The other night, I was watching Airplane!, one of the best parody films of all-time. There are so many great moments of pure comedy in the film like the coffee scene, the jive scene, or the infamous panic attack scene. They’ve all given me great laughs over the years. But, as I’ve grown as a more refined viewer of film, I’m starting to appreciate the Robert Stack scenes a bit more. Not particularly known for his role in comedy films until the winter of his career, he showed great range in Airplane! as well as other films such as Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. Of course, I—much like most people—know of him from his television work. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Unsolved Mysteries TV series.
How I first came across this moment? My introduction to Unsolved Mysteries started back when I was about 9 years old. It was the episode where they were covering the Miracle of Fátima. I remember seeing all of these people who looked like they were Amish or pilgrims all gathered about and seeing “a glowing figure from heaven” who gave them messages from above.
What it meant to me then? As a 9-year-old, I was actually pretty intrigued. Not only did you have Robert Stack, with his distinctive voice, standing in an empty church or walking down a dark alley but you had those people—whom I later learned were Portuguese—actually believing they saw a glowing figure in the sky. It just all seemed so far-fetched. The other stories in that episode actually creeped me out a little bit. Let’s just say I was “scared but not scared”. I was scared of the weird stuff happening on my TV screen but not scared to the extent that I couldn’t sleep at night.
What it means to me now? It’s been well over 15 years since I last watched Unsolved Mysteries. Looking at the show’s Wikipedia page at some of the stuff covered in episodes, I actually find myself laughing that I believed in some of the legends and mysteries. Some of them just seemed to defy logic…in the natural and in the spirit. Of course, the headliner of the series went on to be with the Lord about 13 ½ years ago, forever silencing a voice that is considered one of the most recognizable in the annals of mankind. I’ve heard rumors of a reboot but I don’t think it would be the same in the age of the Internet. It’s far too much research out there to disprove things.