One of my ultimate favorite television shows as a kid was GUTS. Or as you might remember it, “that show where three very brave teenagers get on bungee cords, in hopes of winning a medal and a glowing piece of a fake rock.” I used to sit on my couch like a lump, eating chips and thinking of the athletic ability these competitors had, that I would sadly never possess. While the show didn’t have much of a cast, it did have a lot of components that deserve revisiting.
The series was broadcast by the cable television network Nickelodeon from 1992 to 1995, and was filmed in the “Extreme Arena”, which was a fancy name for the set built on Sound Stage 21 in Florida. Mimicking American Gladiators with maybe a dash of the Olympics, it allowed three teens and pre-teens (represented by the colors blue, red, and purple) to compete against each other in four events. Many events were included throughout the shows run, but they were broken up into four categories: Aerial, Field, Track, and Pool.
So – What Happened to the “cast”?
Mike O’Malley – Host
You younger guys might know Mike from his role as Burt Hummel on Glee, but Mike was the host of GUTS after hosting another Nickelodeon show, called Get The Picture. Soon after, he was in a 90′s series called Life With Roger, and had two episodes of his show The Mike O’Malley Show air before it was cancelled. The sitcom Yes Dear, which Mike was involved in, was a bit more successful, running for six years. Still being supportive of Nickelodeon he also starred in a few episodes of the Nickelodeon Celebrity Panel game show Figure It Out, hosted by Olympian Summer Sanders.
He was also in a few films after GUTS, including small parts in Pushing Tin, 28 Days (with Sandra Bullock – not to be confused with 28 Days Later), and Deep Impact, where he played Elijah Wood’s astronomy teacher.
But – wait! This man has even more talents! Two of the plays he’s written have been performed off-Broadway, and a screenplay called Certainty won Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Ensemble Cast awards at the Boston Film Festival in 2011.
“I took my job for Nickelodeon very seriously, and back then it wasn’t certainly as big of a network as it is now, culturally, and people my age didn’t know much about it. But I loved my time there, I really put everything I had into doing Guts, and it actually taught me a lot about how to work really hard,” O’Malley said to Vulture back in 2011.
Judging by this clip, Mike “O’Silly” seemed to really enjoy his time on the show.
Moira “Mo” Quirk – Co-Host/Referee
Being the referee for GUTS was one of Moira’s first jobs, but it didn’t end there. For example, she also had the job of being the first crush for many boys I know. Today she’s had a lot of success with voice-over work (including Hey Arnold! and The Wild Thornberries for Nickelodeon) and is a stand-up comedian.
” He’s busy with work and family. I’m busy with work and family, but we keep up with each other and I’m always happy to hear what he’s up to. I did watch the first season of Glee and thought he was amazing,” Quirk said to interviewer Andrew Blumetti.
If you or your significant other is playing the video game Skyrim, and think the voice of character Karliah sounds familiar, it’s because Quirk voiced her (the game was called something different at the time, so she didn’t even realize she had taken part when fans recognized her and contacted her about it.)
She’s also an Emmy award winner for her work in the web-series Dirty Work, which debuted in 2012 and stars Jamie Clayton, Hank Harris and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Quirk also admitted to conquering the Crag itself, but not on camera. In fact, an honorary piece of the Crag used to reside in her garage, but now has a place on top of her piano. Also – in case you meet her, the nickname of “Mo” is saved for Mike O’Malley and her Grandfather.
If you need some more Quirk in your life, you can find her here on Twitter.
The AggroCrag – Final Challenge
I can’t go through a “What Happened To Them” without a few paragraphs about our beloved Crag. While it was called a few things during GUTS and Global GUTS (which was a similar concept, but incorporated contestants from all over, instead of just the United States), Aggro is, I’d say, the most universal term for the danger mountain that our three young heroes were forced to climb. I mean – Mega Crag? Come on! (Also acceptable: “The Radical Rock!”)
Contestants had to climb the Crag and hit about seven actuators on their way up. During the climb, they faced rock avalanches, simulated lightning storms in the form of strobe lights, glitter “snow”, and “nuclear flying crystals” which probably weren’t as dangerous as they sound. Players had to stay on their section of the Crag at all times, and many faced a disqualification from a missed actuator or two – a crime that probably plagued them for the rest of their lives.
The most famous kid to climb the Crag was some guy named AJ “Mean” McLean, who won a Slam Dunk event, got the silver medal over all, and ended up being in some band called The Backstreet Boys. Maybe you’ve heard of them.
Winner: It’s a close call, but I have to say Mike O’Malley. While he had a bit of a rough go with sitcoms, he’s constantly been working. Also, I’d say landing a part on Glee is pretty dang successful. In Guts terms, he “has it!”.
I admit, that was weak.