A Legends of the Hidden Temple movie!

A lot of cool news has come out of San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. Teasers and trailers for dozens of movies and TV shows, surprise casting announcements, exciting new projects and more!

But one piece of news that might slipped under the radar was perhaps the puzzliest news of the convention: they’re making a Legends of the Hidden Temple movie!

In the mid-1990s, Legends of the Hidden Temple was a kids game show, a mix of puzzle-solving and Indiana Jones-esque adventure, an award-winning show that was all about cooperation, strategy, and outwitting foes rather than overpowering them.

Six teams of two would compete to see who would win the opportunity to enter the Temple and try to acquire the episode’s magical artifact (which changed from show to show). Host Kirk Fogg and a giant red-eyed stone head known as Olmec would challenge the players with trivia and physical challenges to see who would earn the right to test their speed and wits against the Temple.

I was a huge fan of the show because it didn’t rely solely on physical ability like so many other kids game shows did, and I’ve always been a sucker for Indiana Jones-style derring-do.

After crossing the moat, the members of the four teams that made it across first — be they the Purple Parrots, the Green Monkeys, the Red Jaguars, the Silver Snakes, the Blue Barracudas, or the Orange Iguanas — would find themselves on the Steps of Knowledge, answering questions about today’s artifact.

The first two teams to descend the steps would move on to the third round, where they would complete physical challenges to win the Pendants of Life, discs that would come in handy in the final round when the winning team braved the Temple.

The Temple itself was the puzzliest part of the show. As one team member tackled the labyrinthine Temple, hunting for the artifact, the other team member would wait in the wings, watching their performance. Moving from room to room by solving puzzles or accomplishing different tasks, the competitor would try to avoid the temple guards as they traversed the Temple.

(Those Pendants of Life could be exchanged for your freedom if you were captured by a temple guard. Get captured without one, and your turn is over, and the other member of the team would follow the path you’d made previously.)

The team as a whole had three minutes to find the artifact and escape the Temple in order to win the game.

And now, it’s going to be a TV movie!

It’s fun to see how much of the show they’ve worked into this trailer, and I hope the same adventuresome puzzle-solving spirit is an integral part of the storytelling.

After all, what good is a hidden temple without some Goonies-style puzzling?


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TV Trivia for Tipplers!

[Geeks Who Drink, hosted by Zachary Levi from Disney’s Tangled and NBC’s Chuck.]

Back in July, I discussed The Chase, 500 Questions, and BOOM!, three game shows that represent a resurgence in TV trivia over the last year or so.

Naturally, a week or so after I posted, another trivia-based game show debuted, this time on SyFy: Geeks Who Drink.

Now, bar trivia fans may recognize that name, as Geeks Who Drink is a trivia company that licenses trivia questions for bars all over America to use on Trivia Nights to bring in customers. (My first Geeks Who Drink experience was in Alaska while visiting my sister, and I was pretty impressed by the wide variety of clever questions and themes.)

Like its namesake, punny team names are encouraged on the show. A few of my favorite team names include “Hot Pub Time Machine” and “Beer Me Up, Scotty.”

Unlike its namesake, the TV show version focuses pretty heavily on science fiction and fantasy movies, TV shows, and books. (Understandable, given its host network.)

Whether you’re putting horror movies in order based on the year they debuted, naming as many Stephen King novels as possible, or solving a math problem by adding the number of horcruxes in Harry Potter to the number of wheels on the DeLorean from Back to the Future, you’ll definitely find your knowledge of pop culture put to the test.

[Eric Christian Olsen from NCIS: Los Angeles leads the team “Han Solo Cups.”]

The show also incorporates celebrity guests as team captains and bar-game-style physical challenges — imagine a boozy version of Double Dare — to spice up the show. Now, we have to be a little liberal with the definition of “celebrity guest” here, in the same vein as the “Stars” on Dancing with the Stars, but they do add a lot of humor to each show.

Although it may be a bit too niche for most viewers, I think genre fans in the puzzle community will find plenty to enjoy here. And with each episode only running 30 minutes, it’s an easy time investment.

Geeks Who Drink airs on SyFy at 11 PM Eastern on Thursdays.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Trebek Raps edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to quickly revisit two of my most recent blog posts.

In last week’s Follow-Up Friday post, we celebrated the 144th birthday of creator of the crossword Arthur Wynne, and I set up a little puzzly challenge for my fellow PuzzleNationers: How many words of four or more letters can you make from the letters in ARTHUR WYNNE’s name?

