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12 Legendary Facts About Legends of the Hidden Temple

For Nickelodeon viewers whose tastes leaned more toward the cerebral than the booger-infested obstacle courses of Double Dare, the network had a solution: Legends of the Hidden Temple, the 1993-95 game show for history buffs that still had enough action to fill a Spielberg movie. Through four rounds of physical and intellectual challenges, two-member teams tried to navigate a massive Universal Studios set that looked like a Mayan minefield. Check out some facts on the show’s origins, why it made kids cry, and how it didn’t have the budget to let too many of its youthful contestants win.

1. THE GUARDS TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

If a team was able to successfully pass the show’s first three rounds—which included answering trivia on the Steps of Knowledge and crossing a giant moat—they were “rewarded” with an obstacle course inside the Temple that was a confusing mass of puzzles, rooms, and Temple Guards that would pop out to terrify the tired children. One contestant named Keeli told SBNation.com in 2013 that the sight of a Guard bursting from a hidden compartment on set reduced her to tears. “I'm 31 and I can't go to haunted houses,” she said. “I'm deathly afraid of things popping out of closets and doors.” Another contestant got so upset that she puked in the Pit of Despair.

2. PRODUCERS PICKED THE HOST ALMOST AT RANDOM.

Being a game show host takes a very unique skillset—though Nickelodeon and producers didn’t seem to care much about that one way or another. Host Kirk Fogg told Buzzfeed that he was more or less picked at random out of a headshot catalog and asked to audition by reading some play-by-play from a teleprompter. It was his first-ever hosting gig.

3. THERE WAS A MAN INSIDE OLMEC.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

One of Temple’s most memorable elements was the giant head of Olmec, a faux-stone carving that would narrate the proceedings and offer underwhelming advice to the contestants. (The head's name was probably a nod to the Olmec, a civilization that predated the Maya and made giant stone heads.) According to Fogg, Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Olmec, was actually inside of the 6-foot-tall head with a microphone and a script. As he spoke, he’d control the movement of the statue’s mouth with a lever. When he wasn’t talking, Baker would kick back in the head and read a book or jump out and watch the stunts.

4. THE FIRST EPISODE TOOK 18 HOURS TO SHOOT.

In addition to the expected production hang-ups typical of any inaugural episode, Temple had the added stresses of an elaborate set and physical challenges that were difficult to coordinate. Fogg told Albany’s WCDB Radio that their first contest took over 18 hours to shoot. By the time of the Temple Run, the exhausted contestants were sobbing. The show eventually worked out the kinks, getting a shooting day down to a far more manageable 12 hours. (They also had a nurse on set in case any kids keeled over. By all accounts, no children were seriously harmed.)

5. THE DARK FOREST SMELLED TERRIBLE.

Temple Guard and stunt supervisor Michael Lupia told a Legends fan site that his least-favorite room in the Temple was the Dark Forest. In addition to having to wait inside of a fake tree, the limbs cut into his arms and the entire room smelled like “three years’ worth of B.O.” (Foam rubber is not friendly to cast sweat.)

6. THE SILVER MONKEY WAS DECEPTIVELY DIFFICULT.

Many a viewer has screamed at their television watching incompetent adolescents try to assemble the seemingly simple Silver Monkey: There are only three parts. But according to Fogg, the reason contestants had so much trouble with it is because they were trying to do it with the monkey facing away from them, a clock running out, and the threat of Guards always looming. Easier said than done.

7. PRODUCERS COULDN'T LET TOO MANY KIDS WIN.

Fogg told Great Big Story in 2016 there was a good reason only 30-odd teams wound up finishing the final obstacle course out of the show’s 120 episodes: Producers didn’t have the budget to award a grand prize to too many kids. The Temple Run was designed to be incredibly difficult so they wouldn’t exceed their maximum allotment of eight prizes per season. (All of the kids got a pair of sneakers for competing, though.)

8. THE GRAND PRIZE WAS KIND OF MISLEADING.

Out of the limited prizes producers were allowed to give out, a trip to Universal Studios was often featured during the broadcast episode. This made little sense, as the contestants were often from the Orlando area where the show was taped on the Universal Studios lot. The “real” prize, according to one contestant, was a trip to Busch Gardens. Another contestant won a bike, a CD player, and a trip for two to Vermont.

9. THE KIDS WERE PAIRED AT RANDOM.

According to a former contestant named Anthony, the two-person teams were usually the result of kids being herded into a staging area and paired together at random by a production assistant. They’d have a few minutes to strap on their gear and get to know one another before falling into the moat. Not all of them got along, either: Keeli said she feared she'd be bounced from the show during the trivia portion because her partner was "an abject idiot."

10. IT WON A CABLEACE AWARD.

In 1995, the National Academy of Cable Programming honored Temple with their CableACE award for Best Game Show Special or Series. (Owing to the Emmys increasingly recognizing cable programs, the ceremony was discontinued in 1998.)

11. THERE’S A MOVIE ON THE WAY.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

Since Legends was inspired by the action-adventure film genre—producer David Greenfield once said he wanted kids to feel like they were in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie—it was only fitting for it to eventually morph into one. Nickelodeon recently announced that the show would be adapted into a live-action television movie about three kids faced with solving the puzzles of Olmec. The Steps of Knowledge are also expected to appear.

12. OLMEC WAS SOLD OFF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

In 2002, Nickelodeon unloaded many of its props and set from their 1990s heyday to clear out their Universal Studios location. One ex-staffer told author Mathew Klickstein (Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon) that Olmec’s foam rubber head was up for sale. “I wanted to buy it,” he said, “but my wife would’ve killed me.”

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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This Just In
Mattel Unveils New Uno Edition for Colorblind Players
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Mattel

On the heels of International Colorblind Awareness Day, Mattel, which owns Uno, announced it would be unveiling a colorblind-friendly edition of the 46-year-old card game.

The updated deck is a collaboration with ColorADD, a global organization for colorblind accessibility and education. In place of its original color-dependent design, this new Uno will feature a small symbol next to each card's number that corresponds with its intended primary color.

As The Verge points out, Mattel is not actually the first to invent a card game for those with colorblindness. But this inclusive move is still pivotal: According to Fast Co. Design, Uno is currently the most popular noncollectible card game in the world. And with access being extended to the 350 million people globally and 13 million Americans who are colorblind, the game's popularity is sure to grow.

Mattel unveils color-friendly Uno deck
Mattel

[h/t: The Verge

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