Roots: Night 3
June 2, 2016 3:48 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Part 3. As George grows to manhood, he exhibits traits of both parents. Like Tom Lea, he loves cockfighting and carousing; an accomplished trainer of gamecocks, he earns the nickname "Chicken George."

Olympus Athens at Geeks of Doom:
"There was slightly less violence this night, but George’s need for his father’s approval hurt so much. This family loves fierce and they keep getting ripped apart. I can’t take it. I will stay with them until the end of their story, and I will hurt far longer than that.

"Regé-Jean Page is going to be a gigantic star with his looks and chops. The relationship between George and Kizzy felt like true mother and son (as the mother of a son – I felt what she did). My particular favorite this episode was Mingo. George may have been seeking his real father’s approval, but he actually earned his surrogate father’s approval through Mingo, all the more sweet because of his massive trust issues.

"Another fantastic night. And by fantastic, I mean heart-wrenching, soul-searing, punch you in the gut despair."
Robert Lloyd, LA Times: 'Roots' is still fresh and shocking 40 years later:
"Roots" premiered on ABC in January 1977, just a few months after Alex Haley published the historical novel upon which it was based -- a phenomenon on the back of a phenomenon.

Now remade for the flat-screen generations by History, the new version will surely reap the benefits of 40 extra years of technological innovation and historical research. (The accuracy of Haley's own research has been questioned, and in settling a lawsuit, he admitted plagiarizing material from Harold Courlander's novel "The African." But this doesn't lessen the cultural impact of the series, and there is much to admire in the original, as antiquated as it can now seem.)

Broadcast over eight consecutive nights, it was the very definition of a television event. An estimated 100 million people watched its final episode; it was nominated for 37 Emmys and won nine. Executive producer David L. Wolper Jr., who bought the film rights while Haley's bestseller was still being written, had a career encompassing Jacques Cousteau documentaries, "Welcome Back, Kotter" and the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Screenwriter William Blinn had written the hit TV movie "Brian's Song"; later, he would create "Starsky & Hutch" and co-write the Prince film "Purple Rain."

It was grand, but it was also appealingly familiar, cast with actors well-known from TV and film, , including "Good Times" dad John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Richard Roundtree, Scatman Crothers, Roxie Roker from "The Jeffersons," Louis Gossett Jr., Ben Vereen, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Raymond St. Jacques and Moses Gunn.


Though it may alienate younger viewers that "Roots" most of the time looks like what it is -- 1970s television -- that is no failing, and in many ways a plus. The boxier screen of the time made TV a medium of close-ups and two-shots, more congenial to conversation and argument than spectacle and action. It had an intimate, confidential air. Whatever is stiff or silly about "Roots" -- its opening credits look ridiculously like the cover of a romance novel -- also makes it feel more lifelike, more authentic. In its most awkward moments, it has the energy and honesty of community theater.
Watch online: Episode 3
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (7 comments total)
This has been my fave episode so far. I totally agree that Regé-Jean Page is a revelation. Get that man a Marvel franchise!

I absolutely adored Marcellus, too. It was so painful watching him leave.

I am not a huge fan of Jonathan Rhys Myers, but he's a perfect Tom Lea, playing him with enough depth to be able to see a glimpse of the human behind the monster, which is key to understanding the complicated feelings that George has for Tom.

Can we talk about that duel? Because that was ridiculous and satisfying watching two jackasses fail at killing each other.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:11 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I hate duels, they're so stupid and pointless and awful. I didn't find it ridiculous I was on the edge of my seat, also bemoaning how much I hate duels (why did they ever have them? and they're supposed to use SWORDS if the guns don't result in a killing? bah!), and being grossed out by the graphic injuries (the cheek injury was the worse) and their pathetic attempts to keep fighting even through concussions/severe injury. It was horrible.

Yeah, I hate duels.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2016

Was that Jonathan Rhys Myers as Chicken George's master? Wow, he was stinking up the screen, thought he lacked range and was just horribly wooden. Does he usually do that? I remember him from "Match Point" but I don't think I've seen him in anything since then. The most touching/moving line he delivered was right before the duel when he said, 'You're my only true friend George.'
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2016

The last thing I saw him in was his Dracula series so...the bar was set pretty low for me. But his limitations really worked for me because Tom Lea is a character that lacks enough intelligence and empathy to realize that his own son isn't going to catch Nat Turner's rebellion like a virus. He won me over in the scene at the picnic with Byrd.

Also, we need to talk about Kizzy and that scene with Lea in the kitchen because DAMN.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:02 PM on June 3, 2016

why did they ever have them?

I thought the duel sequence did a reasonably good job of highlighting just how fucking stupid duels are. Like, some guy thinks you're a dumbass for being a Sanders supporter (basically) so you have to fight to the death? And this is a thing that happened? With enough regularity to be a social phenomenon? And everyone around you is like, "Yes, fight to the death you must. Your honor has been besmirched in this mundane dinner table political argument"? And it's seen as an Honorable Old Custom and not completely batshit?

I also thought it was interesting that they got the vogue for duels that happened in the early 19th century right, but somehow didn't realize that England didn't have slavery during the time Chicken George would have lived there.
posted by Sara C. at 5:13 PM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

The duel mirrored the cock fights perfectly. I felt that was one of the best parts of this, since it showed George using his abilities in a larger scope than the one he was stuck in.

(Too many cock fights though; got the impression that whatever cgi/other tricks they used for them worked so well that they kept being tempted to add another one.)
posted by joeyh at 9:37 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Finally had the opportunity to watch.

Holy sh*t. Fantastic acting all around. The chicken fights were a little cheesy and bad (you can't exactly show how gruesome a chicken fight actually is even on basic cable, I guess). And the description gave away the entire ending (really?). But, damn, those performances. I'm dead.

Did anybody else notice that Jonathan Rhys Myers's Tom Lea sounded almost exactly like Dale from King of the Hill? From the first line, that's all I heard.
posted by General Malaise at 8:16 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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