Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego: Binge or Cringe? Full Review!



There was no right or wrong. Thievery was a competition. A game.
               -Carmen Sandiego


*acapella original theme song*  What’s up gumeshoes! Agent Claire here from A.C.M.E. and unfortunately the Nard Dog never taught me how to properly acapella my heart out, but hopefully you recognized some of the notes from the Rockapella hit and super catchy original game show theme song ‘ Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” Which brings us to today’s topic: Is Netflix’s 90’s reboot an overrated gem and totally worth the binge? Or is it more cringe? Gumshoes, let’s find out!


Don’t call it a comeback! But Carmen Sandiego is back on our TV screens and gliding into our hearts. This reboot is truly a reboot rather than a revival. A revival is a continuation of the classic series, much like the revival of Dr. Who – which has constant call-back’s and references of the classic series. While I don’t remember much from the original Carmen Sandiego cartoon series turned out that lack of memory was no problem  as it was completely different and never referred to her past adventures. In fact the show focuses more on how she became Carmen Sandiego, so it’s almost an origin story rather than a reboot. That is, if the original show decides to consider the Netflix version part of Carmen’s cannon.


[bctt tweet=”In fact the show focuses more on how she became Carmen Sandiego, so it’s almost an origin story rather than a reboot.”]

I did find a channel on YouTube airing the classic cartoon, and I have to say: I remember loving the game show’s acapella theme song much better than the cartoon’s theme song. However I did like the cartoon’s acme team and how they made it a video game, asking the “Player” to “C5” them to the location they have to go to catch Carmen.


However, in Netflix’s version, it’s more like real life and “Player” is a hacker from Canadian and Carmen’s first friend from the outside world of the thieving academy.


While Zach and Ivy were in the original cartoon, and also siblings, they worked for ACME in the original that helped catch Carmen Sandiego rather than be her alley like in Netflix’s version. So if you do have a great memory, and remember the cartoon well; you might be a bit thrown off.
After watching a few episodes of the classic cartoon on YouTube (link will be posted below!) I thought it was a nice touch on the Netflix original that they kept Zach and Ivy as siblings. It’d be interesting if we get more of a background for these sidekicks in Season 2, to see if like Carmen if they also have a background in thievery.


While some of the critics online are disappointed that Carmen’s a hero, I say: hold the phone! Yes she considers herself not to be a bad guy, in the eyes of the law: she’s a master villainous thief! I love the duplexity element of being a ‘lawful evil’ type character.


Another cute twist they added was when, and if, Carmen gets a profit she picks her “favorite charity” to “donate” the funds. This reminds me of Facebook, which gives us the option to donate to a charity of choice rather than gifts from friends.


It was also cute that the detective’s assistant is much more astute than he was. It was very real world that the white man gets credit for a woman’s theory or idea. Hey, I’m just saying! I think, however, Carmen agrees with me when she helps Julia by letting her be the one to put a stolen artifact back in it’s rightful place.


And if you’re watching this rebooted series and thinking that the story is very well written for a “kids show” and feels VERY 90’s … you would be correct! I don’t think it’s a fluke the show feels that way, either. I think it’s because it was written by Duane Capizzi. After checking it out on Wikipedia, it turns out he also worked on 90’s greats like Disney’s animated series Aladdin, Tale Spin, Bonkers, and more! I hope that Carmen Sandiego gets a greenlight for season 2, because that’s a seriously talented writer!

[bctt tweet=”I hope that Carmen Sandiego gets a greenlight for season 2, because that’s a seriously talented writer!”]

In season 2 I hope for some more historical and geological facts given by Player and Carmen. Their banter is totally cute and it reminds me a lot of Carmen Sandiego’s origins by being an educational computer game. The writer’s make the knowledge fit naturally in the the show’s flow, and doesn’t interrupt it or in your face like the 90’s cartoon was about the facts. It’d be cute if Player makes it like a game show for her, nodding to the 90’s awesome gameshow of the same franchise.


But in season 1, I give it total binge status! It’s animation style reminds me of Samurai Jack’s animation with the dark lines and bold colors. It did take a little getting used to, Carmen Sandiego’s show style. But by the end of episode 1, I was totally hooked!


As a 90’s kid, a fan of the original show AND the game show, I give Netflix’s reboot: a binge status! YAY! Is worth giving it a day to watch if you’ve got some time to kill, but I enjoyed watching an episode a night and stretching it out.


Carmen and Player’s banter was totally my fave part of the show, but Carmen’s backstory mystery kept me guessing the whole time. Zach and Ivy give the show comedic relief, especially Zach, and they aren’t too annoying about it.


Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego is a good fit for both parents and kids to enjoy and everyone in between! If you’re craving the 90’s, this is a great show to wet your appetite!


So what’s on Netflix tonight for you? It just might be Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego!


How about you, what did you think of the news when it was released, have you watched it yet? What did you think? Let’s chat in the comments!


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