Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Joy of Unsolved Mysteries

90's kids didn't have a cable channel completely devoted to crime like ID, a channel devoted to crazy alien conspiracies like the History Channel, or even a channel devoted to hunting ghosts like the Travel Channel. If we wanted any of this we had one source: Unsolved mysteries.

The Premise
Unsolved Mysteries (Specifically it's 80-90's run) was hosted by the late Robert Stack (Best known outside of this for his role in Airplane!) and featured several stories an episode about things that just don't have answers. We'd see recent cases of criminals on the run, older stories of crimes like the Zodiac Killer and D.B.Cooper. We'd get urban legend stories like the Mary Celeste, a ship that was found abandoned and nobody knows why, and weird niche stories like a fertility statue that guaranteed pregnancy to any woman who touched it. Aliens, ghosts and the occasional angel rounded out the usual stories, plus plenty of missing person and lost connection stories to tug at the heartstrings in between the horror.

Real Witnesses
The truly creepy thing about Unsolved Mysteries segments were the interviews with real people. They'd always get someone, from the witnesses to some forensic guy or historian to talk about what happened and tell their stories. This made even the most far out stories not only believable but infinitely creepier.

Besides the creepy theme music, the most exciting piece of music from the show was the update music. This meant that the segment has an update, occasionally new information but usually it meant that the mystery had been solved. This meant that the creepy stories would occasionally have a happy ending, usually with the bad guy being caught or the missing person found. These were the most satisfying pieces of the show, because it gave hope that all the other mysteries could one day be solved.

What's the Appeal? 
Besides the three cable channels listed above, countless podcasts, Youtube channels and TV series cover the same ground Unsolved Mysteries covers. What makes these stories so interesting that people keep coming back to it? From my perspective, growing up with these stories I can say that there's something appealing watching the darker side of human nature and the world around us. It's interesting to wonder what the real answers are, what actually happened, who did it, and if the monsters are real. This is an escape from the real world into someone else's maybe even a world where you can help solve a mystery.

Wanna see Unsolved Mysteries today? The entire series is on Amazon Prime and Youtube, and a new series of Unsolved Mysteries is on Netflix with fresh new mysteries.


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