Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution
Later this month PBS and PBS Distribution will release the third complete season of PBS’ hit hybrid series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The latest installment of this series, it boasts plenty of positives that are not weighed down even with its one lone con—its lack of an episode guide. That will be discussed later. In regards to its pros the central pro is its list of celebrities featured throughout this season make up just one of the set’s pros. The list of celebrities featured in Season Three spans the entertainment universe. This will be discussed shortly. The history presented behind each celebrity is the finishing touch to this season. Together with the season’s featured episodes, these two pros cannot be outweighed by the set’s one lone con. Keeping that in mind Season Three in whole still proves to be just as welcome in any home setting as any classroom setting. It could be argued that despite financial support from a certain genealogy website the program refuses itself to be come just a glorified advertisement for said website (unlike a certain other similar program on another network). But that goes without saying. Keeping all of this in mind, the third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Lous Gates, Jr. serves to prove once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.
The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is another impressive and enjoyable installment of the hybrid history/genealogy-based series. Compared to its counterpart over on TLC (and other potential counterparts) the series continues to stand out proudly. The central reason for this is again its featured guests. Yet again the series featured guests from across the entertainment universe. That broad list of guests includes: Sean Combs and LL Cool J (both music stars), entrepreneur Richard Branson, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Maya Rudolph, and Juliana Margulies (actors), Soledad O’Brien and Bill O’Reily (news personalities), John McCain and Gloria Steinem (politicians), Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Maher (entertainers), Norman Lear (author/writer), activist Shonda Rimes, and so many others. There are even famed architects interviewed for this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Simply put, once again this standout series has once again covered as much ground as possible in its guest list. This is nothing new for the series, either this far into its run. It shows a valid attempt to spread the wealth so to speak as much as possible and hot have any bias towards one group or another regardless of profession, gender, or ethnic background. It’s nice to consider and just one part of what makes this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. On a related note, the reactions of some of Gates’ guests are just as important to this season as their inclusion.
The guests that are featured in this season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. are important in their own right to the season’s overall presentation. The reactions on the part of Gates’ guests are just as important as the guests themselves appearing on the show. Those that watch through the season’s ten episodes will notice that some of Gates’ guests are truly moved and curious about their roots more so than others. Rappers LL Cool J and Sean Combs are just two of those that are most visibly interested and moved in their interviews. Just watching their facial gestures and listening to their reactions, it’s clear that they had a genuine appreciation for Gates’ work and that of those with whom he worked. Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and author Azar Nafisi are also visibly intrigued and moved by the revelation of their families’ histories as were Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. That isn’t to say that any of the season’s featured celebrities were not appreciative of the research done to reveal their histories. But some guests’ reactions were more visible than others. On the surface this doesn’t seem overly important. But on another level, that visible reaction helps establish a connection for viewers. That is because in most cases, the guests’ roots are quite humble, just like those of most viewers more than likely. Considering this, the reactions of Gates’ guests are, while minor on the surface, just as important as the guests themselves. The guests featured in Season Three and their interaction with Gates both do plenty to make it enjoyable for audiences. As important as they are to this season there is one factor tied in to both that takes away at least a certain amount from the season’s presentation. That factor is the season’s lack of an episode guide.
The latest season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives audiences plenty of reason to watch through all ten of its episodes. That is visible through its once again vast array of guests and their equally vast reactions to the revelation of their families’ histories. While both of these elements are plenty of reason in themselves to watch this season of Finding Your Roots they also tie in to the season’s one con. That con is the season’s lack of an episode guide. Unlike certain other imitator shows out there that try to copy this show’s format, this series doesn’t just focus on one guest per episode. It focuses on anywhere from two to three per episode. So having an episode guide of any sort would have been very good here considering this. Season One came with an episode guide printed on the back of its case. This critic will admit to not knowing if Season Two came with an episode guide of any sort. Even having the comparison between just the two seasons, it can be said that having the episode guide included in the standalone set is a clear positive. Without that guide, audiences are left to try and memorize which guests (episodes) appear on which of the set’s three discs. On the surface this might seem minor. But it does save time for audiences regardless of whether or not audiences already saw the episodes in their original broadcasts. Keeping this in mind, the lack of an episode guide in this season does prove problematic in its own right. Luckily though, it isn’t enough of a con that it ruins this season’s overall presentation. The history behind the guests’ families couples with the guests and their reactions to more than make up for the lack of an episode guide this season.
