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“Hope That Answers Your Question”: Exploring the Myth of the Lost Carmen Sandiego, Part 3

“Hope That Answers Your Question”: Exploring the Myth of the Lost Carmen Sandiego, Part 3
Christian Carrion

Marc was the alleged substitute host of the lost episode of Carmen.

We share a close personal mutual friend. I also had the pleasure of traveling to Maryland and covering the premiere of a documentary featuring Marc for a Buzzerblog feature a couple of years ago. I had forgotten he was one of the first people I had reached out to when I initially decided to pursue this story.

Greetings!

Hope you are well.

The show does not exist. I was a guest once for the first few minutes of the program until Greg kindly asks me to leave…all set up in advance of course.

Hope that answers your question

Be Well

Marc

I had received a lot of information in the span of about 15 minutes. In addition to everything else I was working with, it was a lot to process.

  • The producer of the show, who ostensibly would have been there, has no recollection of what would seemingly be a pretty noteworthy incident.
  • The guy who everyone said was the host that day, who ostensibly would have been there, said in no uncertain terms that the episode “does not exist”.
  • WGBH, which co-produced the show, has no record of it.
  • WQED, which also co-produced the show, has no record of it. 

When I started this project, I scoured the internet for every inkling of the Auld Lang Gone rumor I possibly could. I took a second and looked back at that initial research.

The existence of the episode is mentioned as fact on the Wikipedia page for Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, the Lost Media Archive, the Carmen Sandiego fandom wiki, and the Game Shows fandom wiki, among many other user-created and publicly-editable websites. Mental Floss and ScreenRant both mention Auld Lang Gone as a “fun fact” on their respective lists of “Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Carmen Sandiego’”. These references are not sourced, which leads me to believe one of the aforementioned wikis may have been the origin of that information. Curiously, I was also able to find a section on Wikiquote (again, editable by anyone—and again, no source) dedicated to the Carmen Sandiego series, with a subpage for Auld Lang Gone containing this, um, quote from the episode:

(Jasmine trips on the map and falls)

Greg: Uh-oh! Stop the clock! Stop the clock! (runs up to Jasmine and investigates) Somebody get a doctor! (cameras stop rolling and a doctor arrives to check)

Doctor: Umm, she broke her arm.

Greg: Oh, no!

(director) Dana (Calderwood): Can we end this episode? Like now?

Greg: We have to. The audience needs to leave the studio.

Dana: Unless… Ed Mann, to the Map!(Ed rushes to the map)

Greg: Hey, Ed! Do you wanna take Jasmine’s place in the map?

Ed: Of course. Why?

Greg: She broke her arm. You’ll win the trip to what Jasmine has wrote down for you. Does that sound good to you?

Ed: Yeah!

For the first time since I began work on this Carmen Sandiego project, I thought to myself:

This is ridiculous.

First of all, that “quote” is nothing more than bad fan-fiction. Secondly, at this point in my research, I was confident I had talked to anyone and everyone within reach who would have anything whatsoever to do with the episode’s pre-planning, production, stop-down, editing, archival, and broadcast, and I’ve more or less been met with a unanimous “nope, it ain’t real”. Thirdly, in everything I’ve read about this episode throughout the internet, not once did I run into a solid source that wasn’t a rabid, anonymous fan regurgitating a now-seemingly baseless rumor.

In the rush of pop-culture nostalgia we’ve all been subject to over the past decade, we’ve heard from host Greg Lee, director Dana Calderwood, and Rockapella member Sean Altman (who did not respond to my requests for comment) in various interviews, but has no one sought out Jasmine Doman and Ed Mann, the injured contestant and her replacement? Where do those names even come from? Searching for them on Facebook yields no results that look like the people in question would have been 12 to 14 years old in 1992. As far as I can tell, the incident has never been mentioned in any official history of the show, nor any interviews done by Greg Lee, Rockapella, or any other cast or crew members. 

And another thing: how important is a bonus round, really? In a situation where a child is gruesomely injured, wouldn’t the first step be calling an ambulance and ensuring the child’s well-being? Wouldn’t you then wait for the ambulance to arrive, maybe even load out the horrified adolescent audience and temporarily dismiss the non-essential crew? After all was said and done—after the contestant was whisked through mid-day New York City traffic to the closest hospital, the set cleaned up, the audience and contestants calmed down, the proper production staff and building staff members notified, perhaps even a new tape date arranged—was anyone really so concerned with completing the map of Europe that they said “Nope, we need a winner, Ed, get out there, Carmen’s in Lichtenstein!”

I had reached the end. After over 80 hours of research, interviews, fact-finding, and wading through the murky depths of the internet, I was ready to come to an educated, informed conclusion.

Auld Lang Gone never happened. This fact is confirmed by “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego” creator and executive producer Howard Blumenthal; Marc Summers, who was rumored to have served as substitute host for the episode in question; and the archivists at WGBH and WQED, the PBS stations in Boston, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who co-produced the original Carmen Sandiego series and are in possession of every master tape, as well as paper records, of the show’s 295 episodes.

As pleased as I was to have put an end to a baseless rumor that had somehow been inflated to factual proportions as it was tossed about on its journey through cyberspace, and as much as I felt like I was doing my part as a responsible internet user by stamping out misinformation, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I wanted the episode to be real. I wanted to share that title card with you. The production slate. The write-up. I envisioned that success so vividly.

Maybe I wasted my time.

Maybe Howard was right in the first place. Maybe there are more interesting topics than one unscheduled episode. Maybe it is, after all, an odd area for focused energy. 

But the last email I received, as simple and understated as it was, made me look back on my journey differently, with optimism and pride for my infinitesimal pocket of the universe:

***

This story would not have been possible without the cooperation, patience, and assistance of: Paul Byers, Executive Director of Engineering at WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Emily Balk, Samantha Driscoll, and Casey Davis-Kaufman, archivists at the Media Library and Archive at WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts; Howard Blumenthal, media icon and creator/executive producer of the Carmen Sandiego TV series; Marc Summers, television host and producer extraordinaire; and Bob Boden, a game show genius with whom I’m unfathomably lucky to have a professional relationship.

Special thanks to my wife/baba Catherine; the beautiful blue-haired wizard Cory Anotado; Pharaoh Bob Hagh; my very close personal friend and Marc Summers die-hard fan Mike Galbicsek; Tom Bastek and Mike Jacobs, co-hosts of the Tell Them What They’ve Won podcast who gave me the initial spark I needed to get this work done; and to all of my friends who were unfortunate enough to be pestered by me with samples of this article as I was writing it. Love, love, and more love.

If the subject matter of this article was even remotely entertaining to you, it is thanks to the tireless work of the men and women in public broadcasting. It’s sort of a cliche at this point, but programs like Carmen Sandiego were, are, and always will be successful with the financial support of viewers—and readers—like you. Visit pbs.org/donate to find out how you can contribute to the success of PBS. Thank you.

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