I did it! …I watched the premiere of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson I did it! …I watched the premiere of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson- episode one reviewed. I did it! …I watched the premiere of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

I am entertaining a love/hate relationship to Brad Falchuk/Ryan Murphy- shows. The super-producers deliver when it comes to production values, casting and concepts, but the content has always been hit and miss, relying too much on controversy while the plots struggle to come to a meaningful conclusion at the end of the season. American Horror Story Season 3 & 4 as well as Scream Queens were serious misfires in my eyes. But, in an unexpected turn of events, the 5th season of AHS, subtitled Hotel, proved to be the best of the whole run and now the first episode of the mini- series American Crime Story (directed by Ryan Murphy) is pretty much the best thing created by the two producers I have seen so far. It was a clever move to leave the development of the series to the screenwriter team Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (also co-producers), who already scripted quality- movies like Ed Wood (1994) and The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and whose approach is probably a good counterweight to the rampant sensationalism of Falchuk/Murphy.

American Crime Story peruses the same anthology format as American Horror Story, means it will follow a different, unconnected storyline each season, with the difference that in this case the stories are not fictional, but based on true crimes (…yes, AHS is fiction, who would have guessed).
“Starting out small” is not an option: The first season tackles nothing less than the absurdity of the O.J. Simpson trial. Episode one starts with the discovery of the bodies of O.J.’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman and ends seconds before the most infamous car chase of TV-history begins. In between, all main players are introduced, from both the prosecution and the defense side.
My own memories of the case and trial are vague and unorganized, so I cannot give a proper assessment of how close the series sticks to the facts. If you feel oversaturated by the O.J. story coverage already, I guess you’d rather stay away, because this show will probably not change your feelings about it. For everyone else who has a penchant for well-realized dramatizations of true crime stories, ACS holds the potential to become compulsory viewing.

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark

 

American Crime Story owes a lot to David Fincher’s body of work (particularly his movie Zodiac) in terms of look, pacing and tone and it seems as if Michael Mann’s oeuvre might have also served as inspiration. Means, lots of well-written dialogue, slick visuals and no noteworthy drops in the entertainment curve. The acting is pretty good too. Standout performances are delivered by Falchuk/Murphy cast stalwart Sarah Paulson (AHS) as head prosecutor Marcia Rachel Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochrane, one of the lawyers in O.J.’s defense team. A little underwhelming is John Travolta, who is relying too much on stiff mannerisms, as Robert Shapiro, another lawyer of the defense team. There is sadly one major weak spot in the cast I cannot keep silent about though and that’s Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. himself. Ignoring the total lack of resemblance – Paulson and Travolta don’t look like their real-life counterparts either- he also doesn’t capture O.J.’s mannerisms well. Gooding notoriously has a proclivity for dramatic overacting and it occasionally clashes with the grounded tone of the show. Probably casting him was intended to up the already impressive star power (Bruce Greenwood and David Schwimmer also have parts), but I think they would have done better if they went for a less known, but more convincing actor instead. Actually casting a “nobody” would have also avoided any irritating associations that potentially come with a famous actor – this way, we are distracted by the irrational thought that O.J. might blurt out “Show me the money!” any second.

David Schwimmer as Rob Kardashian

David Schwimmer as Rob Kardashian

 

The series doesn’t shy away from the socio-critical implications of the story -there are allusions to the Rodney King- case and the following L.A. riots of 1992 in the beginning- and this could go into a very interesting direction if they don’t drop the ball and decide to confine themselves to shoving ham-fisted messages into the script, as it is common Hollywood practice. One point some online reviewers complained about is that the now super-famous children of Rob Kardashian (David Schwimmer) are mentioned and even pass through the frame in one scene, as their inclusion could be interpreted as tacky pandering to the reality-TV crowd. I personally think that the showrunners were fully aware that it was inevitable that many people would expect at least a mention of Kim & Co due to the appearance of their father, so they decided to get that out of the way early on (at least I hope so).

Resume: Gripping, slick and well-acted, episode 1 of American Crime Story represents a promising start to a new show that will be my obligatory watch for this season. I for one can’t wait to see what they have in store for the remaining four episodes. Recommended.

PS: I wonder if that Simpson guy really turns out to be innocent? We will see!


 

Excluding two audio reviews and several republished articles from other sites, this review represents my 50th contribution that was exclusively written for the Supernaughts.

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing!

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DetectiveDee

Detective Dee reviews movies and sometimes TV-series. He likes to indulge in the Asian cinema, exploitation flicks and the horror genre but is no stranger to Blockbuster culture either. He writes whatever he wants, but always aims to entertain.

  • Kylo Ronin

    Well well.

  • Dee

    hmmmmmm

  • I_am_better

    That pic. Schwimmer looks like he’s auditioning for The Sopranos

  • CoolHandJuke

    has Schwimmer directed anything since Run, Fatboy, Run? it wasn’t a bad flick…

  • Kylo Ronin

    I did not expect this to get any positive reception.

  • Dee

    It was pretty good.

  • Dee

    Has good ratings on RT and metacritic too.

  • Sagamanus

    I thought Stalkeye said he was going to watch this and write an article?

  • Sagamanus

    Were the body scenes graphic considering the age we’re in?

