Reopen The Gates: Why Nickelodeon Needs To Bring Back Legends of The Hidden Temple

You can ask any kid born in the 90s and even kids born in the 80s what television was like back in those days.

Most of them said television was excellent, some would say television was boring.

You had the shows for the adults and then you had the shows for the kids.

Some shows were for both or at least watched by both.

Throughout the 90s though, you had shows like Power Rangers, Scooby Doo, Dragon ball Z, Martin, Married With Children, Family Matters, Full House and way too many more to name.

Nickelodeon was probably the biggest network for children’s and teen programming and while they had shows like All That, The Amanda Show and Hey Arnold, they also ran game shows.

Game shows such as Nickelodeon GUTS, Double Dare, Family Double Dare, Figure It Out and Nick Arcade. There’s one show though that people still until this day haven’t forgotten about.

That show is Legends of The Hidden Temple.

Hosted by actor Kirk Fogg, this was a game show where kids would compete in intense athletic competition for what was considered big prizes in those days such as Duncan yo-yos, Nesquik products, trips to a fun ranches, Busch Gardens, the Bahamas and even a trip to Space Camp (yay, space camp). It was one of those really fun shows that weren’t just entertaining but quite educational as many shows were in those years, using historical legends that were slightly altered to fit the show’s purpose.

For those of you that remember this show or if you don’t remember or you’re too young to know what this show was…allow me to explain.

Initial Qualifier:

Each show started out with Fogg and an animatronic talking rock named Olmec whose temple it was, (and the star of the show to be honest) explaining which treasure in Olmec’s temple the teams were out to retrieve to win the big prize. There were six teams of two every show, usually one girl and one boy. They were even given names. The Red Jaguars, The Purple Parrots, The Blue Barracudas, The Orange Iguanas, The Green Monkeys, and The Silver Snakes. The reason why they were called those names was that that’s literally the color of the shirts they were wearing and the logos that were on those shirts as well. Anyways, there would be a qualifier to cut down the teams from a field of 6 to a field of 4. Usually, it would be a qualifier involving a “moat” of water and a competition to see which four teams could hit their buttons on the other side of the moat first. Whichever four teams rang their buttons first would move on while the other two were eliminated from the competition.

Steps of Knowledge:

After the qualifier, the four teams remaining went on to compete in the Steps of Knowledge. The Steps of Knowledge was basically storytime with a quiz. Olmec would tell the four teams the backstory about the treasure we were deemed to find at the end. As mentioned earlier, Olmec told stories about historical figures like Amelia Earhart, Buddha, Ponce De Leon, Julius Caesar, Geronimo, Joan of Arc, Helen of Troy, Leonardo De Vinci and so many more with a twist putting in made up treasures that these historical figures left behind. So after Olmec told the story and revealed where exactly in the temple the treasure was located, the teams would then have to answer questions about the story they just heard. As they got a question right, they went down the steps. The field of 4 would come down to 2 and those two teams would advance to the Temple Games.

The Temple Games:

In this part of the competition, the teams would compete for Pendants Of Life. These Pendants of Life were used as deterrents to fend off the “Temple Guards” inside of the temple. There would be three competitions. The first two would be for a half Pendant of Life and the third would be for a full Pendant of Life. In this competition, the teams would have to compete in simulations of things that were mentioned in the legends that Olmec told. These simulations were wild using things like pulleys, harnesses and other objects. The team to win two out of three of the competitions would advance to the Temple Run. Now in the rare case that the teams would tie after three competitions, meaning the two teams have the same number of Pendants of Life (either 1 whole, 1 and a half or in the VERY RARE and HONESTLY NEVER HAPPENED case, 2 whole Pendants), the teams would have a tiebreaker question. If a team got it wrong, the other team would automatically go on the Temple Run.

