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10/12/2016 4:24 pm  #1

A Day As a Gumshoe

Did you know? Almost 900 kids appeared as Gumshoes throughout Carmen Sandiego's five year run. But do you want to know what a day as a Gumshoe looks like? Here it is.

A day as a Gumshoe begins with an audition process held at local schools in the New York area. In Seasons 2 and 3, selected schools in the Delaware Valley participated in auditioning. The audition process is two simple steps:

Step 1: Playing five 30 minute sessions of the Carmen Sandiego computer game with solving as many cases as you can before capturing Carmen Sandiego. The kids were each given a disk with the Carmen Sandiego computer game. Each disk is placed in a envelope containing the name of the participant. We are not allowed to take each copy of the game home, they will be collected at the end of each day. We are asked to turn the sound off as well as putting walls in between each computer to avoid showing other people's work and distractions. Remember, eyes on your own monitor. After three sessions are done, half of the group whoever has the most cases solved moves on to the next round, while the other half are eliminated. At the end of the week, the fifteen kids who solved the most cases moves on to the next phase of the audition process.

Step 2: The next phase is a 50 Question Geography test. The test consists of:

10 Regular Clue Formats [each location contain three clues and three possible answers (like on the show!)
10 Lighting Round Questions
Two Chase Rounds [We are asked to track down where the crook went to five different places.]
20 Map Round Questions [5 for each of the continents that were used on the map: Africa, Europe, Asia, U.S.A. [later North America], and South America]

The passing score is 35.

After the audition process is done, an assembly was held to determine the Gumshoes that will be appearing on the show. It begins with a welcome by superintendent of the school, followed by the principals saying some words, and then the producers of the show discussing how the game is played. This is followed by a showing of an episode from the previous season. When my brother tried out for the show in 1992, the episode we watched was Minnehaha: The Filching of the Falls.

Afterwards, the envelope containing the result of the five students that will be appearing on the show is handed over to the superintendent of the school. The superintendent makes the announcement. 

After the assembly is over, he/she is given paperwork for him/her and their parent/guardian to fill out. The paperwork has to be turned in so that the Gumshoe can take part in the show. And then, we have given at least a month or so to prepare to head to New York for Carmen Sandiego.

The Day of Taping as a Gumshoe

On the date that you have been selected for the taping, you were to report to the entrance of Kaufman Astoria Studios where a studio representative will direct you to the stage for Carmen Sandiego. There, you will be greeted by the producers of the show. They will give you more paperwork to fill out, and then you will proceed to a computer on what your name will appear in your name tag as well as the Gumshoe podium tags. Afterwards, you are taken to the Gumshoe arrivals room where you will be meeting the Gumshoes that will be appearing on the day's taping.

The contestant coordinator then arrives and introduces herself. She will give some important rules on how the game is played, as well as eligibility requirements. As the Chief always says "All contestants have been briefed regarding game rules prior to their appearance." Afterwards, the contestant coordinator will assign the Gumshoes the taping number that they will be assigned to followed by the distribution of the Gumshoe jackets and the name tags.

After the selection process is done, the Gumshoes for the first taping participate in a mock version of the show itself. This is often called a rehersal game. It's a modified version of the actual gameplay.

Round 1:
First Clue
Lighting Round
Phone Tap (using an old Phone Tap from a previous season)
The Chase
Final Clue

Jailtime Challenge: All three Gumshoes Participate in the Jailtime Challenge

--The other Gumshoes are asked to wait in the Green Room. They are shown the case that they will be going after in Seasons 2 and 3 only. The process is then repeated for the next three Gumshoes.--

After all the Gumshoes have completed their rehersal, it is time to go to a randomly chosen map for the taping sessions.

Map Round: Each Gumshoe has 45 seconds to get eight locations right in the best time possible. The other Gumshoes are asked to remain into the Green Room so that they cannot hear or see the outcome of the other Gumshoes map.

