Like moths to a flame, the reboots keep coming. But not all reboots are made the same.
I’m pretty sure many of us who grew up in the 90s would remember the name “Carmen Sandiego”. If you don’t, who in the world deprived you of a childhood!? But don’t fret, you’ll be able to get a taste of Carmen in Netflix’s new animated series “Carmen Sandiego”.
The franchise started off in 1985 and spawned a series of edutainment games which focused on discovering the world with the latest entry being released in 2015. During that time, the franchise also saw the creation of a series of tv shows from game shows to an animated series.
Reboot with a Face
The new Netflix animated series “Carmen Sandiego” has a major difference when it comes to comparing with the original DIC-produced series, is that the title character now has a face. Unlike the original, you aren’t following a group of A.C.M.E. detectives in pursuit of Carmen Sandiego. Instead, we’re following the title character through her exploits foiling the plans of V.I.L.E.
While this does take away from the original premise of hunting down the villainess, it does paint Carmen Sandiego as a Robin Hood like character with surprising depth. The animators and writers keep her signature silhouette while giving her a depth of character and charm that make you wonder why it was not done sooner.
Compelling Characters & Character Development
In what can only be considered a nod to good writing, throughout the nine episodes of the first season, you develop a sense of compassion for not only Carmen Sandiego but also for supporting characters such as Julia Argent, Player and Chase Devineaux.
The short first season, focused its first few episodes in developing the title character. We see Carmen as a recruit of V.I.L.E.; in fact, she is the youngest recruit of V.I.L.E. and was found abandoned in Buenos Aires in by one of the “faculty”, the elite trainers in V.I.L.E., with only a set of Russian nesting dolls. Her promising thieving career is cut short when she fails the final exam and breaks free from the isolated V.I.L.E. Island. She then sets her eyes on taking down V.I.L.E..
From there we’re introduced to a bevvy of characters which enrich the world of Carmen Sandiego from rivals to allies to grey characters who get even more interesting as the series progresses.
One of the first characters we’re introduced to is Player, a white hat hacker, who unintentionally contacts Carmen when she steals a V.I.L.E. issued smartphone. If you’ve played the Carmen Sandiego games, the moniker “Player” will hit a nostalgic chord as the interactions between Player and Carmen Sandiego and this character is very much modeled after the way the game addressed players. While more of a support character, Player ends up being one of the more compelling characters of the series as he plays overwatch to Carmen Sandiego’s many missions.
Agent Argent and Chase Devineaux are a pair that bring some humour and depth to the series. The former becomes an a unwilling supporter of Carmen as the series progresses and she realises the Robin Hood nature of the crimes perpetrated by Carmen Sandiego. She becomes a character that acts as a tool for questioning the black and white nature of Chase Devineaux. Chase Devineaux on the other hand is a very righteous character fixed on taking down Carmen Sandiego and hilariously fails in nabbing her over and over again even after being recruited by A.C.M.E..
The thought and depth given to each character is refreshing especially considering the animated nature of the series. It is rare to see writers spend such consideration on characters in a series meant for children. In fact, there’s enough depth to the characters and story telling that the series could very well appeal to the older crowd as well. In fact, the pacing of the story telling is so well done that the season feels like a single, well paced, 4 hour movie.
Great Animation Is the Cherry on Top
The atypical animation style of Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego gives it a unique charm which many animated series lack. It brings not only the characters to life but also the many diverse settings in which the nine episodes take place in.
Each character is animated with a unique je n’ais se quoi that brings the character to life. While you can see the signature animation style, the unique animation of each character gives them each a feel and character that differentiates them and make each of them memorable.
A Must Watch
The unique animation and compelling story telling make Carmen Sandiego a must watch on Netflix. It doesn’t take away from the Carmen Sandiego that you may remember from your childhood. In fact, the way Netflix has done Carmen Sandiego makes the character even more compelling and also gives a new breath of live into a franchise which has, for all intent and purposes, become stale and dull.