Carmen Sandiego: The True Story | NowThis Nerd

Hello and welcome to ACME! We're in the business of tracking down theives, and we're ultimately after one: Carmen Sandiego! Hello, gumshoes, I’m Versha, and today, we’re hot on the trail of the crimson-clothed queen of crime known as Carmen Sandiego From her humble origins in ‘80s edutainment software, to her ‘90s career in cartoons and game shows, all the way up to her brand new Netflix animated series, Carmen Sandiego has captured the imaginations of fans around the globe, along with all their landmarks and national treasures

But where did this criminal mastermind come from? How did she make the leap from computers to TV? And what drives her to pull off these monumental crimes? This is The True Story of Carmen Sandiego Carmen’s life of crime began in the ‘80s, at a small software company called Broderbund, where an ex-Disney animator, a future diplomat, and a team of talented programmers, created Carmen’s Digital Debut ‘Carmen Sandiego’ began as an experiment to add more user-friendly graphics and menus to traditional text-only adventures like ‘Colossal Cave’ Once the tech was in place, programmer Dane Bigham took it to two artists at Broderbund, Lauren Elliot and Gene Portwood, an ex-Disney animator who worked on films like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Lady and the Tramp,’ and together, they came up with the concept of chasing down criminals using clues and deductive reasoning Globetrotting Broderbund boss Gary Carlston suggested adding a geography theme, and including a massive copy of the World Almanac inside every box Now, all they needed was a name And characters

And a script That’s where writer David Siefkin came in He left shortly after submitting his draft to become a foreign service officer at embassies around the globe, but first, he came up with a rogues gallery of villains for the game then known as ‘World Quest’ Among his unusual suspects was a woman who immediately caught the attention of producer Katherine Bird: Carmen Sandiego Inspired by the Brazilian singing sensation Carmen Miranda, the name struck Bird as the perfect mix of excitement and intrigue

With its new title character, 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' offered would-be players a compelling question, and, more importantly, in a time where videogames were still considered toys for boys, it gave girl gamers an icon of their own The rest of the elements quickly fell into place, and when the game released for the Apple II in 1985, it slowly but surely became a hit, but not with the audience Broderbund had intended They never set out to make an educational game, thinking the label would kills its chances at retail But as word of mouth spread, teachers around the world snapped up copies for their classrooms, and soon, Broderbund followed up with a string of sequels that explored other academic disciplines GUILTY!!! The ACME Detective Agency chased Carmen and her sinister syndicate VILE, the Villains International League of Evil, across the U

SA, Europe, the solar system and the space-time continuum They even released an official spinoff called ‘Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?’ But even the glitz and glamor of Bismarck and Fargo weren’t enough for the ambitious thief Carmen was destined to become a Game Show Goddess After a National Geographic poll revealed that one in four Americans couldn’t locate the Pacific Ocean on a map, Can't belive that's true, but it is, PBS producers decided it was their duty to teach Geography to the youth of the nation, and simultaneously cash in on the kids game show craze kicked off by ‘Double Dare

’ Yes, it's 'Double Dare! We have made a mess! Oh, not quite there! They licensed Broderbund’s proven ‘Carmen Sandiego’ concept, and adapted the plodding eight-bit games into a vibrant, fast-paced and funny TV show ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ debuted on September 30, 1991, with Nickelodeon vet Greg Lee as the host, animated interstitials featuring Carmen and her VILE goons, and a legendary theme song provided by the house band Rockapella Where is the world is Carmen Sandiego? The most delightful deviation from the games came in the form of the Chief In the original release, you only interacted with ACME through an impersonal computer readout, but as the Chief, Tony-winning actress Lynne Thigpen stole the show with her booming voice, awesome alliterations, and pun-loving personality You're promoted! And I salute you! Her performance was so iconic that she was later retconned into the games, providing videos and voiceover for CD-ROM remakes of the earlier titles

PBS produced 296 episodes of ‘Where in the World,’ though not all of them aired In 1992, during filming of the show’s brutal bonus round, where contestants sprint around planting sirens on a massive map, a gumshoe fell and broke her arm halfway through her run The entire show was scrapped, but that’s not the only episode that was pulled from the airwaves Between production of the first and second seasons, the show was faced with a teeny tiny problem: The Soviet Union dissolved, forever changing the geopolitical landscape, And adding 15 new countries to the map It instantly rendered the first season obsolete, and as a result, producers pulled every episode from reruns, and going forward, they added a new disclaimer from the Chief stating that: all geographical information was accurate as of the date this program was recorded

