Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, the computer game/game show/cartoon that tricked an entire generation of kids into learning, is back. Netflix has ordered 20 episodes of a new animated series based on the popular early-90s computer game, according to The Tracking Board. Like previous incarnations, the new series will aim to be both entertaining and educational. If any series can pull that off, it’s this one. I can’t think of any other childhood experience that made geography so much fun.
The series has already cast its Master Thief too. Gina Rodriguez, star of the CW hit Jane the Virgin, will voice Carmen Sandiego. The Golden Globe-winning actress is a fantastic choice for the role. Somehow a telenovela adaptation seems like the perfect preparation to play a thief capable of stealing the Statue of Liberty or the Great Wall of China.
The original series was a live action game show that ran for five seasons between 1991 and 1995. Kid contestants answered geography questions and looked for clues throughout the show’s comedy sketches and games. They were guided by the chief, played by the late Lynne Thigpen. She also played the role in some of the later PC games. The chief for the new series hasn’t been cast yet. The theme song and the comedy sketches were sung by a Capella group, Rockapella. Just hearing part of the song once was enough to get it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The new series isn’t a game show, so sadly, there will be no Rockapella. As an animated series, it could possibly be closer to FOX’s Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, which ran for four seasons in the mid-to-late ’90s. That show followed two young detectives who tried to track down Carmen Sandiego and get back whatever she stole. Though they usually succeeded in returning the stolen artifact, the sleuths never actually captured Carmen Sandiego. (Though they did team up with her a few times to stop a criminal who was actually evil.) That show featured time travel as well as world travel, adding some history to the geography facts. Also, the whole thing took place inside a computer game, with the characters frequently interacting with the live-action player. It was a great cartoon, and if the new series is anything like it, today’s kids are in for a treat.
Like the game show, Where on Earth also had an awesome theme song, so the stakes are high for the new series on that front. Better get some great songwriters in for this one, Netflix.