“Unsolved” is characterized by being different from other true crime series.
In 2020, Netflix premiered its reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, the popular true-crime series that ran from 1987 to 2002. Host Robert Stack invited viewers to “help solve a mystery” and its original run – alongside “America’s Most Wanted” and “Rescue 911” – helped whet a national appetite for true crime.
Netflix’s reboot was seen as another move by the streamer to harness the power of nostalgia. But the show’s first season lacked the magic of the original series, focusing on one mystery per episode and generally relying on murder and disappearances.
Now in its third season, Unsolved Mysteries finally leans more towards the beloved original, mixing the usual unsolved murders and disappearances with episodes that focus on UFOs and ghosts — though still no hint of Unsolved staple Lost Loves ‘ which focused on reuniting adopted children with their families. But even when it does take root as a series, Unsolved Mysteries feels utterly apart from the standard Netflix true-crime docs the service rolls out each month.
As Netflix shifts from gobbling up existing intellectual property to focus on creating new content, Unsolved Mysteries feels even more like an outlier — especially compared to other true-crime docs. Compared to the plethora of serial killer and cult shows currently streaming, there’s something almost homey about Unsolved Mysteries.
The success of the original series was due in large part to its focus on real people and real mysteries. As the opening title card read, “Whenever possible, actual family members and police officers took part in the re-enactments of events.” And these witnesses tended to be working class, just people who go through everyday horror stories like a child disappearing from a public park. Even the UFO and ghost episodes felt a sense of belonging because they don’t involve paranormal experts. In many cases, the events were decades old and there was no video evidence.
That simplicity has kept Unsolved Mysteries in the hearts of its fans, and the third volume of the reboot comes closest to that sentiment. The release of three episodes in a row — one focused on a disappearance, another on UFOs, and one on a murder — allows newcomers to the series a broad idea of what Unsolved Mysteries is about, while correcting criticism that Season 1 was at the top. charged with murder. It’s also a perk of the show to mix contemporary crimes from the last decade with an unsolved UFO sighting from the 1980s. The allure of Unsolved Mysteries is how many mysteries can remain unsolved, sometimes for decades.
If anything, the reboot should focus more on that, perhaps by revisiting a mystery from the original series. With the opportunity to devote 45 to 50 minutes to a mystery, the Netflix series could explore a past story and maybe even quiz the original interviewees about how their lives have changed since it first aired.
Unsolved Mysteries is a clear case of how a nostalgic reboot can honor its predecessor while making a solid case for its existence now. By borrowing from the original’s understanding of contemporary fears and focusing on the normal within the abnormal, the show has a distinct advantage over the other true-crime documents that wallow in the garish detail. Well, if only they could get a host to approximate Robert Stack’s ominous narrative.
Unsolved Mysteries releases episodes on Netflix every Tuesday.
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/10/unsolved-mysteries-netflix-series-season-3-1234773641/ Unsolved Mysteries: The Netflix series hits the right notes in season 3