The series is an adaptation of Alex Haley's 'Roots', chronicling the history of an African slave sold to America and his descendants. Filling out the cast is Anika Noni Rose, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Matthew Goode, Mekhi Phifer, James Purefoy, Regé-Jean Page and Malachi Kirby.
For the viewers, and how much more so for the actors involved, the knowledge of that past only heightens the involvement in this nuanced and poetic telling of America's (and Britain's) most shameful history.
As Kunta/Toby, Malachi Kirby has a magnetic presence and brilliantly negotiates the transition from foolish young pup to stern rebel who makes his bid for freedom on a white charger. He's the most compelling reason to keep faith with this new adaptation.
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.
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.
This new adaptation of Roots may have a fair amount of downtime throughout its six and a half hours, but it rises on the strengths of its emotionally powerful narrative and outstanding cast, making this a version that does justice to its source material.