Imagine being a preteen, and imagining that you can be on a TV show, a game show. At the height of Nickelodeon’s rise were the game shows that engulfed the airwaves. All a teen hoped was to be on a show in Nickelodeon Studios in Universal Studios, Florida. With the big orange water tower that everyone thought was filled with slime, Nickelodeon studios was where all kids in the 90s wanted to be. One of the popular shows at the time was a “history” Indiana Jones-esque TV show, Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Legends of the Hidden Temple was a historical fiction show where legends and myths were read about and treasures were found. Some of the historical elements were actual stories or real fables that were told, but most of it was fiction. Teams of two would compete through mental and physical challenges, all hoping to win fabulous prizes at the end of the show. These teams were the “red jaguars”, “silver snakes”, “blue barracudas”, “green monkeys”, “purple parrots”, and the “orange iguanas”, each of which had a boy and a girl on the team.
Throughout the show, Olmek, a talking head made of stone, would tell the fable of the day, and host Kirk Fogg would lead kids through the adventure of the day. When the team made it to the end, they would go through the “hidden temple” where they could encounter temple guards. The goal was to find the hidden treasure of the day and bring it back within three minutes.
After watching quite a few episodes of Legends of the Hidden Temple, there are so many thoughts to go over. This was one of my favorite shows to watch on reruns growing up. It seemed exciting and was intriguing to start with. From the beginning, the episode is brought in halfway through the first challenge with the teams. It is usually a water challenge, where kids have to get from one side of a pool to the other with obstacles in the way. As preteens, these kids had a lot more upper body strength than I did, so props to them. From there, two teams were eliminated. You don’t meet them; you don’t really get to see them; they are just done. I couldn’t imagine trying to do this challenge, failing, and never really getting the chance to be on TV. It would be devastating.
After, kids hear this fable story from Olmec, this humongous talking stone head, who is actually quite frightening. He tells this crazy tale, that includes this treasure that eventually you are going to need to find. After that, they introduce the kids, and go through the second challenge, “The Steps of Knowledge”. Basically, it’s a memory game. You have to remember what this stone guy was saying in his tall tale and if you do, you get to move on. So, after 2 teams make it to the bottom of the “steps of knowledge”, then they have two other challenges to do, one per person.
These challenges are usually physical and are very difficult to get done in the time limit they suggest. If you win, you get a pendant of life, which can go towards if you meet a temple guard. So 3 physical challenges, and 1 mental, all to get to this final maze that “Spoiler Alert” you probably won’t get through.
After all the grueling competition, the team finally gets to go through the “temple”. Here is where the issue lies. Go one way in to find the room, and out another way. Problem number two: you have 3 minutes to get through roughly 8 puzzles, climb through, and hope you don’t get lost in the temple. Another struggle is the temple guards. If you meet a temple guard, you can give them the pendant you earned and continue on. If you find another guard, it is your partner’s turn. So, you make it almost all the way through, with a good amount of time. There is one thing that will trip you and everyone else up The Shrine of the Silver Monkey.
Why is a 3 object shrine so hard to figure out? I don’t know. There are three pieces scattered throughout the room. Find them, and put them together. That’s it. After that, you can move on to the next room just like any other puzzle in the room. This one, however, plagues everyone. The showrunners figured this out, and almost every time your path includes the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. This, along with everything else, makes it near impossible to win the game.
Teams still won a prize, making it to the end, but if you got the artifact, the prize was significantly better. For example, the regular prize might be a backpack, but if you made it out, you could win a trip to the Bahamas. 12/40 teams won the grand prize in season 1. 9/40 won the grand prize in season 2. Obviously, this production team didn’t want to give away trips they wanted to give away sponsor prizes that were cheap. This was the sad part about the game. I loved watching to see the struggle, but it gets sad after a while watching kids try and not be able to succeed.
It’s a really cute show, with a lot of problems. At least with other shows, you knew you could win something spectacular because it was attainable. This was more of a trap. I do still enjoy watching kids struggle to put together that stupid silver monkey.
Does it Hold up: ⭐⭐
It looks very old. The stories are ridiculous and Indiana Jones hasn’t been relevant in a while.
It brings back a lot of memories of watching as a kid and wanting to go to Nickelodeon studios!
Do you agree with my assessment? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!