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15 Aggro Facts About Nickelodeon's Guts

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bewarethedecks via YouTube

Before American Ninja Warrior, there was Nickelodeon Guts, the 1992-96 series that tested the mettle of America’s pre-teen population with a series of physical challenges—all of it culminating with a climb up the infamous Aggro Crag replica mountainside. Twenty years after it left the air, check out some trivia about bizarre guest stars, the fate of losing contestants, and why the show eventually needed a manual from the Olympic Committee. Let’s go to Mo!

1.GUTS WAS CREATED BECAUSE AN EXECUTIVE COULDN’T DUNK A BASKETBALL.

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Albie Hecht, who went on to become president of Nickelodeon, conceived of Guts in the early 1990s because he couldn’t dunk a basketball. It was “his biggest fantasy,” he told Mathew Klickstein, author of Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age, and thought it would be “fantastic” to help kids realize similar ambitions. Many of the courses in Guts involved contestants wired to bungee cord harnesses that allowed them to perform exaggerated moves.

2. DOUBLE DARE ASSISTANT ROBIN RUSSO WANTED TO HOST.

Klickstein also uncovered that Double Dare personality Robin Russo was hoping to graduate to hosting duties on the channel’s new game show. “I was really upset because I was up for Guts and it went to someone else,” she said. (That someone was Mike O’Malley, future star of Yes, Dear and Glee.)

3. PRODUCERS WOULD SOMETIMES MAKE UP THE NICKNAMES.

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To help personify their contestants, Guts usually used nicknames for participants. If a player didn't have a nickname, they'd pick one for him or her. One former player, Anna Mercedes Morris, told The Onion’s A.V. Club in 2015 that she didn’t have a nickname, so producers decided to call her “the Roadrunner.”

4. THE AGGRO CRAG OBSCURED THE PLAYER’S VISION.

Climbing the 28-foot-tall studio rock known as the Aggro Crag was best handled by touch: Morris told the A.V. Club that the amount of lights, confetti, fog machines, and squirting water meant that players could barely see anything in front of their faces: “There’s just so much coming at you and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, where’s that button?’” she said.

5. MOIRA QUIRK WAS A SCOOBY-DOO VILLAIN.

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British actress and writer Moira “Mo” Quirk was cast as Guts co-host-slash-referee opposite Mike O’Malley in 1992. After the series ended, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue voiceover work that included a stint as a villain on an episode of Scooby-Doo. “I just about peed my pants, I was so happy,” she said. “I got to say, ‘And I would’ve done it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.’”

6. E.T. APPEARED IN AN EPISODE.

Because Guts was taped at Orlando’s Universal Studios, there was opportunity for some cross-promotion. For a 1996 episode, the show trotted out a cameo appearance by E.T. during a medal ceremony; the figure was likely cribbed from the park’s E.T. Adventure ride, which debuted in 1990.

7. BACKSTREET BOY AJ MCLEAN WAS A COMPETITOR.

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Not yet a Tiger Beat fixture, a 14-year-old A.J. McLean suited up for a 1992 episode. Known as “Mean” McLean, his bio mentioned he aspired to become a cartoonist. He came in second, failing to record top marks for either the long jump or the Aggro Crag.

8. THE AGGRO CRAG WAS A GIANT PUZZLE.

The climatic challenge of Guts was the scaling of the Aggro Crag, a foam, latex, and speed rail-based climbing structure that was designed by Double Dare art director Byron Taylor. Because the show needed to make room for other television tapings, the Aggro Crag was constructed so that it could be stripped down into pieces, stored, and re-assembled later. (The initial construction took a month and 20 workers to erect.)  

9. LOSERS HAD A HARD TIME IN SCHOOL.

Cartoonist Sean Michael Robinson drew a biographical strip detailing his experience as an early contestant in the show. Coming in third to two girls, Robinson wrote that he was mocked in school for his runner-up status. Just when the heckling died down, his episode would air in reruns and the cycle would begin again.

10. NO ONE REALLY CALLED MOIRA QUIRK “MO.”

“Let's go to Mo—Mo!” became host Mike O’Malley’s signature phrase, inspiring legions of nostalgic adults to confuse co-workers whose names even slightly resembled “Mo.” But according to his co-host, O’Malley was really the only one who ever called her that. “And my grandfather,” Quirk said. “[But] no one else has really called me that before or since.”

11. IT WENT GLOBAL IN 1995.

After three seasons of taping in Florida and using primarily local residents as contestants, series producers decided to capture the flavor of an Olympic competition by going international. The fourth season consisted of contestants from 12 different countries competing against one another. The network found it a logistically challenging goal—the show’s concept had to be explained to foreign networks—and required a portion of the Universal Studios audience to be coached on cheering for Portugal instead of the USA. While countries used the same footage, most had their own hosts. To make sure domestic practices like hand gestures wouldn’t be misunderstood, producers even picked up a copy of the Olympic Committee Manual.

12. YOU COULD’VE BOUGHT A PIECE OF THE AGGRO CRAG.

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Those who conquered the obstacle course and the ascent up the Aggro Crag were awarded a medal and a replica piece of the faux-rock itself, which one contestant described as a kind of rock lamp with a pull string. In 2009, a player successfully auctioned off the artifact for $1449. (He kept the medal, though.)

13. THERE WAS A 2008 REBOOT.

My Family’s Got Guts! was Nickelodeon’s attempt to revitalize the Guts franchise in 2008. Substituting host Ben Lyons for Mike O’Malley and with no British referee in sight, the series took a cue from Family Double Dare and tweaked the format to include parents. Notable for being the channel’s first shot-in-high-definition offering, it only lasted a year.