Here are the 110 words I came up with:

Anew, Ante, Aren’t, Artery, Arty, Aunt, Awry, Earn, Earth, Earthy, Entry, Errant, Hare, Hart, Hate, Hater, Haunt, Hear, Heart, Hearty, Heat, Henna, Hewn, Hunt, Hunter, Hurray, Hurry, Hurt, Hyena, Nary, Nature, Near, Neat, Neath, Nehru, Newt, Rant, Ranter, Rare, Rate, Rater, Rather, Rawer, Rear, Rent, Reran, Rerun, Retry, Return, Rune, Runner, Runny, Runt, Runty, Runway, Tanner, Tannery, Tare, Tarry, Tawny, Tear, Teary, Tern, Ternary, Terra, Than, Thane, Thaw, Then, They, Threw, Thru, Thruway, Tray, Trey, True, Truer, Tuna, Tune, Tuner, Turn, Unearth, Unwary, Wane, Want, Ware, Warn, Warren, Wart, Wary, Water, Watery, Wean, Wear, Weary, Went, What, Wheat, When, Whet, Whey, Wrath, Wreath, Wren, Wryer, Yarn, Yawn, Yeah, Year, Yearn.

I’m sure I missed some, so let me know what words you came up with!


[Image courtesy of hlntv.com.]

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some of the newer trivia-based game shows on TV these days. I didn’t really discuss Jeopardy!, easily the most popular trivia game show of all-time, simply because I didn’t have anything new to say on the topic at the moment.

Well, lo and behold, last night I stumbled across a video clip from Monday night’s episode that I simply have to share with the PuzzleNation audience.

In this brief clip, host Alex Trebek gives us a rare glimpse into a rap career that never was — and channels William Shatner’s peculiar rhythmic cadence — as he sings a bit of the theme song from the beloved NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Enjoy:

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Three ways to TV trivia!

Trivia-based game shows seem to be having a bit of a resurgence these days, between ABC’s 500 Questions, Fox’s BOOM!, and GSN’s The Chase.

Unlike Jeopardy!, television’s longest-running trivia-based game show, which relies mostly on the questions themselves to generate interest, this new class of game shows adds all sorts of gimmicky flair to dress up the trivia, be it pursuit by other players (500 Questions) or an in-house trivia master (The Chase) or the threat of being covered in something slimy (BOOM!).

I thought I’d take a look at each of these shows from the standpoint of a self-confessed trivia fiend.

[Image courtesy of reviewjournal.com.]

In BOOM!, the splatter appeal of shows like Double Dare is mixed with the multiple choice style of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, hoping to ratchet up the tension with a wrong answer resulting in some serious messes.

You’ve got multiple answers to a question, and all but one of them are correct. (For instance, you’ll be given the titles of four movies, and then told 3 out of the 4 have been inspired by books.) Each of those answers is color-coded to a wire on the bomb, and the contestant must cut each wire they think is correct in the time allotted in order to defuse the bomb.

[Image courtesy of fresnobee.com.]

If you cut all the right wires, the money for that question goes into your bank. If you get a wrong answer, the bomb “explodes” and you get splattered (there has been pesto, alfredo sauce, maple syrup, and yellow mustard), your team loses the money for that question, and you’re eliminated.

When every team member is splattered, you’re done. If any member of your team survives the six trivia bombs, you go after the Mega Money bomb, which if defused will multiply your banked money by a factor of 4. A perfect run will yield $500,000 for the team.

The show debuted last week on FOX.

[Image courtesy of abc.go.com.]

In 500 Questions, a contestant tackles ten rounds of 50 questions each. Three consecutive wrong answers will knock a contestant out of the competition (correct answers can erase one or two wrong answers).

Along the way, a challenger dogs the contestant at every turn, hoping to knock the contestant out by choosing tough categories if the contestant has acquired two wrongs in a row. The challenger only has one 50-question round to eliminate the contestant; if the challenger fails, a new challenger emerges for the next round.

[Image courtesy of usmagazine.com.]

For every board of 50 questions completed, the contestant is guaranteed the money earned in that round. However, any wrong answers acquired will follow the contestant into the next round.

It’s worth noting that these rules may only apply during the first 200 questions. Since no one has ever completed the fourth round, there could be alternate rules or new wrinkles awaiting contestants and challengers in round five and above.

The show ran for seven straight weeknights, and it’s unknown at this point if it will return.

[Host Brooke Burns and trivia pro The Beast.
Image courtesy of The Blog is Right.]

In The Chase (which is based on a British game show of the same name), a team of contestants pits their trivia wits against the chaser — known as The Beast — who is waiting to capitalize on any mistakes they make. In the early rounds, each contestant faces off against The Beast one-on-one, answering a certain number of questions in a row in order to lock in their prize money and continue in the game.

Any mistakes made by the contestant create opportunities for The Beast to catch them, preventing them from banking any prize money. If the contestant stays ahead of The Beast by answering more questions correctly, the prize money gets banked and the contestant moves on to the Final Chase.

[Image courtesy of variety.com.]

In the Final Chase, whichever contestants survived their individual chase rounds work together to answer as many questions as possible in two minutes. They move a space ahead on the gameboard for every correct answer. The goal here is to build as big a lead as they can before The Beast takes his turn.

The Beast then answers a different set of questions, with each correct answer bringing him one space closer to catching the contestants. If he answers a question wrong, the Chase is paused and the contestants get a shot at answering that question. A correct answer increases their lead by one space; an incorrect answer simply continues the game.

