Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (game show)

This article is about gameshow with this title. For the 1989 game, see Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (video game). For the 1999 game, see Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time.
Where in Time Is
Carmen Sandiego?
Created by Broderbund
Presented by Kevin Shinick
Lynne Thigpen
Starring The Engine Crew
Alaine Kashian
John Lathan
Owen Taylor (season 1)
Jamie Gustis (season 2)
Theme music composer Sean Altman
David Yazbek
Opening theme "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?" by The Engine Crew
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 115 [1]
Location(s) Kaufman Astoria Studios
Queens, New York
Running time approx. 28 minutes
Original network PBS[2]
Original release October 7, 1996 (1996-10-07) – December 12, 1997 (1997-12-12)
Preceded by Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Related shows Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? Is an American half-hour children's television game show loosely based on the computer game of the same name created by Brøderbund Software. Just like its predecessor, the show was produced by WGBH and WQED. The program lasted two seasons on PBS, consisting of 115 episodes, which ran from October 7, 1996 to December 12, 1997, with reruns airing until October 2, 1998. The show starred Lynne Thigpen as "The Chief", Kevin Shinick as "ACME Time Pilot Squadron Leader" and "The Engine Crew" as various informants.[3] The show replaced Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, and was recorded entirely at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York City.


Before the show begins, the viewing audience sees Carmen Sandiego in her V.I.L.E. headquarters (In Season 1, Carmen appears in a Fourth wall type of narration; whereas in Season 2, a surveillance nano-probe films Carmen's lair unnoticed) complaining to herself and plotting to steal the historical "seed" of her complaint. Carmen then tells one of her V.I.L.E. henchmen and henchwomen what to steal and where to go. (In Season One, she shines an 'Info-Beam' to give the details of the object in question; whereas in Season Two, she gives the thief a 'Loot Orb' or 'Cybersphere' to contain it). The Chief then tells the audience that Carmen's chosen henchman has stolen something, which must be recovered to prevent Temporal paradox. The show then begins with the Engine Crew preparing the ACME Chronoskimmer (a flying saucer capable of time travel) for launch, and introduces host 'Kevin Shinick'.

Round One

Three players (ages 10–14) known as "Time Pilots" compete, each given 100 'Power Points' to begin. The Chief identifies the stolen object and its source, and various skits give clues to the location. After the skit, three possible answers or locations are shown to the pilots. The viewer can see the individual choices represented by an individual color (pink, green, or blue). Any pilot with the correct answer scores 10 Power Points; any incorrect answer leaves the score unchanged.

At one point in the game, Carmen's henchman would provide a clue from the viewscreen. The points in time visited follow the historical progression of the "seed" originally stolen. The typical course of the round is as follows:

There are also other ways to gain clues:

Round Two

With Kevin on command, the third-placed pilot withdraws from the contest, while the top two pilots activate the Loot Tractor Beam to capture the stolen artifact. The Chief then lists eight events, related to the artifact that was stolen, which the pilots must recite in reverse chronological order. The first pilot to do so, advances to the Bonus Round to capture Carmen and the day's villain, while the runner-up wins a CD player and Carmen Sandiego merchandise.

Bonus Round: The Trail of Time

The winning pilot has 90 seconds to answer questions at several "Time Portals", posed by Carmen, with each portal themed to a particular period of time. All questions are related to the artifact stolen in the day's show, and are dual-choice. If the pilot answers correctly, the gate will open automatically. Otherwise, the pilot must operate a device to manually open the gate. After the first two or three gates, the pilot captures the day's villain; whereas if the pilot passes through all six gates before time expires, it is permitted to capture Carmen and win a computer system. Otherwise, Carmen escapes and the pilot receives a 32-volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica and a portable music system with a collection of music (changed to an ACME Time Net mission pack and the music system in Season 2). The show always ended with Kevin, the pilot, and the Engine Crew saying: "At ACME Time Net, history is our job, and the future is yours!".


Season 1 lasted 65 episodes and ran from Monday October 7, 1996 to Friday January 3, 1997. Season 2 lasted for 50 episodes and ran from Monday October 6, 1997 to Friday December 12, 1997.[1] Reruns of the show continued on PBS until Friday October 2, 1998.

V.I.L.E. gang

Other than playing the Engine Crew, Owen Taylor, Jamie Gustis, Alaine Kashian, and John Lathan as well as James Greenberg (who was also one of the show's producers) and Paula Leggett Chase also portrayed Carmen's V.I.L.E. henchmen.


The budget was smaller on this version of the show compared to World. As a result, the grand prize for a winning pilot captures Carmen was a computer system instead of a trip. Pilots on all levels received prize packs of varying sizes which consisted of one or more of the following: a baseball cap, T-shirt, a Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? board game, a Where in the U.S.A. Is Carmen Sandiego? board game, a plastic watch, and a set of the most recent Carmen Sandiego CD-Rom games (all of which also featured the Chief).


The music on the show was performed by The Engine Crew. The music package included the theme song and the songs about clues in the engine room. The theme was played in the opening and closing sequences. When the contestant was heading for the trail of time, the theme was sometimes edited after the crew sang, "We're on the case" and the villains say, "And they're chasing us through history!" (used in first season). In the second season, when the contestant headed for The Trail of Time, the ending was normal instead of the villains singing the end part. The show's main theme song was written by Sean Altman of Rockapella and David Yazbek, and is sung by The Engine Crew.

The show was funded primarily by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1996–1998) and by the annual financial support from the viewers/stations of PBS (1996–1998). Delta Air Lines (1996–1997) and the National Endowment for Children's Educational Television (1996–1997) both provided funding during the show's first season.


Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego has been nominated thirteen times for awards. It also won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1998.[5]

Award Category Nominee Result
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Children's Series Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series Lynne Thigpen Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series David Turner Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Graphic Titles and Title Design Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Graphic Titles and Title Design Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement In Costume Designing/Styling Wendy Stuart Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Hairstyling Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing Nominated
1997 Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Game Show Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lighting Direction Dikran Hazirjian & Charles Noble Won
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Children's Series Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer In A Children's Series Lynne Thigpen Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing In A Children's Series David Turner Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Graphics and Title Design Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Costume Design/Styling Wendy Stuart Nominated

French-Canadian version

A French-Canadian version of the show, titled À la poursuite de Carmen Sandiego (In pursuit of Carmen Sandiego), was aired on Radio-Canada between 1998 and 1999, shortly after the original American version of the show ended, taped in Montreal using the same set as the American series. This version of the show stars Brigitte Paquette as "The Chief", Patrick Labbé as "ACME Time Pilot Squadron Leader", and Daniel Dô, Marie-Hélène Fortin, and Widemir Noumil as "The Engine Crew". Gameplay in this version stayed the same as the original, with each pilot going through all six gates and captures Carmen wins a grand prize package that included a mountain bike instead of a computer system.


  1. 1 2 "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? - Episode Guide". LocateTV. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  2. Anthony G. Picciano; Joel Spring. "The Great American Educational-Industrial Complex". Books.google.co.uk. p. 154. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  3. "Lynne Thigpen, Actress in CBS's 'District,' Dies at 54". NYTimes.com. 2003-03-14. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  4. Van Luling, Todd (2016-08-16). "My 20-Year Quest To Find Carmen Sandiego". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  5. Cynthia Littleton (1998-03-11). "ABC tops Emmy noms". Variety. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
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