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The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lay down on some seaweed and roll around in it until he's completely draped in it. Then he'll stand up and go hey, I'm Vine Man.

—Jack Handey
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Roots [1977] (7 discs)
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Length:573 minutes
(9 hours 33 minutes)
MPAA Rating:UR
Sorting Category:Drama
IMDB Rating:8.6/10
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
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Classifications:
  • Drama
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Synopsis: A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.


Reaction: Groundbreaking and influential, though it may get a bit too heavy for the casual viewer.


Personal Rating: 8/10

Select Guest Cast
Alex Haley => Himself (Part XII)
James Earl Jones => Alex Haley (Part XII)
Allen Williams => Robert Calvert (Part III)
Beverly Todd => Fanta (Part III)
Gary Collins => Grill (Part III)
Hank Rolike => John (Part III)
Helen Martin => Aunt Sukey (Part III)
Lee de Broux => Trumbull (Part III)
Lee Kessler => Miss Constable (Part III)
Raymond St. Jacques => The Drummer (Part III)
Tanya Boyd => Genelva (Part III)
Ann Weldon => Mary (Part II)
Betty Cole => Sassy Woman (Part II)
Big Joe Turner => The Singer (Part II)
Bill Gribble => Seaman Grimes (Part II)
Brooks Clift => McAlmon (Part II)
Cindy Henderson => Bess (Part II)
Fred Covington => Auctioneer (Part II)
Joe Dorsey => Calvert (Part II)
Maurice Hunt => The Doctor (Part II)
Paul Shenar => John Carrington (Part II)
Rachel Longaker => Caroline (Part II)
Roosevelt Smith => James (Part II)
Sonny Shroyer => Seaman Thompson (Part II)
Stan Haze => Field Singer (Part II)
Tina Andrews => Aurelia (Part II)
Burl Ives => Sen. Arthur Johnson (Part XI)
Charles Cyphers => Drake (Part XI)
John Quade => Sheriff Biggs (Part XI)
Macon McCalman => Poston (Part XI)
Robert Phalen => Rufus Jackson (Part XI)
Sally Kemp => Lila Harvey (Part XI)
Todd Bridges => Bud (Part XI)
Chris Hendrie => Jimmi Brent, Evan Brent's brother (Part IX)
Ian McShane => Sir Eric Russell (Part IX)
Macdonald Carey => Squire James (Part IX)
Wally Taylor => Reverend (Part IX)
Cicely Tyson => Binta (Part I)
Ernest Thomas => Kailuba (Part I)
Hari Rhodes => Brima Cesay (as Harry Rhodes) (Part I)
Henry Butts => Sitafa (Part I)
Kermit Echols => Vilars (Part I)
Maya Angelou => Yaisa (Part I)
Moses Gunn => Kintango (Part I)
O.J. Simpson => Kadi Touray (Part I)
Renn Woods => Fanta (as Ren Woods) (Part I)
Ronnie Leggett => Kalilu (Part I)
Thalmus Rasulala => Omoro (Part I)
William Watson => Gardner (Part I)
Davis Roberts => Leonard (Part IV)
Elma V. Jackson => Mama Ada (Part IV)
John Schuck => Ordell (Part IV)
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs => Noah (Part IV)
Lillian Randolph => Sister Sara (Part IV)
Roxie Roker => Melissa (Part IV)
Tracey Gold => Young Missy Reynolds (Part IV)
Doug McClure => Jimmy Brent (Part VI)
Grand L. Bush => Captured runaway slave (Part VII)
Richard Farnsworth => Slave Catcher (Part VII)
Richard McKenzie => Sam Harvey (Part X)
Select Cast and Crew
David Greene => Director
Gilbert Moses => Director
John Erman => Director
Marvin J. Chomsky => Director
Robert Guenette => Director / Writer
James Lee => Writer
M. Charles Cohen => Writer
William Blinn => Writer
Alex Haley => Book
Austin Stoker => Virgil
Ben Vereen => 'Chicken' George Moore
Brad Davis => Ol' George Johnson
Carolyn Jones => Mrs. Moore
Chuck Connors => Tom Moore
Edward Asner => Capt. Thomas Davies
Georg Stanford Brown => Tom Harvey
George Hamilton => Stephen Bennett
Hilly Hicks => Lewis
Ji-Tu Cumbuka => Wrestler
John Amos => 'Toby'
Lane Binkley => Martha Johnson
Leslie Uggams => Kizzy Reynolds
LeVar Burton => Kunta Kinte
Lloyd Bridges => Evan Brent
Lorne Greene => John Reynolds
Louis Gossett Jr. => Fiddler
Lynda Day George => Mrs. Reynolds
Lynne Moody => Irene Harvey
Madge Sinclair => Bell Reynolds
Olivia Cole => Mathilda
Ralph Waite => Slater
Richard Roundtree => Sam Bennett
Robert Reed => Dr. William Reynolds
Sandy Duncan => Missy Anne Reynolds
Scatman Crothers => Mingo
Thayer David => Harlan
Vic Morrow => Ames

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • This was originally to be a four hour presentation airing on two nights, this turned into a twelve hour presentation airing during six nights.
  • Ernest Thomas, who plays Kailuba, screen tested for the role of Kunta Kinte.
  • One ABC executive explained the blockbuster ratings by saying "One third of America was snowed in, one third of America is black and one third watches ABC anyway"
  • Georg Stanford Brown (Tom Harvey) and Lynne Moody (Irene Harvey) are the only actors to reprise their roles in Roots: The Next Generations.
  • Originally broadcast on ABC as eight programs. Four 1-hour and four 2-hour episodes apiece, as follows: Episodes 1, 2, 6 and 8 were two hours apiece. Episodes 3, 4, 5 and 7 were one hour apiece. Presented on VHS, DVD, and re-broadcast as six two-hour episodes.
  • The series takes place from 1750 to 1870.
  • LeVar Burton (Kunta Kinte) and Louis Gossett Jr. (Fiddler) would later reprise their roles in Roots: The Gift.
  • The installment which aired in 30 January 1977 in the USA was the most-watched TV show in US history (since surpassed by the [M*A*S*H] finale in 1983 and {Who Shot J.R.?} episode of [Dallas]) in 1980. In the US 36.38 million households or 51.1% watched it giving it a Neilsen share of 71%.
  • The show was programmed by ABC to air on several consecutive nights in prime time. It was considered a revolutionary approach to programming a mini-series, since most minis were aired once or twice a week over several weeks' time. It was revealed years later that the reason the network did this was so that they get the show "out of the way" in a hurry because they felt, nobody would watch the story if it aired over a longer period of time.
  • The author Alex Haley was sued successfully for plagiarizing by novelist [?] Harold Courlander. The works he plagiarized led to the book that served as the basis for the mini-series [Roots]. Haley paid $650,000 in an out of court settlement.
  • In {The Big Bang Theory: The Tenure Turbulence}, the socially inept main character, Sheldon Cooper, gives Mrs. Janine Davis, an African-American woman working as the Human Resources Administration (HRA) at Caltech, a copy of [Roots] as way of an apology the bad first impression he made on her.