Roots: The Complete Miniseries

Season 1 Episode 2

Part 2

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 24, 1977 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • The horrors of the middle passage....

    In an installment that graphically shows a part of the African slave trade that has never before been shown in a semi-fictional setting- this part spends a significant amount of time reproducing the deplorable conditions that the African captives faced on what is called the "middle passage", or the 3 month trip across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. This is no "Ben Hur" nonsense. These are men and women laying in their own feces and vomit chained on their backs in the hold of a clipper ship. Even more revealing (for a change) is the plot clearly showing the hurdles faced by throwing different African ethnic groups and language groups together (again, something rarely discussed as it seemed to be assumed that all Africans are the same and spoke the same language) and how that could be overcome to attempt to escape - something usually forgotten in the history books of that time and before. Only more recently have dramas of ship revolts, like the Spielberg film "Armistad", shown such since this miniseries. And just like it was shown in the previous part that Africans participated in slave-catching and selling, so too must the captives be shown to not happily accept their condition.

    The filming done on the ship gave a sense of immediacy and scale that shied away from sugar-coating the experience - at least as much as possible for something aired on network television. And this attempt at accuracy continued through to the time of the ship's arrival in America and the auction process (and how those who survived were artificially cleaned to hide their wounds to ensure top dollar for sale).

    A truly gut-wrenching episode to watch but historically important to show - even if it is a Hollywood production.
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