Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed

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Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed
Genre Docudrama
Created by Burrud Prods.
Written by Thomas Quinn
Directed by Mike Levine
Thomas Quinn
Valerie W. Chow
Joe Dea
Presented by Natasha Henstridge (2002–2004)
Starring Christine Sherwood
Peter Lownds
Kristin Quin
Jennifer Ingrum
Jeff Hatch
Phillip Hersh
Kevin J. Goff
Bob Harris
Composer(s) Jesse Rhodes
Craig Dobbin
Brian Mann
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 29
Production
Executive producer(s) Valerie Chow
Running time 22 minutes approx.
Broadcast
Original channel TLC
The Discovery Channel
First shown in 2002–2004
Original run March 19, 2002 (2002-03-19) – 2008

Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed is an American docudrama about urban legends and re-enacting them and researching their credibility. It aired on TLC from 2002 until 2004. It ran for four seasons. Early episodes were hosted by Natasha Henstridge.

Unscheduled edited versions of the show, with new narration and without Henstridge as a hostess, were aired on TLC until 2008. The Discovery Channel had been airing regular re-runs, but now only does so on rare occasions. In the UK it has been shown on Men & Motors and CBS Reality.

Show structure[edit]

An episode will begin with an introduction by Henstridge whilst a short montage of scenes from re-enactments to be featured in the program is shown. An opening sequence follows with more such clips, accompanied by theme music.

In a dark, desolate cemetery or junkyard, the hostess introduces the first legend, and the scene changes to a re-enactment. The narrator introduces the legend, its setting, and tells it as it is shown, so most of the characters' dialogue is drowned out by his voice.

After the re-enactment, the narrator questions if the legend is true or false. The legend is then tested by folklorist expertise, historical and logical evidence, people who work in a field the legend is based around, and, occasionally, by the show's reality checker, Bob Harris. When the legend's credibility is determined, the narrator gives us a glimpse at the next legend and we are given a hint as to what it could be about (In this legend ..., but in our next legend, ...).

Before the commercial break, a true or false question is given to the viewers, such as "In his youth, did George Washington cut down a cherry tree and then confess to it?" and "Can the Great Wall of China be seen from space?" amongst other such rumors. The answer is given "when we continue."

After the commercial break, the cycle continues for four more legends. Then Henstridge gives her closing monologue and the credits role to the program's theme music.

Production[edit]

The series was developed by Burrud Prods. and the pilot episode was produced, directed and written by Thomas Quinn, who went on to become the Supervising Producer and writer for the 22-episode series. Dramatic recreations were mostly directed by Mike Levine, and several episodes were produced by Valerie W. Chow. Joe Dea was a director and producer for the show, too. Peter Lownds was the show's narrator. Though Natasha Henstridge has hosted the majority of the show's episodes, the first episode was hosted by Michael Shermer. The show is produced by Burrud Productions.

Relatively unknown actors were hired to play the characters in the legends. Some cast members play several different characters. For example, Kristin Quinn, no relation to Thomas Quinn, has played multiple female characters, including a bride's sister and a rape victim. Jennifer Ingrum appeared as a bridesmaid and a roommate. Brian Harp was a ghost on an airplane, only to assume the more down-to-earth role of a guest at a party. Jeff Hatch has been a husband to a young woman and a son to older parents. The moderately known actor, Philip Hersh, was a hotel clerk and a poisoning victim. Kevin J. Goff was a jealous husband and an elementary school maintenance man. The actors' playing of various characters is subtle. Few viewers pick it up, as was the intention.

Blackbeard error[edit]

The show once made an error concerning a legend's credibility (Blackbeard). On the episode that originally aired on March 13, 2003, there was a true or false question before a commercial break that gave an incorrect answer when the program resumed. The question was "Was the nursery rhyme 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' used as a code to recruit pirates?" The answer was given as "TRUE: The notorious pirate, Blackbeard used this code to recruit hands, whom he paid sixpence a day." This is untrue, and was in fact a red herring created by Snopes.com to test people's common sense. Snopes found it rather humorous that the show could fall for such a silly story and created a page on the website about it. Without realising their folly, and failing to recognise Snopes, subsequent airings "fixed" the mistake ("FALSE: Though attributed to the notorious Blackbeard, the rhyme was not used by pirates"). The song was never attributed to Blackbeard, and the whole myth was perpetrated by Snopes. However, this led to the (yet unanswered) question of whether the show was stealing data from Snopes.com. The show was not the first medium to make this mistake, as an urban myth boardgame also gave the question's answer as "true."

Rating[edit]

The show is rated TV-14 in the U.S. for sometimes gruesome or horrific dramatizations, occasional drug references, and suggestive themes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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