Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?

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Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Genre Action/Adventure
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
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)
Original channel Fox
Original release February 5, 1994 (1994-02-05) – January 2, 1999 (1999-01-02)
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 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.[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, 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. The lead characters of Earth were, however, 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.


Main characters

  • 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.
  • Zack (voiced by Scott Menville) – ACME detective who 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.

Notable villains

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. 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.
  • 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.


Additional voices


This is a list of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? episodes.[5]

Season 1

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

Season 2

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

Season 3

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

Season 4

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




Theme song

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.


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. 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.[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

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 7.2/10 from 750 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]


External links