The third season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offers audiences plenty of viewing pleasure through its featured guests and their reactions to the revelations of their families’ histories. They more than make up for the set’s one clear con, its lack of an episode guide. They are not the set’s only pros. The family histories that are put on display are just as important to the season’s presentation as the guests and their reactions to their family histories. The family histories of Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly, and Soledad O’Brien are clear examples of that importance. Audiences learn through their family histories that apparently despite being white, Irish immigrants did not exactly receive what would be considered a warm welcome. Rather many were treated as second class citizens. This is so interesting because the Irish that settled in the U.S. came here to escape things like the Irish Potato Famine as well as religious persecution and other issues. Even the view of the Irish for the jobs that they took was anything but positive. It shows blacks and Asians weren’t the only groups that were discriminated against in America’s youth. Viewers will be just as interested to learn in celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s interview the trials faced by her family during World War II as a result of Italy’s role in the conflict. It’s interesting to learn that even innocent Italians who did not support Mussolini suffered just because they were Italian. Even more interesting is that they suffered not at the hands of the dictator but at the hands of other Europeans that fought him and his forces. It is no wonder that Bastianich is so moved in her interview especially considering what she did and didn’t already know about her family’s history. As if that isn’t enough, audiences also learn that LL Cool J’s love of boxing actually has roots in his family history in his interview. He apparently didn’t even know that himself until his interview, either. And Senator John McCain learns that he isn’t the only member of his family that had ever been a POW. And actress Juliana Margulies’ interview revealing her father’s role in Alka-Seltzer’s famous “Plop, plop-Fizz, fizz” campaign is sure to generate its own share of discussion. Gates says that her father is responsible for the jingle. However that has been debated by some groups. There are those that allege not he but Tom Dawes, of The Cyrkle, was the man responsible for the jingle, and that Margulies’ father was an executive at the agency that came up with the jingle. It would definitely be interesting to learn who in fact was truly behind that jingle whether it was her father or Mr. Dawes. Again regardless of who really was responsible, this point of Margulies’ interview makes her family history just as interesting to discover as that of any of the season’s other featured guests. All things considered the histories that are revealed throughout Season Three make for their own share of interest in this season. Together with the season’s spread of guests and their reactions to their respective family histories all three elements give audiences plenty to appreciate about the season’s presentation even with the season’s lack of an episode guide. That lack does take away at least a little bit from the season’s presentation. But with everything else that goes into the season it isn’t enough to ruin the season’s presentation. All things considered Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Season 3 proves in the end to be yet another installment of PBS’ hit hybrid history/genealogy-based series that will be just as welcome in home setting as in classroom settings.
The third season of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is yet another welcome addition to PBS’ hit history/genealogy-based series. The central reason for this is the season’s vast spread of guests. The featured guests come from a wide variety of professional and ethnic backgrounds. And they are relatively well-balanced in regards to the ratio of male to female. Their family histories and reactions to said histories add even more interest to each episode. Even the lack of an episode guide this season isn’t enough to detract from those pros. Because it isn’t, the end result of the season’s presentation is a ten-episode run that proves to be just as welcome in the living room as it is in the classroom. It will be available Tuesday, April 12th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85849896&cp=&sr=1&kw=finding+your+roots+season+3&origkw=Finding+Your+Roots+Season+3&parentPage=search. More information on this and the first two seasons of Finding Your Roots is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:
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