Over the years, novelist Brad Meltzer has collected real-life historical mysteries in a leather-bound book, waiting for the right opportunity to solve them.
They cover a wide range, from unraveling explorer Meriwether Lewis' death to the disappearance of the White House's original cornerstone.
Some of them have been fodder for his best-selling novels (such as 2006's "The Book of Fate"). Others are being used for Meltzer's new series, "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" (starting 11 p.m. Thursday, History).
In "Decoded," Meltzer sends out an investigative team to dig through a mystery of the week, tracking down experts, sifting through old records and mapping out the best way to bring the truth to light. "My wife says, ‘Oh my gosh! You're Charlie from "Charlie's Angels," ' " he says of his "Decoded" on-screen function.
Each week will see the path of the mystery from beginning to end, but the research and footwork to do it take a lot longer.
"Obviously you can't figure all this out in three days," Meltzer says of the mysteries. "Sometimes, it takes months. We don't start (investigating) unless we know we can produce a result."
The opener will deal with the disappearance of the White House cornerstone, missing for 200 years. Future installments will include reading secret codes on the Statue of Liberty ("She was never meant to be a tourist stop," Meltzer says) and looking into a monument that is Georgia's version of Stonehenge.
"The best part of this show for me is the research team," Meltzer says. "They get to answer some things I've never been able to answer so far. It's a real discovery for all of us."
Other highlights for the week of Nov. 28-Dec. 4 (check local listings):
"When Vacations Attack" (6 p.m., Travel Channel). Harrowing vacations - or, as the press materials claim, "the unbelievable turns into the unforgettable" - are in the spotlight. Wonder how many reward points you get from your hotel when a shark attacks?
"Sonny with a Chance" (7 p.m., Disney Channel). Joe Jonas pops up as himself on the show-within-a-show.
"The Red Riding Trilogy" (10 p.m., Sundance Channel). Told over three Sunday nights, the series examines the real-life fate of characters tied together through deeds of the Yorkshire Ripper.
"Unanswered Prayers" (10 p.m., Lifetime). Eric Close stars in this romantic film based on the Garth Brooks song.
"CMA Country Christmas" (8:30 p.m., ABC). Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Sugarland join voices with seasonal songs in this musical special.
"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (7 p.m., CBS). Ah, now we know it's Christmastime.
"The Real Story of Christmas" (9 p.m., History). The roots of holiday traditions and images are revealed. Did you know, for instance, that Santa used to be accompanied by a devil?
"Storage Wars" (11 p.m., A&E). What's inside those repossessed storage containers anyway, and can the person who claims the stuff be getting something of high value?
"Grammy Nominations Concert Live!" (9 p.m., CBS). We get to see nominees perform.
"The Santa Suit" (9 p.m., Hallmark Channel). The dude who used to be Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) stars in this film about a greedy corporate type who is transformed into the real Santa.
"Gold Rush: Alaska" (11 p.m., Discovery Channel). The miners risk life and limb in this new reality show about the dangers of mining for gold in Alaska.
"CMT Artists of the Year" (9 p.m., CMT). Kevin Costner hosts this event that celebrates a few of today's hottest country acts, such as Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift.
"Big Time Christmas" (8 p.m., Nickelodeon). Big Time Rush and Miranda Cosgrove are among the guests in this holiday musical special.