There is the promising hope of intelligent and meaningful programming coming to cable television in 2016. The History Channel is bringing back the remake of the Emmy Award winning television mini-series, “Roots.” The original aired over 35 years ago in January 1977. Will Packer is the executive producer of the remake and the original “Roots” star, Levar Burton, will be the co-executive producer.
Of the many questions concerning the “Roots” mini-series’ relevance in today’s historical perspective concern the proposed benefits of a show of that caliber returning to network television in 2016. The Hollywood Reporter reports that the producers will incorporate “carefully researched new scholarship of the time” and the fact that The History Channel will run the remake will be key to the change in the show’s overall appeal to its viewers. Unlike the 1977 ABC-TV network release that had a largely emotional and entertainment value to it, the remake, which will air on The History Channel, will present an educational and thought-provoking appeal to the viewers. The issues of slavery and racial oppression can be viewed objectively and be seen as more than mere drama.
“The networks note that they’re working with prominent historians in the fields of African and African-American history, as well as diverse leaders from across the country, to use “Roots” to stimulate discussion and awareness about the origin story that informs American culture today.” (The Hollywood Reporter, 2015)
The original television mini-series aired in 1977 and it was based on Alex Haley’s book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. “Roots” received 37 Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It still holds a record as the third highest Nielsen-rated episode for any type of television series, and the second most watched overall series finale in U.S. television history.