Once the practice round is completed, it is time for a 30-minute lunch break. Once the lunch is done, Rockapella arrives in the Green Room where they will be introduced one by one. During this time, the audience is loaded into the studio getting ready for the taping session. The Gumshoes for the taping session are then loaded into the dressing room where they will go through a metal detector, put make up [we want to look nice for the show!], as well as the choosing of our hats for the opening sequence. More on those later. 

After the audience is loaded in, the producers arrive on the set introducing themselves telling about the rules of the audience. Then, the producer will introduce the warm-up host who will be warming up the audience.

Season 1: Brandon Marcellius
Season 2: Scott Leonard and/or Sean Altman
Season 3: Chip Fu
Season 4: Chris B
Season 5: Chris B or Misfits in the Attic 

The warm-up host will speak for fifteen minutes saying funny jokes, singing songs, followed by the introduction of Rockapella. In Seasons 2 and 3, the audience watches the case for the taping session. The warm-up host will speak for a few more minutes. And then, the lights go up, the cameras start rolling, the crowd goes wild...

Chief: All these people want to know...!

Rockapella: Where in the World is... Carmen Sandiego?

[They do the intro]

Chief: And one of these people could find her!

Seasons 1 and 2: The Gumshoes were in a randomly different pose in the alley accompained by Rockapella scatting the intro. In Season 1, the Chief introduced the Gumshoes individually. Barry Carl would do this job in a recorded voice in Season 2. After the Gumshoe's name is announced he/she enters HQ as quickly as possible.

Season 3: The Gumshoes were introduced in the Arrivials room. Barry Carl now talks about the Gumshoes instead of the Chief.

Season 4 and 5: The Gumshoes enter HQ via the Chief's Office and takes his/her position.

After the Gumshoes are introduced, Rockapella stands up and dance as Greg enters the alley and greets them in many ways. After the Chief says "Here's special/senior agent/captain in charge of training new recruits, Greg Lee!" Greg will enter HQ through the ACME Crime Net door [which is a door with a privacy glass window with the ACME Crime Net logo (sans the triangle) on it) hangs up his coat and takes off his hat.

Season 1: Greg wears a red or green jacket.
Season 2: Greg wears a dark blue jacket.
Seasons 3-5: Greg wears a teal jacket.


The HQ Portion of the show has a yellow invisible checkered pattern floor. Behind Greg's position is ACME's Most Wanted Wall showing pictures of Carmen's Gang as well as the Loot in question of that episode. In Seasons 4 and 5, it's only picutres of Carmen's Gang. On the center of the set is the monitor which is a green casing, a 24 inch screen, as well as an old radio tuner for which Greg can change the channel to a specific clue. On top of it, is a slot [rarely used] for which Greg can deposit things into the monitor to be sent to the Chief's office. On the right is a clue chip reader used for video music clues. On the left of the set is the Gumshoe's Area.*b1Uwr2QSg-uMYM2y.jpeg

The Gumshoes area is three podiums in one. Each containing the name plate of the name of the Gumshoe, a 15" monitor to show the score [which is on a purple background with white text]. On top of the podium is cards to show Greg the answers for the main game. Whenever a clue is played, the Gumshoes are asked by Greg what color card is used for that clue [Orange, Yellow, Green, or Magenta]. Next to those cards is orange numerical cards in multiples of 10 from 0 to 50 for the risk round. Near those, is the signaling device used for the Lighting Round, Chase, or tie-breaker. The area is bordered by a green fence with purple ball posts, with a gate which is used for the Gumshoes to enter or exit the area.

Now, onto the game! After Greg enters HQ, he will introduce the game in the following formats:

Season 1: Greg greets the Gumshoes, then the Chief will introduce the case, and then Greg will explain the rules of the game.

Season 2: Greg greets the Gumshoes, the Chief will then give a brief explaination of what crook stole the loot (for example: "Greg, Patty Larceny has stolen the Times Square Ball and there's no time to loose. Here's a profile on Patty."), then give the first clue.

