It was only a matter of time that the true crime renaissance would lead back to Unsolved Mysteries, one of the paragons of the genre. Now that time is here with Netflix announcing that it will reboot the classic true crime and paranormal documentary series with the help of Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy.
According to Deadline, the new series will contain 12 episodes and like the original, will cover a bevy of real life cases from mysterious crimes to the paranormal. Levy and his 21 Laps Entertainment imprint (which has had a busy week with Netflix) will oversee the new project with the help of Cosgrove-Meurer Productions, the production company for the first run of Unsolved Mysteries run by John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer. Cosgrove and Dunn Meurer will both return as producers alongside Levy and Josh Berry.
Unsolved Mysteries first debuted on NBC in January of 1987. The show ran for 14 seasons (with stints on NBC, CBS, Lifetime, and the now defunct Spike) and featured nearly 600 episodes. Each episode of the show covered a different real life mystery, usually of a true crime variety and occasionally even a paranormal one. Actors would portray the events of each crime in re-enactments with family members and various officials sometimes providing on-screen interviews.
The show was perhaps best known for its eerie, ’80s synthesizer-tinged theme song and the consistent presence of sturdy and trustworthy host Robert Stack. Stack narrated the series, usually beginning each episode having emerged from the foggy shadows, wearing a trench coat. Traditionally, that is not a solid strategy for anyone to build trust but somehow Stack made it work. Virginia Madsen co-hosted with Stack in 1999 and Dennis Farina took over hosting duties for the show in a 2008-2010 reboot, following Stack’s death in 2003.
The original 12 seasons of Unsolved Mysteries are available to stream on Amazon Prime. There’s no word whether Netflix will acquire the rights to previous episodes as part of the reboot deal.
Unsolved Mysteries was at the forefront of what you might call the first or second wave of a true crime renaissance in pop culture. Alongside shows like Forensic Files and even Law and Order, Unsolved Mysteries proved to be a consistent presence on television for decades.
Now it’s getting new life with a streaming service well versed in the kind of cultural and critical impact that true crime series can bring.