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First Look presents
Unsolved Mysteries: UFO's (2004)

"Investigate the most shocking and mysterious stories of our time in this collection of the best of unsolved mysteries—UFOS."
- tagline

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 03, 2004

Stars: Robert Stack
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 06h:05m:00s
Release Date: September 07, 2004
UPC: 687797500694
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+B-B B

DVD Review

Unsolved Mysteries, which debuted in 1986, had a whopping 13-year run on three different networks (NBC, CBS, and in syndication on Lifetime), and in that time carved out a pretty unique niche for itself. Using a blend of interviews, reenactments, and, of course, host Robert Stack's occasionally overdone voiceovers, each hour-long episode presented an array of "unsolved mysteries" that prompted eagle-eyed viewers to call in with clues. Over time, a number of mysteries were actually solved, thanks to viewers, something that elevated the whole guilty pleasure aspect of the show up a notch or two into the realm of legitimacy.

Rather than release entire season sets, First Look has opted to issue four-disc themed sets, such as Miracles or Ghosts. This particular set is geared around UFOS—a personal favorite subject of mine—and the concept is simply to cherry-pick assorted segments from over the years related to aliens, Men in Black or strange lights in the sky. Each disc runs about 90 minutes, and consists of six or seven segments each.

If you've never seen Unsolved Mysteries, there is a cheesy kind of schlock to the show, but for me it's a good kind of cheesy schlock. Consider it guilty pleasure comfort food, though there is just something weird about seeing people act out events from their lives on network television, and Robert Stack, with that booming rumble of a voice, could make some of the hokey narration sound deadly serious. And trust me, some of the narrations are really over the top, but Stack could deliver the lines with the right amount of scowly grimness.

But this alien-themed set has a tad more substance, and what makes this one worth a peek is the extensive amount of seldom seen UFO footage to be had here. You have to sift through some loose segments (the Disc 4 piece on the Men in Black is particularly weak), but in between some questionable reenactments, Unsolved Mysteries comes through when it counts with all kinds of supposedly real UFO footage shot by average joes. Plus, the segments are short, and all essentially unrelated, so it's easy to watch in bite-size chunks, though I will make you a bet that you will sit through an entire disc without even realizing it.

I want to believe.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is a little spotty, with some segments looking noticeably better than others, and all are presented in their original format. The less stellar bits have a fair amount of grain, as well as the occasional nick or scratch, but in fairness the bulk of the material looks fairly good, considering it has been culled from a number of different seasons, beginning in 1986.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 5.1 surround, and though the mix is largely relegated to the front channels, the overall presentation is remarkably clean. Stack's voice really comes off with a deep richness, and the familiar music stingers occasionally rise up from the rears, with no discernible loss in quality, hiss or other trouble spots.

Nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Close Your Eyes, Perfect Strangers
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by John Cosgrove, Raymond Bridgers, David Vasser, Bob Wise
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
4 Discs
4-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: First Look has done a spiffy job with the Unsolved Mysteries series packaging, with four slimline Scanavo cases (complete with trippy green color scheme) housed in an angle-cut cardboard slipcase.

I was a little apprehensive about the commentary tracks for this set (there are six of them), and I'll confess that they were actually more interesting than I would have anticipated. There are two per disc, hosted by a small cadres of episode producers and directors, including John Cosgrove, Raymond Bridgers, David Vasser, and Bob Wise. The benefit of these tracks is that they are each relatively short, depending on the length of the segment, so there isn't much time to get repetitive. Cosgrove and Bridgers reveal how Stack occasionally mocked the dramatics of some of his booming voiceovers, but how a segment like the Allagash Abductions gave everyone the willies.

With the exception of the two unique episode commentaries per disc , all four discs contain the same supplementals. The Introduction by John Cosgrove and Terry Nunn Meurer (05m:57s) is a neat and concise six minute history of the show from two of its executive producers while Behind the Scenes: The 150th Solve (08m:15s), once again hosted by Cosgrove, covers the series' celebrated 150th solved mystery with the capture of a murderer. It's Cosgrove at the helm again for A Tribute to Robert Stack (15m:23s), a genuinely nice look back at the long career of the venerable host of Unsolved Mysteries.

Each disc is broken down into either six or seven chapters (depending on the disc), and there is a Play All option so you can sit back and relax.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

If you've ever patiently watched the skies for shiny discs, a four-disc set like First Look's latest Unsolved Mysteries set should make you feel all tingly inside. Overlook some of the occasionally goofy reenactments and you're left with interviews with all sorts of abductees, witnesses and experts (including crop circle guru Colin Andrews).

Recommended, if you want to believe, that is.

 


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