The game show ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ premiered on Nickelodeon from 1993 until 1995, and was in reruns until 1998. It involved six teams of two competing in three rounds of competition in order to advance to the final round—the Temple.
The six teams first had to cross a moat, usually via rope/floatation/paddling in some way, one partner at a time. If they touched or fell into the water, they had to return to the other side. The top four teams would move on to the Steps of Knowledge, where they would be told the Legend of that episode which would be the theme of the remainder of the episode and then quizzed on their memory. The top two teams would then move on to the Temple Games, competitive games based on facets of the Legend, and the team to win two out of three of the games would move on to the Temple, where they would be expected to retrieve the artifact from the Legend.
This. Show. Was. Awesome.
‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ is one of the things from our childhood that in my opinion, doesn’t just hold up to hindsight, it is actually becomes more awesome the older you get. (As the original target audience included high school/college students, this is unsurprising.) When I was a little kid, the Temple Guards freaked me out a little bit too much for me to dream of being on ‘Legends’, but looking back, I totally could have schooled those kids on how to assemble the statue in the Shrine of the Silver Monkey.
(Seriously, how did so many kids have so much trouble with that freaking monkey? It was three pieces! Three!)
Why exactly was ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ so awesome? A big part, in my opinion, of it was the diversity and the pacing of the program. Four rounds were squeezed into a half-hour show, including a water round (The Moat), a trivia round (The Steps of Knowledge), physical challenges (the three Temple Games), and the race through the temple, which was part maze and part puzzle. Compare that to game shows of today, such as ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’ and ‘Deal or No Deal’ where there may be more pauses than actual play time.
The game was challenging, and not in just that ‘challenging-because-you’re-nine’ way. Much as I may silently mock the kids who try and jam the head of the Silver Monkey onto an upside-down middle section, they only had three minutes to complete the Temple Run. Often they would run into locked doors, which would require completing a puzzle or finding an alternate route, and hidden in the temple were the Temple Guards, to whom the players would have to give up the pendants they won during the Temple Games in order to continue. If a player was caught by a Guard without a pendant, they would be removed from the temple and their partner would race into the temple to continue where they left off. If they were caught without a pendant, the game was over. And if a player did get to the artifact, they still had to race through the now unlocked temple back to the main stage. Often, a player would be able to reach the artifact in the three minute timeframe, but unable to exit the temple in time.
And at the end? If they won? They got to go to SPACE CAMP. SPACE CAMP. That is never not a cool prize for an eleven-year-old kid.
The six teams were: the Red Jaguars, the Blue Barracudas, the Silver Snakes, the Orange Iguanas, the Green Monkeys, and the Purple Parrots. Personally, I always felt bad for the Orange Iguanas and the Purple Parrots—quite lame animals when compared to a Jaguar and a Barracuda, for example. And the Purple Parrots especially seemed to have trouble making it to the Temple Run. According to www.nicklegends.co.cc, in the show’s original run the Purple Parrots only made it to the Temple 11 times, and only won 3 times. (In comparison, the Orange Iguanas had the highest number of Temple Runs, with 25 attempts. However, they only won 4 times. The Silver Snakes have the most wins, winning 8 times out of their 21 Temple Runs.) (And yes, someone did actually figure out all these statistics!)
(I am obliged to state here, though, that while discussing ‘Legends’ with my best friend, she said she always hated the Silver Snakes because their shirts were gray-ish and ugly.)
In conclusion, ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ was at least as cool as we remembered it, if not cooler. The kids competing had to be legitimately talented to advance to the Temple Round, the prizes were enviable, the half hour was jam-packed full of action, and one of the co-hosts was a giant talking stone head.
What else could you want from a TV show?
Feel free to share below: Looking back, was ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ as awesome as we remember?
Next time, the electronic pet that was miles less creepier than Furby (if not a little traumatizing at times)—Tamagotchi.