If you grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, chances are you have seen the TV show Unsolved Mysteries. For many, Unsolved Mysteries was the stuff of nightmares. From its iconic and frightening theme music, to the chilling presence and voice of its host the late Robert Stack, the show is considered a television classic.
Originally running from 1987 to 2002, the show profiled criminal cases, poignant stories of long-lost loved ones, historical legends, and paranormal phenomena. Unsolved Mysteries made a comeback in 2008 with a new host in veteran actor Dennis Farina and ran until 2010. After the revamped version ended, it seemed as if Unsolved Mysteries was finished. Then on January 18, 2019, a reboot was announced. The new version was to be produced by the producers of the hit series Stranger Things and stream exclusively on Netflix. As of July 1, of this year, Unsolved Mysteries is back!
Currently, there are six episodes streaming. The episodes list goes as follows: “Mystery on the Rooftop,” “13 Minutes,” “House of Terror,” “No Ride Home,” “Berkshires UFO,” and “Missing Witness.” Each episode runs about an hour long.
I’ve been a fan of Unsolved Mysteries since childhood. I will admit, that show scared me, but I just couldn’t help myself. It’s no different than when someone watches a horror film, despite being afraid of them. I guess it only proves that life is no fun without a good scare. To this day, I will always maintain that Unsolved Mysteries is my favorite TV show of all time. So, when I got word that it was going to make a comeback, I was very excited. During a 10-year absence, all that could be done was to watch re-runs whenever they would sporadically pop up on TV. Thankfully, in 2017, FilmRise secured the rights to the original show and they began streaming first on Amazon Prime, then on Hulu, and then later on YouTube for free, which was awesome.
So Unsolved Mysteries was back, at the least the episodes I grew up on, which was great; but deep down, I wished that it would come back with brand new cases. As long as life goes on, there will always be murder, missing persons, lost loves, and some claims here and there about sightings of Bigfoot, mysterious lights in the sky, and haunted houses — the kind of material you expect from Unsolved Mysteries. The more I thought about that, the more I yearned for my favorite show to come back. Alas, my prayers were answered and here we are now with new mysteries waiting to be solved.
Now there are some major changes that make this version of Unsolved Mysteries stand out from the original. For a start, there is no host. One of the reasons the original show is recognizable, is Robert Stack. His presence and voice alone were enough to make you cower in fear back in the day. He defined Unsolved Mysteries. Sadly, Robert Stack passed away in 2003 due to heart failure. Actor Dennis Farina succeeded Stack for the aforementioned 2008 revamped version. He was okay, but he was nowhere on the level of Robert Stack. Farina passed away in 2013. The first thing I thought of when I heard Unsolved Mysteries was returning was ‘who would be the new host?’ In the end, the producers opted not to go with a host. This time around, the show is presented in the form of a Netflix premium documentary. I am a little disappointed, but I understand. You can’t replicate Robert Stack, plain and simple.
Another change is that the show now focuses on one case per episode unlike the original version, which profiled four to five cases per episode. Personally, I’m okay with that. In fact, one positive thing about only profiling one case is that because each episode is almost an hour long, this allows for more details to be showcased, whereas if you did multiple segments in one episode, there’s only so much information you can present due to time constraints.
There are also two things about this new version that I appreciate a lot, and this goes for anyone else who is a fan of the original show. The first is that the iconic theme song is back but in a new way. The classic Unsolved Mysteries theme used in the intro has been updated and is now slower, which gives it a very haunting feel; the kind of thing you would expect from Unsolved Mysteries. And second, Robert Stack makes an appearance… Sort of. If you watch very closely when the logo appears in the show’s intro, you can see the faint and ghostly image of Stack in the background, which is awesome! The spirit of Robert Stack lives on!
Now if you know a thing or two about watching true crime documentaries and are the emotional type, be prepared. This new version of Unsolved Mysteries will definitely trigger emotions. One episode that angered me was the second, “13 Minutes.” This episode profiles the case of a hair salon owner who vanishes within a thirteen-minute time period and is found dead 600 days later, which turns the case from a missing persons, to a homicide investigation. Now why did this episode anger me? One word: Rob. Rob, the name of the victim’s husband. Throughout the episode, he did not come off as a likable person and he definitely gives you the impression that he was involved in his wife’s disappearance and subsequent death. Watch this episode for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
Another episode, that will definitely trigger raw emotions is “No Ride Home,” the fourth episode. This particular episode is not only tragic, it’s a stark reminder of what is currently going on in our country in terms of race and social justice. “No Ride Home” examines the case of Alonzo Brooks, a young black man who went missing after attending a party and was found dead nearly a month later. Brooks’ family and friends believe he was the victim of a hate crime. In the wake of all the protests against racism and police brutality — and the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd — this is a must-see episode to watch during these times. Just as a side note, as of June 11 of this year, the FBI has reopened the case and is issuing a $100,000 reward for information related to Brooks’ death.
Not all the episodes are about missing persons and murders. If you need a break from the depressing stories of death and injustice, the fifth episode’s got you covered. It wouldn’t be Unsolved Mysteries without a good UFO sightings story. Those were always my favorite. “Berkshires UFO” takes a look at the case of multiple alleged UFO sightings and alien abductions that took place in a Massachusetts county in September of 1969. In this episode, you’ll hear from the people who encountered the mysterious object in the sky as they recount the events that supposedly took place 51 years ago.
There are other intriguing cases in this series, but I don’t want to go through each one of them in detail. You’ll have to see them for yourself. So, all in all, the new reboot of Unsolved Mysteries is great and I enjoyed it personally. It may be different from the original version that I and so many others grew up on, but it still has that chilling and riveting feel, just updated for the modern era. If you are already a Netflix subscriber, definitely give it a watch! If you are not a subscriber, at least try a free month trial and check it out. In the words of Robert Stack, “Perhaps YOU may be able to help solve a mystery.”