Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

A 1980s National Geographic survey revealed one in four people could not locate The Soviet Union on a map or the Pacific Ocean. I know cocaine was big in the 80s but did it make everyone that stupid? The Soviet Union was pretty much half of Europe. You could accidentally point it out. And the Pacific Ocean, you basically have a one in two shot. Because everyone was so stupid PBS decided to create a TV show based on a popular computer game, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The result was terrifying.

(I still can’t decide if this theme song is awesome or if my ears are bleeding because I have a brain tumor)

I was one of the last people to get a computer. Actually, that’s not fair to say. Probably like 60% of the world still has never used a computer. I was the last person who matters to get a computer. Hey, if people are too dumb to know where our enemies are located I should be free to insult most of the planet. My point I’m trying to make is I never got to really play the computer game. I know it was all about using geography clues to find out where criminal Carmen Sandiego was. This is what is often referred to us “disguised learning” or preferably “parents not working hard enough to show their kids that education is valuable.”

The show had many similarities to the game. The main goal was to locate Carmen Sandiego. There were two main actors on the show who tried to help you win but not really. They were The Chief played by a woman. No wonder Carmen Sandiego was always getting away, a woman was in charge of catching her. There was also another guy named Greg Lee. According to Wikipedia he was very goofy, which is the same adjective I would use to describe a pedophile.


(Greg is the guy on the far left in the blue. The commissioner is the black lady. The other guys are currently unemployed)

Three rounds made up the show. Three rounds are also the amount of bullets you’d want in a gun if you were to watch this show with friends. Really, it was nothing special.

The first round was incredibly confusing and took a lot of geographical guessing. The lightning round was used as a simple comedy skit to add some “Crime Bucks” to the player’s scores. Following that was the Phone Tap round. This involved looking through a fake trash can then listening to a conversation in an attempt to figure out what location on earth they were talking about. After watching The Wire I know how boring phone tapping can be. It’s all about getting an avadavat which for some reason judges never want to give. The last part of round one was called The Chase and the Wikipedia description makes no sense so let’s pretend I’m not just looking at that page to get all this information.

cleaver mclean

(A show’s contestant with possibly the worst name ever. It sounds like a really bad Irish porn star)

Round two began with one player having been eliminated after the first. The remaining two contestants would have images of famous landmarks flashed in front of them. They were to guess the locations of these places. Like for instance if they showed a gay nightclub you would know to guess anywhere north of the Mason Dixon line, east of Philadelphia, and south of Connecticut. Basically, New York. I know they like gays in Vermont too but people in Vermont don’t like night clubs. Have you ever tried to kiss a man in 10 degree weather? I’m not going to answer that question because you don’t need to know what I do with my life.

The final round came last as is the order of the Universe. This was the opportunity for the final contestant to try to catch Carmen Sandiego. I was never a huge fan of the show but I saw enough episodes to know kids rarely managed to catch her. The host would call out the names of different cities or random places and the child would have to place a light-up thing on the proper location from an impossible to see map on the floor. I never like a game show where “the house wins” because it’s an excuse for them to not give out any prizes.

carmen sandiego

(A woman who looks like this cannot simply disappear)

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego could have been a great show if only the kids had a chance to win. I’m surprised more shows like this aren’t popping up now. You don’t have to pay too many people and you never have to give out prizes. And the prizes they gave away on these shows were just advertisements for Florida anyway. Why am I so bitter about a fake female criminal? She had nothing to do with this. If anything she was against the show. Carmen is good in my book.

(I ended up watching an episode. It’s incredibly cringe-worthy and the contestants look miserable. The best part starts at 6:15. Please watch it and realize these kids are just completely guessing)

26 thoughts on “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

  1. Omg this is awful. I love how amazing the kid’s guesses were. I would’ve been completely clueless like them. No joke. I lasted probably 14 seconds into the song at the top. It’s too painful.

    Nice piece. I think we had the computer game, but my brother outshone me on it because he knew every capital to every country in the world at 7 years old. Normal.

    • When I searched on YouTube it said this was the last episode they had. I actually wrote most of this piece before I watched it, but I figured why not waste a half hour and be more knowledgeable?

      I may have known all of the state capitals when I was 7. However I did not know other countries existed let alone had capitals.

    • I remember thinking the show was so awesome when I was younger. I’m not sure if I was too stupid or young to think that way. Thank goodness for YouTube to set me straight.

  2. I was never entirely clear that Carmen Sandiego was a criminal. I thought she was like a lost agent or something and that you were supposed to help find her. Since I couldn’t even understand these basic facts then I can’t imagine how poorly I’d actually do on the show. “Where is Africa?” “Erm, paperclips?”

