Throwback Thursday: U is for “Unsolved Mysteries”

If you wanted to be scared shitless about unsolved crimes and murderers running free (and probably hiding under your bed), Unsolved Mysteries was the TV show for you.

It knows what scares you.
It knows what scares you.

The show’s original run was from 1987 to 1997 on NBC and was hosted by Robert Stack, also known as the voice that narrated your nightmares.

Unexplained Mysteries was a documentary-style program that told the story of real unsolved crimes, missing people, conspiracy theories, and unexplained phenomena.

Exactly.
Exactly.

Perhaps the best part of the show was the reenactments of each case. They were overly cheesy and the footage always had the same grainy quality we knew and loved in the late 80s and 90s. However, the reenactments did feature some early work of now prominent actors such as Cheryl Hines of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bill Moseley of nearly every scary movie you’ve seen in the last thirty years.

I like to think that his time on Unsolved Mysteries inspired him to terrify moviegoers for years to come.
I like to think that his time on Unsolved Mysteries inspired him to terrify moviegoers for years to come.

But my favorite famous appearance in a reenactment on Unsolved Mysteries has to be none other than Matthew McConaughey as a murder victim. According to IMDB, this was his first official acting credit before landing a role in Dazed and Confused.

"Alright, alright, alright."
“Alright, alright, alright.”

It was also his first on-screen death. Thankfully, his acting skills have somewhat improved since then.

“Do you have a joint?
‘Cause it’d be cooler if you did.”

In 1997, Unsolved Mysteries was picked up by CBS after NBC cancelled it due to falling ratings because apparently people had better shit to do with their time than hear about the serial killer who was probably hiding in their basement. In an attempt to spice up ratings, CBS gave Robert Stack a co-anchor: Virginia Madsen.

"What if we add a hot blonde?" --CBS Executive
“What if we add a hot blonde?”
–CBS Executive

However, the attempt failed and CBS cancelled the show in 1999. In fact, the attempt failed so badly that future cable reruns of the CBS episodes had Robert Stack’s voice dubbed over Virginia Madsen’s narrations.

"Because fuck you, that's why."
“Because fuck you, that’s why.”

The show then bounced around to Lifetime, to Spike TV, and back to Lifetime. Robert Stack passed away in 2003 so Dennis Farina took over the hosting duties until 2010. Now, the Farina-hosted episodes currently rerun on Lifetime because I guess they have to intersperse movies about battered women and episodes of Dance Moms with something.

There is not a single Lifetime Movie that should ever be hashtagged #relationshipgoals.
I want to tag specific people from my Facebook news feed but basic human decency and the desire to have friends prevents me from doing so.

If you’d like to watch episodes of the Robert Stack episodes, there are currently a bunch on YouTube until someone notices a copyright law violation and takes them down. If you do decide to watch, just remember–they never caught that one guy who liked to kill people who looked exactly like you.

"Sweet dreams!"
“Sweet dreams!”

Happy Throwback Thursday!

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Emily Regan is the author of several books, including "What's an Adult?: No One Knows Anything and We're All Going to Die." She is an avid fan of reality TV, an unironic Hanson fan, and currently resides in Arizona with her family.

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