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Roots-any word? (1 Viewer)

moviebuff75

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Has anyone heard anything about "Roots" on blu-ray? I contacted the Library of Congress, because I read that they projected 35mm prints. They told me that they were gifted brand new 35mm prints of the original 1977 eight part series in 2010 from WB. This was the original ABC version, but new prints. I'm hoping that the prints were struck from a new restoration. It's not from the version released on vhs/dvd because the episodes were in their original eight part broadcast format (not six parts.) I was told that the prints were new and included the original ABC version of the openings, along with teasers, recaps, and bumpers. Please, WB. This was an historic broadcast. Please give us this series as close to the original broadcast as possible and restore the moments from missing openings that were only seen that first time. I'm tired of getting the six-part version. I don't even know where that version comes from because it never aired on ABC in six parts. Even syndicated prints were nine episodes. International versions varied but I can't find anything that says they aired in foreign countries in six episodes. Not sure where that format originated. The original vhs release was in six parts as well. Perhaps an early cut of the film. But, some cast/crew members are incorrectly credited or left off entirely.
 

AndyMcKinney

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Maybe the 6-part version was prepared especially for home video? I do agree with you that the original presentation (of anything, not just Roots) is preferred, because when episodes get re-combined/split-up into extra parts, etc. invariably, something is left out, if it's footage where the original on-screen text was used (because they couldn't/wouldn't go back to the clean textless footage), or stuff gets cut for time (or to add in new re-caps). The list could go on and on.

I'm sure a blu-ray is the last, best hope for a more complete Roots, though, as that would almost certainly guarantee they'd have had to go back to the original negatives (or at least, to 35mm prints) to prepare new masters, whereas for DVD, they could always just use the same old NTSC tape masters that have existed for decades.
 

moviebuff75

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The video version contains an opening not seen originally (with Chicken George getting ready to cock fight) because that hour aired as the second hour that evening, and it is now the first hour. Wolper said that the show had to be recut to fit ABC's schedule so that tells me that another cut was prepared first. But were the credits prepared and changed at the last minute if that were the case? They stated at the time of the dvd release that they went back to the "original elements." It could be that the negatives are the six part version and the version prepared at the last minute for ABC was only done for those prints. However, the LOC response contradicts this. I've talked to people at Pacific Title and they recall only doing the titles once.
 

moviebuff75

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I miss the two openings I saw at the Paley Center from the original broadcast. The first was George Hamilton on his way to the Moore plantation, singing a song in the carriage. The other was an extended return trip home from Chicken George (returning from England.) I think I will contact the WB research library to find out more about the current print and when/where it originated.
 

moviebuff75

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I now own a 16mm copy of the episode with the missing George Hamilton opening intact. I'm still looking for Episode 7, featuring a longer scene of Chicken George returning home from England. I also own some scripts now, which is making things clearer.
 

Brian Himes

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The six part version did indeed air on ABC. During the later part of the 70s (78-80), ABC used to have an afternoon movie that ran during the week (Monday-Friday) and that is where they edited the original mini series into the six parts that we currently have on DVD. They also re-aired the original Rich Man, Poor Man this way. This is where I finally got to see all parts of both Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man. To the best of my knowledge, this is how both series have been seen in syndication ever since. For the UK release of Rich Man, Poor Man, Universal did release the series on DVD in the correct edits as they originally were aired on ABC in 1976. As for Roots, I can only speculate why Warner Brothers has not either found the original versions (If indeed they still exist but from your original post it seems that they do) or continues to use the syndicated versions.
 

Brian Himes

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Then I'm stumped. I saw it in six parts in the afternoon on ABC in the late 70s. Probably 78 or 79. This series was also released to schools on tape before it was released to the public for home viewing. Perhaps that is another place that the six part version came from.
 

jimmyjet

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good show - i saw every single minute of its original airing

the character that most sticks out in my memory is kunta kinte
 

Brian Himes

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Yep. Looks that way. I will be picking this up. I'll still keep my DVD set, but it will be great to have the original 1977 broadcast version.
 

Brian Himes

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Ok, I got the Blu-ray set and have checked a few things out.

First, the ABC Novel For Television part of the openings is still missing. Also, the introduction to episode 1 (the 'landmark in television entertainment' prologue) is missing. Episode 1 begins with the opening African style theme by (I think) Quincy Jones minus the prologue.

Each episode ends with the 'Next on Roots' teasers and each episode begins with the 'Last on Roots' recaps. So those are all intact and accounted for.

