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Successor to Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?? on PBS, it challenged kids with history instead of geography. The action took place aboard The Chronoskimmer, a massive, floating Time Machine powered by knowledge and dancing crew members. The gumshoes were renamed "Time Pilots", host Kevin Shinick was their "Squadron Leader", and "The Chief" Lynne Thigpen from World had a much less prominent role. And for the first time, a live actress played the lady in red herself.

The format was virtually identical to World's. Three contestants answered trivia questions to earn "Power Points" (instead of "ACME Crime Bucks") and track one of Carmen's crooks through time. Eventually, the contestant with the lowest score was sent home with a Consolation Prize package, and the remaining contestants played a mini-game that had them place historic events in reverse chronological order. The winner moved on to the Bonus Round, "The Trail of Time", to try to capture Carmen and win the grand prize.


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: "The Trail of Time". The contestant went through six stations and answered a question at each one. For a correct answer, the door opened and the contestant moved on to the next station; an incorrect answer meant that the contestant had to open the door manually using a pulley, a pump, or whatever was there.
  • Golden Snitch: The reverse chronological order game. The contestant with the most Power Points got to choose who went first, but it was just a matter of luck and memory as far as who won. So a contestant could do poorly on the trivia rounds and still make it to the Bonus Round by winning this game.
  • Losing Horns: The time buzzer in the Trail of Time round was a type A. Carmen herself laughed as well.
  • Personnel:

This show contains examples of:

  • Acting for Two: Due to budget constraints, the engine crew and Thigpen also played the V.I.L.E. villains and random informants.
  • Black Boss Lady: Lynne Thigpen.
  • The Cameo: One episode had the World Chief suddenly appear on the ship as it traveled around 1991, and as you'd expect she wondered where Greg Lee and Rockapella were. Thigpen wore her World costume, and even got to speak with her equally confused future incarnation. (Considering that the whole reason Time existed was because World's budget was slashed, this cameo may fall squarely into Biting the Hand Humor and/or Self-Deprecation.)
  • Cardboard Prison: You'd think they'd have fixed it by now with all that fancy technology.
  • Catch Phrase: "At ACME Time Net, history is our job! The future is yours!"
    • Carmen: "There's something very special I want you to steal."
    • The Chief: "Time Pilots, [a member of Carmen's gang] just stole something from the past! You've got twenty-eight minutes to get it back, or history will change forever!"
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the last show, with a Carmen Sandiego who's gone from being depicted as a rather snarky Impossible Thief to a posterized Card-Carrying Villain whose plans to leave her mark on history regularly go to much more overtly sinister places.
  • Delayed Ripple Effect
  • Evil Is Hammy: V.I.L.E. liked to ham it up.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "Chronoskimmer, engine's hot, V.I.L.E. villains, evil plot! Our brave squadron leader will help us defeat her and bring back the loot to its rightful place in time!" That pretty much sums it up.
  • The Faceless: Carmen's face was always partly hidden by her hat.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The "Global Pursuit" round always ended with Kevin telling the Time Pilots the crook left the final location just before they got there.
  • Game Over Woman: When the clock hit zero in the Trail of Time, the viewers were treated to a scene of Carmen escaping with an Evil Laugh.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The Chronoskimmer runs on "fact fuel" generated by kids answering history questions. It's a game show. Just take it.
  • Kick the Dog: In the Mirror Universe skits, the ACME members did things like pouring acid on flowers.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much the whole cast.
  • Laughably Evil: All of Carmen's gang, especially Baron Wasteland.
  • Long Bus Trip: Baron Wasteland, replaced by Buggs Zapper in Season 2. They were played by the same actor.
  • Mirror Universe: In one type of skit, the ACME Agency was evil and V.I.L.E. was good. Kevin always announced the skit by saying, "Oh no! We're being sucked into a parallel universe!"
  • Monumental Theft: It wouldn't be Carmen Sandiego without one.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Trail of Time wasn't this in theory (stand in a gate, get asked a question with two possible answers; get it right, or perform a task like turn a wheel or pull a rope)...but in execution, it was painful. They scattered the gates in a big mess, and didn't put any type of trail on the ground (the Engine Crew would point them where to go with airport flashlights). It's led some to believe that PBS deliberately made the whole thing confusing to avoid paying out the grand prize.
  • The Omniscient: Omniscia.
  • The Other Darrin: Engine Crew member #1 (who wore the yellow costume), switched from Owen Taylor to Jamie Gustis for Season 2. Since the Engine Crew were almost never named, it might not count. This also applies to Dr. Belljar (same actors) and Carmen herself (Janine LaManna in Season 1, Brenda Burke in Season 2).
  • Punny Name: It wouldn't be a Carmen Sandiego game without it, although a couple of the puns on the villains' names were less obvious in this show than in World. Buggs Zapper, Baron Wasteland and Jacqueline Hyde were obvious enough. Dr. Belljar and Sir Vile were more obscure, and Medeva was an interesting three-layered pun of Madea, Medieval and Diva.
  • Rogues Gallery:
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Medeva. "Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage... What's up, boss, I got your page?"
  • Screen Shake: When the Chronoskimmer got hit by something.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: The V.I.L.E. villains would sometimes do it to drain the Chronoskimmer's "fact fuel". Of course, it wouldn't explode.
  • Speed Round: While not timed, the "Data Boost" segments served this purpose. They consisted of either/or questions on the buzzers at 5 points each, up or down (10 points for the final, "Ultimate Data Boost"). Similarly, the "Global Pursuit" segment, which was triple choice for 5 points up or down.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Buggs Zapper, who replaced Baron Wasteland in Season 2. Justified, in that they were played by the same actor.
  • Techno Babble: A lot of it. What exactly is a "temporal sequencer"?
  • Technology Marches On: The grand prize was a desktop computer with an 850 MB hard drive. Yes, 850 megabytes. We have USB flash drives now with more space than that.
  • Timed Mission: The "Trail of Time" bonus round was played in 90 seconds. Between the fact that each question chewed up six seconds of your time and you had to work off any wrong answers by opening the gate manually, you needed 4 out of 6 to even have a fighting chance, and that's if you could work the device quickly enough. Five or six, on the other hand, more or less guaranteed a win...although see Nintendo Hard, above.
    • The contestants ostensibly had 28 minutes to recover the object. Given that that's the length of an episode, it's more of a Continue Your Mission, Dammit!, because the structure of the show guarantees that they'll recover the object with enough time to spare to put it back, then attempt a Trail of Time campaign.
  • Time Machine: The aptly named Chronoskimmer, much larger than the version in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Time Police: ACME.
  • Time Travel
  • Title Theme Tune: "Tell me where in time is Carmen Sandiego?"
  • Voice of the Legion: Jacqueline Hyde's evil side.
  • When Things Spin Science Happens: In the first opening sequence, two of the things The Chief orders the crew to do to get the Chronoskimmer running involve making something spin.
  • World of Ham: Hoo, boy... A fun game for those at home might be "Pick the Hammiest Actor".
  • You All Look Familiar: Recycling the actors created this. It was especially jarring whenever Lynne Thigpen played a different character.
  • You Have 48 Hours: Or 28 minutes, in this case.
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