Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? "Auld Lang Gone" (non-existent episode of PBS children's game show; 1992)
Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? was an American game show based on the Carmen Sandiego computer game series that aired on PBS from September 30, 1991, to December 22, 1995. The show was a massive success, winning seven Daytime Emmys and being nominated for twenty-three. It has also been called the "Crown Jewel" of the Carmen Sandiego series by NerdHQ. The show was hosted by Greg Lee and the “Chief” was played by the late Lynne Thigpen. 295 episodes were recorded and all of them were aired. The existence of an unaired episode called "Auld Lang Gone" has long been rumored, but exhaustive research in 2020 confirmed the episode's non-existence.
Three contestants (called Gumshoes) are given 50 "Crime Bucks" to start off with, then various comedic sketches are performed, each one of them providing clues to a geographical location of the round's criminal. After the clues are provided, a map with three marked locations is shown to the Gumshoes. Each Gumshoe must select the location and reveal their choice to Lee. Each correct guess awards the Gumshoe 10 Crime Bucks, the lowest scoring Gumshoe is eliminated from the game and the two highest scoring Gumshoes go on to the second round called the "Jailtime Challenge"
The Jailtime Challenge starts with the "Chief" describing various landmarks in a certain country, city, or region in a "Photo Recon". Fifteen of the landmarks are placed on a board. Hidden behind three of the landmarks are the loot (that is stolen at the beginning of the show), the warrant to arrest the criminal, and the crook themselves. Hidden behind the other landmarks are simple footprints, indicating that nothing is there and the Gumshoe's turn is skipped. The Gumshoe who has the highest score from the last round picks first. If two remaining gumshoes were tied, a coin toss would occur to see who would go first. If a Gumshoe finds at least one or two of those items, they get a free turn. If the Gumshoe finds all three items in any order, the round ends and the Gumshoe that found the items goes onto the final round called "Carmen's World Map".
In "Carmen's World Map," the winning Gumshoe tries to catch Carmen Sandiego herself. The Gumshoe is then shown a giant map on the studio floor with dots indicating cities and islands, squares indicating parks and monuments, and arrows indicating bodies of water. Lee reads the locations and the Gumshoe must mark that location on the map with a marker (the marker itself has a siren on top). If they place the marker on the correct location, the siren goes off and Lee gives the next location. If the Gumshoe needs to move the incorrectly placed marker in order to find the right location, they are allowed to do so. If the Gumshoe marks the seven correct locations with the seven markers in 45 seconds or less, Carmen is "captured," and the winning contestant wins a trip to anywhere in the United States (expanded to anywhere in North America in the second season) If they fail to complete the task correctly in that time frame, the Gumshoe instead wins a consolation prize.
Supposed "Lost Episode"
The episode rumored to exist was called "Auld Lang Gone" and was believed to be unaired due to the purported events of the final part of the episode. Ostensibly, a contestant named Jasmine Doman was participating in the final round of Carmen's World Map when she broke her arm. Production stopped and the runner-up Ed Mann ended up finishing the round in 13 seconds. Furthermore, it was rumored that Sean Altman (from Rockapella) ripped Lee's jacket and Thigpen had a sore throat so Lee took over as Chief and Double Dare host Marc Summers took over hosting duties for the rest of the episode. Actor Gene Wilder is also said to have appeared in the episode as an unknown role.
The episode was set to air on October 12, 1992, but was pulled due to the chaotic nature of the episode, so the Season Two premiere "Disturbing The Heavenly Peace" was rerun in its place. Rumors of the episode's existence persisted throughout the years and were previously thought to be fake. Neither Greg Lee nor Marc Summers had commented on the episode's existence. However, a photo of Lee and Summers in the same outfit surfaced sometime in the 2010s, which had many speculating that the photo was from the episode.
Debunking the Rumor
On August 23, 2020, Christian Carrion (news editor of the game show news site BuzzerBlog) ran an article titled “‘Gone’ But Not Forgotten: Exploring the Myth of the Lost Carmen Sandiego, Part 1.” In the article (which concerned the supposed lost episode), Carrion says he emailed Paul Byers (the Executive Chief of Engineering and 50-year veteran of WQED) about the series and received a reply from Byers saying that the WQED archive has the entire series intact. Carrion followed up with the topic of the episode and received a reply that reads "Christian, I have the episode. Paul" then the article ended with "To be continued," seemingly confirming the episode's existence. Although the episode's existence had presumably been officially confirmed, two days later, BuzzerBlog wrote a follow-up article explaining that Byers had thought that Carrion was talking about the sister series Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? instead of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? and that the entire "World" series may have been sent to WGBH. This led Carrion to email game show expert Bob Boden, who got Carrion a connection to a man named Howard Blumenthal (the creator and producer of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?). The final part of the article was published on August 27, 2020. In the final part of the article, Carrion received a reply from the creator saying that the episode didn’t exist. Further confirmation of the episode's non-existent status was provided later when he received an email from Marc Summers, who assured him that the episode never existed in the first place and the photo that surfaced in the 2010s was later found to be from the episode Cats Nipped that aired on October 9, 1995.
Carrion did an audio documentary on the rumor with Summers, Lee, Blumenthal and various fans of the show that is set to be released on October 12, 2021.
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