The Reel Review
Unsolved Mysteries was one of the most iconic TV series of the 1990s. Each week, host Robert Stack would throw on his trench coat and stroll through fake fog, setting up an assortment of stories about missing persons, unsolved crimes, ghosts, UFO sightings, alien abductions and other unexplained phenomena. As if 2020 isn’t scary enough, Netflix has decided to reboot the series.
Unlike the original, which had multiple stories in each episode, this time each story gets its own 45 minute episode, which frankly, isn’t necessarily a good thing. Two things, however, will send shivers of delight down the spines of fans of the original – that same, iconic theme song, and the ask at the end of each episode for viewers with knowledge about the mysteries to come forward and help get them solved.
Sadly, that is as good as it gets. The first half of the six, 45-minute, host-free episodes currently available on Netflix are interesting, but the latter half are dull, with way too many pointless interviews thrown in, apparently to fill time, and with fewer and blander re-enactments that bear no resemblance to the delightfully cheesy ones of the original series. In an era where shows like Dateline NBC and CNN Films already have perfected the character driven, longer documentary format of true crime storytelling, Unsolved Mysteries feels third rate and sloppy – too often lacking the curiosity or investigative spark needed to sustain the longer time devoted to each case. The subjects of the series deserve better.
• The new series does have an easter egg for longtime fans – an image of former host Robert Stack is seen over the title in the show opening.
• Just days after its launch, Unsolved Mysteries producers say they already are getting tips from viewers to help solve some of the six mysteries profiled. Executive producer Terry Dunn Maurer says more than 260 mysteries from the original series were solved thanks to viewer tips and other factors.
• Six more episodes of Unsolved Mysteries will be available on Netflix later in 2020.