Viewers who feared that FBI: The Untold Stories would be a series promoting the right-wing, law-and-order philosophy of FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover need not have worried. The only thing this plodding, confusing series promotes is its own ineptness. Untold Stories, hosted with understandable reserve by Pernell Roberts, is a model of the most widely criticized kind of TV show in recent years: It relies on hokey dramatic reenactments of real-life crimes, and does its best to mix fact and fictionalizing. Sometimes an actual FBI agent provides voice-over commentary for the staging of a crime; sometimes blurry, real-life news footage is used to illustrate a point, and you get the feeling it’s because the producers were too cheap to spring for a higher reenactment budget.
The pacing and editing are noticeably slow for a half-hour show; Untold Stories takes exciting-sounding cases — such as the 1980 search for a bomb planted in a Lake Tahoe casino — and convinces us only that most criminal investigations are tedious work. You’ll probably find the same thing true of the show. D