Long before he played Jack McCoy on “Law and Order” for 15 years, Sam Waterston played District Attorney Forrest Bedford on “I’ll Fly Away,” a show that aired on NBC from 1991-1993. The series was set during the 1950s and early 1960s in the South and told the story of Forrest Bedford and his family, and their black housekeeper Lilly (played by Regina Taylor). Throughout the course of the show Lilly became increasingly involved with the Civil Rights Movement and many of the shows storylines dealt with the various issues of that time.
When the show was cancelled there was outrage from fans who attempted to save the show through letter writing campaigns. Critics also blasted the show’s cancellation, which was never a major ratings hit.
Although the show wasn’t saved, PBS did pick up both seasons which then concluded with a two hour made-for-TV movie that wrapped up the show and didn’t leave fans hanging.
The movie aired on October 11, 1993 on PBS. Its major storyline closely paralleled the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi.
“I’ll Fly Away” earned two Emmy Awards, two Humanitas Prizes, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, a Peabody Award, and two Golden Globe Awards, including Best Actor (Sam Waterston).
It’s a real shame that 17 years later this show is still not on DVD, especially when you realize that just about every other T.V. show, good and bad, has been released. Perhaps the studios don’t realize what a gem (and moneymaker) they would have on their hands with a DVD release of “I’ll Fly Away.”
This isn’t just another entertainment show. It’s also an educational show that the whole family can watch. It can open your children’s eyes to an important time in American History. It’s a decent, well-acted show with intense yet meaningful storylines, unlike much of today’s television garbage. There aren’t too many shows on television today where grandparents and parents can watch with their kids and say, “I actually lived through that time…let me tell you about it.”
Do a simple Google search and you will find many forums, including the forums on Internet Movie Database, where members are asking when this show is going to come to DVD. If only those responsible for its distribution to DVD would realize how highly anticipated a DVD release is!
Hopefully one day the powers-that-be will come to their senses and release “I’ll Fly Away” to DVD. It would be a real shame to pass up the opportunity to remind television viewers of what “classic” T.V. is all about.