Seriously, KRS-ONE and Rockapella in the same half-hour.
April 4, 2013 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Having already taken on the dreaded Temple Run, Jon Bois turns his nostalgic criticism to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and the nearly-impossible Africa Map.
posted by Navelgazer (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My freshman year in high school, I took a world history/social studies class. I got a 19/55 on the African countries test - my first F ever. I still remember my exact score 15 years later.

Anyway, when I was a kid I liked Carmen Sandiego even though I was shite at geography. Those kids seemed like wizards to me. It wasn't until high school when I realized that most kids were OK at geography. I had no excuse :(

This is a pretty awesome series. Jon Bois is one of my favorite writers recently. His comedic writing for the SBNation GIF series never fails to brighten my day.
posted by muddgirl at 12:43 PM on April 4, 2013

Oh, I dreaded the Africa map and its cruel exposure of my finite geographical knowledge, but man I loved that show (and videogame).
posted by resurrexit at 12:43 PM on April 4, 2013

"Greg wasn't the 'host,' but rather a 'special agent in charge of training new recruits,' the title of a man buried deep within the bureaucracy of a bloated, largely ineffective crime agency that spent five years trying to find a woman who never used an alias or changed her clothes."

chuckled the fuck out loud
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:44 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

"I have no idea. They broke the fourth wall in a game show. The game show had a fourth wall to begin with."
posted by gauche at 12:46 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was heartened that the criminal DJ that caused the Warriors so much trouble turned her life around and became a respectable agent of the law.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2013 [13 favorites]

We didn't have cable in college, so Carmen Sandiego was a familiar watch. i remember the KRS-ONE episode. I did know who he was and I was pretty psyched!

Ha, the Africa map. Pretty much meant automatic failure. Did he provide a success rate? I'd say <5%.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:56 PM on April 4, 2013

God how I hated the Africa map. The North America map was an exercise in frustration of its ease to me ("Montana is the state that looks like Montana!"), but Africa was just sad. Once the poor kid blew the first three, it was just a countdown until the timer ran out, leaving an out-of-breath kid with a scattered terra cotta army of unlit pylons.

"Kid, just bide your time until you get an Egypt, Madagascar, or South Africa. After that, pray for luck."
posted by Turkey Glue at 12:57 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man. I never saw the tv show (grew up in South Africa) but I was obsessed with the computer game. That and someone got me a subscription to national geographic junior and it had regular WITWICS educational comic/puzzles and articles about the show. I was tres jealous of those gumshoes.
posted by halcyonday at 12:59 PM on April 4, 2013

I will always be grateful to WITWICS for giving us Cherry In Your Tree.
posted by kimota at 1:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember South America being the map that everybody seemed to win on.

I loved, loved, loved Carmen Sandiego as a kid, and loved the TV show as well- except when it was on, I was going to after-school care in somebody's home, and all the other kids wanted to watch Small Wonder instead. Instead of Carmen Sandiego, they wanted to watch a terrible, terrible sitcom about a family with a robot daughter.

posted by Pope Guilty at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2013

I remember South America being the map that everybody seemed to win on.

That's because there are like 13 countries in South America.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on April 4, 2013

Good times, I miss Carmen San Diego. Their slightly zanier Where in Time was just not as much fun.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:20 PM on April 4, 2013

Wow, I watched a ton of that show and it never occurred to me that the kids had to do the maps upside-down. It messes with your head.
posted by Copronymus at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Okay, I thought it was SNL, but maybe it was someone else - some sketch comedy show did a really pitch-perfect parody presenting a dumbed-down version of the show - "Where in the World is San Diego, California". The schtick was all about the "Kids" on the show reacting to the fact that the questions were idiot-level simple - but they had all the other elements: a Lynne Thigpen lookalike, the perky host, the animation, even the guys standing in for Rockapella.

Hey, Rockapella are still a thing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013

I loved this show - I think the only reason I know anything about the geography of Europe at all was because I had Where in Europe on the computer. Here's some interesting reading on the behind-the-scenes of this game (including an unaired episode where a girl broke her arm during the map run).
posted by antonymous at 2:06 PM on April 4, 2013

I could have done this in 6th grade. I had to memorize the countries of Africa for social studies and think I got 50 or so right. Pretty sure I messed up Ivory Coast/Liberia or something right in the crook there. But by 7th grade I had forgotten it all.

Actually, I probably would have fallen over in exhaustion half way through this.

(This was also the unit where I was supposed to write out a day in the life of a member of the court of one of the kings of Mali and ended up writing out two and a half pages, giving a normal routine including at least one prayer (I don't think I remembered all five), supervising construction of something (I chose the royal architect), all three meals and what they consisted of, etc. I then realized I had seven minutes to write out the rest of the test, which I did not reach the last page of. I still got an A for the more than complete answer to the day in the life question. I still don't know how one answers a question like that in a short paragraph, which it seems was the expectation. Funny how things stick with you.)
posted by Hactar at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was going to declare this article a complete failure if it didn't include a video of the theme song. Happily it's at the end. I have it on my iPhone and listen on occasion. And they've even made it loop for approximately 95 choruses. The "real" song even features the little songs they sing to introduce the chief, the warrant, and "Monday through Friday at 5!"

And RIP Lynne Thigpen. I remember her from many of her other roles; Law and Order, Hunter, The Cosby Show, and Bicentennial Man.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:47 PM on April 4, 2013

God dammit, I'm sitting here at work with the theme song stuck in my head and it's getting awfully hard to stop myself from humming here at my desk....

Dooo-bop, do-bah-do-do-badoo-dop BOW.....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 AM on April 5, 2013

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