Roots: The Complete Miniseries

Season 1 Episode 1

Part 1 Roots: The Saga of An American Family

5
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 23, 1977 on ABC
9.3
out of 10
User Rating
14 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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The dramatic birth of Kunta Kinte in the village of Juffure, Gambia, West Africa, marks the opening chapter of this saga. The story follows the young Kunta Kinte from his childhood through to his teens as a goat-herder learning the cultural and religious traditions of his rural village during the mid-1700s. But what should have been a joyous occasion upon his successful return from ritual manhood training, instead results in tragedy. He and others from villages nearby are caught by slavers and are eventually transferred to a ship bound for America to be sold into bondage.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Sad Parts

    8.5
    Aside from Kunta,and the other Africans being captured,the sad parts also includes,his father finding the pouch that he gave Kunta(a gift after his manhood training is complete),he lets out a cry calling his sons name.Later when he returns to the Village,his wife,and Kunta's Mother who was awaiting news of their sons fate,he shows her Kunta's pouch,and she also lets out a anguish cry acknowledging that their son is forever gone.At lease his physical being is gone.He feel that he will always be in their memories.moreless
  • This show was the roots of modern TV

    9.0
    Meet Kunta Kinte, a very noble but bumbling African warrior who is captured into slavery by the whites. As he is forcibly taken from his home, he must now survive the harrowing transportation of the slaves to America.



    Nowadays; the direction, production and mainly the acting is almost laughable but when one takes into account the 30 year difference and the very strong story and message that is being conveyed, you realise that this really is one of the greatest shows ever.



    I could spend paragraphs and paragraphs detailing what parts of the shows are lame since it's from the 70's but that would be contradicting how everything else makes for a stunning episode of television. Even though the depiction of the Middle Passage needed to be toned down to be allowed on TV, the shameful truth that thousands really went through that makes it just as confronting as anything CGI can throw at us these days.



    Even though the dialogue is ridden with cliches and predictability, the writing itself is well done. The plot is constructed in such a way that we really follow the journey without checking our watch and the ending certainly leaves us hanging for the furthur hours and hours of the show.



    Levar Burton quickly captures not only the audience's side but our hope, if anyone can overcome the horrors of slavery and survive, Kunta can. Other than him there are no real standouts but the highly publizized cameo of O.J Simpson makes for his most memorable TV appearence, other than the trials. Roots is just an amazing show and the pilot sets the pace perfectly, no matter how dire the situations seem (and are) there is an underlying sense of hope and no amount of artistic failures can affect its poignancy.moreless
  • This show doesn't really give the true meaning of what young Kunta Kinte will face. However, it does show how he used his freedom. They have a scene where he's just walking around enjoying himself. Never paying attention to his surroundings.moreless

    9.4
    This episode was truly a classic. The arthurs did a great displaying what freedom is and how it feels. In this show, Kunta Kinte is warned about what may happen to him by his tribe. However, he's very stubborn and doesn't really pay attention. This gets him in trouble. Prior to being captured, he isn't paying attention to his surroundings. After being captured, they show a scene where he's placed in chains. Afterwards, he acts out for at least 2 hours trying to get free. The men sit there watching and laughing at how his behavior. Wow is the only word.moreless
  • A rarely seen glimpse of life in pre-colonial rural West Africa, a subject previously ignored in fictional historic dramas...

    10
    This first installment of the epic miniseries dramatized a cultural perspective, rarely if ever seen out of Hollywood outside of silly, nonsensical, and denigrating Tarzan movies, of rural West African culture and traditions. An enlightening story of the birth, naming, and life of a boy who will eventually go through manhood training to learn about his people's philosophies and their incorporation of the Islamic religion into their daily lives. But in one heart-breaking fell swoop, destiny intervenes and all of this is shattered when the boy-now-young-man is brutally ripped away from his home and sold into chattel slavery across an ocean.



    The music by Quincy Jones in this first part really helps set the tone to underscore the culture and practices that are being illustrated and the costumes are beautiful. The gravity of the plot is softened by many poignant comic moments that help to add some realism to the dialog and situations. Definitely an eye-opener.moreless
Edward Asner

Edward Asner

Captain Thomas Davies

Guest Star

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson

Kadi Touray

Guest Star

Ralph Waite

Ralph Waite

Mr. Slater

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Alex Haley, the author of Roots, was inspired to research his family origin by years of overhearing his aunts recounting the story of Kunta Kinte in his childhood home of Henning, Tennessee.

  • QUOTES (2)

  • NOTES (6)

    • The 1977 miniseries Roots still stands as the highest rated miniseries in U.S. history and its finale (Part 8) still stands as the 2nd highest rated television episode of all time, with its initial #1 spot taken over some 6 years after its original broadcast, by the 1983 finale episode of the television comedy M*A*S*H.

    • The scenes representing the village of Juffure and its surrounding area in Gambia, West Africa, were filmed on location in Savannah and St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

    • The miniseries Roots was nominated in 1977 for a total of 14 Emmy Awards including:

      "Outstanding Achievment in Costume Design for a drama or comedy series"
      "Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing for a Series"
      "Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Mixing"
      "Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore)"
      "Outstanding Art Direction or Scenic Design for a Drama series"
      "Oustanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a series"
      "Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series"
      "Outstanding Film Editing in a Drama Series"
      "Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a drama or comedy series"
      "Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a drama or comedy series"
      "Outstanding Limited Series"
      "Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in a comedy or drama series"
      "Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a comedy or drama series"
      "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series"

    • The miniseries Roots won Emmy awards in 1977 for "Outstanding Limited Series", "Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing for a Series" (Larry Carow, George Fredrick, Colin Mouat, Larry Neiman, Dave Pettijohn, Paul Bruce Richardson, Don Warner), "Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore) " (Gerald Fried, Quincy Jones), and "Outstanding Film Editing in a Drama Series" (Neil Travis), all under the title of ABC Novel for Television: Roots.

    • David Greene won an Emmy in 1977 for "Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series" for directing Part 1 of Roots.

    • Ed Asner won an Emmy in 1977 for "Outstanding Single Performance By a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Series" for his role as Captain Thomas Davies in Part 1 of Roots.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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