Legends of the Hidden Temple is getting a second life as a live-action TV movie, and Nickelodeon gathered its younger cast members, as well as the original ’90s game show’s host, for a panel at New York Comic Con.
Kirk Fogg was joined on the panel by actors Isabela Moner, Colin Critchley, Jet Jurgensmeyer, and the voice of Olmec himself, Dee Bradley Baker, as well as Michael Sammaciccia, one of the executive producers on the film.
When asked why the show still has so many ardent fans, Sammaciccia said, “[This show], unlike any game show, actually has a story. There’s a really cool world [and] interesting characters.” He also pointed out the show’s “life or death” factor as one of the reasons.
“It presents challenges any kid feels like they can do,” said Baker, presenting his own theory for the show’s enduring popularity. “Everyone who interviews us says they wanted to do the show.”
The group then went on to discuss their experiences with the original show, the upcoming movie, and their experiences returning to a series that is loved by so many. Read on for highlights.
1. The show was difficult to put together
If the challenges seemed tough at times, actually producing the show was tougher. “[It] was hard to do,” Fogg said. “It was a massive set. There were so many pieces to the puzzle.” In fact when the show first started, Fogg had much more to do, including reading the legend and asking players the questions, duties that eventually were transferred to Baker. This resulted in the little exchanges Olmec and Fogg would have between challenges. “We would enjoy that, because I didn’t know what you were going to say,” Fogg said.
2. There were more tears involved than it seemed
Baker recalled a time one of the contestants made Fogg tear up. “There was a girl who went through the Temple, and she did it all by herself,” he recalled. But a majority of the tears actually shed were by the contestants themselves, often when they encountered one of the Temple Guards. “It was weird, there was some kind of pleasure when it happened,” said Fogg, explaining that it was a sign that the scare worked, and that this aspect of the show was actually good.
3. The toughest challenge was the log roll
Fogg said he tried it and had been thrown off himself. In fact, Fogg would run the course himself at the start of every season: “Before we’d begin, we’d have the prep. And I’d say, ‘No I have to run the temple. Put three minutes on the clock.’” Fogg says he always completed the Temple within the time limit, though he also admitted that he did it without the fear of being caught by Temple Guards.
Baker thought putting the Shrine of the Silver Monkey together was pretty tough too. Fogg pointed out — from personal experience — that the room with the monkey was all the way across the Temple, which meant that when players got there, they were tired. Baker said some of the trouble was the actual statue itself. “You couldn’t tell [if the second piece] was upside down, so you’d try the other one.” Nonetheless, both Fogg and Baker said they wanted the kids to win every episode. “We’d all be standing there, screaming them on,” Baker said.
4. Fogg’s favorite team was the Silver Snakes
“They had a little something,” Fogg said. “They were a little down and dirty, kind of gritty. Also when they’d come out of lunch, they’d always have pizza stains on their shirts.” Fogg also admitted that he would try and guess which team would win at the start of the episode. “I never got it right. It took a weird combination of brains and brawn to make it to the Temple. You didn’t have to be a big tough guy, you could be mild and meek, and you could make it to the end.”
5. Fogg still has his denim shirt
Neither Baker nor Fogg were able to keep part of the set when it ended — mostly because of the show’s production schedule. “They’d put [the set] in storage, and they’d tell us they were doing [the show] again months later,” Baker explained. Hence Fogg’s only memento of his time on the series was his infamous denim shirt. Also, for anyone curious about what was in Fogg’s tool belt, the host said it varied day to day. “It would either be a food product or a personal need product.”
The Legends of the Hidden Temple TV movie airs Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.