In reflection, the early 90s was quite the era. Grunge rock was more than music, but a lifestyle of ripped and bleached jeans blended with angry and rebellious thoughts consuming middle-class White America.
NWA and Public Enemy vividly showcased that African-Americans have a right to hate the police, and that being “Straight Outta Compton” has its potential ups and downs.
And let us not forget the Hispanics, who shook their hips to the rhythm of “biddi-biddi-bum-bop” with the graces of Selena.
Through all that, there was a show that allowed everyone of color, creed and race to come together for one common goal. Every youngster who ever watched Nickelodeon (and they didn’t for the lame Stick Sticky) wished they had a chance to enter Olmec’s Temple.
From 1993 to 1995, Legends of the Hidden Temple allowed its contestants to undergo various physical tasks in order to gather pendants of life. These allowed admittance into the temple, which was a sign that this show was truly something amazing.
How can one not forget the show’s opening? Olmec, the talking stone God with a flashy red hat, firmly stated the show’s name. Next, a strange man swung by harness and rope to fool the young children of America into thinking he might be a modern Tarzan.
That silly man swinging violently across the screen happened to be Kirk Fogg, the host and Olmec’s homeboy. Fogg’s job isn’t just to host the show, but to lead those prize-hungry, nose picking kids into the Temple. But getting in isn’t that easy, if you remember.
One of the first obstacles to be conquered was the dreaded moat. Six teams of two, representing various jungle creatures with colors that would never actually correlate with the actual animal, had to cross this disastrous looking component and hit the podium button, or what the contestants believed was a gong.
The first four teams to ring their gongs would move on to round two, while the losers were sent home, but not empty handed! The losing teams would receive a pair of LA Gears, a mountain bike or a Super Nintendo. An SNES is something that, at the time, I would have cut off my right arm for (because I’m left-handed).
The Steps of Knowledge, or the faux-educational part of the show, was when Olmec would tell a story about the artifact to be found. Olmec would test the listening comprehension of the contestants, giving them a sample PSATs, and asking them a series of questions to tinker with their memory and knowledge of the story.
If a team knew the answer, they would act as if a Kids Bop album just turned on in their head and begin to jump up and down continuously, hitting the buzzer under their feet. The first two teams to answer the questions correctly moved onto the Temple Games, and the losers probably got a pair of LA Gears, or maybe some Converses, if they were lucky.
The Temple Games weren’t like any other physical challenges you would see on, for example, Global Guts. These challenges were a bit more intense.
First off, each event lasted 60 seconds, which was enough time to probably get an asthma attack. There were three challenges, the first two granting half-pendants of life and the last, a full pendent. These pendants granted access to the temple and protection from the temple Mafioso.
The challenges required a lot of climbing, spinning object riding or going down ramps covered with soap and water. These seemed to be activities that could cause serious brain damage or a broken foot.
After a team had gained at least one and a half pendants, they were rushed into the final round, which was a trek through the Temple.
The Temple was a life or death situation for these contestants. The prizes are anted up, and you could now win a lavish, tropical vacation for the family. Now with the pendants in hand, one person from the remaining team would go in to the temple and try and reach for the artifact.
The artifact was attained most of the time, but then you would have that one team with the slow person. They would make going on vacation a figment of one’s imagination.
Legends of the Hidden Temple has entered the homes of millions and gave its fans excitement and adventure. Also, the Silver Snakes were clearly the best team and the coolest shirt to have.
Sometimes I look back at my younger days and wonder if I would have been able to handle the secrets that lie hidden within the temple gates Olmec guarded.