This worthy revamp of the beloved true-crime-meets-the-paranormal series ditches the original's cheesy reenactments but retains its focus on tantalizing mysteries viewers are invited to help solve. Back in 1987 when the original premiered, true crime was a fledgling genre; now, of course, it's a media staple, with entire TV networks dedicated to awful deeds and curious happenstances, dozens of shows on both TV and streaming networks, and dozens upon dozens of popular podcasts. But what the new Unsolved Mysteries lacks in freshness, it delivers in sophisticated storytelling. Gauzy, tawdry reenactments were a staple of the first series, but the remake wisely leaves them behind in favor of focusing on taut storytelling, bringing together interviews with bereaved family members and friends with news footage, and segments filmed especially for the show that examine some of the weirder aspects of the cases it delves into.
Speaking of said cases, they're heavy on murders and missing-persons, light on the type of Bigfoot/Bermuda triangle/divine miracles fare that the first series clung to, a good news/bad news scenario. Good, the new Unsolved Mysteries has discarded the air of trashiness that clung to the original; bad, it's not as much of a dumb guilty pleasure. In fact, honing in as it does on many cases in which those affected are still alive to tell their sad stories, it can be a bit depressing -- watching a grieving mom and widow cry over the supposed suicide of a loved one is few people's idea of fun. Still, its thoughtful storytelling, crisp visuals, and the compelling invitation at the end of each episode to viewers with information to offer (there's a companion web site ready to receive tips), this version makes for grabby viewing, particular for armchair sleuths.