Rembert Explains the ’90s: Legends of the Hidden Temple

Legends of the Hidden TempleWelcome to our new series, Rembert Explains the ’90s. Unlike the source material for our previous, ’80s-themed series, these videos have been seen countless times, with the result being an unparalleled, almost embarrassing level of expertise. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching the video, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Season 1, Episode 3 (“Galileo’s Cannonball”), from 1993. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’90s, e-mail us at hollywood@grantland.com.


0:06 Going through this mysterious brush is causing some very real nostalgia, while reminding me how scared I was/still am of everything.

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0:08 OLMEC, MY DUDE.

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It’s really impressive how well his mouth syncs with his words. Because I don’t really think it was him speaking.

Also, the red eyes. NEVER FORGET.

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0:17 There’s a long piece to be written about ’90s fonts. I don’t necessarily want to write it, but I will write it.

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That’s a crazy font, and pretty much the tamest of the ’90s fonts. Just wait until we get to What Would You Do?

0:32 I always thought host Kirk Fogg was appropriately energetic. Not a Mark Summers type, in the sense that you thought he was on speed, but lively enough that he balanced out Olmec’s chillness.

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Also: That outfit’s incredible. So much knee. The perfect shirt roll-up. Socks of the appropriate length. I think Kirk Fogg might be my fashion idol.

0:34 I should probably note that this clip is an entire episode. Twenty-five minutes. YOU’RE WELCOME.

0:41 Kirk just says “Temple Guards”; excuse me while I faint, still terrified of them.

0:47 OLMEC, TELL US A LEGEND STORY.

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“The Legend of Galileo’s Cannonball.”

I couldn’t be more excited. Less about the competition, but more about learning.

0:57 YES, the coed teams. Nothing beats this.

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More on LOTHT gender relations later.

0:59 Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, and Silver Snakes. Just typing these team names gives me the chills. A few thoughts on the teams, declarations that are based on zero facts but feel accurate, before launching into the first competition.

  • Silver Snakes: a stacked team 90 percent of the time.
  • Purple Parrots: historically horrible at the trivia segment, because they were not smart.
  • Never root for the Blue Barracudas. It’s like saying your favorite Ninja Turtle was Leonardo. Very predictable. Very soft.
  • Always root for the team with the girl who’s already had her growth spurt, but know she’s usually been paired with the boy who is pigeon-toed.
  • Green Monkeys had the best shirts. Everyone knows that.
  • The Orange Iguanas were only added to get the competition to six teams. They’re worthless.

Round 1: Six Teams

1:26 While I fully understand that the moat was hard, it looked so easy on TV.

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1:34 The most underappreciated people in LOTHT: the spotters.

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Looking back, I bet the spotter crew was super incestuous. Like a bunch of coed summer camp counselors.

1:37 ANCIENT STAFF OF KING TUT

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In ’93, there was no reason to believe this wasn’t, in fact, the actual staff of King Tut. Hell, I still have no proof that it isn’t.

1:56 My downfall in this game would have been following all these instructions. The Based Fogg just gave 20 seconds of instructions and even now, 20 years later, I have no idea what he’s talking about.

2:01 THE GONG.

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2:10 Incredible:

Fogg: “Are you ready, Olmec?”

Olmec: “Let’s rock and roll.”

How much does an Olmec cost? Seriously, what’s the street value of a ’93 Olmec?

2:16 Before the Based Fogg says go, early predictions on who advances: obviously the Silver Snakes, and probably the Purple Parrots and the Blue Barracudas. No chance for the Red Jaguars. Zero. I have never had faith in the Orange Iguanas, so probably not. By default, my fourth team: the Green Monkeys.

2:29 Fogg, at the halfway point of the competition: “The Silver Snakes and the Blue Barracudas across first.” Of course.

2:36 I’m telling you, the Silver Snakes all ended up playing D1 athletics.

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Stupid Orange Iguanas don’t even have their raft yet, and my Silver Snakes are already sending subtweets about how bad “certain competitors” are.

2:46 Oh, look who got first place …

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SNAKES. Second:

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Third, a puzzling finish by the Orange Iguanas, and fourth, the Green Monkeys. Tough break for the Purple Parrots; they didn’t even get to prove how illiterate they were in the next round. It’s probably better that way.

