In just two weeks, 24,000 fans applied to be on the newly revived Legends of the Hidden Temple.
“We had to cut off applications,” notes executive producer Scott A. Stone, an original creator, on the adult-size reboot of Nickelodeon’s 1993–95 kids’ game show. “When we do an announcement for a new show, generally, we get 1,000 applicants, and that’s amazing. And if we get 2,000 applicants for a hit show, that’s a lot.”
So to say that adults are ready to reenter the Mayan-themed set they dreamed of racing through as children is a total understatement. “There’s so much love in the core 25 to 40-year-old audience,” Stone says, adding that his film students at The University of Southern California used to regularly dress up as the show’s determined contestants for Halloween. “It seems to have touched so many people’s hearts in the best of ways,” he says.
And Stone promises the CW’s reboot contains music of the same onscreen magic. Each hourlong episode — extended from the original’s half-hour installments — requires players to use both their brains and brawn to win a cash prize, with host, comic Cristela Alonzo, cheering them on. “She’s rooting for the contestants like she was doing it herself,” Stone adds, while also teasing, “there is a place for [original host] Kirk Fogg in the series, so you’ll hear about that [too].”
The series’ familiar, colorful team names, like the Blue Barracudas and Silver Snakes remain, as does Olmec, the ancient stone head that speaks (Dee Bradley Baker returns to voice), guiding contestants. Notes Stone: “[Olmec’s] got a bit of a face-lift.”
The four rounds, alternating between physical tests and trivia, remain too. Fans will recognize the taxing Moat Crossing, the Steps of Knowledge quiz and the athletic trials dubbed the Temple Games. And since this version is for adults, the educational portion of the competition has been tweaked. Initially, well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and Amelia Earhart were focused on in the kids’ episodes, but for this take, Stone says, they wanted to dig a bit deeper for tales the contestants can emulate as they play. “We took the classic, epic stories, like the story of Gilgamesh, or the Greek legend of Atlantis, or the Irish legend of Cú Chulainn, and the Norse legend of Freyja — these are classic, really big stories and we’re telling them in a kind of abbreviated form,” he says.
Another big difference? The game’s set is now outside. “I went back to the summer camp I went to as a kid in Indiana, and the lake that I thought was ginormous… was a little pond,” Stone admits. “I didn’t want to have the same problem with people coming back to the show. So, thanks to the folks at the CW, we were able to blow this one up in a giant way. The Moat is huge — [approx.] 10,000 square feet. The Temple is massive. The Temple Guards are big and scary. We were able to make the show on a grand scale.”
And along with memorable rooms like the Pit of Despair, new surprises await in the Temple Run’s final maze. One is the Crypt of the Heartless: “You stick your hand into these scary skeletons and find a heart to put into a receptacle on the wall, and the whole room comes alive with veins,” Stone says. “It’s just beautiful.”
Legends of the Hidden Temple, Series Premiere, Sunday, October 10, 8/7c, The CW