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.