In the vein of Captain Planet and Square One TV, the 90s were a hotbed of education- and responsibility themed programming on television. These shows were, typically, about as connected to actual education as apple-flavored tobacco offers the health benefits of real fruit. But at least they gave us Carmen Sandiego, a show that bordered so close to campy nerdiness that I could smell the SPF 45 bug spray wafting through the television.
And then there was Rockapella. A band that, according to the youtubes, has 100 percent embraced their pivotal role in public television game show history. Here’s a surprisingly mesmerizing clip of the band doing a 4:45 (!!!) version of the theme song in 2000, with a ‘drum’ solo by percussionist Jeff Thacher, aka The Chief (not actually aka).
I reconnected with the short-lived Carmen San Diego saturday morning cartoon on Monday this week (a date of no particular significance) when I discovered my roommate had this show on DVD for whatever reason (Oh, fyi Charlie, I went into your room and took the Carmen Sandiego DVD on Monday). The show was among several other media crossovers/thinly veiled marketing saturation attempts of the era — see also: Where’s Waldo cartoon, Captain N and, of course, Hammerman.
Here’s the intro to that show. Don’t even watch it. It’s terrible. It’ll make you sad, crying long hot tears into your breakfast cereal as you pine for the days of a good after-school a capella romp.
See? Sounds like what popular music would be if artists abstained from drugs and alcohol their whole lives. Shudder the thought.
The show also makes you want to root for Carmen, and we currently now have a reimagining of the classic Carmen tale in the works in which the red-coated bandit Sandiego is the lone rebel fighting out against a brutal totalitarian government in a dystopian future. She’s not stealing the Big Ben, you see: She’s liberating it. It should probably be called something like Carmen Sandiego: WANTED.
Details to follow.
Bonus shout out to Renee Dudley who went as Carmen for Halloween this year and pulled it off pretty well, I’d say. The loot was the jack-o-lantern bucket full of cash to help pay for the awesome moonbounce and keg at the party*. The crooks were sketchaholics anonymous dudes who strolled into the party uninvited*. The warrant was, sadly, non existent, as the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office was only a block away but was too busy detaining immigrants* to issue warrants.
They were never caught, and no one won a free trip to any of the lower 48 states.