A TV show on PBS and a computer game by Broderbund.Both center on chasing Carmen Sandiego and her lackeys around the world.

On the TV show,three contestants would be given trivia questions about where Carmen's henchmen has gone with the stolen loot, which was usually some important (and sometimes rather large) object. The two contestants with the highest scores would go on to Round Two,where they would have to pay a Concentration-like game to get the crook, the warrant,and the loot.The one who did will move on to Round Three where they would navigate through a series of arches representing various places on Earth.Carmen Sandiego would ask a question at each one,answer correctly and you could continue on to the next arch. Answer wrong and you'd have to open the gate manually (which took longer). Get through all of Carmen's questions before the timer ran out and you won the grand prize.

The PC game had you as a member of Interpol, chasing the members of VILE around the world, asking locals for information about the crook and and looking for clues. You fed data given to you by people you interrogate into the Interpol computer,which would spit out a warrant for a criminal,which you needed to bag the crook. You progresses through the game,going through the ranks and eventually nabbing Carmen Sandiego herself!

See all the other WITWICS shows/games,such as Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?, and Where in time is Carmen Sandiego?

herbman: Yes, there was a space game,I've played it before as part of my computer class at Holy Name School.

The only real reason to watch Carmen Sandiego on TV was Rockapella, an amazing professional acapella group who apparently had to do the silly kid's show to make ends meet.

On the other hand, I could never really think of a real reason to play the video games. I remember my little brother actually bought Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego, and to even think about catching her and beating the game, you had to go through about 1200 promotions, from Gumshoe to Amazing-Super-Inspector-of-God or something, and you could only get promoted after about 5 successful cases. You would have to run around gathering clues from shmoes on the street, and the clues would always be something like "He likes Tex-Mex food." Then you would have to go over to the computer and figure out which of all the criminals in the United States liked Tex-Mex food and classical music.

Then you did it again and again until you either:

  1. died of starvation
  2. went insane and smashed your computer with a Rand-McNally atlas
  3. realized that the game was a complete waste of time and deleted it, then stuffed it in the back of a drawer somewhere never to be found again
I, as you may have guessed, chose option a.

The original incarnation of the TV show had the final round as this:

The Youngsters were led out to a giant map of a continent. (Never North America). Then, the host would simply name a country, and they would have to run and stick a giant flag on an indicator on the appropriate country. If you used up a certain percentage of the flags (x number of countries), you won.

They changed this because young people in our country are simply not taught enough geography for this to be fair. In fact, almost no one ever won. Which was why I enjoyed watching it. :)

The second in the Carmen Sandiego computer game series in which Carmen and her gang of thugs would steal some famous monument or artifact, which the player would then have to search for. The rest of the lineup includes (in chronological order): Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in America's Past is Carmen Sandiego?, and Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?

One of the coolest things about the series were the (usually) witty names of Carmen's VILE gang members. Examples include: Chuck Roast, Minnie Series, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Casey Rah Serah, Laverne Onions, Karri Miback, Bill and Lee Ding, Justin Time, Gene Yuss, Verna Equinox, Homer DeBrave, and, the travel agent from Where in the World? deluxe, Shirley Eugeste. The gang members for the television show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (which aired on KCET) have somewhat less original names like Robocop and Double Trouble, but got to be a little more developed personality-wise, since they got to interact with the gumshoes more and had individual voices. Interestingly, the map used for the final challenge seemed to most often be Africa, which players more often than not didn't know the countries of.

I had a terrible experience with this game, if you ignore the fact that everything I know about genres of music (or, for that matter, Tex-Mex food) was taught to me by the various VILE members and my Mac SE. The Mac version of the game participated in an especially cruel brand of crippleware as the result of an unholy tie-in with the Fodor's Almanac; before you could catch a criminal, the game would confront you with a question like

"Before you can capture Justin Time, you must tell me... WHAT STATE APPEARS AS THE FOURTH WORD OF THE SIXTH PARAGRAPH ON PAGE 122 OF THE 1991 FODOR'S ALMANAC?"

This was really, really endearing.

Intrepid six year-old that I was (after searching four regional libraries), I made a chart and figured out these answers by the process of elimination, meaning that I had to catch, on average, 1250 criminals to the normal kid's 30. It took months just to escape the dubious rank of Gumshoe.

The ending sequence made it all worth it, though, what with those little animated prison cell bars coming down over a little motionless picture of Carmen. Damn you, Fodor's -- although you did impart to me a prodigious knowledge of state capitals and the decision to listen specifically to "Classic Rock" for the remainder of my young life.

Also, the running-with-flags portion of the TV show endgame was still on when I was young, and seemed to me to be a great way for them to keep uncharismatic fat kids off the screen. Damned discrmination.

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