For anyone who had access to Nickolodeon in 1993 and ever had a dream of becoming an archaeologist or adventurer someday, "Legends of the Hidden Temple" was a dream come true.
A show went like this: six teams consisting of two ordinary kids would start out on a quest for some sort of item, usually a historical artifact such as a paintbrush belonging to Leonardo da Vinci. The six teams--the Red Jaguars, the Blue Barracudas, the Green Monkeys, the Orange Iguanas, the Purple Parrots, and the Silver Snakes--would line up and wait for the signal from the show's host, Kirk Fogg, cleverly dressed in "adventurer" gear. In this sample show, one team member has to paddle a boat across a pool surrounded by enough jungle scenery to qualify as a moat. The boat has a rope attached to it, and when the first team member gets out of the boat, he or she tied the rope around a pole. The second team member then had to walk across this rope with the help of a bar placed above the moat. As soon as the second player was on the other side, that player ran to a pedestal and hit the button on top. The first four teams to do so go on to the next round. The two slowest teams, the Green Monkeys and Orange Iguanas in this case, went home with $50 savings bonds.
Next come the Steps of Knowledge. The mysterious talking stone head dominating the scenery, aptly named "Olmec", would tell a story to the four teams. Kirk Fogg then asked questions about the story. Players stomped on markings in front of their steps to ring in and answer. The first two teams with three right answers move on to the next round. The Red Jaguars and the Silver Snakes go home with a pair of Skechers sneakers.
Next are the Temple Games, three physical tests such as crawling along a slick plastic mat while attached to a bungee cord. These were somehow incorporated into the story told by Olmec. There are two individual games and one team game. Each individual game won gives the team a half Pendant of Life (more on this later), while the team game awards a full Pendant. The team with the most Pendants at the end of the Temple Games wins the right to go into the Temple. The Blue Barracudas go home with two video games apiece, while the Purple Parrots go on to the Temple with a full Pendant and a half-Pendant.
The Purple Parrots now go into the Temple itself to try to get the artifact and get out of the Temple within three minutes. If they can do that, they get a trip to Space Camp. The paintbrush is hidden in the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. In the way are three Temple Guards who are assigned to three specific rooms in the Temple. The contestants go in one at a time. If a contestant enters that room, the contestant is "captured". The contestant can give the Temple Guard a Pendant of Life to go on, but if the contestant is caught without a Pendant, that player is taken out of the Temple and the player's partner must go into the Temple.
The first Purple Parrot, Joanna, runs in the lower entrance, the Cave. She crawls through to the Pit of the Pendulum, knocks over a column, and goes to the highest room of the Temple, the Observatory. A Temple Guard catches her there, but she has a pendant, so she can go on. She spins the compass and goes down to the Treasure Room. She opens the treasure chest and climbs down into the Swamp. She screams as a Temple Guard pops out of the muck to capture her. She doesn't have a pendant, so she must leave. Mitch must now run into the Temple. He follows his team-mate's path to avoid any Temple Guards and grabs the half-Pendant of Life hidden in the Treasure Room, giving him a full Pendant. He's safe now. He goes into the Tomb of the Ancient Kings and opens the sarcophagus to find the hidden key, then applies it to a tomb on the wall. It opens, and so Mitch climbs up...into the Shrine of the Silver Monkey! He grabs the paintbrush. Now all the doors are unlocked and the last Temple Guard is gone. He has thirty seconds to make his way back to the Temple Gate. He runs and runs and finally makes it back with two seconds to spare. They're off to Space Camp!
The Temple changed rooms often. There were picturesquely named rooms such as the Jester's Court, the Mine Shaft, the Crypt, the Tomb of the Headless Kings, the Hall of the Ancient Warriors, and the Throne Room, just to name a few. It was a good time and a new action adventure on weekday afternoons, all packed into a half-hour. I remember that I enjoyed the show very much, and if you have a chance to see a rerun (as on the Nickolodeon Games and Sports Channel), do so. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
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