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Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?

Entry updated 23 February 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (1994-1999). DIC Enterprises. Directed by Joe Barruso, Stan Phillips and Michael Maliani. Writers include Perry Adleman, Doug Molitor, Sean Roche and Melanie Williams. Voice cast includes Rodger Bumpass, Jennifer Hale, Scott Menville and Rita Moreno. 40 21-minute episodes. Colour.

The first of two animated series based on the computer game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1985) and its sequels. Not to be confused with one of the franchise's television game shows with the same name.

Teenage siblings Ivy (Hale) and Zack (Menville) are A.C.M.E. (Agency to Classify & Monitor Evildoers) detectives who battle to foil master criminal Carmen Sandiego (Moreno) and her organisation V.I.L.E. (Villains International League of Evil); the Head of ACME is the wisecracking AI Chief (Bumpass). The show was less grounded than the later series Carmen Sandiego (2019-2021), with Carmen's thefts including the Sydney Opera House and Mont St Michel; she also plots to put her face on the Moon, reminiscent of Lens Larque in Jack Vance's The Face (1979), though using dyes rather than explosions. Other genre elements include advanced Technology such as the C5 Corridor, which enables near instantaneous travel to anywhere in the world; an attempt to Genetically Engineer dinosaurs; Time Travel to both the future and the past – the latter includes the theft of Benjamin Franklin's key – the one he attached to his kite – to slow down technological progress.

Though having Ivy as a tough action girl is a nice Feminist touch (Zack being the brains), the series is competent rather than exceptional – though fondly remembered. The episodes contain frequent Infodumps on geography, history, science, etc. [SP]


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