I forget how old I was--4th or 5th grade, I think--when my sister had Girl Scout meetings on Sunday afternoons. I was considered old enough to be left alone at home during that time, and part of my surprisingly-regular routine was watching the game shows on Nickelodeon, chiefly Global Guts and Legends of the Hidden Temple. In hindsight I look back on the latter with more fondness; the Indiana Jones aesthetics are pretty cool.

If you've never seen the show before, this is the finale--a very video game-esque obstacle course. If you poke around YouTube some more you can find full episodes.

I don't suppose they make shows like this anymore, except in Japan.

To be successful at this show, you and your partner have to be Renaissance kids, to some extent--mostly to get through the trivia--but the bulk of the show consists of playground-style tests of speed and agility. This was the 90s, of course, when any bizarre activity that required a helmet, knee pads, and a mouthguard to perform safely was glorified...and it was pretty awesome. How often, really, does a kid get the sense that the random jungle-gym climbing around that they do in elementary school could actually prepare them for any practical purpose, aside from the army? We need to be doing more of this.

I wouldn't have done well on the show myself, for that very reason; no upper body strength whatsoever.

Another thing that sticks out about this show is its soundtrack: simple, no piece more than a minute long, or even less, with some looping and escalation--but it absolutely screams 90s. I can recognize the MIDI instruments in it as clearly as recognizing faces, and the tunes could have come straight out of a 90s platformer.

And then, as mentioned, there's the style of it. While Global Guts tried to be more of an "Olympics, but crazier and for kids," the LotHT aesthetic was straight out of Indiana Jones and permeated everything. The local Discovery Zone was all geometric shapes, but this show had style. At least, if you were in 4th grade and not looking too hard...like being in Adventureland.

If I were ever tasked with building a gym, I hope I could make it this stylish. If I ever needed to organize a fun time for kids again (I did do a few day camp stints, in past years) I hope I could take good inspiration from Legends of the Hidden Temple.

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