We Forteans are largely a product of our times. The decade we were born in influences the topics we are interested, and it also informs the way we got access to our earliest exposures to the paranormal.
I’m a child of the 80’s, which not only means Steven Spielberg was my cinematic apostle for extraterrestrial salvation, but also that instead of having Leonard Nimoy or Arthur C. Clarke giving me my first taste of Forteana through “In Search Of” or “Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World,” I religiously tuned in instead to “Unsolved Mysteries,” in which I grew fond of Robert Stack’s somber voice, arched eyebrows and Dick Tracy-esque attire, as he would walk across some somber-looking street explaining the details of a new weekly enigma. “Unsolved Mysteries” not only helped to actually solve a few cases, thanks to their phone hotline, but it was instrumental in making Roswell the cultural landmark it has now become, when in September 20th 1989 they focused on what was then an obscure story about an alleged crash of a flying saucer in July of 1947. That episode proved to be so successful they re-aired it on January 24, 1990, and on September 18, 1994 with updated information received from (so-called) witnesses who got in contact with the TV producers and Stanton Friedman –who was featured on the ’89 episode.
The original series ended in 2002 –followed shortly by Robert Stack’s death– and it was resurrected by Spike TV from 2008 to 2010 with Dennis Farina as the new host. By then Roswell and Area 51 had become household names and alien abductions were treated as a punchline thanks to South Park. “Unsolved Mysteries” was just one of many paranormal shows in TV-land.
But now comes news Netflix is planning to revive “Unsolved Mysteries” on their streaming service in association with the show’s original producers (Terry Dunn Meurer and John Cosgrove), and that they are putting it in the hands of Stranger Things’ Shawn Levy, which is a great idea because if there’s something the 80’s-based hit series has shown is that their producers and writers are pretty savvy with regards to paranormal phenomena and conspiracy lore.
Deadline reports that the new series will feature 12 installments, each following the old show’s style: re-enactments presented in a documentary format, focusing on subjects such as missing persons and apparent paranormal phenomena. In this version, however, each episode will focus on one mystery. (The original broadcast series included multiple cases in each episode.) It’s unclear for now whether the series will also feature interviews with family members, police, and other field experts, as the original did.
There’s no word yet on when the series will premiere or who will be the host (how about Robert Redford??) but what I’m really hoping is that this new reboot doesn’t cling to well-known paranormal cases –srsly, the world doesn’t really need another look at Roswell! Not when there’s plenty of other cases that also deserve attention. What would be really cool is if TV programs decided to probe new ground, or explore how the seemingly separate phenomena (UFOs, ghosts, cryptids) have much more in common than what viewers are led to believe by typical paranormal media. Vanity Fair reports Meurer and Cossgrove are not afraid on using Reddit and social media in order to hunt for potential material, so maybe they could also visit *ahem* more ‘classic’ websites (yoohoo!) if they want to get further inspiration –I look good in an overcoat, is all I’m sayin’!!