Once again, it's time for Crispy Chicken Wing Wednesday. This week, I'll be reviewing the Netflix revival of the classic crime series "Unsolved Mysteries." The 12-episode revival is a mix of missing persons, fugitives on the run, alien encounters, and even ghosts! I won't be focusing on any one case in particular, but instead taking a look at the overall series.
The original series ran from 1987 to 1999, with scattered revivals and syndication on NBC, CBS, Spike TV, and Lifetime respectively. This current iteration, however, is streaming exclusively on Netflix as part of their large slate of true-crime documentaries. The series uses interviews, reenactments, and footage of evidence from real cold cases. After the known facts are presented, viewers are provided with a tip line to offer any information they might have on the case.
An overhead shot of the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, the sight of one of the cases highlighted.
What I really enjoy about this current iteration is that it goes international. From a fugitive murderer in France to a Jane Doe in Norway, the large scale of these crimes doesn't necessarily mean that someone from the middle of nowhere in the United States can't help solve a decades-old cold case. One incident in particular that they portrayed that I found absolutely fascinating was ghost sightings in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011. Though spiritual traditions vary greatly all over the world, it was enlightening to learn about traditional Japanese beliefs in the afterlife and the paranormal.
Reverend Taio Kaneta discusses Japanese spiritual traditions.
I also really like the focus on the science behind the investigations shown in the series. The series talks about the physics of a fall and even digital age progression, making it clear that forensic science has come a long way. While witness recollections can vary in detail and truthfulness, numbers don't lie. With DNA profiles, carbon dating, and other such technologies, forensic investigators find it much easier to determine what happened at a crime scene. The conundrum comes in when, despite all these scientific advancements, there are still cold cases waiting to be solved.
While the use of reenactments is helpful, I feel that there's only so much information they can accurately convey when there aren't enough clues that point to any one conclusion. Particularly in episodes that highlight missing person cases, I feel that the reenactments are based more on speculation rather than actual forensic evidence. Granted, I'm not an expert in criminal investigation, but speculation can only get you so far, particularly in cases involving the paranormal.
A reenactment of the probably last moments of a Jane Doe who died mysteriously in Oslo, Norway. She registered at a hotel under a false name.
One issue I take with its paranormal-centered episodes is that the series relies solely on witness testimony rather than hard scientific data from such techniques as EMF reads. While, as stated above, spiritual traditions vary around the world, I would think that there is at least some sort of data or scientific phenomena that could help explain encounters with the supernatural. One episode featuring sightings of a UFO only provided very grainy photos and recollections with inconsistent details.
Probable age progression of Lester Eubanks, a fugitive on the run for almost fifty years.
Overall, I enjoyed the series, but feel that there are still some holes in the information given in each episode (as is the nature of a cold case). It's difficult to come to a solid conclusion in cases when the evidence is tampered by time, the elements, and human error. I give the series "Unsolved Mysteries" 3.5 out of 5 Chicken Wings. It's off to a solid start, and I hope to see more from this series, whether that means new episodes or case updates.
Stay Crispy. - Reba
*Make sure to tune into The Crispy Soul Podcast, where we go more into depth on this topic, available on all major streaming apps.