Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?

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Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
WhereonEarthCarmenSandiego.jpg
Genre Action/Adventure
Mystery
Crime
Edutainment
Format Animated series
Developed by Phil Harnage
Written by Kimmer Ringwald
Sean Roche
Doug Molitor
Michael Maurer
Matt Uitz
Reed Shelly
Phil Harnage
Directed by Michael Maliani
Joe Barruso
Voices of Rita Moreno[1]
Rodger Bumpass
Jennifer Hale
Scott Menville
Composer(s) Tom Worell
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 40
Production
Executive producer(s) Michael E. Uslan
Benjamin Melniker
Andy Heyward
Robby London
Michael Maliani
Producer(s) Andy Heyward
Robby London
Michael Maliani
Benjamin Melniker
Michael E. Uslan
Editor(s) Miriam L. Preissel
Running time 30 minutes (with commercials)
Production company(s) Brøderbund
DIC Entertainment
(DHX Media)[2]
Distributor The Program Exchange (1994-present)
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Original run February 5, 1994 (1994-02-05) – January 2, 1999 (1999-01-02)
Chronology
Related shows 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. 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, KidMango, Hub Network, and, since June 8, 2012, on Qubo. The series won an 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[edit]

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.[3][4]

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. Zack and Ivy 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 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. Towards the end of the first 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. The lead characters of Earth were, however, featured in Carmen Sandiego: Junior Detective Edition, released in 1995.

Plot[edit]

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.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Carmen Sandiego (voiced by Rita Moreno) - Carmen Sandiego is 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 (voiced by Rodger Bumpass) - The C.H.I.E.F. (short for Computerized Holographic Imaging Educational Facilitator) is 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) - Ivy 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" or when Carmen is getting away.
  • Zack (voiced by Scott Menville) - Zack has blond hair, blue eyes, and is fourteen years old. He is a genius 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.

ACME detectives[edit]

The following are ACME detectives who help out Zack and Ivy:

  • Aileen - A Hawaiian ACME detective.
  • Amati - A brilliant archaeologist and African-American ACME detective.
  • Armando - An Argentinian gaucho ACME detective.
  • Barrow - A British ACME detective.
  • Billy "Running Bird" - A Native American ACME detective.
  • Chotu - An Indian ACME detective.
  • Jasmine - A Jamaican ACME detective.
  • Josha - A brilliant inventor and ACME agent. He has a crush on Ivy. Zack is the one who helps get them together.
  • Ketut - An Indonesian ACME detective who loves hang gliding and is very wise.
  • Lee - A Chinese ACME detective.
  • Maria - A Brazilian ACME detective from ACME's Rio de Janeiro branch. At the end, we see she might be interested in Zack as she takes him to the opera.
  • Marco - An Italian ACME detective who's good friends with Ivy.
  • Michelle - A Space Camp ACME detective.
  • Regis - A British ACME detective.
  • Tatiana - A Russian ACME detective who Zack has a crush on.
  • Wahidullah - An Afghanistan ACME detective.
  • Lloyd - An Australian ACME detective.

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

The following are agents who work for Carmen Sandiego's organization V.I.L.E.:

  • Abe L. Body - Abe L. Body is a V.I.L.E. agent and an athlete who's a team player to V.I.L.E. He likes to steal items from the Olympics and any other sports. His name is a play on "able body."
  • Al Loy - A V.I.L.E. agent who's also hot-headed as Daryl Riska. He wanted to be a loner when it comes to crime, but he couldn't get along with Dara Riska. Al Loy is a play on "Alloy."
  • Auntie Bellum - Auntie Bellum is a V.I.L.E. agent from the South. She likes to steal items from the South in the Civil War.
  • Archie Ology - A V.I.L.E. agent and a good archaeologist. He likes to steal artifacts and other classics. Archie Ology is a play on "Archaeology."
  • Buck N. Bronco - A V.I.L.E. agent. His name is a play on "bucking bronco."
  • Clair E. Net & Cora Net - The sisters of evil for stealing talent and music. Cora Net plays the guitar while Clair E. Net sings opera. Clair E. Net & Cora Net are the plays of "clarinet" and "coronet."
  • Clay Tandoori - An Indian-American V.I.L.E. agent. He's steals anything that's in India like Taj Mahal and other things. Clay Tandoori is a play on "Tandoori Clay."
  • Dara Riska - A V.I.L.E. agent who always takes any risks and sometimes get hot-headed when she gets to a fight with Al Loy.
  • Dee Tritus - A female V.I.L.E. agent. Her name is a play on "detritus."
  • Four Chin Hunter - A big time evil treasure hunter of V.I.L.E. He's an expert of stealing gold when it comes to treasure hunting. Four Chin Hunter is a play on "Fortune Hunter."
  • Frank M. Poster - A big time master of disguise and Carmen's V.I.L.E. henchman. He can disguise himself as any person he wants to impersonate. Frank M. Poster is a play on "The Great Impostor."
  • Hannah Lulu - A V.I.L.E. agent and an expert when it comes to Hawaiian treasures and locations. Hannah Lulu is very superstitious and is afraid of almost everything including Hawaii's Nightmarchers. In one episode, Carmen Sandiego tried to make Hannah Lulu face her fears by stealing an object from the place where a Hawaiian queen died. Hannah Lulu is a play on "Honolulu."
  • Judge R.B. Traitor - A court judge-turned-criminal who hunts crooks down and sentences them to a secret jail while stealing their loot. He appeared in "The Trail of Carmen Sandiego" where he had Carmen Sandiego abducted from her caper in the Mayan Ruins and subpoenaed Zack and Ivy to his hidden courtroom in Italy using Lee Galese as bait. Once Zack and Ivy arrived, Judge R.B. Traitor dismissed Lee Galese and had them represent Carmen Sandiego when she was accused of stealing the Magna Carta. When it came to where the Magna Cartta is, it turned out that Judge R.B. Traitor was actually in cahoots with Carmen Sandiego and Archie Ology. R.B. Traitor is a play on "arbitrator."
  • Lars Vegas - A big shot and V.I.L.E.'s greediest member. He always complains when he is trapped in a net because it messes up his hair. His greediness can always foil his plans. Lars Vegas is a play on "Las Vegas."
  • Lee Galese - A V.I.L.E. agent who is Carmen Sandiego's lawyer. His name is a play on "legalese."
  • Moe Skeeter - A V.I.L.E. agent who's kinda like a bungling buffoon. His nose looks similar to Batman villain Penguin and his name is a play on "mosquito."
  • Paige Turner - Paige Turner is a V.I.L.E. agent who is a world-renowned expert on literature and loves playing out crimes from famous novels. Her name is a play on "page turner."
  • Rip Shipoff - An aquatic pirate agent with his pet parrot.
  • Touriest Classe - A V.I.L.E. agent and also an international con man and a master art thief. He always wanted to scam people with other art. Touriest Classe is a play on "Tourist Class."
  • Yin and Yang - Yin and Yang are a pair of Chinese V.I.L.E. agents, both wearing a tattoo that is a piece of the Yin Yang symbol. They both like to steal antique Chinese artifacts.

