Roots: The Next Generations

Season 1 Episode 1

Part 1

2
Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Feb 18, 1979 on ABC
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
5 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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It has now been 12 years since Chicken George and his family left their plantation in Virginia and arrived in Henning, Tennessee. The year is 1882 and the era of Reconstruction of the south and substantial progress for the newly-freed slaves, is coming to an end with the implementation of Jim Crow laws throughout the state. George's son Tom Harvey has been asked to travel to Memphis to meet with members of the Colored Republican Party Club, a group of local black politicians who are trying to come up with a new election strategy in light of the changing times. Meanwhile Tom's oldest daughter takes a liking for and wants to marry a young mulatto man, much to Tom's disapproval. The white son of a local attorney and adviser to the railroad eschews his father's profession in favor of poetry and falls in love with a local college-educated black school teacher brought to the town by Tom to open a colored school. However when they marry, he is expelled from his family and their presence in town raises the ire of the townspeople.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The first of the sequel to the celebrated "Roots" miniseries...

    9.8
    Some 2 years after the phenomenal original airing of "Roots", along comes the sequel that will continue to tell the story of author Alex Haley's past ancestors while all along doing so with the backdrop of American history and its impact on their lives.



    The story opens up with some familiar faces and some new ones, including the actor who portrays the elderly, now senile version of "Chicken George", a role previously made famous by actor and musical/dance performer Ben Vereen. With a very different acting style that makes this character his own, actor Avon Long creates a "Chicken George" that is not only crotchety but humorous in a pleasant way (for some comic relief but not denigratingly so), being the fount of knowledge and advice that is trapped within his aging body and mind. Ironically, at the conclusion of this miniseries, a real photo of "Chicken George" is flashed on the screen, and we find that Avon in fact favors him quite a bit, so this was a good casting call.



    The episode brings us to the end of the Reconstruction era and the beginning of the Jim Crow period where laws were put in place by the states to essentially re-institute the psychological and legal hindrances and terror of that once populated the era of slavery, but this time against people no longer in bondage. It is a sad and often difficult to watch episode most notably as the attempts at assimilation and moving ahead are thwarted every step of the way, and even moreso as a new generation is born and raised into this nonsense. The impact that such a life had on the Tom Harvey character ultimately rubs off on his treatment of his eldest daughter, where in an attempt to protect her from societal hurt by foisting his own bitterness on her and everyone around him, she eventually escapes her home to become a teacher, never marrying after he dramatically runs the one love of her life away by refusing to allow her to marry him.



    Interestingly, because of the popularity of the original, many notable stars of film and television who didn't or couldn't appear in "Roots" made sure that they could find some part for themselves here in the sequel. And so yet another assortment of the famous, including rare television roles by movie actors such as Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland, coupled with the familiar faces of the likes of Richard Thomas from "The Waltons" and Greg Morris of "Mission: Impossible", add substance to this installment.



    The only fly in the ointment was Marc Singer's character "Andy Warner" as Mark attempts to make a southern drawl into an art form not worthy of an actor who is Canadian by birth. I.e., he really didn't need to go so far with it.



    Otherwise a good but tentative start to a sequel that had a difficult path ahead to try to live up to its predecessor's historic position in television history.moreless
Avon Long

Avon Long

Chicken George Moore

Greg Morris

Greg Morris

Beeman Jones

Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda

Colonel Frederick Warner

Lynne Moody

Lynne Moody

Irene Harvey

Marc Singer

Marc Singer

Andy Warner

Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland

Mrs. Warner

Fay Hauser

Fay Hauser

Carrie Barden

Guest Star

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Brian Stokes Mitchell

John Dolan

Guest Star

Kathleen Doyle

Kathleen Doyle

Lucy

Guest Star

Debbi Morgan

Debbi Morgan

Elizabeth Harvey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Tom: Now Elizabeth, that school gotta keep on. Meanin' sorry as it is, it's the only way black folk gonna break out and climb. That school gotta keep on.
      Elizabeth: So you mean you gonna do what the white man tell ya? You gonna knuckle under papa?
      Irene: Elizabeth, now hush!
      Elizabeth: Girl tell you to jump and what you do papa? You jump. (angrily starts to sing and do the Jim Crow dance) Jump, jump Jim Crow. Jump, jump, jump Jim Crow. Wheel about and turn about and do just so. Slide, slide, and point dat toe.
      Tom: (weakly) Beth.
      Elizabeth: (continues to sing and dance and twirl) You funny as a minstrel queen who jumped Jim Crow.
      Irene: (grabs Elizabeth's arm) Stop it! Stop it!
      Elizabeth: (continues singing) Jump, jump, jump Jim Crow. Kneel to the buzzards and you bow to the crow. Smile, smile, and away you go. (now yelling) every time you wheel about you jump Jim Crow!!
      (Tom walks over to her seething and smacks her hard across the face, knocking her to the floor)
      Irene: Don't you don't touch this child!!
      Elizabeth: (weakly) Learned you some mighty man papa. I heard your old stories from Grandpa George... 'Bout the African. Forgot about him papa? Kunta Kinte? Dat what his name. He die a slave papa and you be free. Whatcha do with that freedom papa? You gonna jump papa? You gonna jump Jim crow?

    • Tom: I done explain to you daddy. The way we vote this morning was between the lesser of 2 evils.
      Chicken George: That's what I said! Two things goin' to ruin the government - the boll weevils and the lesser of 2 evils. That's what I said!

  • NOTES (5)

    • ABC budgeted $16.6 million for the production of Roots: The Next Generations, which was three times what was spent on the original Roots miniseries.

    • ABC spent $1.8 million building and updating (to reflect changes in history) the set that became the town of Henning, Tennessee.

    • Guest stars Brian Stokes Mitchell, Frances E. Nealy, and Al Fann were credited as "Brian Mitchell", "Frances Nealy", and "Al "Locko" Fann respectively, in this episode.

    • Roots: The Next Generations was nominated in 1979 for 5 Emmy awards including:

      "Outstanding Achievement in Makeup"
      "Outstanding Limited Series"
      "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special"
      "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special"
      "Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special"

    • Roots: The Next Generations won an Emmy award in 1977 for "Outstanding Limited Series".

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • The song and dance routine that Elizabeth performs to mock her father Tom's decision to ask the local black school teacher (who he recruited) to leave town, by suggestion of the local white politicians, was a reverse application (based on the black interpretation) of a minstrel show character named "Jim Crow" created by a white entertainer named Tom Rice. Rice's character, who he played in black-face, became the embodiment of some of the most derogatory stereotypes of blacks at the time but also became a symbol by blacks themselves to use against other blacks who were believed to act in such a caricatured and exaggerated manner. The term "Jim Crow" eventually came to refer to laws that were put in place by most southern and some northern states, to racially segregate and otherwise restrict the rights of the black population during the late 19th through to the mid-late 20th century.

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