TV Review: “OJ: The Trial of The Century”
It has been more than twenty years since millions of people watched a jury’s verdict of not guilty given to athlete O.J. Simpson on the charge of murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Yet these not too distant series of events are brought back into the public eye with a reenactment of the criminal trial in the new FX 10-episode miniseries, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
The series, based off of Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Run of his Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson premiered on Feb.2, and features a cast full of stars and brilliant actors. This includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark, John Travolta as defense lawyer Robert Shapiro, and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian. With a high packed cast, and a fast paced pilot episode, “The People v. O.J.” is in line to be a great hit, and aims right up there and past the Netflix’s mini-series “Making a Murderer.”
While the O.J. trial happened in the mid 90’s, it is still trial of the [20th] century, and is a popular reference in pop culture and today’s world. If you are too young to remember the case, or cannot remember watching re-runs or documentaries of the case a couple years later, I highly suggest you educate yourself. The pilot opens up in the turn of events spanning from the discovery of Nicole Brown Simpson and Robert Goldman’s bodies, the development of O.J.’s dream team of defense lawyers, and leading up to the infamous slow speed Bronco chase.
Executive Producer, and sometimes director of the series, Ryan Murphy, has, so far, excellently kept the production of this show level-headed and not too much like a documentary. There is a nice taste for the naturalism of a documentary, but still has all the flare and filmography to keep the drama intense and rolling. Now, the point of this mini-series is not to take a side for or against O.J. In fact, it seems the primary focus is going to be in the trial itself between the arguments and work done by the prosecutors and defense. Everything may not be 100% truth because of the obligatory dramatization for TV, but the show will depict key points of the trial and is detailed enough so you know what happened in the past.
Sarah Paulson plays a strong Marcia Clark, and her performance keeps the intensity of the episode moving. I expect to see an intense and strong performance from Paulson throughout the series. Travolta has a strange look at Robert Shapiro, (can we fix his eyebrows maybe?) but he has fascinating mannerisms which keep you glued to the screen during his scenes. The series has all strong performances, not just Paulson and Travolta. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a great O.J. in my opinion. Now, he doesn’t look like O.J. He doesn’t even sound too much like O.J., but Gooding’s enthusiastic and great acting skills pull you away from the comparison of looks. Gooding does a great job playing essentially a blank slate of a man who did or did not murder two people. That is a tough job, and he has played it well so far.
“The People v. O.J.” premiered at a pivotal moment in our own culture, dealing with racial and inconsistent issues in our own justice system. Murphy and his other producers have even mentioned that it is the right time to revisit this case as we see “daily issues of race and police misconduct.” “The People v. O.J.” comes on FX at 10pm on Tuesdays. Be sure to catch up with episode one if you haven’t already and stay tuned.