1023: Late-Night PBS

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Late-Night PBS
Then it switched to these old black-and-white tapes of Bob Ross slumped against the wall of an empty room, painting the least happy trees you've ever seen. Either PBS needs to beef up studio security or I need to stop using Ambien to sleep.
Title text: Then it switched to these old black-and-white tapes of Bob Ross slumped against the wall of an empty room, painting the least happy trees you've ever seen. Either PBS needs to beef up studio security or I need to stop using Ambien to sleep.


PBS stands for Public Broadcasting Service and is an American TV broadcaster that is predominantly supported by the viewers themselves through pledge drives. It often runs (and sometimes co-produces) acclaimed British costume dramas, including the mentioned "Downton Abbey".

"Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego" was a computer game series in the mid-80s. The series moved to a game-show TV series in the early from around 1990 to 1995. The point of the series was to learn about geography and the world while playing a game or watching a game show. Carmen Sandiego was a mysterious character that you tracked around the globe, attempting to find clues to find out where she was headed to next.

Mogadishu is a battle-torn city in Somalia, where there was the aptly named "Battle of Mogadishu" in 1993, which would coincide with the airdates of "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego" game show.

The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970-1975).

The reference to "A Bookshelf in a Dutch Apartment" is a reference to Anne Frank, who was a Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis in a Secret Annex hidden behind a bookshelf in an apartment in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She wrote the famous diary, Diary of Anne Frank.

Rockapella was the 'A cappella' group (keeping up the tradition of punny names for a cappella groups) which sang the theme song to "Where in The World Is Carmen Sandiego." 'A cappella' is a loan word from Italian meaning "in the manner of the Church" hearkening back to Gregorian chant; in the 19th century the term evolved to mean any vocalization without accompaniment.

The last frame also makes mention of how some programs intended for children often have subtle themes for adults who may be watching the show with their children.

In the title text there is a reference to Bob Ross, a famous painter with a painting show on PBS called "The Joy of Painting" that ran for 12 years.

Ambien, also known as Zolpidem, is a prescription medication used for the treatment of insomnia, as well as some brain disorders. Known side effects are vivid dreams and hallucinations if you wake up (or haven’t yet fallen asleep) while it is still active.


[Megan is rubbing sleep out of her eyes and talking to Cueball.]
Megan: Have you ever watched PBS late at night?
Megan: I fell asleep after Downton and woke up at like 3 AM.
[The upper portion of the panel continues dialogue, while the lower shows a drunk gameshow host and several contestants. The monitor shows a field of crosses, presumably graves.]
Megan: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was back on, except the host hadn't aged well and he'd clearly been drinking.
Megan: Every question took them to some horrible place like Mogadishu or the Cambodian killing fields.
[Now it shows a bookshelf revealing a hidden room.]
Megan: The kids were freaked out, but they kept playing. Eventually they were told they'd found Carmen Sandiego hiding behind a bookshelf in a Dutch apartment.
Megan: The Chief appeared and asked "Are you proud of what you've become?"
Megan: Then Rockapella walked out and just glared at the kids until they started crying.
Cueball: I, uh, don't remember the old show being that dark.
Megan: Maybe we were too young to pick up on it.

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I still remember playing the Carmen San Diego educatonal games. Oh, good, good days. Davidy22[talk] 13:17, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Now I know why my copy was glitchy... Anonymous 17:20, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

The show is Downton Abbey, not Downtown Abbey. I feel like if I actually edit it the strip Randall made about that very annoyance will win. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

So, it has come to this. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I've just gone through the whole explanation, correcting spelling and grammar. As I went I fixed other issues, so it's not JUST spelling and grammar - I've updated links, reworded sections, and revised sentence order. I think we can remove the Incomplete tag now, but in light of the heavy editing and the low activity this explanations receives, I'll leave it a week or so for comments before I do so. Cosmogoblin (talk) 14:36, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for cleaning up my mess. 19:36, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

I would like to suggest for someone to edit the explanation for this comic. The killing fields were created in the time period mentioned, however they still exist to this day, so Carmen Sandiego could *easily* have gone there. However, not stepping on a landmine might have proved to be a problem. I am not editing it personally because it's a really big explanation and I'm fairly busy at the moment. Znayx (talk) 19:45, 20 March 2016 (UTC)