Carmen Sandiego





Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

“There was no right or wrong. Thievery was a competition and a game.”

This was Black Sheep’s motto until she learned the truth.

Found on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Black Sheep was orphaned as an infant and brought to a remote island, home to an upscale corporation called V.I.L.E. The initials supposedly stand for “Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports.” The real name? Villains International League of Evil.

Black Sheep enrolled in the league as its youngest thief in training. Competing with, and against, fellow thieves (Graham Crackle, Le Chevre, El Topo, Tigress and Mime Bomb) she had to prove herself worthy. However, when it came time for final examinations, Black Sheep didn’t make the cut. Or so her instructor said. So, she took matters into her own hands.

One night, as the graduate thieves embarked on their first mission, Black Sheep followed. She learned that her fellow classmates were not just stealing, they were tasked to go to any extreme necessary to make sure that no witnesses survived.

Intent on separating herself from the violence and lies told to her as a child, Black Sheep shed her old coat and took up a new identity as Carmen Sandiego, a.k.a. the Crimson Ghost.

Now, she travels with a few new cohorts who work to keep her safe: white-hat hacker, Player, and brother and sister duo, Zack and Ivy. Together, this band of modern-day heroes work together to outsmart baddies, fight for what’s right and explore the world looking for the truth about Carmen’s birth parents.

And though evil operatives in V.I.L.E. may try to catch her, they all marvel at her ability to disappear. “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” they wonder.

Where indeed.

All Around the World Since 1985

In the real world, the character of Carmen Sandiego began on a desktop. Originally released as an educational mystery video game (one that I played a lot), players had to catch Carmen, or one of her henchmen, as they learned about geography. In each game, Carmen was never exactly the good girl.

Until now.

Netflix’s 2019 animated series, Carmen Sandiego portrays the loveable thief from a much sunnier perspective. She’s a former thief-gone-good. Sure, she still steals things, but only from the hands of V.I.L.E., and only to give them back to the rightful owners.

Carmen is spunky, fierce and has fun sight-seeing as a modern-day Robin Hood. Yes, as with any show about thieves, you’ll see people stealing high-profile artifacts and dishing out kicks, punches, deadly weapons and scary stunts. But language is never an issue, and rarely is attire.

It’s all thieving fun over here with Carmen Sandiego as she trots around the globe, evading one would-be captor after another.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 1, 2020: “The Luchadora Tango Caper”

In this Season Three premiere, V.I.L.E. operatives move their academy location to Scotland, hoping to stay under the radar and capture Carmen Sandiego. Carmen searches for her birth mother in Mexico.

Professional wrestlers fight and grapple with one another. Carmen wards off new, evil academy graduates by throwing out kicks and punches. A few creepy villains at V.I.L.E try to capture and eliminate Carmen.

A wrestler wears fishnet stockings as part of her outfit. A woman hints at making a man tremble with fear. A couple dance the tango.

Jan. 18, 2019: “Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part 1 & 2”

While stealing a valuable jewel, Carmen Sandiego runs into an old pal from former criminal school, V.I.L.E., where she’s forced to recount her past in order to escape. Carmen’s past includes her story as an orphan and her upbringing at V.I.L.E. She introduces her fellow classmates (Graham Crackle, Le Chevre, El Topo, Tigress and Mime Bomb), shares her journey as the youngest thief-recruit and recounts her parting from V.I.L.E. and how she became the organization’s most determined adversary.

Carmen, known as the “Crimson Ghost,” dodges arrows, punches and any weapon tossed her way. She, along with many other theives, punch, kick and use lethal weapons. Carmen doesn’t harm others, but the other theives do (a few people are knocked out and one man is nearly killed with a weapon). We hear that theives steal money, jewels and other important valuables. A young boy helps Carmen hack into criminal systems.

There are a few high-speed car chases, hand-to-hand combat sessions and risky moves, including jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. A man falls from a building onto a car (still alive), an airbag goes off, a government agent yells and young children pull pranks.

A devilish-looking dragon is plastered on the walls of a classroom. A boy’s pants fall down, revealing boxers. A group of kids get detention. A girl is intentionally mean to another. A boy is called “weird” and a girl threatens, “I’m going to have your hide.”

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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