Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego is meant to be a family-friendly series on Netflix. We are reviewing it as such, the series consists of twenty half-hour long episodes, the first season being nine. The Daily Fandom has a screener for the first five episodes, which we will review and analyze for writing, animation, and effectiveness.
If you are any sort of ’90s kid, you remember Carmen Sandiego. She used to have a cartoon block on Saturday, one of the best shows in the universe. When The Daily Fandom found out that Carmen Sandiego was coming back, we had to get our hands on it. For nostalgia and for the newer generation — how will they learn about Carmen Sandiego?
This series is set in modern day. Carmen is a modern-day Robin Hood; traveling the globe, stealing V.I.L.E. and giving it back to its victims. Carmen, of course, is considered to be a criminal for all intent and purposes by law enforcement. Well, a master criminal, but it depends on who is asking. In this fresh new modern series, we follow Carmen’s escapades and get to determine just who in the world is this Carmen Sandiego?
101: Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part I
The voice of Carmen is Gina Rodriguez and the voice of Player is Finn Wolfhard. Together they comprise the immediate team of the series. In the first episode, Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part 1, we learn a lot about who Carmen Sandiego was. This is a great addition for newcomers who don’t know about the Sandiego lore. Or even who Carmen Sandiego is. In Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part 1, Black Sheep (before she was Carmen) goes back to before she started her stint as the thief she is today. Being born and left with a series of nannies and eventually V.I.L.E.
She was born to be a thief, born to run her own show, and was born to be the wittiest and quickest there ever was. We, in turn, see that she met Player when she was young at V.I.L.E. Since, they have been friends. The characters we see from her teenage-hood at V.I.L.E. are going to be of importance. Gray (Crackle) especially and Mime Bomb. Nonetheless, the background information we get in this episode drives the first of the season home. Seeing the first part of how she became who she was is important to even answer the question: Who is Carmen Sandiego?
102: Becoming Carmen Sandiego: Part II
At the conclusion of Carmen Sandiego’s origin story, we get a finale to Gray, what she stole, Player, and who she is now. This is a grand beginning to the series as we see just how she got her name, escaped V.I.L.E., and became the one-player show she is today at the present time of the episode. Much has happened since she has become Black Sheep, but you get the intent that she wouldn’t change it for the world. That is what’s admired about Carmen Sandiego, she is and always will be comfortable with her past, present, and future. She is quite the anti-hero in this show and it works. It works well. The second half of Becoming Carmen Sandiego leaves on a cliffhanger that answers two questions: Where and who is Carmen Sandiego?
The Carmen Sandiego Production & Animation
To say this show is intricately created doesn’t suffice. The animation is out-of-this-world enchanting for a family, kids-centered show. Usually, the animation tiers on the edge of playfulness and sophistication; but, here, we get elegant animation from the creators of the series. The series is written by May Chan, the producer is Brian Hulme, the series animation director is Flavia Guttler, and the storyboard was created by a wonderful team. There are so many names behind this project, however, they all created such an outstanding animation.
We were happy to see that the show was being rebooted, but we were more excited to see it was coming back as its original animation. A live-action film is in the works as of March 2018. However, this brings home that nostalgia effect for anyone who knows the series from the ’90s. If you are a parent and battle every day with what your child can and cannot watch, this is a quality show for both of you. It has adventure and compelling writing, but it keeps that capricious tone for the children. It’s not so whimsical that you don’t find enjoyment, however.
As someone in their mid-twenties, I enjoyed this a lot. The animation and story are just outstanding and I could very well sit here and review all twenty episodes with no issue. I was so intrigued with the plot that the half an hour went by quicker than I thought for each installment.
Will We Keep Watching Carmen Sandiego?
