When I was a kid my family took a trip to Disneyland every four years or so. We were by no means rich, so going to Southern California always felt like a huge deal. Despite the fact that I loved everything we ever did on our vacations we never got to go to the one place I wanted visit above all others.
I'm talking about a place where kids' dreams come true. A place where, one minute you're just a kid on a vacation in Orlando and the next you're running a zany obstacle course with a chance to win a new boombox or a $50 savings bond. I'm talking about every American kid with cable's paradise:
There really was nothing like the line-up of incredible game shows Nickelodeon had in the 80s and 90s which were, for the most part, filmed at Nickelodeon Studios. The shows involved intricate sets, incredibly unique themes and utterly exciting stunts. Today I wanted to count down the top five 80s and 90s game shows from Nickelodeon.
5. Finders Keepers
Okay, so technically this series, which ran from 1987 to 1988 on Nickelodeon, was not taped in Nickelodeon Studios which opened its doors in 1990, but this show was just too good not to include.
The program had two parts. The first part involved a red and blue team trying to find items hidden in giant pictures and the second part had the winners of the first round tearing a house apart to find items. Watching the show was incredibly satisfying because, come on, what kid hasn't wanted to tear his or her house apart with no consequences?
4. Figure it Out (Original Series)
Apparently your reward for winning two gold medals in the Olympics is being given the distinct honor of hosting a Nickelodeon game show featuring celebrity panelists. At least that's what happened to Summer Sanders who hosted Figure it Out after winning the gold medal for the 200m Butterfly in the 1992 Olympics.
Apart from olympic athletes, the show also featured celebrity panelists who tried their hardest to figure out the unique secret of each child guest using only yes or no questions. Of course it was Nick in the 90s so there was also slime. And giant heads. And Lori Beth Denberg.
3. Nickelodeon Guts
Do, do, do, do you have it? GUTS!
Such was the opening line to every episode of the sports-themed game-show, Guts. Hosted by the actor/comedian Mike O'Malley and officiated by Moira Quirk, the show featured three kid contestants who had to compete in multiple sport-themed challenges, which, for some reason, almost always featured bungee chords.
The most exciting event by far was climbing the Aggro Crag. Players had to race up the imposing peak whilst also remembering to hit all of their actuators in order to score a huge amount of points. The winner of each episode was given a glowing piece of the Aggro Crag to forever commemorate their incredible achievement.
I wanted nothing more than to hoist that faux rock above my head, but alas, I was not blessed with much athletic ability so even if I did make it on the show I would never have gotten close to that rock.
A former Guts champion, Dwayne "The Viper." He's got so much effing swag.
2. Double Dare
Part quiz show, part crazy stunt show, Double Dare was 100% awesome. This was the show that really put Nickelodeon game shows on the map. It was also the show that cemented the green slime as a Nickelodeon icon.
Marc Summers hosted as two teams of two kids answered trivia questions and competed in often very messy physical challenges. The team that won the game got the chance to win 8 awesome prizes by completing a zany obstacle course which, more times than not, made a player reach up a giant head's nose encrusted with slime-snot to find a flag.
That is the luckiest kid alive!
Gross? Absolutely, but I would have given my sister's right leg (I would need both of mine) to be on the show.
1. Legends of the Hidden Temple
Quick, when you see the word Olmec what do you think of? If you are a person who is interested in Meso-American civilizations then you likely think of the first major civilization in Mexico which flourished from about 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE.
If you are a 90s kid who had cable then you likely think of this:
Olmec, from Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Legends of the Hidden Temple was a nearly perfect kids game show. It had the fun physical challenges, interesting trivia and obligatory obstacle course that every other Nickelodeon game show had, but it also had something more. It had a theme that set it a step above all the other shows.
Every episode played out a bit like an Indiana Jones movie. Teams were tasked with with recovering a lost artifact which was housed within the Hidden Temple and guarded by the utterly scary temple guards. Seriously those guys always came out of nowhere and scared the crap out of me. Of course they did also make the show much more exciting...I wonder what else they could spice up...
Seriously though, of all the game shows on Nickelodeon, this was the one that I wanted to be on more than anything. Alas, my family which resided in Murray, a suburb of Salt Lake City was never able to afford the trip to Orlando. Such is life.
What were some of your favorite Nickelodeon game shows from the 80s and 90s? Let me know in the comments below!
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