14. MIKE AND MO GUEST-STARRED ON SANJAY AND CRAIG.

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Mike O’Malley and Moira Quirk played animated versions of themselves on Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig, a half-hour series about a kid and his pet snake. In the show, the two appear on a road-show version of Guts.

15. THERE WAS A THROWBACK GUTS NIGHT.

Last summer, the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team took to the field wearing customized jerseys bearing the Guts color scheme. It was part of the franchise’s Guts theme night, which also included a collectible piece of the Aggro Crag and a complimentary pouch of Capri Sun. Unfortunately, they dropped the game to the State College Spikes by a score of 7-6.

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'Puggle,' 'Emoji,' and 298 Other New Words Added to Scrabble Dictionary
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Scrabble aficionados and wordsmiths around the world will soon have some new reading material to bone up on. In celebration of National Scrabble Day today, the makers of the classic word game announced that 300 new words will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary.

The new words will be published in the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary, which will be released this fall, according to Mashable.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Emoji (noun): A small computer symbol used to express emotion
Ew (interjection): Used to express disgust
Facepalm (verb): To cover the face with the hand
Macaron (noun): A cookie with filling in the middle
Puggle (noun): A kind of dog
Sriracha (noun): A spicy pepper sauce

Some players of the 70-year-old game may be surprised to learn that “ew” isn’t already a word, especially considering that Scrabble recognizes more than 100 two-letter words, including “hm” (another expression), “ai” (a three-toed sloth), and “za” (slang for pizza). If played strategically and placed on a triple word square, “ew” can land you 15 points—not bad for two measly letters.

New Scrabble words must meet a few criteria before they’re added to the official dictionary. They must be two to eight letters long and already in a standard dictionary. Abbreviations, capitalized words, and words with hyphens or apostrophes are immediately ruled out.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told Entertainment Weekly, “For a living language, the only constant is change. New dictionary entries reflect our language and our culture, including rich sources of new words such as communication technology and food terms from foreign languages.”

The last edition of the Scrabble dictionary came out in 2014 and included 5000 new words, such as "selfie," "hashtag," "geocache," and "quinzhee."

[h/t Mashable]

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25 Double-Letter Scrabble Words to Have in Your Back Pocket
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The best Scrabble players are the strategic ones who keep adding words to their player vocabulary. Once you've mastered a number of two-letter words and the high-scoring ones (that are admittedly very difficult to play), start looking to double-letter words to take advantage of the multiples on your tile rack.

1. AGLOO

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Don't have an I for IGLOO? Use an A for AGLOO, meaning an air hole through the ice made by a seal.

2. ALLEE

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Instead of an ALLEY, use this double-double-lettered word meaning a tree-lined walkway.

3. BETTA

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Rather than BETA, use that extra T to mean the freshwater fish.

4. BRATTICE

Coal mine
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A BRATTICE now means a heavy curtain or barrier in a mine to help direct air flow, though the medieval meaning was simply a temporary partition along a wall.

5. DRESSAGE

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The fanciest of all horse training and equestrian events, DRESSAGE is the obedience and discipline riding competition, rather than the racing.

6. FUGGY

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To FUG is to make something stuffy or odorous, but its adjective form (FUGGY) and past and present participles (FUGGED, FUGGING) will take care of any extra Gs on the board.

7. GHYLL

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Not only will GHYLL, which is a deep ravine, utilize a double-letter, but it will help if your tile bar is sorely lacking in vowels.

8. GRAAL

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GRAAL is an older form of the word GRAIL, but it's also a technique used in glassblowing.

9. HEELER

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Don't have an A for HEALER? A HEELER is a person who puts heels on shoes (as well as an Australian cattle dog).

10. HELLUVA

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If you're having a HELLUVA time getting rid of a few letters, this nonstandard combination word is actually Scrabble-approved.

11. INNAGE

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INNAGE is the quantity of goods remaining in a container when received after shipment.

12. LARRUP

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To decisively defeat someone or trounce them is to LARRUP.

13. MAMMEE

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Another double-double-letter word, a MAMMEE is species of tropical tree with large red fruit.

14. MOGGY

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A MOGGY or MOGGIES (plural) is the cat equivalent of a mutt.

15. OLLA

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A quick word to tack onto some common board letters, an OLLA is a wide-mouthed pot or jar.

16. OUTTELL

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OUTTELL, OUTTELLS, and OUTTELLING all refer to speaking out or declaring something openly.

17. PERRON

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A PERRON can refer to both large outdoor stairways or the stone platforms of certain columns and edifices.

18. PIGGERY

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You're surely prepared with PIGGY, PIGGIE, and PIGGISH, but a PIGGERY is a pigpen.

19. QUASSIA

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Score extra points with a well-place Q. A QUASSIA is another tropical tree whose bitter bark is sometimes used as a digestive aid or an insecticide.

20. SCABBLE

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No, not Scrabble. SCABBLE means to shape roughly.

21. TIPPET

tippet
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A TIPPET is a covering for the shoulders, or a ceremonial scarf worn by clergy.

22. TYPP

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A TYPP (or TYPPS, plural) is a unit of yarn size. It's an acronym for thousand yards per pound.

23. VALLUM

Vallum at Hadrian's Wall
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The VALLUM was part of the defensive wall of earth and stone surrounding Roman camps.

24. WEEPIE

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While WEEPY is an adjective for tending to weep, a WEEPIE is a very maudlin movie.

25. WELLY

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According to the official Scrabble dictionary, WELLY is an acceptable form of WELLIE, the British rainboots.

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