Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Roots: The Next Generations DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Emmy-Winning Sequel to Alex Haley’s Roots Re-Released on DVD

Two years after Roots (1977) captivated TV audiences with the heartbreaking saga of Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) who was seized by slave traders and shipped to America from Africa, the series was followed up with an equally riveting sequel. Picking up where the original left off, the show traced creator Alex Haley’s genealogy from the Civil War through Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.
This program landed a couple of Emmys, including one for Best Mini-Series and the other for Best Supporting Actor to Marlon Brando. The A-list cast was comprised of many leading movie stars of the era, such as Academy Award-winners Brando, Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland, Oscar-nominees Paul Winfield, James Earl Jones and Beah Richards, plus Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Pam “Foxy Brown” Grier, Rosey “The Thing with Two Heads” Grier, Dorian Harewood, Ernie Hudson, Debbie Allen and Barbara Barrie.
The ensemble includes plenty of famous faces from television, too, including Janet “Willona” DuBois (Good Times), Robert “Kelly” Culp (I Spy), Greg “Barney” Morris (Mission Impossible), George “Terry” Stanford Brown (The Rookies), Richard “John Boy” Thomas (The Waltons), Roger “T.C.” Moseley (Magnum, P.I.), Kene “Tyler” Holliday (Matlock), Andy “Andy of Mayberry” Griffith, Diahann “Julia” Carroll. Kim “Tootie” Fields (The Facts of Life), Philip Michael (Detective Tubbs) Thomas (Miami Vice), Norman “Mr. Roper” Fell (Three’s Company), Howard “Virgil Tibbs” Rollins (In the Heat of the Night), and Damon “Lionel” Evans (The Jeffersons), to name a few.
Besides these thespians, also aboard were singers like Carmen MacRae, Bobby Short, Telma Hopkins (of Tony Orlando and Dawn) and Linda Hopkins, Olympic champion Rafer Johnson, and even author Haley himself. Worthwhile for the nostalgic walk down Memory Lane alone, as you play spot the celebrity cameo as you enjoy each episode.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 688 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: An interview with Alex Haley conducted by David Frost, ”Roots: The Gift” – a two-hour holiday movie new to DVD, a behind the scenes documentary plus more.

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