Appellate Judge Dave Ryan believes in miracles. After all, he got this job...
Our reviews of Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders (published July 20th, 2005), Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts (published October 27th, 2004), Unsolved Mysteries: Psychics (published May 4th, 2005), and Unsolved Mysteries: UFOs (published October 13th, 2004) are also available.
"If you believe in God, you need no explanation. If you don't, there can be no explanation."
This oft-quoted mantra concerning miracles springs to applicability in this, the third of a planned six multi-disc collections of stories from TV's Unsolved Mysteries. This set is, indeed, about miracles of all sorts—from the traditional and formal Virgin-Mary-appears-to-peasants types of miracles (Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorje) to more isolated, personal types of miracles (unexplained healing, near-misses with disaster).
If Unsolved Mysteries: UFOs was the spooky/mysterious collection, and Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts was the spooky/spooky collection, then this is clearly the spooky/feel-good collection. Because that's the nice thing about miracles: they always have a happy ending.
The main feature setting this set apart from its brethren is that feel-good angle—here, you get to see people who are affected positively by their unexplained experiences; they're not being scared witless or anally probed (except when medically necessary). On the other hand, that also works against this set. Since everything is a miracle here, and miracles always end well (have you ever heard someone saying "and then an angel appeared to me and cut off my left arm"?), you know from the very beginning of each story what is eventually going to happen. The person is going to get better, and doctors won't know why. That, unfortunately, makes these stories about as suspenseful as a Soviet election—a big difference from the Ghosts and UFOs sets, where you legitimately didn't know what was going to happen next to those poor people profiled.
Given that fact, it's actually fairly astonishing how interesting these stories manage to be. This set isn't as intensely gripping as the prior two sets, but it's still a bunch of solid, well-told tales with plenty of entertainment value. And, to reiterate: happy endings galore! I don't mean to be too maudlin here, but if you have a friend or loved one who is facing some sort of powerfully difficult challenge in their life, health-related or otherwise, this set would make a pretty good gift in my humble opinion.
From a video and audio perspective, the disc is identical to the prior two offerings. Video is full-screen, and maintains the original broadcast quality of the show. The original stereo audio track has been tricked out into a Dolby 5.1 surround track that works very well for this series. Unsolved Mysteries always had great incidental music; the surround mix really brings that atmospheric score to life.
The included extras are also essentially identical. There's a short introduction from the producers of the show, John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer, where they talk about some of their personal favorite miracle stories. The same extremely well-done tribute to Robert Stack that appeared on both prior sets is included again; as I said before, this is one of the better succinct biographical portraits of a celebrity I've ever seen. (These two features are included on each of the set's four discs.) Commentary tracks are provided for several of the segments—they're not tremendously fantastic, but they're worth a listen. (One change: unlike the UFO and Ghost sets, this set does not include a bonus segment covering a numerically significant "solve" in the show's history.)
Unsolved Mysteries never overreached beyond its core competency: telling stories, and telling them well. That's why these tales hold up so well, even though some of them are over 15 years old. This is a very good, entertaining collection of tales—and yet it's probably going to be the weakest of the six sets, which only bodes well for the future. (The next three sets, coming early next year, are "Psychics," "Bizarre Murders," and "Legends"—I can't wait to see the latter…) If you're a fan of the show, you'll enjoy this collection almost as much as the last two. If you've never been exposed to the show, this is a great way to discover this fine television series. And if you need some serious cheering up, take heart—miracles do happen.
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