Monday, March 10, 2014

Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego Part Five

I've been trying to think of the biggest things I always love about over the top cartoon series is the fact that there's always so much wealth bouncing around, even as a child I always wondered why the bad guys would even try to steal anything else.

Let's look at Carmen Sandiego's crew.  They have blimps, hover technology, devices that could possibly splice together DNA to create a dinosaur.  They have technology that allows them to steal a multi-acre satellite dish and transport it around the world.

Obviously, she's not hurting in terms of wealth.  They're also not the only ones.  You have gangs and crime syndicates running around with better technology than most people in the world do, and yet they seem to have really pedestrian goals.

For instance, take every single villain in Scooby Doo.  They spend an elaborate amount of money building fake pirate ships, tunneling out under castles, and designing elaborate castles to get a few thousand dollars worth of gems from an old lady's wall or because they want to buy out an amusement park.

You have groups like the Misfits, a rival rock band to Jem and the Holograms who at one point had a fully functional time machine.  What did they do with it?  Try to kill off the good guys and become the world's best rock band, of course.  I mean, what could you possibly think of doing with a time machine?

At least with Carmen, though, you know it's about the challenge.  Sure she's already wealthy beyond anybody's wildest dreams and has technology that makes S.H.I.E.L.D. envious...but hey, if she managed to get away with stealing the Statue of Liberty, then man, that would be something that would go down in history.

So let's get into today's episode, where Carmen attempts to steal, I kid you not, the moon.

Right off the bat this is my favorite episode.

We start with Carmen having a dream where she's just landed on the moon and, in a red space suit, plants a flag with her own features on it down into the soil, claiming the moon as her own.

I want to point out something great, in that the show, much like the games, never wants to give up too much about what Carmen looks like under that coat and hat.  When we see her in her bedroom, this is about all we get to see outside of a shot of her hand pushing a button:

If that bed doesn't come back in an episode themed after A Christmas Carol, I'm going to be sorely disappointed.

So from there, we jump to New York City, where Carmen Sandiego, the most wanted criminal in the world, strides into a toy store with two henchmen, picks up something called an "Illuma Pad" and... pays for it.

No seriously, her henchperson (I think it's a woman, but I can't be sure yet) hands over ten dollars, they pick up the toy, and start to the door without waiting for change.

I also love the exchange between the clerk and Carmen:

"Hey wait, aren't you...someone?"

"We're all somebody."

Carmen manages a getaway in Times Square utilizing a flying rocket car (because of course), which leads us to Zack and Ivy at the scene.

Zack points out the obvious here, that since "Carmen paid, there's no crime," but the Chief also points out that Carmen's "obviously up to something."

Utilizing two clues (a feather from a trained cormorant and the fact both hench people had half of a yin-yang symbol on them), they decide the best thing to do is head to the Yunnan Province in China.  Cause that's gotta be a small piece of land to explore, right?

152,000 square miles?  Really?

I hope they have good shoes.

I guess the show decides to lampshade this, because as Ivy and Zack peek out of a bush next to the Yangtze River, Ivy spots the two hench-goons (and a few regular ones) on a boat, and even states "4,000 miles long and we put down right on the mark."

Zack and Ivy sneak onto the boat but are pretty much captured right away, and during their escape from a net manage to knock over a bucket of hot coals (I have no idea why it's there, do people usually leave buckets of hot coals on boats?) and light the entire craft on fire.

We get back from commercial with Zack tugging on the door and Ivy attempting to stomp out a fire on a craft.

Now, the way they got caught is they got knocked back from a door which caused them to fall through the wood floor.  Now, when Ivy stomps on the hull, she punches right through the ship and floods it.

I didn't know they even made boats out of balsa wood and glue that size.

Either that, or Ivy's a lot more muscular than we know through her cargo pants.

Zack, fortunately, overheard the henchmen discussing going to Xi Chang, and since the only thing there besides fields is a satellite launch center, they figure it must be Carmen's target.  However, they get there too late to stop Carmen from stealing three rockets from the base.  How?  Giant propellers that clamp onto the tops of the rockets.

