Unsolved Mysteries is back! Netflix has rebooted the documentary TV series that covered everything from disappearances to ghosts to aliens, introducing a new generation to a show that was loved by so many during its 14 season original run. When you begin streaming the new Netflix show on July 1, though, chances are anyone who has seen an episode of Unsolved Mysteries before is going to be confused.
While the show’s title card looks the same and the theme song is an eerie new arrangement of the iconic intro, there’s something missing–almost any link to the original Unsolved Mysteries. Practically everything about the series that was so engaging has been stripped out. Instead, Netflix is presenting what is, essentially, another in a long line of Netflix true crime documentary shows. The incidents it investigates are still mysterious, and there are still links to the paranormal. However, this show is not unsolved mysteries.
Gone is the hosting and narration, for instance. Robert Stack was the voice of Unsolved Mysteries for years, serving as the host of the first 13 seasons. He’s as synonymous with the show as anything else. When the series was later continued after Stacks’ death, Law & Order star Dennis Farina took over to revisit previous mysteries and give updates that has been discovered since the original episodes aired.
There is nobody in the host role in the reboot. Instead, the stories are told through new and archived interviews. While that’s not necessarily a bad decision for a true crime documentary series, it’s not what anybody who has watched old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries would be expecting.
Gone too are the dramatic reenactments of the events being explored in the series. These were a staple of the original show and, honestly, one of the most exciting parts of any given episode. It’s one thing to hear those involved talk about what happened. Actually seeing what it might have looked like, though, is an entirely different experience and one that’s paramount to Unsolved Mysteries.
Another interesting change, though one that probably makes the jobs of the show’s research team easier, is that each episode only tracks a single mystery. In the original series, episodes tended to cover three or four different mysteries–five during Farina’s season on Spike TV–giving viewers a sampling of the different types of stories the show covered. By focusing on a single story in each episode, you run the risk of spending too much time on a story that might not connect with its viewers.
Ultimately, Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries isn’t a bad show. It fits in nicely with the streaming service’s long line of true crime and documentary programming. However, the one thing it is not is Unsolved Mysteries. If you’re going to cash in on the name value of a property, you should at least try to resemble said property.
So if you are a fan of the original series and were hoping you could kick off July diving back into a mysterious world, this likely isn’t going to be the show for you. That said, there is still hope. While Netflix may not have recaptured what made Unsolved Mysteries so special, there’s still the old episodes to watch–and many of them are streaming online.