    I did always like those jackets the contestants got to wear. I convinced myself that they got to keep them at the end of the show, but more likely they had to be passed down from contestant to contestant and lice infested the collar.

  3. People were all sorts of trippy in the 80’s, weren’t they? Kinda makes you think if there was a worldwide, invisible, toxic-waste leak or something.

    THANK YOU for convincing me to watch that horrendous half hour show before I sleep. I’m now positive of the nightmares. The questions are too difficult for starters–I can’t even get through the first round without my self-esteem bruised.

    And it embarrasses me to watch something so….so EMBARRASSING! And that guy host! He’s like a gay inmate at Hell prison the way he screams. I hate him. He’s probably a pedophile too judging the way the kids cringe every time he opens his mouth. But he can juggle so I forgive him.

    • Now you’re going to bed? You should be waking up now. You weren’t kidding about being off schedule.

      That video is a perfect example of trying to be funny when it’s not even necessary. Everything is so forced. You can’t have humor around children with cameras flashing. Children are incredibly unfunny. Juggling wins your heart? Who knew…

      • I really can’t decide what made me cringe more – him or your joke about the Pope and your first. I can just imagine the embarrassment you felt. I just wanted to facepalm but peek between my pinkie and ring finger reading through that painful experience. The buildup was just the right amount too. Seriously, you had some guts! 😀

      • The Pope joke was actually one of the funnier things I said that night, somehow. Was it so much a joke though? It was more of a bad idea I would never follow through with.

      • Hmm, yeah. I guess it was better than your “brother”. That was just… o.O

        Do you still have the video? Do a back-up copy of it. I mean, however “bad” it was,, when you’re 80 and you don’t care about anything anymore, you might want to watch it and it would be so bad if you lost or ruined the copy “accidentally” wouldn’t it?

      • I can’t remember if I kept it or not when I last moved. I got rid of a lot of crap. Do you really think I’ll live to be 80? I’d really rather not.

  4. can you dine me up for a fan club letter I yoused to watch the show when it was still on tv I wish it was still on – Stan Whitaker 1030 market st.apt#607 Parkersburg, wv 26101 whizkid607@ yahoo.com thank you whiz kid

  5. Wow. Really? Are we all talking about the same show?!? Sure it was goofy and cornball, even for it’s time, but I still loved it. Yes, I had a TREMENDOUS crush on the host Greg Lee, but my love for the show was more to it than that. I was initially a fan of the computer game. I CRUSHED it. It got to the point where the highest level got boring. So of course I was thrilled to learn about the show. I loved it in all it’s corny glory. And of course I thought Greg was such a dreamboat. I, too, excelled at the answers of the show. I was one of those viewers who’d wave their arms in exasperated frustration & yell the answer while the contestant onscreen was choking. Hey, it’s the closest thing a kid had to Jeopardy at the time (which I also watched, but didn’t enjoy as much as Carmen Sandiego). My mother sat in on an episode and was sure I’d make a great contestant and encouraged me to apply….RIGHT up until she found out that involved travelling to NYC. Then she changed her mind and withdrew her support. Thanks for raising my hopes, Ma :-\ I then involved myself in the process of raising my own money and was making inquiries about applying anyway. I had never been to NYC at the time, plus it promised a chance to meet my heartthrob Greg Lee. It was then that I found out that the episode I had just watched was in fact the FINAL episode…not of the season, but the series! I refused to accept it and it didn’t sink in, even amidst the year of reruns, until… that abominable “Where in TIME is Carmen Sandiego?” Oh. My. God. You thought “where in the world” was bad?? This was louder, brighter, dumber. The set was still there, but the decor was gutted and replaced with spacey looking crap. Gone was Greg Lee. Replaced by some dude whom all I remember wasn’t the same. Rockapella was replaced by 4-5 godawful singing dancers who moved and emoted like they’re on WAY too much caffeine. Lyrics were sung in a William Shatner fashion. Dance moves were too literal in relation to the lyrics (Example: Lyrics:”where in time is Carmen Sandiego?” Dance moves while singing: throwing up arms in a shrug “Where…” pointing at their wrists “…in time”, a spin with a “lookout” gesture of a hand horizontally across their forehead “Is Carmen Sandiego?” and a bouncy trot in place. Reminds me of SNL’s Sting dance audition skit, except THAT was MEANT to be comical!). I can’t help BUT remember “where in time”, it’s scarred into my memory. I had a “Say it ain’t so” moment with Lynn Thigpen for agreeing to stick around for this, but I guess she needed money too. I’m surprised my face didn’t melt upon viewing it, like those Nazi generals when they gazed upon the ark in Indiana Jones! I tell you, it should have!


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