The Temple Run:

Okay, so this is where things can get complicated. So Olmec gives a verbal tour of the Temple. There are about 12 different rooms inside the Temple, famous rooms included The Shrine of The Silver Monkey, The Tomb of The Ancient Kings, The Dark Forest, Medusa’s Lair, The Swamp, The Room Of The Ancient Markers, The Dungeon, The Room of The Ancient Warriors among many more rotating rooms. As mentioned before, the Temple houses the treasures that the teams have to retrieve but three of those rooms had Temple Guards. The Temple Guards were crew members dressed like ancient warriors with creepy masks on. All the Temple Guards wanted were the Pendants of Life. This made the Temple Games so important. If the winning team had two Pendants, that was the best thing because one team member would take care of two of those Temple Guards by giving their Pendant to one guard and being caught and taken out of the Temple by the second guard. The other team member could deal with the third guard as they have another Pendant. If the team only had one Pendant, they were at an extreme disadvantage because the second team member would have to get through the Temple and get the treasure before coming in contact with the third Temple Guard. 

Now if a team had one and a half Pendants of Life, this was interesting. The second team member had the half Pendant, but the other half was hidden inside the Temple. If they found it, they could take care of the third Temple Guard…if they got caught before finding the treasure or the other half Pendant, the Temple Run ended and the team would get a consolation prize. To be honest, the team that made it to the end got three prizes. One for just making it to the Temple Run, one if they were able to get to the treasure in time, and the Grand Prize if they got out of the Temple in time with the treasure. The time limit was only 3 minutes, but I saw kids tear through the Temple Run like it was nothing. Some needed just a minute or two and some took all but 10 seconds to get out. Many times there were teams that became victims of the Temple’s aura and couldn’t figure their way through the Temple, stumbling and going back and forth trying to navigate this maze of horror. The Temple Run was the meat of the show. It’s the part everyone wanted to see, and this is something that kids of this generation would love.

Cancellation and Film Resurrection:

Legends of the Hidden Temple, as well as shows like their other athletic competitions like Nickelodeon GUTS, were shot at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, though Nickelodeon Studios went under and all their great shows were gone, and Nickelodeon went on to focus on their other shows. It was canceled in 1995 after only three seasons. Reruns were shown until the early 2000s, but it was unfortunately gone after that. People missed this show so much and the demand for its return was so immense that in 2016, a movie was made. Now I know you’re probably saying…how do you make a movie from a game show? Well, the film had elements of the show, just made into a movie involving three kids trying to get into the Temple and help Olmec save his two sons (I never even knew Olmec had sons or that he was an actual human) and get the Pendant of Life to save the Temple. They even brought back the show’s former host Kirk Fogg back as a dilapidated tour guide. 

This movie corrupted my love for the show. Fogg was older and defeated it seemed. The story was confusing and while it was nostalgic, the purpose of it was confusing. Three random kids try to save Olmec’s sons. He had an evil son and a good son, and this was completely stupid, to be honest. They hinted at another movie in the future but why not just bring back the show?

Reopen The Gates:

Look at all the shows and films from the old days being constant resurrected…The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Power Rangers, Scooby Doo, Dumbo, Dynasty and even All That and Double Dare has been resurrected. Why can’t this show be resurrected? People have been clamoring for it for years and yeah, the movie did bring the luster of the show’s legacy down, but it is still a big part of kids’ childhoods and it’s something that I would want my kids to grow up watching. Shows like this made me happy as a kid even when I had zero friends to play with.

If they’re concerned with finding a place to film, I’m sure they could find somewhere in California or back in Florida to film. Yes, the Legends set was very large but I’m sure if Nickelodeon wanted to, they could find some way to bring this show back to TV. You could even bring back Kirk Fogg as host and Dee Baker as the voice of Olmec. If Nickelodeon wants to go into a different direction though, bring back Dee Baker at very least and bring someone else in as host. I mean you have WWE wrestler John Cena as the host of the NEW Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader and YouTuber great Liza Koshy as host of the reimagined Double Dare.

Maybe bring in a Nick Jonas or a Channing Tatum or keep it classic with Kirk Fogg. Regardless I implore Nickelodeon to bring back this show. The kids now will love it, the kids from that time would love to see it come back and honestly, it’s time…

It’s Time to relieve the stories…

It’s Time to travel back through time…

It Is Time To Once Again Embrace The Legends Of The Hidden Temple.

J.D. Phillips

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