V.I.L.E. henchmen what to steal and where to go. (In Season One, she shines an 'Info-Beam' to give the details of the object in question; whereas in Season Two, she gives the thief a 'Loot Orb' or 'Cybersphere' to contain it). The Chief then tells the audience that Carmen's chosen henchman has stolen something, which must be recovered to prevent Temporal paradox. The show then begins with the Engine Crew preparing the ACME Chronoskimmer (a flying saucer capable of time travel) for launch, and introduces host 'Kevin Shinick'.
Three players (ages 10–14) known as "Time Pilots" compete, each given 100 'Power Points' to begin. The Chief identifies the stolen object and its source, and various skits give clues to the location. After the skit, three possible answers or locations are shown to the contestants. The viewer can see the individual choices represented by an individual color (pink, green, or blue). Any contestant with the correct answer scores 10 Power Points; any incorrect answer leaves the score unchanged.
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" originally stolen. The typical course of the round is as follows:
- Data Boost: At two points during the game (one in the second season), the episode's villain sabotages the Chronoskimmer. (In Season One, a Data Boost is also done to replenish the Chronoskimmer's 'Fact Fuel'). In Season Two, the Engine Crew reports the problem. During the Boost, Kevin reads clues in a given subject and gives the contestants a choice of 2 or 3 answers. The first contestant to guess the correct answer scores 5 Power Points; but loses 5 Power Points for wrong answers.
- Global Pursuit: After one skit, the Global Pursuit round is played, for a series of questions of three possible answers. Only one contestant can buzz in for 5 Power Points up or down.
- Ultimate Data Boost: This is just like a normal Data Boost, but the questions are worth plus or minus 10 Power Points, and several questions are asked according to time. The two contestants with the highest score, advance to Round Two, while the third-placed contestant is eliminated from the game.
There are also other ways to gain clues:
- Cluefinder: The Cluefinder was an alarm identifying a clue, whereupon a historical figure or object appeared aboard the Chronoskimmer to reveal more clues.
- VILE Villain: The show's villain is shown revealing a clue; ostensibly against its intention.
- Collision Alert: Wherein Kevin converses with a possible 'future' version of himself, to acquire clues.
- Parallel Universe: Clues are given by Commisaar (an evil Chief) and an evil Kevin.
- Omnicia: On occasion, Kevin would ask the Chief to contact an omniscient informant known as Omnicia. Contacting Omnicia takes a lot of power, according to the Chief. She warns Kevin that they may not have enough power, but Kevin will tell her that they have to risk it.
- 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, where a figure representing his mother revealed the clue.
With Kevin on command, the third-placed contestant withdraws from the contest, while the top two contestants activate the Loot Tractor Beam to capture the stolen artifact. The Chief then lists eight events, related to the artifact that was stolen, which the contestants must recite in reverse chronological order. The first contestant to do so, advances to the Bonus Round to capture Carmen and the day's villain, while the runner-up wins a CD player and Carmen Sandiego merchandise.
Bonus Round: The Trail of Time
The winning contestant answers questions at several "Gates", posed by Carmen, with each Gate themed to a particular period of time. All questions are related to the artifact stolen in the day's show, and are dual-choice. If the contestant answers correctly, the gate will open automatically. Otherwise, the contestant must operate a device to manually open the gate. After the first two or three gates, the contestant captures the day's villain; whereas if the contestant passes through all six gates before time expires, it is permitted 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). 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!".
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.  Reruns of the show continued on PBS until Friday October 2, 1998.
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) - A moustached villain wearing a V-marked eyepatch; a wealthy aristocrat who loves pollution and enjoys destroying the environment. His name is a play on "barren wasteland" and he is supposed a native of the Industrial Era. His getaway animation showed his body shattering into several triangular shards. When assaulting the Chronoskimmer, he would shock it with lightning emitted by his cane. He is the only villain on the show not 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 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" a single fly that may exist only in his imagination. When assaulting the Chronoskimmer, he was shown spraying a cloud of pesticide from his bug sprayer into an open hatch. His time era is presumably the 1920s to the 1930s. His name is a play on "bug zapper" and gangster Bugsy Malone.
- Dr. Belljar (Owen Taylor, Season 1) & (Jamie Gustis, Season 2) - A cyborg mad 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 simply obscured by television static. In season 1, he assaulted the Chronoskimmer by zapping it with electricity from his fingertips (identified as the 'Misinformation Missile'). In the second season, he sabotaged the systems directly.
- Jacqueline Hyde (Alaine Kashian) - Jacqueline Hyde is a split personality, one ("Jacqueline") being sweet-tempered and innocent with the other ("Hyde") being vindictive and insane. She repeatedly alternates between her personalities, with each surfacing for a few seconds. She wears a red blazer, a pink blouse, a red miniskirt and knee-length stockings, perhaps to suggest a traditional schoolgirl uniform of the early-to-mid-20th century. Her getaway was becoming a sphere and floating from sight. In the first season, she assaulted the Chronoskimmer by throwing an orb of electricity; whereas in the second season, she physically sabotaged the craft at an open maintenance panel. 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. In season one, she assaulted the Chronoskimmer by breathing fire at it; and in the second, she would cast a spell into an open maintenance panel. Her name seems to be a portmanteau of Medea (a sorceress in Greek mythology) and "diva", or a play on the term medieval.
- Sir Vile (John Lathan) - Sir Vile is an obsequious medieval knight. In the first season, his armor was a dull silver; but appeared fiery red in the second. In season one, he assaulted the Chromoskimmer by striking with lightning; whereas in the second season, he was shown ripping a cable from a maintenance panel and breathing fire into the opening. His name is a play on the adjective "servile".
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.
- Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? at PBS
- Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? at kyranthia
- Public Historians and Public Television: Collaborating on "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?"