I couldn’t tell you the first time I started watching UNSOLVED MYSTERIES but what I can tell you is it had an immense impact on me as a budding horror/paranormal fan in the late ’90s/early 2000s. Even today, as soon as I hear the first few notes of the theme song, followed by Robert Stack (RIP) inviting us to join him in helping to solve a mystery, it sends a chill down my spine. UNSOLVED MYSTERIES has had quite the lineage since it first premiered in 1987. Though it’s been on and off TV since then, it eventually found a home of sorts on YouTube in 2017. Now in 2020, Netflix is set to premiere the reboot of the terrifying and beloved series for both a new generation as well as fans of the original series.
To best describe this reboot, I’ll turn to the official Netflix synopsis: “The iconic series UNSOLVED MYSTERIES is back! Fusing signature elements from the original series with contemporary immersive, character-driven storytelling, the 12 new episodes are rooted in the experience of ordinary people who have lived the unthinkable – from the trauma of a loved one’s unexplained disappearance or horrific death, to the shock of a bizarre paranormal encounter. Alongside detectives and journalists, family members offer clues, present theories, and identify suspects, hoping one viewer holds the key to solving the mystery.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to check out 6 of the 12 episodes from the upcoming reboot of the documentary series. Look, you and I both know that nothing is going to be better than the years in which Robert Stack hosted UNSOLVED MYSTERIES. That said, even though there are some noticeable differences, this reboot doesn’t disappoint. However, there is one massive change that fans of the series will notice right away: there is no host. At first, I was put off by this because as far as I could remember there had always been someone narrating the show. However, as each episode went on, I got more comfortable with the absence of a host. Robert Stack was tremendously iconic when it came to this show that it’s truly difficult to see anyone else in that role, even though there have been numerous individuals who have done so. Additionally, the recognizable theme song has returned with a slight, modern update. However, have no fears as the music still conveys that overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding. Each episode ranges anywhere from 40 min to just under an hour and features one case per episode. At the end of each episode, there is still a phone number/website you can contact if you have any information on the cases that have been presented.
As someone who is terrified of unsolved murders, believe me when I say that this series quickly got under my skin. That said, whatever type of unsolved mystery you are looking for, most likely UNSOLVED MYSTERIES has you covered. The 6 episodes I watched ranged from the mysterious death of Rey Rivera at Baltimore’s historic Belvedere Hotel in May 2006, Patrice Endres, who vanished from her hair salon in broad daylight during a 13-minute timeframe, the Dupont de Ligonnès murders and disappearance that took place in France in 2011, the death of Alonzo Brooks and its connection to a possible hate crime, a UFO sighting that traumatized many of the residents of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and the disappearance of Lena Chapin most likely at the hands of her mother. Each episode features a concise timeline of the events with interviews from loved ones, police, journalists, along with archival footage, a dissection of the crime scene (if there was one), and re-enactments. The construction of the show on a visual level is sleek and put-together, allowing for seamless transitions into the different aspects of the episode.
What I found so powerful about both the original series and the reboot is how it’s able to consistently evoke an array of emotions. Some of the episodes played upon my fears, such as people vanishing into thin air, while others played upon my fascination with the paranormal. However, every single episode pulled on my heartstrings. I think that’s one of the reasons why UNSOLVED MYSTERIES is so affecting. We are watching real people express their raw emotions and painful memories over a horrific event in hopes that somebody, somewhere has the key that will unlock the truth. It’s hard to sit back and not be inspired by their fight for justice and their dedication to finding answers for their loved one. Who knows, with everyone still quarantined during COVID-19, this might be the perfect time to put on our detective hats and dive into some of these cold cases.
In all, I’m excited for everyone to dive into UNSOLVED MYSTERIES, especially those who have never seen the series before. It still possesses the unshakable feeling of dread and terror that the original was known for while also making sure to pay homage to Robert Stack and what he accomplished during his time on the series. If you are a fan of real-life mysteries, the paranormal, and unsolved crimes, then make sure to check out the new revival of UNSOLVED MYSTERIES when the first 6 episodes drop on Netflix, July 1, 2020.