When I found out I’d be writing about GUTS for our ongoing 90’s retrospectives series, the first question I asked my peers was “Would you have rather been on GUTS or Legends of the Hidden Temple?” While there was still a fondness for Nickelodeon’s other sporting competition series, not to mention the ongoing heated debates about which team was best (It was the Purple Parrots, duh!), the answer was still, almost unanimously: GUTS!
The reasoning behind this is quite simple, really. For as much fun as Legends looked, it was a game based solely on chance, rather than skill. No matter how good you were in Legends, you could randomly be attacked by the Guards at any given moment, bringing a swift, and arguably, very unfair end to your game. When it came to GUTS, however, it really came down to your physical capabilities in some trying obstacle courses. It was, as many will point out, a kiddie version of American Gladiators, only this didn’t have anyone running around in a hamster ball, nor did it have anyone named Laser or Nitro or Zap. (Advantage: Gladiators.)
Instead, the name synonymous with the original incarnation of GUTS (Global Guts and My Family’s Got GUTS followed suit) was host Mike O’Malley (today’s youths now know now him as Kurt’s dad on Glee, but for he is forever ingrained in my mind as the host of GUTS) and his British sidekick Moira a.k.a “Mo,” a delightful woman who said the word “buoy” in a most amusing way.
If you were one of the kids lucky enough to meet Mike and Mo, that meant you were a contestant about to endure one of the coolest obstacle courses ever, all in the hopes that you would reach — and best — the Aggro Crag. Of course, that all depended on if you could best your opponents in the bevy of challenging events on the very rocky road to Aggro Crag (Another debate amongst Generation Nick is how much you’d pay for a piece of the Aggro Crag on eBay. From my extensive data I’ve gathered and this Facebook page, most people who grew up desperately wanting to be on GUTS would happily empty their bank accounts for a chunk of it.)
While it would have been totally tubular to participate in GUTS, it was almost as fun just to watch at home. (At least at home you could sit on the floor and eat Fruit by the Foot!) Like with any televised sporting event, it was easy to bark orders and complaints at the athletes on screen. “Run faster!” “Jump higher!” “Duck!” “Moira just pronounced that word in her charming British accent!” We all had our favorite events leading to the Aggro Crag, whether it was the one we enjoyed watching the most (I personally always got a kick out of Basic Training, as I liked any pool that had a slide and some poor kid always inevitably got stuck in the netting) to the ones we were certain we’d dominate (Peak to Peak or Wild Wheels seemed the most attainable.)
However, every event — from Mad Max to Free Kick to the extremely challenging Zero-G — led to the ultimate prize: Reaching and getting to the top of the Aggro Crag. The Crag was not child’s play, no matter how many children were actually playing on it. Contestants, harnessed to bungee chords, were pummeled by falling pieces of the Crag and blinded by fog while trekking up a series of ramps and “rocks” to reach a series of checkpoints (which they’d have to touch to light up). But, boy, when they reached the top, it was a thrilling moment. A thrilling, confetti-filled moment which Mike O’Malley would inevitably scream about.
But, I’m curious nostalgic PopWatchers, which GUTS event did you like the most? And more importantly, which one do you think you would have kicked butt at? Was it throwing the footballs through giant tires in Spirals or paddling for your life in Invisible Boat and Boogie Down? Or was it, as it so often is in life, all about the Aggro Crag? Vote in our GUTS poll below and share your favorite memories from the show in the comments section.