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Carmen Sandiego: First Trailer Drops For Netflix Animated Series

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Netflix, that's where.

The streaming giant released the first trailer for its upcoming animated series Carmen Sandiego today on its YouTube Channel, teasing an origin story which recasts the villainous thief as a misunderstood hero. The spot promises a fun new take on a character that has helped helped sharpen young minds for over three decades.

The character originated in the 1985 PC game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, in which players were tasked with getting to the bottom of a series of thefts committed around the globe by Sandiego and her henchmen. Through their globetrotting detective work, the game's young players found themselves assimilating a wealth of information about various world cultures, and employing critical thinking to assemble arrest warrants for the culprits behind the thefts (including, inevitably, Sandiego herself). The title, produced by legendary game developer Brøderbund, was extremely well-received for both its educational merits and entertainment value, and went on to spawn a multitude of sequels in the late '80s and '90s under the Brøderbund banner. The developer was acquired in the late '90s by The Learning Company, which released two additional games in the series.

The success of the games led to the creation of several animated series, airing on PBS and Fox Kids between 1991 and 1999; the character has also appeared in books, board games, and comics, among other media. While the master thief — schooled at an international academy for criminals known as V.I.L.E. — has always thus far been portrayed as an antagonist, the Netflix series is putting a new spin on the character by adding a heroic motivation behind her thieving ways.

The spot opens with Sandiego aboard a train, seated across from a colleague who asks, "Just how did you wind up in crime school?" She asks if he wants the whole story, which the trailer then promises to reveal with a series of quick shots detailing her rise through the ranks of V.I.L.E.'s student body. "You were the finest criminal in our class!" an unseen character exclaims in voiceover, to which Sandiego replies, "I realized that stealing isn't a game. It does harm people — especially when you're willing to steal lives." The accompanying shots suggest a tragedy that she could have prevented, and her continuing voiceover gives a little more shape to her motives. "V.I.L.E. is stealing from people all over the world," she says. "With luck, I'll secure any valuable artifacts [they] might exploit... by stealing them." She becomes "a thief who only steals from other thieves," using her many skills to gain possession of said artifacts, and return them to their rightful owners. 

The spot showcases a bold and kinetic animation style, not to mention the wry sense of humor that's been present in the property from the very beginning. According to Collider, only two bits of casting have been confirmed: Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) will take the lead, with Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) taking on the part of Sandiego's loyal assistant, Player (a distinct nod to the franchise's video game roots).

The 22-episode first season will be presided over by co-executive producer and showrunner Duane Capizzi, who filled a similar role on the WB and the CW's animated series The Batman. Kevin Dart of the Netflix animated series Mr. Peabody and Sherman is responsible for the show's distinctive look. Here's the (rather brief) official synopsis: "Everybody asks 'WHERE is Carmen Sandiego?', but nobody asks 'WHO is Carmen Sandiego?' The iconic woman in red returns for new international capers and a peek into her past."

If this awesome spot is any indication, Netflix has a winner on its hands. We won't have to wait too long to make the call for ourselves: Carmen Sandiego's first season will debut on the streamer on January 18, 2019.