TV Review – Carmen Sandiego: Season One

TL;DR – This is everything a Carmen Sandiego series needed to be, fun, informative, full of beautiful animation, and a cast giving their all.  

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Carmen Sandiego: Season One. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I grew up in the age before the internet, yes there was a time even before the internet yelled at you when you wanted to log on. It was an era when you would get games on floppy disks, both big and small, and it was here where I first met the elusive Carmen Sandiego. She was the final boss in an epic quest that took you from the streets of Reykjavik to Sydney and everywhere in-between as you hunted down VILE and recovered the stolen artefacts. When you have one of the touchstones of your first forays into the world of media getting another reboot, you tend to go in cautiously. However, I needn’t of worried because this was a joy from start to finish.    

So to set the scene, we open as Interpol agents Chase Devineaux (Rafael Petardi) and Julia Argent (Charlet Chung) run down the list of places Carmen (Gina Rodriguez) has recently hit, Art Galleries, Banks, … an amusement park …? The only clue she leaves is her presence in all red, announcing to the world who just robbed you. Well tonight she is in Poitiers, France, and the agents will stop at nothing to bring her in, but see Carmen is a master at what she does, and she has a little help thanks to Player (Finn Wolfhard). After a quick escape, Carmen makes it to the train only to be intercepted by Crackle (Michael Goldsmith) someone from her past. Well, since they have a lot of time on their hands before they reach Paris, Carmen relates to him the important story about how she became the world’s greatest thief. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

Carmen Sandiego: Season One. Image Credit: Netflix.
Gina Rodriguez brings amazing warmth and joy to the role of Carmen Sandiego. Image Credit: Netflix.

The first thing you will see with Carmen Sandiego is just how beautiful the animation is. The show uses a gorgeous stylised type of 2D animation that brings to life not only the characters but also the world they live in. That moment you first see Carmen Sandiego’s red outline cut a visage across the screen you know this show is going to be grand. Add to this, the animation style works wonderfully with the action sequences you find throughout the first season. Whether it is a car chase through the Indonesian Jungle, a brawl on top of a train, or race underwater, it all works. It also brings us into the world of every new place they visit across the series, from Uluru, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Eiffel Tower.  

While the animation is part of the puzzle, the other half is the cast that use their vocals to bring this universe into existence. Gina Rodriguez is the perfect choice to voice Carmen, because she brings warmth and joy to the role, while also giving it the authority it needs. The rest of the supporting cast also step to the occasion, and I loved the rapport between Carmen’s team of Player, Ivy (Abby Trott), and Zach (Michael Hawley).

Carmen Sandiego: Season One. Image Credit: Netflix.
The animation style used in Carmen Sandiego beautifully complements the world they are building here. Image Credit: Netflix.

As far as the story goes, I am glad that they changed up some of the lore this time round, because it gave the show a fresh feel. In this incarnation, Carmen is not the leader of VILE trying to steal the world’s artefacts and avoid getting caught by ACME. Indeed this time around, Carmen was a student of VILE only to get kicked out and discovering that VILE had darker intentions than just stealing stuff. So now she is stealing from VILE and thwarting their evil plans, while also dodging ACME which thinks she is part of VILE. This gives the show an electric feel as there are two spy agencies fighting each other with Carmen in the middle trying to do what is right. Now because this is a show aimed at a more younger audience there are a couple of things that you do have to let slide, like how it is doubtful that ACME would have recruited Chase (but even here there is pay off in the final episode).

The one thing that it still does is respect the roots from where the show originally came from, edutainment. Not only is this a fun romp across the world, finding us in San Francisco, or Amsterdam, it is also a show that also helps you learn about all sorts of things. Now while it does not get to the depth of the video games, you will be learning all about Indonesian agriculture, the works of Dutch master Vermeer and how he introduced light to his paintings, to the effects of altitude sickness (but like not the bends). Being able to entertain whilst also importing knowledge is what this show is built on and it is great to see.

Carmen Sandiego: Season One. Image Credit: Netflix.
We also get to visit the world and learn all about it, for example Uluru. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend Carmen Sandiego? Yes, yes we do. It is so rare to see a show that ticks every box, Animation, Acting, Action, Story, and Worldbuilding. It was a show full of joy from start to finish, and it will also have you wondering … “could I pull off an all red outfit?” I mean I couldn’t but I don’t know about you, you could just make it work. I thoroughly enjoyed all of Carmen Sandiego and I hope we get to see more of the story soon.    

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Carmen Sandiego yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Carmen Sandiego
Directed by
– Jos Humphrey & Kenny Park
Written by – Duane Capizzi, May Chan, Becky Tinker, Greg Enstrom   
Created by – Duane Capizzi
Based onCarmen Sandiego by Broderbund
Starring – Gina Rodriguez & Finn Wolfhard with Abby Trott, Michael Hawley, Rafael Petardi, Charlet Chung, Dawnn Lewis, Liam O’Brien, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Paul Nakauchi, Sharon Muthu, Toks Olagundoye, Michael Goldsmith, Kari Wahlgren, Andrew Pifko, Bernardo De Paula & Rita Moreno                

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