Blu-ray Review: ‘Roots: The Complete Original Series’

Roots was the ground breaking ABC 12 hour mini-series in 1977, from the book by Alex Haley. It was the event that no one knew or thought would be a ratings smash. ABC was worried about it that they ran it over eight straight nights and it drew a record 130 million viewers, 37 Emmy noms, 9 wins and a Golden Globe.

Roots: The Complete Original Series features an all-star cast that includes John Amos, Maya Angelou, Edward Asner, Lloyd Bridges, Georg Stanford Brown, LeVar Burton, Macdonald Carey, Olivia Cole, Gary Collins, Chuck Connors, Scatman Crothers, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Brad Davis, Sandy Duncan, Lynda Day George, Louis Gossett Jr., Lorne Greene, Moses Gunn, George Hamilton, Hilly Hicks, Burl Ives, Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, Carolyn Jones, Doug McClure, Ian McShane, Lynne Moody, Vic Morrow, Thalmus Rasulala, Robert Reed, Harry Rhodes, Richard Roundtree, Raymond St. Jacques, John Schuck, Paul Shenar, O.J. Simpson, Madge Sinclair, Beverly Todd, Cicely Tyson, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, Ralph Waite, William Watson and Ren Woods.

The story of young Kunta Kinte who is taken prisoner in his homeland of The Gambia, West Africa in 1750, and sold as a slave in Colonial America. He is sold to John Reynolds in Spotsylvania County, Virginia and given the name Toby (but always remembers who he is as Kunta). The story follows Kunta and his family all the way through the Civil War. It shows the harshness of what life was like being a slave and the attempts to escape and start a new life.

Bonus Features:

· Roots: The American Story Continues (New Featurette) – Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Blair Underwood, Debbie Allen, Tavis Smiley, Shonda Rhimes and Reverend Al Sharpton reveal how Roots impacted their lives and the thinking of the world. Dr. Rex Ellis of the Smithsonian Institution shares with us how the story chronicled by Alex Haley in Roots lives on in Washington’s new Museum of African American History and Culture; and Christopher Haley recalls his uncle Alex, whose legacy he continues as a slavery historian.

· The Cast Looks Back (New Featurette) – Original cast members LeVar Burton, John Amos, Louis Gossett Jr., Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson, Ed Asner, Sandy Duncan, Georg Stanford Brown and Lynne Moody share emotional stories about the 1976 filming of Roots. They also discuss how making the miniseries changed their lives, why it endures, and why for some it remains their greatest artistic experience.

· Crossing Over: How Roots Captivated an Entire Nation (Featurette)

· Connecting With the Past (Featurette)

· The Struggle to Make Roots (Featurette)

· LeVar Burton: Original Screen Test (Screen Test)

· Alex Haley Interview by David Frost (Featurette)

· Roots: One Year Later (Featurette)

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