Season 3: Greg greets the Gumshoes, announces the grand prize, and then go straight to the first clue without explaining any rules at all. "You know how the game is played."

Seasons 4 and 5: Greg greets the Gumshoes, introduces Rockapella, announces the Grand Prize, the Chief will introduce the case, and then Greg will explain the rules of the game.

Afterwards, the clue is played. The Gumshoes are to find the correct card with the answer. He/she picks up the card showing the blank side indicating the Gumshoe has locked in his/her answer. For the risk, the Gumshoe lays the card face down. After Greg asks the Gumshoe to show him his/her answer, he/she turns the card over revealing the answer. Once the clue is finished, the Gumshoes put the card into the discard slot. 

Last edited by ACME Crime Net (5/05/2017 7:09 pm)


5/02/2018 3:45 am  #2

Re: A Day As a Gumshoe

This is a fascinating "behind the scenes" exposé! Did you happen upon this information elsewhere, or were you yourself a contestant? If it's the latter, which episode did you appear on?


5/02/2018 8:42 pm  #3

Re: A Day As a Gumshoe

That was from my brother's appearance in the unaired Auld Lang Gone. He attended other tapings of the show in Seasons 3, 4, and 5.

Last edited by ACME Crime Net (5/02/2018 8:42 pm)

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7/18/2018 5:37 pm  #4

Re: A Day As a Gumshoe

The Lighting Round:

After three clues (two in Seasons 2 and 5), it is time for the Lighting Round. This is accompanied by a thunder sound effect and lighting effects (either by strobes lights or graphics in post-production). In Season 4, lighting bolts or hairy hands are shown to the camera accompanied by the sound effects. In Season 5, whenever Greg excitedly screams the camera will quickly zoom in on him and a stagehand will put some sort of lighting bolt on his head as if he was struck by lighting.

The Chase:

When it's time for the Chase to happen, Greg will inform the Gumshoes that the crook has left the last location visited and reminds them that it's time to "...pick up...the Chase!" This is always accompanied by Rockapella singing "Oooooooooooooooooooooooh... THE CHASE!" This particular cue was pre-recorded. In Season 5, the cue was changed to include Jeff Thatcher's vocal percussion.

In Seasons 2 and 3, random members of Rockapella are standing on either side of the set. When the cue is played and after Greg says "Let's pick up the Chase!" The Chase scene will happen. In Auld Lang Gone, Scott (who is wearing Sean's hat) ran across the stage, Sean started to Chase him but throws his hat across the stage, then runs behind the monitor and strips Greg's jacket. Sean laughs and Greg angrily chased him all around the studio. When they arrive at the Jailtime Challenge set, Sean danced around the set and confetti falls on him stopping him. Greg was giving a standing ovation, picks up the jacket and returns to HQ.

After Season 2, the producers decided to stop using Chase scenes involving Greg and the Chief. Reason: It slows down the episode!

In Seasons 4 and 5, the Chase cue plays after Greg says "Let's pick up the Chase!"

The Chief's Office:

The Chief's Office is located in a separate sound stage at Kaufman Astoria Studios. In Season 1, the office is located next to HQ. This is more like a traditional office. The office has two separate parts. A desk and a bookcase.

The Desk: The desk features the ACME Crime Net triangle in front of the sketch along with a magnifying glass and a fax machine which was rarely shown. In Season 2, The desk features a monitor named Walter. Walter is controlled via a stagehand and chroma-keyed and which the Chief will insert a plastic screen to display the briefing. In Season 3, the slides are controlled automatically via producer. In Seasons 4 and 5, the Chief has a double knobed controller with an antenna to control the slide-show. In Season 5, the knob is updated to modem Greg and the Gumshoes, which will get to later.

Bookcase: The Crook Files each containing stories about the crook. THEY WERE NEVER OPENED!

