A new version of ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’ a true-crime reality show that originally premiered on NBC in the late 1980s, just made its debut on Netflix.
As a general rule, I hate reboots. You can imagine my skepticism when I saw that Netflix announced a reboot for Unsolved Mysteries.
The show began as a series of specials. Raymond Burr and Karl Malden served as hosts before the show chose Robert Stack. No one could have narrated the show quite like Stack did. You can find plenty of full episodes of the original series on YouTube. Here’s a sample:
Years later, actor Dennis Farina would host a reboot but it wasn’t the same without Stack.
When it comes to reboots, if I really like the original, I know I’ll hate the new version. I first wondered, when I learned that Netflix planned a new show, who in the world they’d get to host. Then, of course, I wondered if that person would have the presence Stack did to pull you in.
I watched the official Netflix trailer, which told me they’re keeping the same music. I found the cinematography impressive.
But I couldn’t tell who the host would be.
The show became available on Netflix as of Wednesday, so I made sure to tune in.
The first episode tells the story of Rey Rivera, a Baltimore man who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Friends scoured an area where they found his vehicle and spotted a strange hole in a nearby hotel roof. Authorities responded and asked to get a look inside the building where that hole was. They confirmed Rivera’s body was inside.
They told his family he must have committed suicide and jumped from the hotel roof, crashing 11 stories into the small building below.
That’s even though there’s no way he could have traveled the horizontal distance from the roofline to the spot where the hole was.
His family, who’s still hoping for answers, makes a convincing case.
But what about the host?
It captured all of the suspense of the original.
What I found even more interesting was the host selection. There wasn’t one. The story is told entirely through soundbites of the victim’s loved ones and witnesses. The editors weave their comments together into a cohesive narrative that gives you the story in their words.
When the editing is done that well, you don’t actually need a host.
And the editing was done that well.
After the initial curiosity wore off, I found myself grasped by the story. I lost sight of the fact that there was no narrator. The story progressed and I paid attention.
There are several episodes in this initial offering. I’m sure I’ll be back for more and I hope Netflix will produce more after that.
I don’t usually care for reboots, but I have to give this one top marks!