DATELINE: Fake Controversies
Well, prepare yourself for undercooked conspiracy theories and the usual suspects. It’s called without much originality, Mystery Files.
Amazon Prime gives us a British series from 2010 with thirteen traditional topics and claims they will solve the mystery behind the story.
We are inclined to give 30 minutes to a documentary series about the usual suspects. We also decided to sample the half-dozen topics for which we have an interest and have done some study. A few of them are actually people on whom we have written a book or two.
Mystery Files looks at Jack the Ripper, Leonardo da Vinci, Billy the Kid, Rasputin, Abe Lincoln, and the Romanovs, and the Man in the iron mask not necessarily in that order. We picked the names randomly to see what problem they intended to solve. We suspected that we would have the pedestrian, traditional mystery, but the series went out of its way to try to debunk something not often considered. The others we did not sample included Cleopatra, King Arthur, Nostradamus, and Joan of Arc.
Though the Leonardo show claimed it would look at his works like Mona Lisa, it actually tried to illustrate that Leonardo’s scientific reputation is largely based on plagiarized ideas from other seers of future technology.
They were going to identify the real Jack the Ripper, hinting that it was not one of the usual candidates, and they wanted to point out that Billy the Kid was not the violent serial killer dime novels claimed. (Yeah, he murdered only 4 people.) And, Rasputin may have been murdered, not by Russian nobles worried about the Czar, but by British secret service agents.
A double episode also looked at what happened to Anastasia and her sisters.
The findings all had a distinct British connection: even the Billy the Kid episode focused on his English friend John Tunstall and that the Kid was hell-bent on vindicating his murdered benefactor (avoiding the sticky issue of their consenting adulthood).
Prince Yousoupoof had an Oxford friend who worked for British intelligence and used the Czar’s relation as an excuse to stop Rasputin from convincing the Czar from brokering peace with Germany (to the detriment of England).
And, they wanted to prove that Abe Lincoln used mercury-laced pills to control his chronic depression and was poisoning himself. As for the Voltaire story, there seemed to be a prisoner in a velvet mask, not an iron one, in their assessment.
For the most part, their plans are grandiose, and not fully proven in half-an-hour, or worse they back down from the outrageous claims in nearly every case.
Yet, we give them credit for cram packing the episodes and trying to give us a different perspective.