Never shown on camera are three monitors: One to face the Gumshoes, one to face the audience, and one to face Greg. In front of the monitors are two cameras. Many of the scenes involving the Chief are pre-recorded since Season 2. Whenever a live shoot is needed, all three cameras and monitors would be turned on. When used to film briefings of the theft, photo recon, or ACME Travel Kit presentation, the center monitor is used for a teleprompter.

The office sketches were written by both Greg and the Chief and are generally filmed one month before the tapings of each season.

When the office sketch is finish, Greg will come out of the office and go to the Phone Tap. In the final season, the Gumshoes are asked to go to the alley and they are given newspapers to read while the office sketch is played. 

Last edited by ACME Crime Net (7/18/2018 8:43 pm)

     Thread Starter

10/20/2018 9:25 am  #5

Re: A Day As a Gumshoe

At the end of the first round, the two Gumshoes who have the high scores at the end of this round will proceed to the next round: The Jailtime Challenge. 

Before the Jailtime Challenge began, as Greg says "We do not send agents out into the field unprepared. Chief, how about a briefing?" In the first two seasons, Greg and the Gumshoes watched the briefing from monitor. When the briefing is over, Greg and the Gumshoes will then walk to the station via the alley picking up suitcases getting a quick drink of water to wash their voices. The Jailtime Challenge set is located on the other side of the set. Exit HQ, make a left to leave the alley, one more left turn and you'll see the Jailtime Challenge set. The studio audience saw the entire round from the monitors from above.

In Seasons 3 and 4, Greg will pull a mini-monitor from the regular monitor containing the Chief. When it's time to go, one of the Gumshoes will grab Greg's hat using the same route as before minus the suitcases. Upon arrival at the Jailtime Challenge set, after the Gumshoes take their positions, Greg will insert the mini-monitor and a red button [which is rarely shown!] will light up and Greg will press it to start the briefing. For the studio, after the Chief announces "There are fifteen places here in (location)..." the Jailtime Challenge board will be covered up on a big television screen. " This resulted in a stop down for five minutes before and after the briefing. Once completed, the screen slides off to the left side of the board to reveal the board. 

In Season 5, the route is slightly changed. After the presentation of the ACME Gumshoe Gear, they will exit the door as usual except they are now go to a special room called "The Chroma Key Room" to use blue-screen technology to modem Greg and the Gumshoes. The Modem Machine is lowered from the ceiling, the modem process is actually done in post-production. Upon hearing the Chief saying "Are you and the Gumshoes ready to modem?", Greg and the Gumshoes will hold their breaths for about ten seconds. Once the modem is complete, Greg and Gumshoes will proceed to the Jailtime Challenge set and Greg will simply press the button to start the briefing. If you hear carefully at the end of the briefing, you will hear a click indicating the screen has been in it's locked position.

The Jailtime Challenge set resembles a bit of a train station. At the beginning of the round, you will see the words "TOURIST INFORMATION" in an arch with red letters. Below it with a green line is the final destination. On the wall are fictional advertisements such as ACME Line, Sleuth Soda, and Vord Express. Below them are pieces of luggage which was brought in by the Gumshoes in Seasons 1 and 2. In the final seasons, the luggage was already there. There is queue line with red poles and microphones, that's the podium where the two remaining Gumshoes will stand. The Gumshoe who had the highest score at the end of the last round stands at the right pole, the other stands on the left.

Above the set, rarely shown is Rockapella Center [a pun of Rockefeller Center], here Rockapella sings various phrases about the Loot and anything containing shoe prints. The Warrant is always sung "The Warrant!", and the Crook's jingle. They always stand and use their wireless microphones to sing. They also feature a box and a plunger to control the confetti. We will get to that in a second.

Now, the Jailtime Challenge board itself. The board resembles fifteen trillions where you will find the loot, warrant, and crook in that order. The remaining had orange shoe prints indicating nothing was there. The Jailtime Challenge board is always controlled via stagehands. When Greg asks for a location (for example "The Red City"), a stage hand will quickly turn the trillion over. When a turn is ended, one or all three trillions will turn back around at once. On the right side of the board, is a box where a telephone is located. We will get to that in a second.

