Well now this would’ve been something special.
As we recently told you, the creepy TV series “Unsolved Mysteries” is now available to watch through Amazon’s streaming service (at the time of writing this post, only the Dennis Farina episodes are available, but the Robert Stack-hosted originals are coming soon), which has made us feel that 2016 wasn’t all bad. In fact, the news may have single-handedly saved the year.
You may love “Unsolved Mysteries” and all its nightmare-inducing delights, but did you know that it almost crossed over with “The X-Files” at one nearly-magical point in time?!
By the late ’90s, “Unsolved Mysteries” was airing on CBS (NBC cancelled the show in ’97), and Robert Stack still had a few more years left in his run as host. The ratings were lagging and the series wasn’t exactly as popular as it had once been, but “The X-Files” writer Vince Gilligan was clearly still a fan. And in ’97, during the show’s fifth season, he devised the fun crossover idea.
As Gilligan relayed in the book Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to “The X-Files” Volume 4, he was under the gun to write the fifth season’s twelfth episode, which was going to be filmed right after Christmas break. His initial plan for the episode was to merge “The X-Files” and “Unsolved Mysteries,” but the plan fell apart when he just wasn’t able to make it work.
The book’s writer, Andy Meisler, explains:
As Gilligan not so fondly remembers it, this aborted comedy would have consisted of a typical X-Files adventure presented as a typical episode of the series Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack would have hosted, of course, and for his real-life true-crime simulation, Mulder and Scully would have been played by a couple of other actors – when Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny got wind of this, reports Gilligan, “they definitely liked the sound of a week off.”
“But I just couldn’t figure out how to do it,” admits the writer. “And now it was a week before Christmas and I said, ‘Oh man, I’m screwed.'”
Oddly enough, it was an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” that broke Gilligan out of his Christmas break funk. When co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz brought up the episode during a brainstorming session, Gilligan came up with a whole different idea for Season 5, Episode 12, which ended up becoming the vampire-centric episode we now know as “Bad Blood.”
“Bad Blood” ended up being a fan-favorite episode of the show, but it’s hard not to imagine what could’ve been had Gilligan stuck with his original idea. I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.
*cue “Unsolved Mysteries” theme song*