Nate Parker’s movie about Nat Turner’s Rebellion, The Birth of a Nation, caused quite a buzz at last month’s Sundance Film Festival. The success of recent Hollywood films such as 12 Years a Slave and Django, as well as the new television series, Mercy Street, point to a growing interest in stories about slavery, many of which are being produced and directed by African Americans.
Today I caught the extended preview for Underground, which was produced by John Legend and airs on WGN America on March 9.
It is very doubtful that I will watch it, at least not the first season. If the series is truly about the Underground Railroad than I am going to wait to see how writers handle the lives of fugitive slaves once they cross into the North.
Not surprisingly, the preview captures the drama and horror of what drove slaves to escape. Much of the dialog and brief scenes are predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see a program like this on television, but it is going to need to do more than leave me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering whether the slaves survive their initial escape for me to tune in.
The Underground Railroad was far more than this.