3:18 The Based Fogg just said the single most important phrase of ’90s kids game shows. To the eliminated:

“You’re not going to go away empty-handed.”

I’m more excited about this relic of a prize than the competition itself. PLEASE BE POGS OR A PAIR OF L.A. LIGHTS.

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Shut up.

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THE RED CHIPMUNKS OR WHATEVER ARE GETTING STUCK WITH A CARTON OF PARTING-GIFT CHOCOLATE MILK.

They deserve it.

Round 2 — Four Teams

3:33 Getting to this point is no easy feat, unless you’re a Silver Snake.

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I always imagined that if Silver Snakes lost in the first round, they were disowned by their families and communities as a whole.

3:35 Before we continue, RESPECT THE BASED FOGG’S DENIM.

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Something else worth noting about him: He has never blinked.

3:43 Oh yes, this is when Olmec tells a 30-minute story. I’m so ready for this.

3:49 Poor kids these days have no television outlets to learn the important things. In 1993, the most entertaining show was also the one that taught you about GALILEO.

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Truly an incredible time to be 6 years old.

3:52 LOTHT was early on the “reenactment” wave. I hope Olmec and Fogg were given their due royalties, E! True Hollywood Story.

3:55 Olmec just said Galileo was one of the first to use experiments “to prove his discoveries.” Guess what? I didn’t know that. But now I do. Because this show is incredible.

4:02 OLMEC IS DOING AN IMPRESSION OF GALILEO’S VOICE.

3:57 Maybe it’s just me, but OLMEC:

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FUTURE:

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I’m just saying, if they turn LOTHT into a movie, you now know whom to cast, studios.

4:19 Olmec is still telling a story about getting drunk with Galileo or something. Just look at the Orange Iguanas.

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There’s no chance they are paying attention. I need them out of this competition, ASAP.

4:21 Confidence:

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Olmec e-mailed them the answers two weeks before. They’re barely listening, because they don’t have to, because they’re the Silver Snakes.

4:31 I can’t lie, Olmec just lost me. He’s talking about Galileo, and a cannonball, and pepperoni sandwiches. It’s great to know my listening comprehension skills haven’t improved since I was 5.

4:39 OLMEC JUST SAID GALILEO INVENTED PIZZA. Wait, was this dude just lying to us for years? What is going on?

4:45 Very crucial moment in the show: the part when we find out which room contains the special item:

Olmec: “Galileo’s cannonball can be found … in the Mine Shaft.”

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THE MINE SHAFT. OF COURSE.

4:54 In case you forgot, the remaining contestants are standing on the “Steps of Knowledge.” A fun drinking game would be “take a shot every time something happens in this show that takes you back to a very happy place.”

What a fun, easy way to hospitalize yourself in 15 minutes.

4:57 WATER SHOES + “ANCIENT MARKINGS” = OUR OLMEC IS AN AWESOME OLMEC.

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5:35 First question: something about experiments and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Result:

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What were the Vegas odds for Silver Snakes victories? Seriously, I’d love to know.

5:47 Second question: something about gravity. Result:

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Can you imagine getting your kid on this show, and then finding out he or she wasn’t a Silver Snake? What happens next? Do you just give your kid away?

6:06 Third question: something about science. In a surprise twist, the Blue Barracudas buzzed in first. Not surprising: They got it wrong.

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Classic Blue Barracudas. Cocky, svelte, and wrong. What happened next?

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This is the stuff of legend. The Silver Snakes were the original Gryffindors. Being an Orange Iguana, on the other hand, was like being sorted into the Bumbaclat House.

How did the real Legends of the Hidden Temple celebrate?

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Seems like the appropriate time to talk about boy-girl relations.

One of the reasons this show was so perfect was that everyone seemed to be 11 to 13. Developmentally, it’s between denying your acknowledgement of being attracted to others and trying to get someone to go to the movies with you so you could make out for three hours. The end result: You’re wearing water shoes and a helmet and trying to impress your cute teammate, which results in fantastically awkward moments like the missed high-five.

Bless every adolescent on this show. Especially if they’re Silver Snakes.

6:55 The following image is what I’d call “order in the world.”

