Carmen Sandiego

Tagged: TV

Canadian-US animated tv series (2019-current). HMH Productions, DHX Media, I Can and I Will, Netflix. Directed by Jos Humphrey, Kenny Park and Mike West. Writers include Duane Capizzi, Greg Ernstrom and Becky Tinker. Voice cast include Michael Hawley, Sharon Muthu, Paul Nakauchi, Gina Rodriguez, Abby Trott and Finn Wolfhard. Twenty-five 24-33 episodes (including an interactive special). Colour.

This series was a reboot of the Videogame franchise Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1985) and the previous animated series Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? (1994-1999). Previously Carmen (Rodriguez) had been the head of V.I.L.E. (Villains International League of Evil), but here she's an orphan raised by V.I.L.E. to become one of their agents: though aware they are thieves she believes the acronym stands for Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports – only successful graduates learn its true meaning. Carmen fails to graduate, but tags along during a robbery, befriending the targeted archaeologist (who stimulates her interest in knowledge), only to discover V.I.L.E. have a "leave no witnesses" policy. Horrified, she vows to battle them by foiling their heists and returning the stolen items. However, her proximity to the original crimes means the international police force A.C.M.E. (the Agency to Classify & Monitor Evildoers) believe her to be a member of V.I.L.E.

In this series siblings Ivy (Trott) and Zack (Hawley) are part of Carmen's team, along with the computer hacker, "Player" (Wolfhard). Carmen did not graduate because she was failed by V.I.L.E. Council member, Shadow-san (Nakauchi), the samurai who found her as a baby. He regrets his life choices and didn't want Carmen to make the same mistakes: from season 2 he joins Carmen's team.

The show's main genre element is the advanced Technology (including mind control) regularly used by Carmen, A.C.M.E. and V.I.L.E. The latter's devices are invented by genius Scientist Dr. Saira Bellum (Muthu), who in her youth had a Bride of Frankenstein (1935) hairstyle. This might also be classed as a Superhero series, of the Batman variety: Carmen – and those V.I.L.E. agents who dress like super-Villains – lack superpowers, relying on gadgetry and athleticism.

Initially a series of routine adventures (each episode has "caper" in the title), the first season's finale began a trend of increasing the character development, including Carmen's search for her mother, making the show more memorable. The series continues the tradition of providing educational infodumps, though not as frequently as the 1994-1999 episodes. [SP]

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