The nostalgia that comes with “Unsolved Mysteries” is palpable. In its original iteration, the show featured enigmatic stories of homicides, disappearances, and of course, the paranormal. The host of these tales was the eccentric Robert Stack, who wandered about sets with lots of fog machines while donning a trench coat, as if he were actually pounding the pavement and looking into these mysteries himself. I clearly recall watching “Unsolved Mysteries” at night with the lights out, huddling up next to our boxy old TV, and being progressively more afraid. Despite the fact that it shouldn’t have been, it was a delightful form of fear. These were actual accounts of death and loss that afflicted real people, as well as ghosts and aliens on occasion. Sometimes it destroyed their life. Nevertheless, it was challenging to contain one’s excitement when Robert Stack’s smooth, deep voice repeatedly uttered atrocities.
The Netflix “Unsolved Mysteries” relaunch has made an effort to address this disconnect by elevating the seriousness and respect of their programme. The same kinds of terrible, tragic stories are playing out at the same moment, just with a shiny new coat of paint. And no matter how hard they try, the new “Unsolved Mysteries” will never be able to replace Stack. They didn’t even bother looking for a new host since they undoubtedly thought his trenchcoat was too big to fit (they were probably right).
All of this is not to say that the new season of “Unsolved Mysteries,” which premieres its first episodes on Netflix today before playing out over the course of a three-week event, is unimportant. The programme continues to be as engrossing as ever, unfolding tales that make you lean toward your TV as if being closer to the action will magically unravel the mystery. However, despite how much I appreciate viewing this “Unsolved Mysteries,” I can’t get over the feeling that it isn’t “Unsolved Mysteries.” I miss the mystery-tinged fear that pervaded that first run, which is absent from this one. I miss experiencing fear. But maybe that’s the point—we should stop looking for cheap thrills in stories like this and start caring more about the fallout.
A series of mysteries
The most recent season of “Unsolved Mysteries” covers a wide range of subjects, as is common. A teen was killed when he was hit by a train in “Mystery at Mile Marker 45.” The facts show that something else was going on in this case, even though the authorities first determined it to be a suicide (but is it the truth, or is it just a matter of good editing on the side of the “Unsolved Mysteries” crew?) In “Something in the Sky,” a number of UFO sightings near Lake Michigan are described. The most heartbreaking episode of this season, “Body in Bags,” deals with a murder where the obvious culprit has eluded arrest for years. “Abducted by a Parent” presents two tales of parental kidnapping, and it’s almost as terrifying and demanding on the emotions as “Body in Bags.”
The central theme of “Death at a Vegas Motel” is the passing away of a colourful Los Vegas figure. In “Paranormal Rangers,” two Navajo Rangers who investigate the paranormal act as a modern-day Mulder and Scully. The documentary “What Happened to Josh?” investigates a college student’s disappearance. Another tale of a possible suicide that might not have happened is found in “Body in the Bay.” And after a haunting, “The Ghost in Apartment 14” takes place.
I’ve always enjoyed the ghost episodes, so when this new season of “Unsolved Mysteries” delves into the supernatural, I feel a tiny thrill. The ghost episode this season, however, seems cheated because it simply utilises its possible ghost to introduce a serial killer’s plot. Intruding into this zone strains plausibility because the serial killer scenario never feels tied to the ghost story. It also feels overly gothic.
The effectiveness of “Unsolved Mysteries” derives from the way it presents the facts and creates eerie recreations. The recreations adhere to a structure and use high-definition, slow-motion video to painstakingly imitate real-world scenarios. But the truths are what add to the series’ unpleasant nature. Your mind starts to spin as you try to make sense of everything when you see them put out side by side and follow them.
Season three of “Unsolved Mysteries” is appropriately eerie. The trail camera footage from “Mystery at Mile Marker 45” looks like something out of a horror film; the UFO episode manages to make UFOs genuinely frightful; and “What Happened to Josh?” will have you attempting to solve the mystery for yourself. Although I can’t get the feeling that the show continues to sensationalise tragedies, your experience may differ. All of this is good information. But “Unsolved Mysteries” is still a highly polished, compelling piece of television. Just give me a couple more ghost episodes, please.
Season 3 of “Unsolved Mysteries” will debut its nine episodes over the course of three weeks, beginning on October 18 and running through October 25 before wrapping up on November 1, 2022.