Monday, March 7, 2011

Legends of the Hidden Temple

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

So many great NICK shows were taped in Orlando. I really wish that I had been able to see something there when I was a kid, since I only lived two hours away after I was nine! Legends of the Hidden Temple was a kid's action-type gameshow where 12 kids would start off, and by the end, two would win at least a small CD player or remote-controlled car or something like that. Contestants also got to keep their t-shirts, which I think would be cool. I once named this my favorite game show ever, because it was just so on-the-edge-of-your-seat the whole time!  

Brief history: It ran from 1993-1995, and kept rerunning on Nickelodeon until 1998. After that, it was seen for another ten years on the NICK GAS channel, but now it's off the air, since that channel no longer exists. 120 episodes were produced in all, and it was ultimately canceled because a renewal for a fourth season was considered to be too risky, given that NICK was considering 3 other game shows. Kirk Fogg was the "human" host, and Olmec was kind of a co-host made of stone, LoL. Some fun facts about the Temple Runs: Temple Guards never appear in the Jester's Court or in the Pit. The Shrine of the Silver Monkey is the only room that appeared in every temple layout. The Room of the Golden Idols was never successfully passed, and the Treasure Room only ever had one person successfully get through.

The game: There were six boy-girl teams at the beginning of the game. Each team wore a certain color and had a team name -Blue Barracudas, Orange Iguanas, Silver Snakes, Purple Parrots, Red Jaguars, Green Monkeys. The try-outs for the game had a few requirements... you had to be able to run, climb a rope, pass a written test, and be between 11 and 14 years old. There may or may not have been a pull-up requirement, I'm not sure. If there was, I'm definitely out - both then AND now. There were multiple rounds, and although most of them were action-stunt-related, there was a round that focused more on history & mythology, though you really didn't have to know anything in advance if you were a good listener.

First, there was the Moat. Each team had to cross a shallow pool by swinging on a rope, climbing a rope net, paddling, swimming, etc. After both members of the team made it, they were safe, and the first four teams to finish moved on. Then, there was the Steps of Knowledge, where Olmec (a giant stone head) would tell the history of an artifact, sometimes Mayan to fit with the general decor. Then, he'd ask several questions, each with three possible answers. If you wanted, you could "buzz in" before Olmec finished asking the question, but you wouldn't get to hear the end of it. If you answered incorrectly or took too long, the other teams were given a chance to answer. The first two teams to get three correct answers each got to move on. Oh, it was called "Steps of Knowledge" because when you were right, you stepped down a level, until you got to the bottom. Next, the Temple Games. There were always three of them, the first two being worth a half-pendant of life, and the final one being worth a whole pendant, making it possible to tie as well. Another history question was the tie-breaker if needed, and the team to answer correctly moved on. The first two games were one-on-one, and the final game involved both players on both teams. There was a wide variety of challenges, and they generally fit with the artifact theme to a certain extent. The Temple Games were very Double Dare in style.

Finally, the remaining team would get to do the Temple Run. To a kid watching, it was the longest three minutes in television, LoL. One player would start by running into the Temple, going from room to room (there were 12 or 13 rooms total), trying to find the artifact and get it out again. He carried a full pendant. You also could find your other pendant piece, if you totaled 1.5, giving you two complete pendants. Many doors would be locked, and you had to complete a puzzle or hit an actuator to open them. Sometimes, you'd have to backtrack instead. The worst part about the Temple was the Temple Guards. Running into one of those meant you lost a full life pendant. If you didn't have one (you dropped it somewhere or it was taken by another Guard), you were out and the second player came in (who had the other pendant if applicable), generally running the same course, with previous puzzles already solved so the doors were left open. There were three guards, and each would only appear once. If you got your hands on the artifact, the doors all opened and the Guards all disappeared, allowing you a clean exit to run back through the Temple. If the team never got to the artifact, they won a basic prize. If they got the artifact but didn't get out in time, they got a second prize. If they managed to get the artifact out in time, they won both prizes and a trip. 32 teams out of 120 managed to win the big trip. 

Notable changes to the way the game is played: In the first season, the announcer did a lot of the talking, but in the second two seasons, they used Olmec to say a lot of the rules, questions, etc. Also in the second two seasons, the audience at home was given a little map in the lower corner during the Temple Run, outlining the layout, the contestant's path, and where the artifact was. The moat also got fog in the second and third seasons.

Special contestants: No special contestants, just random kids.

Favorite Rounds: Um, the Temple Run. Like all the cool kids, I thought it was awesome. Though I probably would've screamed at the Temple Guards, LoL. I have to say that there's a really comprehensive episode guide out there that true fans will want to see. Let's take a look at a few Temple Runs... here's one where the kids are just too slow, and that's their downfall. I would've liked this one, where they didn't run into ANY Temple Guards! Here's the shortest of all the Temple Runs... they get just about half of their time before they run out of pendants. This one is sad... the second kid doesn't even get to go in before they run out of time. But, in another episode where the second kid doesn't get to go in, they finish in the fastest win in show history. If, for some reason, the second kid isn't bright enough to follow their partner's path, they usually lost... here's an episode where they lost super-fast because of that. Here's one of many where the kid looks absolutely clueless about the obstacles, including not knowing how to put the three-piece Silver Monkey back together. Oooh, here's another Monkey-failure, partly because she DROPS THE BODY over the railing! And here's one where they actually win, complete with Olmec's intro

My take: When I was watching the show, my brother and I thought we were perfect candidates. Now that I know what all is involved, I wonder if we would've passed the try-outs... I was 12 when taping stopped, and my brother only 9, so I was old enough, but he wasn't. We could both run, but I don't know that either of us had the upper-body strength required to climb a rope. I'm not positive I could do it now, either. But I sure would try!! Maybe I wouldn't have been the best rope-swinger, but I was an excellent rope-net-climber. I was the fastest one to climb across every time in elementary school, LoL. And, while I would've partnered up with my brother when we were kids, I think I'd choose my friend, Heather, as a partner, now. She's definitely got the athletic prowess to carry our team, and between us, we've got that Steps of Knowledge part down pat! She might be one of those loud screamers when she runs into a Temple Guard, tho!

Did you ever watch Legends of the Hidden Temple? Would you watch it if it came back on the air? Who would you partner with if the show was still on the air and you were competing (even if you're now an adult, too!)?
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Kelly said...

I loved that the three piece silver monkey was always a HUGE challenge for everyone. I would scream at the TV "OMG PEOPLE. It's only THREE pieces!!!"

Hunter-m3 said...

I can guarantee my brother and I would have dominated any of the challege type shows when we were younger. We were both the fastest kids in our school by far and our upper body strength compared to our wieght was insane. I use to climb chains of the swings using only my arms and no legs w/o it even phasing me. In the Presidental Challenge in PE I still hold the record at every year we did it (every year till highschool). Now, I cannot do near as many but I still run for a big ten school in Cross and Track.