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Silver Snakes: relaxing. Green Monkeys: almost at the finish line. Blue Barracudas: losing but still competing. Orange Iguanas: the worst. It’s really beautiful.

7:09 Perfection.

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The Green Monkeys made it in. I’m very happy with this. It’s slightly unfortunate, however, that they’re about to get WAXED by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

7:23 YES. SAY IT AGAIN, THE BASED FOGG:

“You’re not going to go away empty-handed. Here’s what we’ve got for you.”

PLEASE BE REGULAR MILK.

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The announcer:

Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, the all-new feature-length movie starring Rick Moranis. And premiering ONLY ON VIDEO.”

It’s incredible how they spun that. Not only are they giving out VHS tapes, but they’re making a movie that goes straight to video sound cooler than a movie released in theaters. Genius.

Round 3 — Two Teams

8:11 The LADIES

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Jennifer, on the Silver Snakes, is 13. She called her partner “Jammin’ John.” They’re definitely married now with two Silver Snakes of their own. Good for them.

Beth, on the Green Monkeys, is also 13. She called her partner “Kevin.” She could have gone with “Krazy Kevin” but decided to stick with “Kevin.” Poor Green Monkeys. Jennifer has psyched out Beth before the round even began.

8:48 The spooky music in this show is still spooky.

8:52 PENDANTS

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Oh, just remembered Round 3 involves THREE temple games, the first two for a half pendant and the final one for a full pendant. This show invented suspense.

9:36 THIS TIMER IS EVERYTHING.

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10:18 In an effort to ignore the fact that the Based Fogg has said “balls” and “shaft” eight times in the past minute, I’ll just say that the Silver Snakes got off to a slow start, but have just won the “throw cannonballs out of a window” competition with 12 seconds to spare.

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Half Pendant — Silver Snakes. It’s amazing they never instituted a skunk rule in LOTHT.

12:00 Game 2: something about getting the most moons on Jupiter, a.k.a. “who can stick the most Velcro on a surface while climbing up a wet ramp in 60 seconds.”

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Uh-oh.

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Wow. The Silver Snakes lost. Jammin’ John is going to FLIP. Tie game, half-pendant each, next pendant wins. I’m going to question everything in my life if the Silver Snakes fail to advance to Olmec’s Temple.

13:07 Game 3: some game about moons and telescopes, a.k.a. “one of the joint bungee games where teamwork is of the utmost importance.”

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YOU GOT THIS, SILVER SNAKES.

Also, the Based Fogg, always assuring the audience that LOTHT is a safe environment, states “As you an see, we have professional riggers …” Classic Fogg.

13:59 I’m sweating bullets.

14:36 UNNECESSARY.

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The Silver Snakes advance with 28 seconds to spare. They’re like the Wooden-era UCLA Bruins. At a certain point, why even compete against them? You won’t beat them. The Silver Snakes can only beat themselves, which also never happens.

14:56 SILVER SNAKES, GOING TO THE TEMPLE.

15:06 Based Fogg, brighten these Green Monkey losers’ spirits:

“You’re not going to go away empty-handed. Here’s what we’ve got for you.”

PLEASE BE SILVER SNAKE T-SHIRTS.

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Wait … they couldn’t.

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They wouldn’t …

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BRITISH KNIGHTS.

The Green Monkeys lost, but they kind of won. The other losers got VHS tapes and chocolate milk, but the Green Monkeys got Ratch Techs. I’d be furious if I were the Silver Snakes …

Unless …

You know …

The final prize is SPACE CAMP.

FINAL ROUND, a.k.a. THE SILVER SNAKES ROUND

15:53 My girl Jennifer is ready. Just look at the sweats.

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She’s got to make up for losing that half-pendant. At some point, she’ll have to answer for her sins. The easiest way to do that: CRUSH OLMEC’S TEMPLE.

16:00 Time to go on a room-by-room tour of Olmec’s Temple, with ratings of how difficult each room is.

