My wife and I caught the first episode of the revived Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix. It was good enough, and we’re going to watch the other episodes, but … the show had no host!
Now, I know that Robert Stack, the original host, died in 2003. (His niece was a student of mine when I taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University in late 1970s, but I of course knew of Stack and admired his work from well before that, when he played Eliot Ness in The Untouchables.) My wife reminded me that Dennis Farina was host when Unsolved Mysteries returned, the first time, in 2008, for a five-year run. Farina was no Stack, but he was ok, and the show worked well with him.
So what’s going on with the Netflix reboot? According to Bianca Rodriguez’s July 1 article in Marie Claire, Unsolved Mystery producer Shawn Levy deliberately chose not to have a host, or at very least, is defending that absence, commenting that “In Robert’s absence, we are letting the spirit and the strength of the stories carry the narrative. Above all, our aspiration was to make a new chapter worthy of his memory and of iconic contribution to this iconic series.” I don’t believe that for a second! A more plausible explanation is that (a) the show couldn’t find a suitable host, (b) the show didn’t want to shell out the money for a new host, or (c) both of the above.
Which is unfortunate, even if Levy’s explanation is bona-fide. Because, as good as the mysteries are, they deserve a host, if not with the perfectly sonorous of voice of Stack, at least with a voice. The host’s commentary set up every scene, and tied the loose ends together – or explained when those ends couldn’t be tied.
Well, at least the Unsolved Mysteries theme song is still there. I’d sing it to you if you were here. It makes me want to drive back up to Dutre’s, like we once did. Don’t know what that is? That’s part of the mystery.