To Binge or Not to Binge 43: ‘Carmen Sandiego’

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To Binge or Not to Binge 43: ‘Carmen Sandiego’

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Hannah Allred

Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Marshall Falkner

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Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” was a PBS game show back in the ’90s, where kids answered trivia questions about geography, wildlife and history, received clues to guess the whereabouts of a criminal and eventually had a chance to hunt down the elusive character Carmen Sandiego. The series was based on the video game of the same name, which was first released in 1985.

Since 1995, when “Carmen” went off of the air, fans haven’t heard much from the character, except for a few random spinoff series like “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?” or “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?” Two decades later, Carmen is back after Netflix threw a dart at the wall to pick a random ’80s or ’90s show to reboot. (Last November, it was “She-Ra”).

In this new iteration, “Carmen Sandiego” is still deeply rooted in its edu-tainment history, teaching viewers little things about Carmen’s whereabouts and the crimes she is trying to stop. This “Carmen Sandiego” twists the format of the original on its head by making Carmen a white-hat criminal, stealing from an evil criminal organization called VILE. Working alongside Player, a tech-savvy hacker voiced by Finn Wolfheart, and a pair of siblings name Ivy and Zack, voiced by Abby Trott and Michael Hawley, Carmen has sworn her life to bring down VILE.

To Binge or Not to Binge

Almost definitely. This is an easy show to pick up and watch all the way through. The intrigue keeps you going, and the story as a whole is engaging and interesting. And, like another recent Netflix series, “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” it is educational and entertaining for all ages.

This show’s art style is absolutely fantastic and fresh. After today’s overload of 3D animation with poorly shaded models and lackluster animation, it’s refreshing to see a style that feels so flowy and artistic. The shots are beautifully framed — some stills look like modern art. Carmen’s design is both faithful to the original design philosophy with some added modern flourishes. She is hip and stylish while still maintaining the original red motifs. The show takes extra care to remain faithful to the original properties. Little details are kept in, specifically ACME, VILE and the Chief, to appeal to original fans.

The characters and cast are amazingly diverse. The show represents people from all over the world, from the Americas to Southeast Asia. Diversity is a welcome ideal that this show hits right on the nose. The characters are three-dimensional and distinctive. Each is fleshed out and has unique designs and speaking patterns.

Netflix has not announced if a second season will be released, but it is definitely something to keep an eye out for. This show deserves a lot of love.

Best Episode

I’m torn between “The Chasing Paper Caper” and “The French Connection Caper.”

“Chasing Paper” was an oddly stressful episode — something about Paper Star gives me the heebie-jeebies. “The French Connection Paper” is just one of the perfect season-enders, opening up so many possibilities and revealing a few twists along the way, while also showing a cool moment between Carmen and some of her previous teachers. You’ll just have to watch the show to get every juicy detail.

Similar shows

“She-Ra and the Princess of Power,” “Hilda” and “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

“Carmen Sandiego”
5 out of 5 stars
Available to stream on Netflix.
9 episodes, about 25 minutes each. (~4 hours)

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@FalknerMarshall