Room of the Three Gargoyles: 2/10

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The Wall Climb (which, as you know, also doubles as the Pit of Despair): 3/10

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The Observatory: 5/10

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The Room of the Golden Idols: 1/10

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The Shrine of the Silver Monkey: 52/10 (nothing has ever been harder)

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The Torch Room: 4/10

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The Mine Shaft: 8/10

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The Tombs of the Ancient Kings: 5/10

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The Swamp: 6/10

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The Throne of the Pretender: 2/10

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The Caves of Sighs: 4/10

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A few notes, before the Silver Snakes go on this epic journey:

  1. There are so many rooms. It almost seems impossible to complete in three minutes.
  2. The best part of the Temple is the choices the kids can make in their route. Very important.
  3. I walk around New York City looking for Temple Guards. I’ve got a pendant in my backpack right now, because you never know.

17:33 Because of Jennifer’s mishap earlier, she’s going first. While the worst Silver Snake is still better than the best Orange Iguana, you have to put Jammin’ John last. He’s too good.

18:13 A loophole that I forgot: If you get to the hidden object (in this case, the cannonball in the Mine Shaft), all the doors open and all the Temple Guards disappear. It’s always very exciting when that happens.

18:19 BASED FOGG, TELL US ABOUT THE FINAL REWARDS.

Telescope.

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Boom box.

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BAHAMAS.

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Even though the resort features “tennis, swimming, and international entertainment,” it’s not Space Camp. Personally, I think the Silver Snakes are getting robbed. Just think of all the great Silver Snakes that have gone to Space Camp? It’s a shame all they’ll have to brag about, should they win, is seeing international entertainment in the Bahamas.

19:14 Just noticed something very important.

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John has a gold chain on. They’re going to win. If they don’t win, I’ll tattoo an Orange Iguana on my face.

19:32 This guy John is outlining their strategy, predicting which rooms the Temple Guards are in and spouting off confidence left and right. He might stab a Temple Guardsman if he gets in the way.

20:20 I would be more nervous, but these are the Silver Snakes.

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They’re born winners.

20:30 Important: Jennifer is off to the races. More important: THE TEMPLE MUSIC:

Wow. Just wow.

20:35 Jen’s killing it so far. She just blasted through the Pit of Despair in phenomenal time. This is look—

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AHH TEMPLE GUARD AHHHHHHHHHHHH KILL HIMMMM.

20:58 Jennifer, what are you doing?

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You’re a Silver Snake. Confusion is not something recognized by the Council of Silver Snakes. PULL IT TOGETHER.

21:26 Jennifer, still confused, stumbled into the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. Before she could even fail the puzzle, however, Temple Guard 2 captured her. This is probably for the best (all disrespect to Jen), because now it’s JAMMIN’ JOHN TIME.

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22:03 John blasted through Jennifer’s previously opened rooms, but then got to the Shrine of the Silver Monkey and became instantly stumped. It’s like that one time I opened up an LSAT book.

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No one’s ever reached for the base piece first. I would make fun of this, but put in the same situation, with the Bahamas on the line and the Council of Silver Snakes watching my every move, I’d probably run into the room and immediately faint.

22:10 Good job, John.

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Only 1:17 left, however. This isn’t good. Not impossible, but if they make it, it’s going to be tight.

22:32 Oh man, why am I breathing so hard?

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Oh yeah, because he’s in the elevator and it moves SO SLOW.

22:46 YES, JAMMIN’ JOHN.

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CANNONBALL.

No more Temple Guards. No more closed doors. Just a footrace. This is more exciting than the entire 2012 Olympics.

23:13 Wow, is this kid is a legend.

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He’s jumping off ledges, with Galileo’s Cannonball in his hand, because he’s a winner.

23:20 WHERE IS HE OMG I CAN’T WATCH.

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23:22 This is too much.

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LET’S GOOOOO.

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TURN AROUND.

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MOMMY.

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USA. USA. USA. USA.

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L;KASDJFALS;KDFJAKLS;DFJAKLS;

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He did it.

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This is the real March Madness.

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What an institution the Silver Snakes are. Related: THE BAHAMAS. I can’t stop smiling. I’m so happy for them. I’m so excited about the trip they are about to take 20 years ago.

23:54 There’s no better way to wrap it up than with a Murderer’s Row of Sponsors.

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24:02 America was better when shows ended with this sight, which, in 1993, felt like one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

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I’m exhausted. And proud. God bless the ’90s.

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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