Adapted from Jeffery Toobins’ book ‘The Run of His Life’ this show will have you glued to your seat.
We all know the outcome. In fact people of a certain age have known it for twenty odd years. However, we still sit with baited breath wondering if somehow the verdict might be different this time round. We also wonder whether or not John Travolta is wearing prosthetics or if that is his actual face nowadays?
Even with Travolta’s face as a distraction, this ten-parter is so gripping that it has everybody talking about the infamous case all over again. Dubbed the “trial of the century”, that shook and divided America and caused debate all over the world.
Toobins witnessed eight months of the trial whilst working as a journalist. In his book he leaves no doubt that he believes OJ to be a guilty man. The series lets us be the judge and jury and although swaying us more to a guilty conclusion because of the portrayal of the case and characters, it also shows us the unforgivable mistakes made by the prosecuting team.
Defence lawyers Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran, are portrayed by John Travolta and Courtney B Vance. The lead prosecutors, Marcia Clark and Christopher Durden, are portrayed by Sarah Paulson and Sterling. K. Brown. We get an insight into the people behind the scenes of this trial which became a pantomime. They all have their reasons for doing what they believe and their personal reasons for wanting to win the trial; be it greed, revenge, pride or recognition.
Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the man himself Orenthal James Simpson (that’s Juice to his nearest and dearest). Gooding Jr. presents OJ as a very detached and slightly deluded character. This helps give us the impression of a guilty man who is capable of beating and controlling his wife. He has an arrogance so strong that any slight against him could push him over the edge. Unfair? Maybe! I had imagined OJ to come across as a much more likeable and charismatic character.
Robert Kardashian (David Shwimmer), who was OJ’s good friend and defence attorney, starts the series doing all he can to watch OJ’s back. Midway through, doubt has stated to creep in and by the end of the series, the horrified expression on Kardashian’s face as a non-guilty verdict is read leaves us in no doubt that even his best mate thinks he did it.
What this show really brings to light amidst all the little details, such as two people being brutally murdered, is the rife racism that was so prevalent at the time. The despicable racist cop called Mark Furman, portrayed by Steven Pasquale, really highlighted the problem and may even have been the key to OJ being found not guilty. If OJ had been a white man maybe the outcome would’ve been a lot different.
We also get to see what life was like for the jury during the trial; not something I imagine people have given much thought to. We see how isolating it was and how all aspects of their lives were taken over. One poor woman was driven temporarily insane which I can quite understand.
It is quite impressive how they managed to find actors who bare an uncanny resemblance to the people they portrayed. Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi), was so similar I thought the man was playing himself and had aged extremely well.
So we come to the conclusion and again it leaves us divided in opinion but at least one question is answered it all of this: now we know how the Kardashians came to be famous.
Dir: Anthony Hemingway, Ryan Murphy, John Singleton
Scr: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Jeffrey Toobin
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, Cuba Gooding Jr., Courtney B. Vance, John Travolta, Kenneth Choi, David Schwimmer, Nathan Lane, Bruce Greenwood
Prd: Scott Alexander, Todd Brown, Nina Jacobson, John Travolta, Brad Falchuk
DOP: Nelson Cragg
Music: Mac Quayle
Runtime: 42 minutes per episode