After five seasons, seven Daytime Emmys, and a Peabody Award, ‘Where in the World’ quietly ended its impressive run PBS quickly followed up with a sequel series, ‘Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?’ but even with fancy new graphics and Lynne Thigpen reprising her role, the magic just wasn’t there, and it ended after only two seasons We were still no closer to catching Carmen and answering the ultimate mystery: Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The original games never delved much into the backstory of Carmen Isabella Sandiego The manual mentioned that she was ‘a former spy for the Intelligence Service of Monaco,’ but beyond that, Broderbund was more concerned with teaching kids the capital of Peru, than exploring the villain’s past The game shows didn’t offer much insight either, although listening in on Carmen’s phone calls revealed that she had little patience for her bumbling crew of crooks

This thing's getting awful heavy! Quit your bellyaching Take the monument to Monument Valley, and hide it behind a butte Butt? Butte! Butte, you brute! The 1994 animated series ‘Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?’ was the first real attempt to flesh out the character’s lore, still educational, but more narrative and story-driven than the software and game shows that came before Guided by a mysterious live-action ‘player,’ ACME gumshoes Zack and Ivy teamed up with a holographic AI CHIEF to capture Carmen at all costs The woman herself was voiced by none other than Rita Moreno, the legendary, EGOT-winning actor and singer from ‘The King and I’ and ‘West Side Story

’ You'll really have to get over the obsession for law and order if you're gonna work with me, detectives ‘Earth’ is where we got our first glimpse into Carmen’s origins, as a brilliant orphan who was taken in by ACME, and quickly rose to be their greatest detective by the age of 17 ACME detective Carmen Sandiego! Don't worry, I'll get this back to you You call the fire department! When catching criminals grew boring, she struck out on her own, founded VILE, and orchestrated outrageous capers under her strict moral code As the series went on, Carmen showed a softer side, and even teamed up with her old ACME alma mater to take down less scrupulous villains, like Tim Curry’s Dr

Gunnar Maelstrom You can't arrest me now! It was to be mine! All mine! The games that followed ‘Earth’ continued to use variations on this origin, but it’s hard to peg down a single ‘Carmen’ canon Broderbund folded in 1998, and the series’ rights passed to The Learning Company, the creators of ‘Reader Rabbit’ and ‘Super Solvers’ that was owned at the time by “Mr Wonderful” himself, Kevin O’Leary You're a butthead

Get the heck outta here! Ohh! They churned out a bunch of ‘Carmen’ titles that failed to reach the same heights as the original classics Not even a 2011 Facebook game at the tail-end of the ‘Farmville’ craze could bring her back to the mainstream, and the franchise faded into obscurity For years, rumors swirled about a big-budget live action movie starring Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lopez, who would have been awesome, but the project died in development hell, and it looked like Carmen had slipped through our fingers for good, until Netflix announced a new animated series for 2019 Starring ‘Jane the Virgin’ actor Gina Rodriguez as the titular thief, the new cartoon offers an in-depth, radically different look at Carmen’s origins Instead of founding VILE, Carmen is actually a defector

She learns the ropes through their “crime school,” has a falling out, and teams up with Finn Wolfhard to steal the world’s treasure before VILE can get their grubby mitts on them Carmen has always been portrayed as a noble, gentlewoman thief, but she’s never been a straight-up hero before Code red It’s an odd choice, but understandable, and there’s still plenty of time for her to descend into villainy Rodriguez has also signed on for a live-action movie, so maybe the grown-up Carmen will realize the error of her ways and embrace evil once again

I serve for honor! For evil! Forever! Yes! Either way, her true goal is far more important than the next big score Over the last thirty years, Carmen Sandiego has taught millions of kids about other countries and cultures, encouraged them to explore, and showed them just how big, diverse, and vibrant the world can be Thanks for watching everyone, I can’t believe Carmen is finally coming back! What’s your favorite memory of the franchise? Did you play the games after school? Did you like the cartoon? Are you the girl who broke her arm? Are you okay? Leave a comment, let me know, Please subscribe to NTN, and one more thing: DO IT ROCKAPELLA! [a]split

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