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Roots070918.jpgWhile Fox scrambled to keep Ray Romano’s and Katherine Heigl’s bleepable words off the air at last night’s Primetime Emmy Awards Show, Ed Asner sneaked this stray comment in the tribute to “Roots”: “Turned out better than I thought,” mumbled Ed Asner, as the segment ended and the music began to swell.
I couldn’t have agreed more. Normally, these testaments to the power of the medium are hideously self-congratulatory and self-indulgent. But somehow the power of “Roots,” the ’70s miniseries about three generations of a family enslaved in the American South, came through. The assembled cast members spoke as if from the heart, and even the cheesy “big think” speech was left to Lou Gossett Jr., who peered menacingly at the camera and dared the viewer not to believe every word he said.
It’s too bad that the august “Roots” alumnae then had to dole out this year’s award for best miniseries. The nominees included “The Starter Wife,” about a rich woman’s travails after her husband leaves her for a bimbo, but the award went to “Broken Trail,” a routine, if above-average, Western. Perhaps the sharp political divide within the country, the uncertainties of war, and a wide-open presidential election make the experience of “Roots” impossible to replicate today. But it would be wonderful if someone would try. It might turn out better than we thought.

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