If the contestants can outpace the Beast, they win, splitting the banked money equally; if the Beast catches them, they go home with nothing.

The show’s fourth season on GSN resumes on July 16.

Now, I must admit, 500 Questions didn’t appeal to me because I don’t enjoy feeling obligated to watch something every single night. I understand it’s meant to be a special event and all that, but oversaturation, even in the short term, tends to leave me disinterested. (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? committed the same mistake by airing far too frequently for my tastes, and I quickly abandoned the show.)

I quite enjoy The Chase, but less as a viewer and more as a competitor, since I like to test myself against The Beast. Although I tend to do well, he has bested me more than once. He is a worthy foe.

Although only one episode of BOOM! has aired so far, I find myself watching it less for the trivia — which is very common sense and common knowledge, thus far — and more for whether the contestant botches the question and gets splattered. Whether that remains enough to keep me tuning in week after week… only time will tell.

Are you watching any of these newer trivia game shows, fellow PuzzleNationers, or do you stick with the classics? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Apps and Alex edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’ve got two terrific announcements for you all!

First and foremost, we’ve updated our Apps and iBooks page to reflect the latest puzzles and platforms available! Crosswords, Classic Word Search, and Sudoku puzzles await you there, ready for your mobile devices! Enjoy!

And second, since we’ve been talking about trivia recently, it seems utterly apropos that I stumbled across this video on the Guinness Book of World Records website this week.

It’s host Alex Trebek accepting the certificate for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter (Same Program), officially documented by Guinness (hardly the show’s first world record, but easily its most impressive).

For the record (and the Record!), Alex zoomed into first place by hosting his 6,829th episode of Jeopardy!:

Thank you for checking out Follow-Up Friday! If there have been any posts or puzzle-centric stories featured here that you’d like us to follow up on, let us know! It could be the subject of next week’s Follow-Up Friday post!

5 Questions with game show host Wink Martindale

Welcome to the sixth edition of PuzzleNation Blog’s interview feature, 5 Questions!

We’re reaching out to puzzle constructors, video game writers and designers, writers, filmmakers, and puzzle enthusiasts from all walks of life, talking to people who make puzzles and people who enjoy them in the hopes of exploring the puzzle community as a whole.

And I’ve never been more excited to introduce our latest 5 Questions interviewee… it’s Wink Martindale!

No list of legendary game show hosts would be complete without including Wink Martindale, a man whose winning smile and immense charm has made him one of the premiere go-to hosts on radio and television for decades.

Host of “Debt”, “The New High Rollers”, “Las Vegas Gambit”, and numerous other shows, he was awarded a well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, cementing his legacy as game show royalty alongside other greats like Bill Cullen and Gene Rayburn.

Wink very graciously agreed to take some time out to talk to us, so without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

5 Questions for Wink Martindale

1.) You have hosted an astonishing twenty-one game shows, including “Password Plus,” “The New Tic-Tac-Dough,” and my personal favorite, “Trivial Pursuit.” Beyond winning prizes, what do you think is the appeal of game shows to viewers?

Game shows have always enjoyed an appeal – from their days on radio to the present. In my view the main reason is that listeners/viewers LOVE to see other people become “winners”. They play along picturing themselves as contestants…i.e. “I can do that”! Little do they know “it’s not quite as easy as it looks”.

2.) What qualities does a great game show contestant need? In your estimation, how much of an asset is a background in puzzles when it comes to strategy and game show success?

A background in puzzles is certainly not a requirement for a contestant. The main requirement is the player’s desire to “win” and compete. He or she should know the rules of game play “backwards and forwards” before attempting to play the game on TV. Naturally if the show is Q & A it helps to be above average at all subjects of trivia.

3.) What’s your fondest memory from your work in television?

I have far too many to attempt to come up with just one “favorite” memory. But if I had to nail just one – it would probably be the day my agent called and told me I’d been selected as host of my FIRST network game show, “What’s This Song”, on NBC – 1966. Like your first car or your first house, there is nothing that can compete with THE FIRST anything!

4.) In the last few years, you’ve appeared on “Instant Recall” and Betty White’s comedy show “Off Their Rockers.” What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your off-time?

I tried golf several years ago. But being a left-hander I quickly determined golf wasn’t for me. I took up tennis and to this day it is my favorite sport, and pastime.

5.) If you could give the readers, writers, aspiring game show contestants, and puzzle fans in the audience one piece of advice, what would it be?

The most important piece of advice I ALWAYS give to those who ask, whether they be aspiring contestants, hosts….whomever – is prepare yourself (re-read #2 above). And if possible – acquire as much formal education as possible….high school and/or college.

Plus, if hosting is one’s love, if possible get as much experience as possible in your hometown and/or small market. My BS degree from the U. of Memphis along with my years on radio helped me immensely in terms of overall knowledge and the ability to ad-lib.

Many many thanks to Wink Martindale for his time and the terrific crew at Wink Martindale Productions for their help setting this up! You can keep up with Wink’s latest endeavors on his website, Wink’s World. I can’t wait to see what he’s got for us next.

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