The stories in Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries reboot are new. The sense of delicious dread you feel when you hear the unsettling intro music… is not.
That’s part of the reason why the reboot of the 1980s-’90s nonfiction series, which makes its debut Wednesday on the streaming service, feels so much of a piece with its predecessor. After all, executive producer/co-creator Terry Dunn Meurer tells TVLine, “the premise of the show has always been: Someone somewhere knows the truth, and perhaps you can help solve a mystery. And that has not changed with the new iteration on Netflix. That’s always been the mission.”
But that’s not to say that the new episodes are a carbon copy of the show that Meurer, along with co-creator John Cosgrove and executive producer Robert Wise, put in motion decades ago. (All are involved in the reboot, as is Stranger Things‘ Shawn Levy.)
“When we initially created the series, we were a little concerned that people weren’t going to want to watch stories that weren’t solved,” Meurer recalls. “But then when we started solving cases through the broadcast, we were very gratified by that, and realized that we could provide closure for the families and for law enforcement, and for the viewers, as well.”
Six new Unsolved Mysteries premiere Wednesday; another six will become available in the future. Here are a few bits of intel — in Meurer’s own words — you might want to put in your mental casefile before watching the new episodes.
PROVEN TRACK RECORD | “The original series profiled 1,300 cases over roughly 230 episodes,” the EP says. “Of those, 260 have been solved.”
FASTER FEEDBACK | “It’s much easier now. We have social media, so we can update very quickly on social media. Back in the day, other than local news coverage or network news coverage, you couldn’t get that news out as quickly as you can now. So we’re excited about launching in this new technology. It just gives us such an advantage over when we were producing the original shows.”
CASTING A GLOBAL NET | “One of the reasons we’re excited to be premiering on Netflix is because of the international reach. The original episodes did catch wanted fugitives in different countries in Africa, American Samoa. There were many, many cases that were solved, and that reach is so important,” she says. One episode, “House of Terror,” details deaths and a disappearance that took place in France. “We’re hoping that if he is alive,” Meurer says of the suspected murderer, “that the reach of this show, the reach of the Netflix audience will track him down.”
A ‘CLEARING HOUSE’ FOR CLUES | “We have a team of people who are going through every single tip and vetting those tips,” she says. “It’s the more specific leads that come in, where somebody actually has a name and says “I have information” or “I witnessed something,” those are the tips that we get to law enforcement right away or to whomever we’re sending those tips to. We are a clearing house for those tips.”
NOT JUST TRUE CRIME | “We think of Unsolved Mysteries as a mystery show, not a true crime show, because we do have so many different categories,” Meurer says. “We have the UFOs and the ghosts and the treasure stories in addition to the wanteds and the missings and the murders. Unexplained death is one of our categories…Those are cases where there’s multiple theories. Was it suicide? Was it an accident? Was it murder? Was it foul play?”
A SPOOKY SAMPLING | The first round of episodes includes the more-than-a-decade-old unexplained death of a Maryland man named Rey Rivera, a disappearance in Mississippi that may be an 11-year-old hate crime and a UFO sighting in Massachusetts.
NO NARRATOR THIS TIME AROUND | Meurer calls the choice to film the episodes without a narrator — Robert Stack, who was the voice of the original show for most of its run, died in 2003 — “a really hard decision… The final decision was that it’s very difficult to fill Robert Stack’s shoes, and his trench coat. He’s just such an iconic voice. He’s such a signature of the show. We also wanted the actual participants in the stories, the family members and law enforcement [officers], to be more involved in telling the stories.”
THAT CHILL-INDUCING THEME SONG | “Everyone comments about the music!” Meurer says, laughing. “That’s probably the most memorable element of the entire series.”