Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part 1
Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part 2
The Sticky Rice Caper
The Fishy Doubloon Caper
The Duke of Vermeer Caper
The Opera in the Outback Caper
The Chasing Paper Caper
The Lucky Cat Caper
The French Connection Caper
Entertaining, educational and exciting, Carmen Sandiego is a thrilling spy ride tailored much more toward kids than it is adults. Split across 9 episodes, this espionage tale takes props from the original game series of the same name but feels very similar in both tone and style to fellow kids’ crime series Kim Possible. Thankfully, Carmen’s blend of unique, artistic aesthetics with a host of educational content provide enough originality to avoid the show feeling too similar to Disney’s crime-fighting heroine. The open ending and globe-trotting format of the show leave the door wide open for a possible second season but there’s enough to warrant a second if audiences take to this heroine.
The story begins with an admittedly slow two-parter that sheds light on Carmen Sandiego’s past and how she got into the spy business. From her induction into V.I.L.E. spy school and her subsequent mission to go rogue after refusing to take part in their villainous ways, the rest of the episodes see her thwarting V.I.L.E’s plans while stealing treasure from them in the process. With each episode dedicated to a different villain from her class to stop, the middle portion of the series features a fair few standalone episodes that all follow the same formula. These episodes open with a bit of exposition followed by a good chunk of facts and statistics around the country in question before launching Carmen and her crew into the heart of the action. The last part of the episode sees Carmen face to face with the main villain and they inevitably fight with our hero saving the day.
All of this culminates in a final stand alone episode that ties everything we’ve seen thus far together with Carmen coming face to face with her past. It’s at this point where a whole host of revealing secrets are uncovered, including a surprise revelation from one of the organisation’s most prestigious teachers. The series ends with Carmen hopeful for the future and a wide, sweeping shot of her looking out at the horizon.
There’s a whole host of colourful characters used here too and although the story opens with Carmen Sandiego operating alone, we’re quickly introduced to the rest of her team after the two parter, with the exception of Player who’s only reachable via intercom. On the other side of the spectrum are the various villains whom we get accustomed to over the course of 9 episodes. On top of this we’re also introduced to Agent Divineaux, who acts as the wildcard of the series, operating on behalf of a company called ACME in tracking down Carmen and bringing her to justice, convinced she’s the one responsible for stealing artifacts.
The inclusion of slapstick humour and interesting facts about different countries around the globe give the series a distinct educational flavour and in that respect, Carmen Sandiego is a series that’s likely to be much more appealing to kids than it is adults. The art style helps too, with bold lines around each character’s eyes and a whole host of interesting angles and scenes used to emphasize the impressive work done with the visual design. Whether it be seeing a blood-red sunset filtering through the windows or the blur effects used on train segments to give off the impression of speed, Carmen Sandiego continuously impresses throughout with its keen eye toward the visual elements of this series.
At the end of the show, there’s a moment where it’s made clear this isn’t the end of Carmen Sandiego. There’s more chapters to this crime-fighting heroine to uncover and with plenty of locations on offer around the world, it’ll be interesting to see how this show is received from kids and adults alike. There’s enough here to make for a thoroughly entertaining thrill ride from start to finish but if you’re not sold on the concept after a few episodes, it’s unlikely you’ll stick around to see how this one plays out. The way the finale ties everything we’ve seen together is a really nice touch though and the open ending actually leaves the series hanging on an optimistic note rather than a cliffhanger.
Verdict - 7.5/10