First Look Pictures // 2004 // 378 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // May 4th, 2005
Perhaps you will be able to help solve a mystery.
In its heyday, Unsolved Mysteries was nothing short of seductive. With a trench-coat clad, gravelly-voiced Robert Stack (The Untouchables) as its host, it featured stories on kidnappings, murders, adopted siblings separated at birth, ghosts, UFOs, and urban legends. Unsolved Mysteries reeled viewers in from the first moments of the show and left them wondering afterwards if they may actually know someone involved.
Some of the most touching segments dealt with "Lost Loves," or people who had been separated by time and circumstance. There were the two schoolgirls, one of whom had polio, who became fast friends, were separated when one of them moved, and then were jubilantly reunited, on camera, as middle-aged women. Unsolved Mysteries even located their old boyfriend, who called in to the show the night it originally aired. Other stories addressed truly heartbreaking tales of children who grew up in poverty and were separated from their families by social services agencies, only to find each other again through the help of the show.
Unsolved Mysteries collections that address a particular theme are now being released on DVD, much to fans' delight. There are collections on ghosts, UFOs, and murders, but the topic of this particular collection is psychics. Over the years, this show did a great number of stories on psychic phenomena, contacting the dead, and ESP. This is a 4-disc collection of the best and most memorable segments.
"Incredible Journeys" addresses the phenomenon of family pets who find themselves lost, yet travel many miles to be reunited with the people who love them. There are several segments addressing the life-after-death phenomenon, reincarnation and past lives, and dreams that can predict future events, such as accidents and winning lottery numbers. Unsolved Mysteries: Psychics also addresses the unique, sometimes telepathic, bond between twins. Fans of renowned psychic James Van Praagh will enjoy the segment where the producers of Unsolved Mysteries set up an experiment to test his psychic medium abilities. Each featured story has been chosen with care to illustrate the point that these stories go beyond mere coincidence, with some truly unexplainable details that may even astound non-believers.
Perhaps the most interesting and rewarding segments deal with psychics who aid police in baffling criminal investigations through visits to crime scenes and victims' residences, even helping create sketches of the suspects. Although police departments do not usually like to admit to the use of psychics, and some of the officers featured here are very vocal in their skepticism, they also grudgingly admit that at times they have been handed huge breaks in difficult cases thanks to psychics.
Overall, this is a staggeringly detailed collection. The producers could probably have gotten away with a 2-disc set, but there are 28 different segments included. There is also a moving tribute to the late Robert Stack, who was with the series from its inception; he was truly the heart and soul of the program, and it is fitting that he is remembered here. For Generation X, who grew up on Unsolved Mysteries and were born too late to remember Stack as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, it is the former for which he will be remembered. He was a welcome face in many living rooms for many, many years.
If you think about it, Unsolved Mysteries held a similar appeal to the über-popular American Idol, in that audience participation was crucial to its success. Later episodes featured triumphant reunions and praise from local and Federal law enforcement after the capture of dangerous criminals. One of the Unsolved Mysteries cases featured years and years ago, involving an escaped prisoner and the warden's wife he allegedly kidnapped, was solved in early 2005 with the help of another viewer participation show, America's Most Wanted. One cannot underestimate the value these shows have had to civilized society over the years; many felons have been put in jail or returned to prison as a direct result of shows like these.
The main reason Unsolved Mysteries has endured over the years, aside from our collective fascination with tales of the unknown, is the fact that it was always a first-rate production. There was never a seamy or salacious tone to the series. Although the foremost intention was entertainment, it was a show that truly helped people who may not have found help without it.
These collections, especially Unsolved Mysteries: Psychics, are a must for fans; they have been assembled with love and care. I have long contended that one of the most major benefits of DVD technology is the release of long-forgotten TV series on DVD. Even though Unsolved Mysteries continues to air in reruns on Lifetime, having viewers' favorite segments categorized and condensed into DVD collections is a welcome bonus. The sound and video may not be much of an improvement over what one would expect on television, but the absorbing stories and reassuring presence of host Robert Stack more than make up for it.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 378 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Tribute to Robert Stack
* Select Episode Commentary
* Motion Menus
* Review: Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts
* Review: Unsolved Mysteries: Miracles
* Review: Unsolved Mysteries: UFOs