Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The People vs. O J Simpson: American Crime Story

The FX network has a history of presenting series we would likely never see on the standard commercial television networks.  Their current hit has one more episode scheduled to air on April 5th at 10 pm EDT.

The People vs. O J Simpson is based on a book by legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, entitled  The Run of his Life: The People vs. O J Simpson .

With a fine cast, well-written scripts, and taut directing, this is a series worth watching.  It is currently available on demand from your cable provider and should be available on Netflix or Hulu in the near future.

Those of us who were sapient life forms when the events on which the series is based occurred are familiar with the story.  In those days it was impossible to watch a news program with no mention of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman or the subsequent trial.

In fact the trial was carried daily live on television providing viewers with an "as it's happening" voyeuristic peek.  My own mother, bless her, gave up her daily soaps to watch the trial in its entirety. She came away at the end believing in his innocence, which astounded me.

I was working in those days and didn't watch any of the trial. Honestly, in the beginning of the investigation I believed him to be innocent. As more information came out about the battery of his wife, I became convinced he did it. In many cases, battery does escalate to murder with signs of rage in the violence committed against the victim.

Based on Toobin's book, the FX series is a faithful rendition of events of the trial. Though it provides a much greater scope than the television coverage of the actual trial did.  For example, there was one episode in the series devoted to the jury.  The members, both the regulars and the alternates, were basically imprisoned with a bunch of strangers for nearly nine months. They couldn't watch television or read newspapers, listen to the radio, etc.  As you can imagine it was a huge strain on each of them.

There have been episodes which focused on Assistant District Attorney Marcia Clark, in which we learned she was in the middle of a contentious divorce at the same time as the trial. Her ex was suing for custody of their children and fighting dirty. She was also mocked by the defense team and the media. At one point, her first ex-husband sold nude pictures of her to the tabloids.

By the same token, Johnnie Cochran was also featured in several of the episodes, along with Assistant District Attorney Christopher Darden. Defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, and Barry Scheck were also highlighted on episodes. Robert Kardashian was featured from the very beginning of the series.

The cast is impressive. The following actors are excellent in their roles.

Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden
Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito
Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson
Bruce Greenwood as Gil Garcetti
Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey
Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark
David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian
John Travolta as Robert Shapiro
Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran

The series also touched on the events with the public outside the courtroom.

This is a well-rounded series based on real events.  It isn't fun to watch, but like the historic trial itself, it is mesmerizing.  You cannot look away even though you know that train wreck is coming.

Well done FX, thank you for another outstanding series. 

I read the American Crime Story series will return next year with the story of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Until next time...

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