The episodes break down like this

Episode 1 - 2hrs
Episode 2 - 2hrs
Episode 3 - 1hr
Episode 4 - 1hr
Episode 5 - 1hr
Episode 6 - 2hrs
Episode 7 - 1hr
Episode 8 - 2 hrs

The extended opening of George Hamilton arriving at the Moore home is there. However, I don't believe that it is George Hamilton singing but Richard Roundtree singing.

The extended opening of Chicken George returning home (with the man saying Praise Be, He's back) is also there.

There are no bumpers during the commercial breaks.

So, other than the missing opening prologue segment before episode 1 and the ABC Novel For Television part of the openings, this seems to be as close to the original broadcast as we are ever going to get. If I remember correctly, the missing opening preview before episode 1 is intact on the original DVD release. I'll check and make sure but I'm pretty sure that it is.

I just checked my 25th Anniversary DVD and yes, the 'Tonight we present a landmark entertainment' prologue is on the DVD set but it is missing from the Blu-ray. Why I don't know since this was a part of the original 1977 broadcast.
 
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Brian Himes

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I have now watched the entire mini series again. This time on Blu-ray and I can report that there are a few additions that have been previously missing in the several home video versions.

Episodes 1, 2 and 6 have some additional footage. Aside from all episodes having preview teasers and recaps, these episodes have scenes or extended scenes that have not been seen since 1977.

In episode 1, the scene where Captain Davies and Mr. Slater discusses bringing the slaves on deck to exercise them and clean out the hold is longer. On the DVD the scene begins with Captain Davies asking 'Is there anything else, Mr. Slater?' On the Blu-ray, the scene begins with a discussion about the other goods that the ship is hauling back to America. During this discussion is the first mention of the 3000 Elephant teeth that will be later mentioned as a joke. Also, it is during this conversation that we learn exactly how may slaves were boarded onto the ship. 140 and that 2 died before the ship left Africa.

Episode 2 has only a few seconds of additional footage. John Reynolds is discussing with Mr. Ames that Fiddler will be responsible for teaching Toby. On the DVD, this conversation ends when Reynolds says Fiddler will be in charge of Toby until he says otherwise. On the Blu-ray, the scene continues for a few more seconds. There is a closeup of a new colt that was discussed earlier in the conversation. Reynolds then tells Ames that when it's time for the gelding to make sure that his daughters are not around.

The second bit of additional footage is during the scene where Fiddler and Kunta are discussing Christmas. On the DVD the scene begins as the camera pans to the right as Fiddler and Kunta are crossing the creek. On the Blu-ray, there is an establishing shot of the waterfall and we hear Fiddler talking just before the camera begins to pan right.

All of the 1hr episodes do not contain any additional footage except the recaps and preview teasers with the exception of episode 7 which has a slightly longer version of Chicken George's return.

Now, episode 6 is a 2hr episode and there are two additional scenes. Both are contained within the first hour. There is of course the longer opening with George Hamilton's approach to the Moore home. The first additional scene occurs just before George and Kizzy are discussing Sam and that everyone is talking about how Kizzy has been 'entertaining' Sam every night. Just before this scene, there is a scene of George in the barn with the chickens and two field hands about George's age come in give him a hard time about his mother and Sam. George then chases them outside and around a wagon before George runs off to confront his mother about what people are saying.

The second additional scene is just before the picnic with Matilda's Father the preacher. There is an actual scene of everyone attending an outdoor service with singing and a small bit of preaching.

The second half of episode 6 doesn't have any additional footage. However, on the DVD this half of episode 6 is the first part of episode 5 and there is some additional footage that isn't on the Blu-ray. On the Blu-ray, the second half opens with the May, 1841 scene at the cockfight. On DVD, this episode opens with George and Tom in the wagon going to the cockfight and them entering the barn as Squire James passes them as he enters.

Episode 8 on Blu-ray is exactly the same as episode 6 on DVD. No additional footage or missing footage.

So, there we have it. A complete breakdown of the two versions of Roots that have been released to home video. With the exception of the preview prologue missing from the Blu-ray, I prefer the Blu-ray original broadcast version.
 
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Brian Himes

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The picture quality is better on the Bly-ray versus the old DVD sets. There has been lots of color correction done. This may have been a result of using the original 35mm negatives. I don't know. The clarity if much better. There is one instance where the color correction/restoration made a mistake. During Kunta's first escape attempt, he leaves the plantation at night and is running through the woods. In a couple of shots, the day for night film lost the 'night' look to it. It then comes back once Kunta is at the creek putting water on his ankle wounds. The way it looks now, it seems that Kunta has been running for at least 24 hours or more. Which is fine, if a bit on the unbelievable side. The DVD versions stays 'night' until Kunta wakes up the next morning and there is snow on the ground and he hears the dogs coming.

Other than that, everything else looks very, very good.
 
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