This first episode got us hooked on the story they will provide for Carmen Sandiego. When they say “She’s Back,” they mean it. She is back and better than ever for 2019. The few pros we enjoyed about this premiere episode
103: Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego: ‘Sticky Rice Caper’
In this episode, V.I.L.E. is sneaking around and Carmen wants to know what they are up to. As you can tell by the title, they are onto rice, which Carmen finds out and stops. They wanted to put something in the rice to get people to buy it from them and no one else — making them millionaires. Everyone loves rice, right? Carmen meets the same foes she introduced in the first two episodes, and I love how this is all coming back to the present. However, someone is still looking for Carmen. If we know one is V.I.L.E., who are all of these others looking for Carmen? That is where this
What We Loved About ‘The Sticky Rice Caper’
If you read our previous review, we covered Becoming Carmen Sandiego Part I & II. In those two episodes, Carmen was becoming who she had been all along, however, we got a glimpse into how she became to be the thief she is today. From her childhood, to meeting Player, to having a few enemies along the way; Carmen Sandiego has made her way by herself. After the two premiere episodes, we will now talk about the third and fourth episodes before our overall review of the series. Now, where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Zack and Ivy make up Carmen’s team (they are siblings), and Carmen always has a team. They are the eyes and ears of her operation including Player. After the first two episodes introducing Sandiego, this third episode gets into what the show actually is. If you remember the original series, you always got facts from the show. Just random facts about places, people, and things — Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego does this just as well. In the third episode, ‘The Sticky Rice Caper,’ we get interesting facts about Indonesia. Again, this is a family-friendly show so we loved that aspect, especially if you are watching with the kids and having a family night. Honestly, even if you are watching it by yourself, there are still some great interesting facts about Indonesia.
104: Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego: The Fishy Doubloon Caper
In the next episode, we learn more educational, fun facts. Again, this will be the theme, and we love it. Even as a twenty-something-year-old, we are learning a few new tidbits about places we have never been to. Even more so, we rarely learn from television shows anymore (if they are not on PBS or National Geographic). It’s nice to have Carmen Sandiego back and as the same informational thief that she’s always been. She may be more of an anti-hero or ‘good guy’ in this series, but it works for us.
The story of how she came to be Carmen and Black Sheep appends to the fact of her being an anti-hero character. Once evil, but not really evil — basically Catwoman. It’s a typical comic book trope, but better. Nonetheless, this episode is about Ecuador — and a treasured coin that V.I.L.E. wants. We also learn who the spying team is — the ones that want to know Carmen’s every move. They want to take V.I.L.E. down and suddenly this takes the series on a new turn.
The Format Of Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego
This episode, such as the previous ones, is similar in taste. The episodes will be a basic format of:
- Carmen finds a case (or finds something V.I.L.E. wants.
- Carmen goes to take it before V.I.L.E. does.
- V.I.L.E. gets there at the same time as Carmen and her team.
- Carmen beats V.I.L.E. badly.
- Then Carmen saves the day and helps someone.
- Along the way, we get cool fun facts.
- Player — because he’s awesome.
- And Carmen’s great outfits.
By the same token, the previous episode did the same. However, this episodic format works for the style of show it is. We hone in on the family-friendly, but when we say it we mean it. If you are going into this show looking for PG-13 or an adult version of the series, it’s not that. It is truly going to be an informational family-friendly series on Netflix. That means the episodes are quite formulaic, they tend to follow the same general basis as shown above.
105: ‘The Duke Of Vermeer Caper’
The last episode before our (thus far) season review ends with The Duke Of Vermeer Caper. As the previous reviews go, this episode is similar. If you read our review of 103 & 104 above, then this episode might remind you of the format. Nonetheless, we won’t spoil or give any insight into this particular episode because it is the last of our review series before you watch them all. We will say, after this episode — the rest of the series will be similar.
Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego — Should You Watch?
If you like the family-friendly information Netflix series, this will do it for you. We watched the first five, and although it is said to be twenty for the entire series, it’s a good television show to watch and maybe clean/do work alongside it; that is, if you are above the age of a teenager, if you are a child, or have children, this is a perfect show. Twenty episodes will keep them occupied with a classic story for a new generation. The appeal of having twenty episodes is fantastic for children.
Again, that being said, the appeal is ages 6-11 or parents. Do not go into this show thinking it was made specifically for adults because it is not. With that being said, Carmen Sandiego is adventurous and so much fun to be a part of. We had a blast watching this series. And we would do it all over again. We cannot wait to watch the rest of the series coming out on the 18th.