When I was a very young child, my family lived out on a farm. We got three television channels. This was in the late 1980s and very early 1990s, so it was not the norm for people who didn’t live out in the boondocks. But for us, it was all there was unless we went to our grandparents’ house “in town”.
My grandmother had a small television set up in her family room, so she could see it while she cleaned or worked in the kitchen. She and her maid loved to watch their stories, and heaven help the person who interrupted All My Children. But at night when the soap operas were done for the day and my grandmother didn’t much care for most of the contemporary sitcoms, I remember getting to watch Unsolved Mysteries.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a show about missing persons cases, unsolved homicides, even paranormal stuff. Any interesting cold case the show could get its hands on. And it was entertaining. And also the creepiest television show in the history of ever. And this is from a kid who was of the generation where Tales from the Crypt was considered a perfectly normal and acceptable kids’ show.
Now that it’s being revived on Netflix, I thought I’d share some info about the show in general. Partly because I thought it would be fun for those of us who watched it way back in the day, and partly because it’s time for me to write this month’s post and other than this I got nothin’.
So here are 10 Things About Unsolved Mysteries:
- It actually started as a series of seven specials that premiered on NBC beginning in January of 1987. The specials were split between three different hosts, including Robert Stack.
- By the fall of 1988, the show was green-lit at a full fledged series with Robert Stack at the full-time host. It is his voice most of us remember creeping us out as youngsters. It was iconic.
- The series was dropped by NBC, but picked up by CBS in 1997 where it ran for two seasons before being dropped. Lifetime picked up the show’s last season, ending when Robert Stack fell ill and could no longer host. When he eventually passed away, the network didn’t try to replace him, they simply cancelled the show.
- Six years later, a fourth network laid claim to the concept and Spike TV revived the show with a new host. Two years and 175 episodes later, Spike gave it up too. In addition to the four main host networks, several other networks paid for syndication of the show. Today you can even find original episodes through YouTube, FilmRise, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
- Its theme song was the soundtrack to my nightmares and was composed by Michael Boyd and Gary Remal Malkin. The song has had different arrangements throughout the show’s history, but has never been replaced. It is the same music that plays during the intro of the Netflix revival of the show.
- When the show began, the internet wasn’t yet prevalent, so they set up a caller hotline so people who saw the show could leave tips if they had information to share. Even in the first season, tips called in from around the country helped locate suspects and solve cases. As technology moved forward, so did the show. It has a website that is still live and used for tips today.
- Several actors got their start by playing characters in the show’s reenactments of the crimes/cases portrayed. Matthew McConaughey, Taran Killam, David Ramsey, Hill Harper, and Daniel Dae Kim are just a few of the names that have shown up in the credits of the show.
- Other celebrities, including Jon Bon Jovi and Reggie White, were interviewed on the show regarding cases that were close to them.
- The Netflix revival of the show has no host and depends solely on interviews to tell the story. This is actually reflective of the proposed pilot episode of the original show. It’s also being produced by Shawn Levy, one of the executive producers of Stranger Things.
- Since the premier of the Netflix revival of the show, people are already sending in tips and information on the newly featured cases. Multiple people who have worked on episodes of the show say they are confident that some of the cases will be solved based on information coming in.
There is no voice that compares to Robert Stack. That man could make anything sound terrifying. They tried to add co-hosts to the show as he got older, but he was undoubtedly the star. After his passing, other hosts could never quite garner the popularity that Stack had while hosting the show.
I don’t know if this can or will help my fellow writers out there in any way, but it was fun to think back to my little preschool self shaking getting so excited and then having nightmares after hearing the intro to this show. I’m not gonna lie, I’m in my 30s now and some of those old episodes are still on my nope list.