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Roots - (S01E03)

History . Drama

Roots is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship.

Episode Title: Episode 3
Airs: 2016-06-01 at 21:00
  • Gail Pennington

    Throughout, this new Roots is great entertainment, full of action and romance, an engrossing yarn about people who feel very real and relatable. But just as the original “Roots” had a powerful emotional impact on Americans, the new one is likely to do so as well, especially given that questions of race are at the forefront of discussion as much now as ever.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    The miniseries may veer into obvious melodrama from time to time, especially in the latter two nights, but the fact that it never loses credibility owes to the care with which the moral bases of the characters are created. ... The performances are staggering throughout the entire miniseries.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    A propulsive, plot-driven narrative and performances remarkable for their emotional depth and physicality keep you constantly engaged. A strong imagination for the slave experience—their ambivalence about the Revolutionary War; their attitudes about love, family, religion—yields dramatic richness and cultivates great empathy.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Ray Richmond

    Roots is at once a more intimate and explicit document than was its forerunner and no less compelling, if you can endure the harshness of the spectacle that accompanies it.

    The Wrap Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    The new Roots excels in the naturalism of its performances to make the horror of slavery vividly painful--and the resistance to it uplifting--in a way that deepens the tale.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Ellen Gray

    It's still a gripping story, convincingly performed.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Isaac Feldberg

    Indispensable, infuriating, and inspiring, Roots masterfully finds the hope and humanity in its heartbreaking, harrowing depiction of slavery, and in doing so provides an update worthy of the original.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Joanne Ostrow

    The story is as relevant as ever, cinematically more stunning and historically more accurate than the original. The casting is again superlative--Forest Whitaker as “Fiddler,” Jonathan Rhys Meyers as villain Tom Lea, James Purefoy, Anika Noni Rose and Laurence Fishburne are just the start.

    Denver Post Full Review
  • Chuck Barney

    Told with style and assurance, this "Roots" revival is packed with credible performances, including Anika Noni Rose's terrific portrayal of Kunta's daughter, Kizzy in her older years, and Rege-Jean Page's charismatic turn as her son, Chicken George.

    San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    There are a few clumsy spills into melodrama, but overall this eight-hour effort is rousing, funny, frightening and heartbreaking--an affirmation of life and a condemnation of racism in all its ancient and surviving forms.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Jeff Korbelik

    While the first episode lacks development of any of the characters outside of Kunta Kinte, a young man taken from Africa and sold into slavery in the United States, it still resonates. It’s a story that needs to be told again.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • Joshua Alston

    History’s new vision of Roots justifies its existence almost immediately, reinforcing its worthiness through amazing performances and a tweaked narrative that puts more focus on the interior lives of the slaves.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    The History network, in on-air partnership with Lifetime and A&E, has brought forth a Roots that stands tall on its own, but without surpassing the production that once gripped a nation and should still be seen by viewers of all ages.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    It’s more urgent and visceral, the blood more copious, the agony more intense. This Roots doesn’t flinch, but you almost certainly will. The cast is first-rate, too. ... But this Roots can’t quite escape the faults of the original. Kunta’s story, the Fiddler’s, and later Chicken George’s, are patterns, and also cycles. They seek dignity, but find only indignity--or abject cruelty--over and over.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Brian P. Kelly

    This is a more intimate series, with extended looks at the personal relationships of the characters (the connection between Kizzy and her master’s niece, who grew up together, is just one example). It’s also a gorier series—yes, showing all the abuse put to slaves, but also showing many of the perpetrators of that violence getting their comeuppance. Added to flashbacks and spiritually charged dreams, this lends the show an occasional shade of magical realism.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Bruce Miller

    It’s a magnetic production, one that’s filled with precious performances that sparkle.

    Sioux City Journal Full Review
  • Mary McNamara

    Though sleeker and more graphically brutal than its ancestor, Roots remains a celebration of resistance through survival.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • James Poniewozik

    Overall, the remake, whose producers include Mr. Burton and Mark M. Wolper (whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original “Roots”), ably polishes the story for a new audience that might find the old production dated and slow.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Glenn Garvin

    Roots' greatest service may be in reminding us that, as we blunder through the ugly turmoil of present-day American race relations, we've survived worse. Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    The new Roots fulfills its primary obligation to be a compelling saga, doing what it can to reflect what the last 40 years have meant to our collective understanding of black history.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    The new Roots offers a strong dose of drama--too strong, perhaps, for some viewers who will shy away from scenes of brutality--and compelling character stories.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    This Roots isn’t as altogether strongly acted as the 1977 version--though there are still plenty of standouts.... But the unmistakable spiritual dimension, an aspect lacking in the original, compensates, and it comes mainly from the writing and direction.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    The miniseries remains difficult to watch, as Kunta Kinte and his descendants keep being victimized by white slave-owners, slave-catchers and land-owners who regard slaves as property, not as men, women and children. But Roots gains in power. Though at times, the story seems to blame the institution of slavery on sadistic white racists, as the miniseries goes on, it makes it clear that slavery remains America's original sin.

    The Oregonian Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    An hour or so into the new version, as we see Mandinka warrior Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby), so recently a free man, shackled in the hold of a slave ship, it becomes clear that the current version doesn’t have to best the original to be worthwhile.

    Slate Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    It’s a technically updated and marvelously acted work for the era of “Black Lives Matter,” a solid dramatic reminder of the complexity and depth of racism in America.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    The miniseries is filled with superb, lived-in performances, but especially by Kirby, Page, Rose, Whitaker, and Meyers. The cast (which also includes, at various points, Mekhi Phifer, T.I., Chad L. Coleman, Erica Tazel, Anna Paquin, James Purefoy, Matthew Goode, and Sedale Threatt Jr., among many others) and crew had an impossible task in front of them, and they rose to the challenge.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Dan Fienberg

    On a night-by-night basis, Roots works the tricky balance between misery and uplift. Even if it can't tap into the sui generis newness of the original, the miniseries is often brutal and harrowing.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Mark Dawidziak

    It is packed with towering performances that boldly and magnificently reinterpret characters who have become part of our national folklore.

    Cleveland Plain Dealer Full Review
  • Maureen Ryan

    The lessons the new Roots teaches over the course of its eight hours, which air on four consecutive nights, are worth revisiting, and a number of outstanding performances enliven this retelling of the story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants.

    Variety Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    The original “Roots” exposed and drew on the power of truth for millions of Americans. This Roots is an echo of that. It stands small in the great shadow of the original.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Terry Terrones

    While a respectable reimagining of the original, this updated version of “Roots” can’t quite match its almost 40 old year predecessor.

    Colorado Springs Gazette Full Review
  • Daniel D'Addario

    It makes a case for its own existence, thanks to its striking cinematography. ... But Roots' narrative, so groundbreaking in its time, feels lacking in an era in which activists are forcefully reminding us that black lives matters.

    Time Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    A slickly streamlined and impeccably cast reinterpretation. [23 May-3 Jun 2016, p.14]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review

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