Even before TV ratings ever existed, Unsolved Mysteries was one of those investigative shows (along with 20/20 and America’s Most Wanted) that I was banned from watching as a kid in the ‘90s. Parental restrictions and threats that “it will give you nightmares” aside, I would sneak into the guest room after dark, turn on the ancient rabbit-ear TV otherwise collecting dust and binge on case after unexplained case of paranormal events, wanted killers, and disappearing victims with morbid fascination.
Robert Stack — who could probably recite Edgar Allan Poe in his sleep and still scare you bloodless — narrated the series with the type of solemnity usually reserved for cold-case detectives and funeral directors. The creepy synth soundtrack only added to the atmosphere, as did the flickering candles and shadows that danced around the rooms of the staged haunted house Stack would pace through as he spoke of ghosts and abduction and murder. I will never forget the visual of an abandoned carousel, still lit but apart from the rest of an unseen carnival, that suddenly went still after the especially chilling story of a little girl who had mysteriously vanished.
Stack’s iconic voice backing hazy re-enactments and police interviews often featuring cold-case files made the show a phantom that would haunt prime-time TV from 1987 through 2002. The brief revival of the series by Spike in 2008 just didn’t have the original’s fear factor.
Now the show’s creators, John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer, want to dig it up from the grave again, and we have evidence.
“We are actively talking to a couple of broadcasters who have shown interest, and we’re very optimistic that we’ll have something by way of new episodes by the end of the year,” said Cosgrove. “It’s too early to go into much detail, but we’ve had our research producers look into possible stories, and they’ve found some excellent ones which can be ready to go quickly.”
I can only wonder what this reincarnation will manifest as. Will it go back to its haunted-house roots with an updated version of that theme song that crawls up your spine like a spider? Will the voice behind it even touch the funereal tone of Stack’s? Will it be, dare I say it, even scarier?
We should find out when these rumored new episodes air by the end of this year. Best Christmas present ever.