When all three Gumshoes are found in that order, Barry will control the confetti box on the Gumshoe who found the loot, and the warrant. When the crook is found and after Rockapella sings the crook's jingle. Barry (or Jeff in Season 5, or in some cases all of Rockapella) will press the plunger to send the confetti down on the Gumshoe. Season 1 featured white confetti, Seasons 2 and 3 featured rainbow confetti. Season 4 featured bigger white confetti. Season 5 featured large confetti of different colors (including gold and silver!). 

In Seasons 2-5, in sync with the fanfare is a chain with a green ring is lowered to put the crook in jail. In the first three seasons, the Gumshoe must stand under the confetti before going to Greg to pull the chain. [In The Waltz Whammy, The Case of the Filched Freedom Fighter, The Goon Who Stole the Moon, and the Grand Trunk Punk, the Gumshoe went to the chain immediately only to be stopped by Greg to go under the confetti.] In Seasons 4 and 5, Greg will walk to the winning Gumshoe in sync with the confetti and the Gumshoe will pull the chain him/herself. 

Upon the chain being pulled, a foghorn will sound (recycled from the 1990 version of Let's Make a Deal), and the crook putting in jail was shown on a monitor [never shown], always accompained by....

P-P-P-Patty's in jail!
Double Trouble (Trouble)'s in jail!
Vic the Slick's in jail!
Robo-Crook's in jail!
Eartha Brute... (HUH!) in jail!
Contessa's in jail!
Top jail! [NOTE: For Top Grunge's "in jail" tune, "Grunge" and "in jail" are blended together.]
Wonder Rat... in jail!
Kneemoi... in jail!
Sarah Nade... in jail!

Afterwards, the winning Gumshoe will stay with Greg while the loosing Gumshoe will walk away from the set to the Green Room while the Chief was telling him/her about the consolation prize he/she will recieve.

Following the presentation of the ACME Travel Kit, Greg will give the Gumshoe a brown leather portfilio with the show's logo on it. In Season 4, the portfolio will be covered in various acts [like confetti, flowers, or zig-zags]. Inside the portfolio is a piece of paper [the colors vary each episode] with a pen on it (actually a magic marker!) to write down where they want to go if they capture Carmen Sandiego. When the trip think cue is played, the Gumshoe will write down their trip location. When the cue ends, he/she will give the portfolio back to Greg. Following that, a telephone located on the right side of the Jailtime Challenge board will ring as to find out where Carmen is. Greg will answer the phone for a few seconds, then he will give it to the Gumshoe, and then a recording of the captured crook's voice is heard and he/she will tell the Gumshoe where to find Carmen Sandiego. 


In Season 1, Greg will tell the Gumshoe "We're going to (location)! Chief?"
Seasons 2 and 3, Greg will ask the Gumshoe  the location followed by "We're going to (location)! Chief?"
Seasons 4 and 5: Greg will cue the Chief immediately without asking the Gumshoe the final location.

Greg and the Gumshoe then will leave the Jailtime Challenge set to go to the dressing room. The winning Gumshoe is then given a list of places Carmen may have traveled on the monitor by the Chief. Following that, Greg will take off his lapel mic and get a wireless handheld microphone. The winning Gumshoe gets the confetti cleaned off using a blow-dryer. Follow that, Greg is given a card containing the list of places Carmen may have traveled in a different order than the Chief's presentation. 

While Greg and the winning Gumshoe are in the dressing room, the warm-up host will arrive on the Map explaining how to cheer on and practicing "DO IT ROCKAPELLA!" He/she will do this for a few minutes and then leave the Map to prepare for the Greg and the Gumshoes arrival upon hearing...

Chief: Greg! Let's go to the map!

Scott: I feel GOOD!

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