Notable villains[edit]

As Carmen Sandiego became less villainous and evolved into more of an antihero, other characters began to fill her original role as the show's antagonist. The following villains are:

  • Dr. Sara Bellum - Dr. Sara Bellum is 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 Sandiego, 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. "Sara Bellum" is a pun on cerebellum, a part of the brain.
  • Dr. Gunnar Maelstrom (voiced by Tim Curry) - Dr. Gunnar Maelstrom (pronounced goonar) is a hostile and extremely violent criminal whose archenemy is Carmen Sandiego. Maelstrom considers her a threat because she & Chief captured him back in her detective days at ACME in 1985, and got him sent to Folsom State Prison in northern California. 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 & Ivy to help capture him & send him back to prison.
  • Mason Dixon - Mason Dixon is 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 & Ivy recapture him & 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) - Lee Jordan is 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). Ivy 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.

Episodes[edit]

This is a list of episodes:[5]

Season 1[edit]

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 Moon Dreams March 9, 1994
5 By a Whisker March 16, 1994
6 The Good Old, Bad Old Days March 23, 1994
7 Rules of the Game March 30, 1994
8 Music to My Ears April 7, 1994
9 Chapter And Verse April 14, 1994
10 The Play's the Thing April 21, 1994

Season 2[edit]

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 Split Up October 3, 1994
14 Skull and Double-Crossbones October 10, 1994
15 Scavenger Hunt October 17, 1994
16 Hot Ice October 24, 1994
17 All For One October 31, 1994
18 When It Rains March 28, 1995
19 Déjà Vu April 8, 1995
20 Boyhood's End Pt. 1 April 15, 1995
21 Boyhood's End Pt. 2 April 22, 1995

Season 3[edit]

Episode number Title Release date Synopsis
22 The Tigress 16/Sep/95
23 The Remnants 23/Sep/95
24 Curses, Foiled Again 30/Sep/95
25 Birds of a Feather 07/Oct/95
26 Shaman Spirits 14/Oct/95
27 Follow My Footprints 21/Oct/95
28 Labyrinth Pt. 1 28/Oct/95
29 Labyrinth Pt. 2: Woman of the Year, 2101 04/Nov/95
30 Labyrinth Pt. 3: When In Rome 11/Nov/95
31 Just Like Old Times 18/Nov/95

Season 4[edit]

Episode number Title Release date Synopsis
32 The Trial of Carmen Sandiego 09/Sep/96 While on a caper at the Mayan Ruins, Carmen Sandiego is abducted by a mysterious helicopter. Zack and Ivy trace her location to the Roman catacombs where Carmen Sandiego is standing trial before Judge R.B. Traitor upon being accused of stealing the Magna Carta.
33 Trick or Treat 31/Oct/96
34 Retribution Pt. 1: Unsinkable Carmen Sandiego 30/Mar/98
35 Retribution Pt. 2: In Memoriam 31/Mar/98
36 Retribution Pt. 3: Maelstrom's Revenge 01/Apr/98
37 Timing is Everything 05/Dec/98
38 Cupid Sandiego 12/Dec/98
39 Can You Ever Go Home Again Pt. 1 26/Dec/98
40 Can You Ever Go Home Again Pt. 2 02/Jan/99

Cast[edit]

Players[edit]

Additional Voices[edit]

Crew[edit]

Theme song[edit]

The opening theme song for the show is "Singt dem grossen Bassa Lieder" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail with new lyrics, pop instrumentation, and a backbeat.

Releases[edit]

On June 13, 2006, Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment released the first season on DVD.[6] [7] Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released.

Lions Gate 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" & "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.[8]

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.[9] They also released a 10 episode best-of collection the same day.

Critical reception[edit]

At TV.com, the show has a user rating 8.5/10 based on 137 votes.[10] At imdb, the show has a user rating of 7.0/10 from 652 users.[11] 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".[12]

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."[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]