Unsolved History

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Unsolved History TV Poster Image
Cracking the past's big mysteries with technology.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Teaches curiosity about the world, including the idea that you shouldn't believe everything you hear. A fun way to think about science in action, too.

Violence & Scariness

Brief re-creations of battle scenes, though without blood or gore. Some discussion of death or illness, depending on the episode. Some historical topics are more inherently violent than others, such as references to Adolph Hitler.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Depends on the episode, but some may refer to a historical character's drug or alcohol use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the experts featured in Unsolved History conduct experiments that would be dangerous for amateurs -- like testing the effect of gas on a plane propeller. Most episodes deal with controversial or mysterious subjects, which can involve mildly scary topics (like the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle) or violence and war (like the Civil War and the Boston Massacre). The show often refutes commonly held beliefs, so parents might want to be prepared for kids' questions about the show's topics.

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What's the story?

In each episode of UNSOLVED HISTORY, a team of experts picks apart a mysterious or controversial event in history, in hopes of uncovering answers about subjects such as Custer's Last Stand, the last days of Adolph Hitler, or the Bermuda Triangle. After outlining the unanswered questions and controversies surrounding a specific event via a mixture of dramatic reenactments and historical footage, experts re-create the event or time period with techniques similar to those used by crime-scene investigators. Then, relying on high-tech equipment and expert observation, the show proceeds to refute commonly held beliefs and test new theories. For example, when examining John F. Kennedy's assassination, experts analyzed several amateur videos of the shooting -- as well as an enhanced version of Abraham Zapruder's infamous film -- to rule out several popular conspiracy theories. And in the Bermuda Triangle episode, experts tested the effect of methane gas exposure on airplane propellers, discovering that a small amount of the gas can both stall engines and produce confusing altitude readings.

Is it any good?

Watching experts seek answers to big historical questions can be exciting -- sometimes they discover something really profound, while other times their hard works proves disappointing, yielding more questions than answers. But their quest is what makes Unsolved History compelling -- subjects that may normally hold little interest can come alive under these circumstances. That said, viewers will find some episodes more interesting than others. The show's slow pace and detailed experiments might lose younger viewers or those with shorter attention spans, although curious tweens and teens may be gripped by topics like underwater exploration and testing different types of explosives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the intersection of history and technology. How does our understanding of history change with the invention of new methods and tools for exploring and examining the past? Are there any secrets that you hope will eventually be revealed through the use of technology?

  • Does everyone in your family embrace technology, or is anyone afraid of how technology might negatively affect his or her life?

  • Do shows like Unsolved History make education fun for viewers? Do you think they usually give an accurate representation of the facts?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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