Roots on TV One

I was ten when this mini-series first came out, but I remember the hype…the local newspaper carried excerpts of the book, the news talked about the mini-series, everyone talked about the mini-series, you would have to be living in a cave if you didn’t watch the mini-series.

Now TV One is celebrating the 30th anniversary ( :eek: ) of this ground-breaking event, and I hope to watch it again, but 12 hours is a bit much to sit parked in front of the TV in one sitting.

LeVar Burton looks so damn young. I forgot OJ Simpson was in it. I don’t remember them showing topless African women the first time around…did they? And I’m sure life on the slave ship was a helluva lot worse than what they portrayed (although what they showed was no picnic.)

IIRC, everyone who was anyone in Hollywood wanted to be in this mini-series, even if it was a bit part.

What are your memories?

Speaking as somebody who was a fifteen year old boy when they first broadcast this series, I can assure you that they did indeed show topless women.

That was quite daring for TV in 1977, don’t you think? I mean, this wasn’t a National Geographic documentary…this was a movie!

I was around 12 or so when it came out and it was a big deal at our house. The family was glued to the TV set. It did a good job of making me feel guilty and hate white people for awhile.

As for the bare-chested women, I don’t really remember that but I grew up on National Geographics. What’s odd is that now, 30 years later we seem so much more prudish in some ways.

Janet Jackson flashed nipple! Ahhh! Save the children!

We didn’t have all that fancy internet and cable TV and VCRs like the kids do nowadays. Back then, you had to take your naked boobies wherever you could find them.

Seriously, as I recall, it was a controversial decision at the time and there were protests. There were actually network policies written on how many topless women could appear on camera, how close they could be to the camera, how much they could move around and what they could be doing, and even how large their breasts could be.

I realize this was actually a sideshow and drew attention away from the real issues of the series like history and race and family. But I was a teenage boy - wave some naked women in my face and my brain was gone.

I think Roots could rank up there with JFK in terms of playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

I’ve been watching it almost nonstop, it’s just riveting. Nice to see the actors who are ‘hosting’ the episodes: I’ve seen LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, Lou Gossett Jr., and Richard Roundtree - did I miss anyone?

I was about 10 - 11 when it aired the first time, and of course we all watched. Talk about a Big Event! With all the channels that diffuse viewership these days, it’s hard to remember a time when 60% of the country was all watching the same show for eight days straight! It seemed like everyone was talking about it. (And ABC was stupid enough not to put it on during sweeps week 'cause they thought it would hurt ratings.)

What gets me now, as an adult, is how freakin’ awesome the acting is, especially by John Amos, Lou Gossett Jr., and most of all the wonderful and much-missed Madge Sinclair as Belle (Kunta’s wife). Sinclair’s performance is powerful and gut-wrenching, whether she’s sexily goading Kunta/Toby into using his crutches or hysterically running after Kunta when she thinks he’s run off w/their daughter, or pleading with Dr. Reynolds not to sell Kizzy.

And Ben Vereen ain’t too shabby either. Amazing how much joy and dignity he found in a role that could’ve seemed over-the-top. Just as heart-breaking as Sinclair, too. I still have to avert my eyes when his bird loses the cockfight that could’ve won his freedom and Chicken George ends up cradling the dead rooster in his arms. Too much pain for me to see.

A great story, somewhat soap opera-fied; but for its day, it sure didn’t flinch from the ugliness. Plus the theme music will never fail to cause goosebumps.

Or stationed overseas in Korea where we didn’t get current shows. To this day I have never seen it, only small clips.

Is it available on DVD yet? Maybe you can get it through Netflix.

Nope. Promised, never actually out. Current date shown in Netflix for release is May, 2007.

Not true- it was released in 2002, but is now out of print. lists a new set for release on May 22, presumably for the series’s 30th anniversary.

I have never seen or read Roots. But I watched and read the sequel Queen (which has a scene with Halle Berry screaming "I’s nigra! I’s NIGRA!).

I think it’s safe to say that if you were a black film actor during the 70s and you WEREN’T in Roots, then you had a crappy agent.

Queen isn’t technically a sequel; Haley used a different side of his family tree as inspiration for the book, which was finished by another author (at Haley’s request) after Haley’s untimely death. The TV sequel of Roots was 1979’s Roots: The Next Generation, which I don’t remember very well. I’m pretty sure R:TNG was a success even though it didn’t match the original by any means.

The most I remember of Queen is the hotness of Tim Daly. But then whenever he’s in something, he’s what I remember best.

Anyway, those who haven’t caught Roots get a chance to see it. I wonder if it has the same impact for newcomers. Or would they be put off by the 1970s-era TV writing and direction style? (Not to mention OJ Simpson as a Mandinka warrior.)

My favorite bit of odd casting? Maya Angelou as Kunta’s grandmother. I never even noticed she was in it until I caught the scene yesterday! But she kicked ass. At one point after Kunta undergoes his rite of manhood, the young Kunta becomes a real ass to his mother (Cicely Tyson) - now that he’s a man he’s enamored of his own ‘superiority’. Gramma Maya comes along and teaches him humility via a good ol’ fashioned shoutdown. Served him right: you do not disrespect Miss Cicely Tyson!