I'm not even kidding.

...oh, sorry, did I say three rockets?  I meant five.  Except the show itself explicitly states "three."

Carmen, however, seems to just be enjoying herself with her Illuma Pad (translated: Lite Brite), putting in three lights to represent the three (five?) rockets.  She also leaves Zack and Ivy a clue that reads:

"I'm taking a trip and I'll be blue.  Love, Maria."

Obvious, right?


Well, anybody who's anybody would know that Galileo named the dark areas of the moon "Maria" thinking they were water.

It's just that simple.

Oh, and the orange came from Florida, so their next destination is Cape Canaveral.

...yeah, that one's a bit of a gimme.

So, the teleportation system was able to put them right on the spot to get onto a boat on a river thousands of miles long, but when they need to get to a building complex clearly marked on a map, do you know where they end up?

In the sewers.

With an alligator.

Because of course there's one.

Zack apparently is a huge fan of the Lethal Weapon film series, because while they're escaping he proclaims "I'm getting too old for this."

Fortunately, Ivy is apparently a professional alligator wrestler.

Look, I haven't lied to you people yet, why do you think I'm lying now?

Can I break away from the plot for a moment?  I really don't remember there being that many shows that allowed for the younger brother to be the nerdy linguist one while the older sister was the more action-based one.  I remember most shows for kids were either the other way around or simply had two guys fill the lead roles while the female character got in trouble.

Even now, I find it rather remarkable that they even designed the characters to fit these spots, with Ivy not ever really looking "sexy" with a brown coat, white shirt, and baggy pants, and Zack is obviously out of place in the action role with his oversized jacket that plays up his being smaller and weaker.

And no, I don't know why Ivy apparently has belts wrapped around her thighs.

So yeah, while they were stuck in a sewer, Carmen managed to steal the space shuttle.  Fortunately, Cape Canaveral is staffed with some of the smartest minds in the world, so Zack and Ivy should have no trouble with deducing where Carmen could successfully launch from.

Or they'll just take the first kid there who says they're going to space camp and figure it out themselves.  Either way, that's cool.

Fortunately, the kid is apparently a super-genius, able to deduce the exact location that would have the best launch window for Carmen Sandiego to arrive exactly as the moon turned full for a blue moon.

Math, kids, it helps stop crime.

Oh, and it's in the Andes.

So, just what is Carmen's master plan?  Well, I'm glad you asked.

See, each of the rockets is loaded up with paint and are programmed to land in specific spots in a grid across the surface of the moon.  Yes, we've gone from three rockets to about eighty of them.  There, they'll release their payload across the surface and paint Carmen's logo on the moon.

I also want to point out Ivy's response to Zack saying each rocket is loaded with paint.

"Biodegradable, no doubt." 

...I'm sorry, was environmentalism an issue here?  She's planning to steal the moon, and you're getting snippy on the fact that she doesn't want to use toxic paint?

Is that even something to get snippy over?  I mean, it just seems like extra caution, considering there's nothing on the moon to get poisoned.

Ivy and Zack manage to get to the launch pad with just under a minute to spare, and Ivy manages to trick the temperature sensor into thinking the temperature has gone below 41 degrees, which their new friend back at Space Camp told them would cause the launch to automatically halt.

Carmen gets away with the help of a back-mounted jet pack (how does she NOT have her own rocket and space shuttle?) and the player and Carmen have a little taunting session over the comput- wait a tic.

...that book over there to the left.  "Deering's California Codes."

This kid seriously has a book collection containing every single significant court case decision, the California constitution, and a collection of every code a lawyer might need to work a case?

Is this kid even IN California?

Either way, that book is wayyyy beyond anything this game ever needed.  I don't think it's going to help you know if "flying away from Times Square in a rocket car" is actually a crime or not.

So, Carmen doesn't get to have her logo plastered across the moon.  I'm almost disappointed.  I mean, Chairface Chippendale managed to get several letters of his name engraved on the moon before the Tick stopped him.

Well, maybe things will go better next time.

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