The Pantheon: Carmen Sandiego

Most pop-culture properties start out on a single platform and stay there. It may seem that all our favorite TV shows eventually become movies (and vice versa), but in the grand scheme of things, it's actually pretty rare. It's even more rare for an expansion into another platform to be successful. And even if it is successful, that doesn't mean I'll like it. (Transformers movies, anyone?) There are only a few wide-ranging franchises that really capture my attention, and the one that has possibly lasted the longest is Carmen Sandiego, which continues to enchant me to this day.

First, of course, was the computer game, which I immediately became obsessed with when it was released. I loved the geography and the mystery aspects equally, and spent hours happily tracking down Carmen's henchmen. When I finally caught the lady herself, I considered it one of the defining accomplishments of the year. Like any junkie, I needed more product to get my fix, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? was soon joined by Where in the USA..., Where in Europe..., Where in Time..., and Where in America's Past..., all of which I played the shit out of.

Aging did not cure me of this obsession at all, and I've played at least three newer iterations of this game into adulthood. I'd happily play another one if it looked even the least bit promising. Then, when I was in junior high, a new game show based on Carmen Sandiego premiered, and I fell in love all over again. It was a well-designed show, and the only problem I ever had with it was some misplaced anger that I didn't get to be on it, and a bunch of idiotic kids did. Sometimes my anger turned to sympathy, because the final challenge could be as simple as identifying US states or as devious as differentiating the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Not only was the game show itself pretty amazing, but the theme song has been firmly entrenched in my brain for the past twenty years. It got to the point that I purchased an entire Rockapella album just so I could get my hands on the Carmen Sandiego song.

Towards the end of high school, yet another Carmen Sandiego property was released; this one was a cartoon show geared towards kids and preteens. Did that matter to me in the slightest? It did not.

I watched Where on Earth is Carmen Sandeigo? happily, and a few years ago, purchased the first season DVDs, which fills in wonderfully as a Laundry Show. I thought the matter would rest there until they finally make the movie I've heard whispers about or release a game for a new gaming system. But as I went about writing this entry, I happened upon a collection of all forty episodes of the cartoon for sale on Amazon. Yep, it's on the way. I will never outgrow Carmen Sandiego.


Jocelyn said...

That's awesome, now I will have the theme song stuck in my head ALL day!!

Limecrete said...

I know, right? It's a diabolical earworm.

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