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The Legends of the Hidden Temple reboot is giving me an identity crisis

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Upcoming TV movie was made for ‘90s kids — so what does that make me?

I have no fond memories of Legends of the Hidden Temple.

That’s not to say I have any bad memories of the widely beloved Nickelodeon game show, which ran from 1993-1995. I literally know nothing about the show, because I was still pooping my pants for fun when it was on TV.

This proved to be a troubling revelation as I sat in the Hammerstein Ballroom alongside scores of devoted fans, who had stuck it out in line for a chance to attend the series’ New York Comic Con panel. They’d been waiting 21 years for this, the on-stage reunion of original host Kirk Fogg and voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, who embodied the talking statue Olmec; I was busy begging security guards for the Wi-Fi password so I could look up who these guys were.

The problem wasn’t that I’ve seen maybe five episodes of Legends of the Hidden Temple ever in my life; the point of this panel was to ring in this Thanksgiving’s TV movie reimagining of the series. In a sense, everyone in the audience was on the same page there, having seen nothing of it but some melodramatic teaser art prior to the Comic Con event.

No, the issue was this: From the SpongeBob-loving emcees pumping us up before the panel started to the moderator and panelists themselves, the crowd as a collective was constantly referred to as "‘90s kids." Pumped about this specific reference to the game show’s lore, the panelists asked? Of course you are, ya dang ‘90s kids!

Maybe I’m not the ‘90s kid I thought I was

The audience would respond in kind, hollering every time anyone on stage said seemingly innocuous words like "silver" and "monkey." To me, this constantly uttered phrase — which is apparently the Hidden Temple’s toughest, most lucrative puzzle — sounded like a bizarre and kind of inappropriate gag. But to the true ‘90s kids sitting around me? It was as if Kirk Fogg and Dee Bradley Baker were the members of a reunited One Direction.

See, that’s a reference that I understand. Yet I was born at the tail end of 1993, which would seemingly qualify me as a ‘90s kid. But if Nickelodeon is insistent that love for Legends of the Hidden Temple is a requirement, I guess I don’t pass — and that freaks me out.

Does that make me of the same generation as Fogg and Baker’s young co-stars, who play baby Indiana Joneses in the game show’s alarmingly serious cinematic reboot? Isabela Moner (born in 2001), Colin Critchley (2003) and Jet Jurgensmeyer (2004, and yes, that’s his real name) sat on stage looking very young, slightly sheepish yet 100 percent earnest as Fogg and Baker waxed nostalgic about the game show’s allegedly enduring popularity.


At first blush, the kids’ awkward fidgeting and occasional bad jokes seemed like signs of ignorance; I know this because I was doing the same exact things to make myself feel less uncomfortable surrounded by militant Legends of the Hidden Temple followers. Their equal parts endearing and insipid answers to the moderator’s pandering questions about audition tapes were totally divorced from the Legends of the Hidden Temple lore, at least at first. Again, that made me feel a kinship with them.

But I didn’t want to relate to these babies, the youngest of whom is a full 11 years my junior. They were born after 9/11! They don’t remember dial-up! They’ve never had to rewind a VHS tape! I’m a ‘90s kid, not one of ... whatever they are! But soon, they began to demonstrate Legends of the Hidden Temple knowledge that far surpassed my lack thereof.

"I’d heard a lot about the game show from some of my friends who were born in the 90s and loved the game show," Colin said at one point, wide-eyed and grinning. "I’d see the show at 2 a.m. with a 20-year-old Kirk Fogg [cue laughter], and I would learn a lot about the game show from Kirk and Dee themselves."

OK, I thought. When the heck was Colin watching this show that I, someone with an added 10 years of 2 a.m. Nickelodeon-watching over him, never managed to get a grasp of? Who are these ‘90s-born friends of his educating him in the ways of the "silver monkey"?

It turned out that even the youngest people in the room were better representatives of 1990s American culture than me, an American who consumed culture in the 1990s.

I’m really glad for the Legends of the Hidden Temple fans who get to reacquaint themselves with their youth through this  film, which translates the narrative-heavy, puzzle-solving game show into a fantastical action thriller, which kind of seems to strip it of any of the fun.

Nickelodeon, I’ll be sending you my therapy bills

(There are no waterproof headphones to be won by watching this Nickelodeon special, as far as I can tell.) What I’m not glad for is my sense of self, which has been shaken to its core.

Now, if you want to talk Nickelodeon shows I do remember: Double Dare is coming back on Nov. 23 for a one-off anniversary special, as revealed during the Comic Con panel. That slime-ridden god among game shows remains a standout in my mind ... although that’s solely thanks to its 21st century reboot, Double Dare 2000, and host Mark Summers’ repeated Food Network appearances.

In short: Maybe I’m not the ‘90s kid I thought I was. But then, who am I?

Nickelodeon, I’ll be sending you my therapy bills.