From UFOs to a family massacre, ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ reborn with changes

Image of the full Buck Moon on July 4, 2020, as the lunar eclipse began. (Indie Art South)

Remember the long running series ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ from the 1980s through the 2000s? The show helmed by narrator Robert Stack is a classic. Episodes had the potential to bring in new tips about old crimes. Now a reborn version of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is airing on Netflix, and while the premise remains the same, changes to the original format have been made.

Is the series worth your time?

I think it is. My husband and I streamed two full episodes on a lazy rainy Sunday, and I found both cases mesmerizing.

The first segment we watched related to the death of Rey Rivera. Authorities ruled the death “probable suicide,” but once you watch the segment, that ruling becomes highly suspect. I think Rivera was murdered, based on what the episode disclosed, and it didn’t take long for one viewer to share an idea that may be a newly identified clue.

The second episode we chose to stream is about 1969 UFO sightings in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. This is probably one of the more credible reports on UFOs because the phenomena were witnessed by many different people who weren’t connected to each other. No one really knows what happened, but several witnesses tell their stories and they are pretty credible in my opinion.

We appreciated these two episodes and part of another episode about a murdered family in France, but I noticed a couple of things that are different when you compare the earlier series to the new one.

There is no narrator. I thought Robert Stack was such an asset to the original show, and I admit, I think I’d prefer a narrator to step in to the new one too because some of the accounts get a bit repetitive. Each person tells his or her story in their own words, and I like that, but it tended to get a bit bogged down for me.

The other thing I miss involved reenactments. Those were part of the original series, and they kept the action going, regardless of the quality of the acting.

I think a narrator and reenactments would have definitely been a boon for the story about the family massacre in France. Each of the individuals who speak about that case do so in their native tongue, so there are a lot of captions. It got a wee bit tedious.

Other than those quibbles, we enjoyed the stream.

The executive producer of the revamped series told media news tips about the cases recounted are already coming in. Tons of tips came in response to the original show, and some of the mysteries were solved:

“That response echoes the thousands of leads submitted by viewers during the show’s earlier run on NBC, CBS and Lifetime from 1988 to 2002. Executive producer Terry Dunn Meurer, who co-created the series, says more than 260 mysteries from the original were ultimately resolved with the help of tips and other factors, such as increasingly sophisticated DNA testing.”

This reconfigured series will likely be popular, and it affirms an opinion I’ve shared with quite a few indie filmmakers. Instead of jumping on a project to create a new version of the slasher film, look to history both recent and past for stories buried after a brief moment in the media spotlight. There’s an award-winning film or series just waiting to be made in my opinion, and old newspapers are a fantastic place to start.

I’d recommend the new ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ because it’s interesting, and it’s blissfully devoid of Netflix’s penchant for biased politics. There are only six episodes, but I predict there will be more to come in a potential Volume 2.

Featured Photo: Image of the full Buck Moon on July 4, 2020, as the lunar eclipse began. (Indie Art South)

(Kay B. Day/July 6, 2020)

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