Debuting on February 27 and running for most of next week, ABC’s miniseries When We Rise is an ambitious and ultimately too dense effort that seemingly forgot that less is often more.

Still, as I also say in my video review above, the fact that a miniseries like this from Oscar-winning Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black is on a broadcast network night after night next week is a great thing. Sadly, in some ways, even more so right now in the America of 2017, where safe harbor for some in our society are again shrinking, and strides forward like the federal transgender students bathroom rule are being revoked by the current GOP administration. Although it is a hard march to get there, the final episode on March 3 is must-see TV on how we got to the America of today and what millions of our fellow citizens, friends and family stand to lose if we go backward.

deadline-review-badge-dominic-pattenThe eight-hour, four-night, multi-decade-covering When We Rise also features an enticing and deep performance from Michael Kenneth Williams that shines through the sprawl. The Hap And Leonard alum’s portrayal of  a Vietnam vet and now community organizer alienated from the mainstream gay movement and from his fellow African-Americans and ex-service members — by his race in one case and his sexuality in the other — is simultaneously layered and direct.

That should have been the case for When We Rise itself as it chronicles the struggle and securing of rights and the real-life movements that made that heroic effort against hatred, discrimination, disease and disappointment possible. A slimmed down docu-drama would have been much more focused in its narrative, and would have done true justice to the real history and participants it seeks to honor.

Along with Williams, Guy Pierce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rosie O’Donnell, David Hyde Pierce, T.R. Knight, Scandal‘s Matthew Del Negro, Whoopi Goldberg and Rachel Griffiths also star in the event series. The mini starts the day after the Oscars, is preempted by President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress on February 28, and then picks up March 1 to run for that night and the two afterwards.

Check out my video review above. Do you plan to watch When We Rise?