I think I was twelve when I first caught an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on NBC; thanks to the internet I know that it was episode 103 or 123 (because I remembered the "Televangelist Bomber" piece and was then afraid to get the family's mail for a while), but the original airdates of those episodes do not match up to my memory of it being in the summer, because that's when I'd watch TV down in the basement (as my dad would be watching baseball on the bigger/better TV upstairs), and also where the opening credits would scare me that much more. I'd keep watching for the next couple years whenever I was home or remembered to set the VCR, usually fast forwarding the boring ass "lost loves" stories to get to them crazy murders (this one in particular has scared me for years) and aliens, but always letting myself be scared by that damned intro. And I'd get equally spooked out by Robert Stack (Caddyshack II's Robert Stack, to younger me*) in his intros, usually in some creepy hallway or vague exterior, oft-trenchcoated and making anything sound like the most gravely serious point ever made.
Right around the time Virginia Madsen was brought on to co-host I lost interest, since X-Files was providing the same thrills but without the "Lost Loves" segments and more closure for its mysteries, since Mulder and Scully occasionally DID get a firm resolution on something, whereas on Unsolved Mysteries you'd have to hope for Stack to bellow UPDATE! on a repeat to find out if they ever did find the killer or that missing lady. But I'd occasionally watch on syndication over the years, and when I got a Tivo in 2006 I was delighted to see it was back in reruns - but they'd show the terrible Dennis Farina-hosted revamped episodes, which took old segments and converted them into over-stylized, CSI-wannabe pieces that looked terrible to me. This reignited my love for the series but I only wanted to see it in its original format, which was harder to come by. There were some random clips on Youtube, but eventually they got taken down, and the DVD releases (which were highlight collections, not complete episodes) were out of print. All that really remained was this amazing mashup someone put together, which strung together a bunch of random Stack intros to create a stream of conscious monologue that is equally hilarious and eye-opening - the context might be missing, but the sheer breadth of the types of cases the show focused on can be seen here - everything from famous celebrity murders to gorilla-skunk hybrid monsters.
Well, at long last, we will be able to revisit the old episodes in their original glory. Thanks to Amazon and FilmRise, episodes will be streaming in 2017, along with case updates when applicable (some brand new/never been aired) attached to offer some relief (or sad closure) for those who get particularly attached to this or that case. In fact, you can watch the two Farina seasons right now on Amazon if you like, but if you're like me and find them detestable, it's better to just wait a few weeks for the good ones (whether or not the original specials hosted by Raymond Burr and Karl Malden will be included in the streaming package has yet to be announced). However, if you're already an Amazon Prime member you can at least watch the Farina ones for free, which is the exact right price for them. The Stack ones, however? Those are worth whatever they'll charge you (99 cents an episode, I imagine), and I look forward to diving in once they're available. Maybe WE, can solve these mysteries... although sadly, the toll-free hotline number no longer works. But I still remember it, unlike any friend's phone number. Say it with me! "1-800-876-53...53".
*OK, it still is. Chandler Young for life, yo.