  • Dee

    he still can

  • Sagamanus

    I guess someone had to take one for the team and watch this.

  • Dee

    you see fleeting images of people lying in fake blood. Maybe one closeup of the throat. They don’t dwell on it, no autopsy scenes so far.

  • Dee

    It was genuinely good. Do you have doubts about it?

  • Sagamanus

    I think I will check it out. Didn’t know Travolta was in it at all.

  • No interest in this, but…

    “the 5th season of AHS, subtitled Hotel, proved to be the best of the whole run”

    You’re nuts.

  • low class bastard

    This was sterling, Dee. Great write-up. Thank you now I will rush to YouTube and check out some clips.

  • low class bastard

    50 articles for The Supernaughts. And still going strong. You do a wonderful job Dee. But bring back BOPX, my favorite podcast in the post-AICN world.

  • I have learned to trust Dee’s opinion on things. Mostly. I’ll check this out.

    And AHS season two was the best. Five is disqualified because of lady Gaga.

  • Dee

    the only season that sticks the landing

  • Dee

    You are very wise! Season 2 was good too. Give Season 5 a chance, Lady Gaga ain’t bad.

  • Stalkeye

    Happy 50th, Mein Brotha!
    this way, we are distracted by the irrational thought that O.J. might blurt out “Show me the money!” any second.” BUAHAHAHAHAHAH! I strongly concur. Cuba looked and acted nothing like OJ. Piss poor casting as far as he is concerned.
    Courtney Vance delivered and this Sarah Paulson does a good portrayal as Prosecutor Marcia Clark. I love Travolta, but in some ways he was phoning it in as Shapiro.
    Too bad I cant get into AHS. It comes off a bit too esoteric and slightly pretentious.
    Not feeling it.

  • Stalkeye

    Oh, I wouldn’t mind giving Gaga a chance. (0:<
    Bird nose and all.

  • Stalkeye

    Ayep.

  • Dee

    Thanks a lot, do I deserve all that praise? I agree about Travolta being too subdued. Vance was a blast to watch. Cuba also lacked the stature of an ex professional.

  • Dee

    Me neither

  • Kylo Ronin

    Yeah, you do deserve all the praise, man.

  • Toruk_Makto

    Love Gaga. Oodles of respect for her.

    Drive. Determination. Will. Oh yeah and a little talent too.

    Not the prettiest, but that makes her even more impressive.

    When you get married this is the type of chick you want coming down the aisle. Hell or high water she has your back, not shy in the sack, and brings a truckload to the table.

  • Toruk_Makto

    “He’s the Juice, He rushed more than 2,000 yards in one season.”

    This show had me fucking roaring.

    Infantilized celebrity under fire…sycophants scattering to put out the flames. It was like a bee-hive got raided.

    Holy shit if that is even 50% accurate of the life of some of these stars that is just…wow.
    I love how everybody called him The Juice, it’s like he wasn’t even a real person.

    Swimmer was spectacular: “My little girl Kim sleeps here!”. I almost lost a lung.
    When Travolta asked him if ‘he did it’ and he said no. Travolta/Shapiro looked he was a millisecond away from bustin’ out in laughter.

    I’m going to wait for the season to finish before I continue (can’t do that week to week shit anymore) but this is definitely on my must watch list.

  • Dee

    I know just fishing for compliments

  • Tarmac492.1

    this was a genius post bro. missed u in the last two months. Dee is a genius. hope u r well. i hate AHS.

  • Tarmac492.1

    as someone who watched this travesty play out first hand… who is playing kato? such insane american madness. love it!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Dee=genius. he needs to embrace hookers to reach true greatness

  • Tarmac492.1

    hate ahs.

  • Dee

    Kato?

  • Dee

    AHS is a truly guilty pleasure of mine

  • Stalkeye

    S, long time no see me Boyo!
    I tried to get into AHS, but it just didn’t gel with me.
    As for the first, it had great potential and Connie Britton is a cutie.

  • Stalkeye

    Oh dont be so modest. You often bring out a unique quality when reviewing films and such. Even when you get all curmudgeony. XD
    I have to watch the rest of the series strictly to laugh at Gooding’s performance. Thar’s comedy gold up in hea!

  • Stalkeye

    I contemplated doing this a while ago, but decided to focus on other topics instead. I have practically 20 ideas revolving inside this dome of mine and they deserve more prominence than this. (0;’

  • Stalkeye

    But I wont and to be honest, I’m glad you did!

  • Stalkeye

    XD XD XD

  • Stalkeye

  • ErnestRister

    Get the original Shut Up Kids podcast gang together again to play the hosts on Court TV.

  • Dee

    Me a curmudgeon?

  • Toruk_Makto

    Rock…one of the greats.
    $4,000 a month for food…. Whatever judged ordered that bullshit needed to be tossed in jail. That doesn’t even broker a conversation..it’s just flat-out wrong.

  • Tarmac492.1

    The fact that Travolta was cast in this instead of Piscopo leads me to believe there is a vast Conspiracy of Scientologists who are planning something much more sinister than the murder of two innocents. Did the producers not see Piscopo’s dramatic turn in the classic Chuck Norris/Johnathon Brandis actioner SideKicks?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Kato Kaelin. OJ’s buddy, house sitter or whatever? Failed actor. He was a witness for I guess the prosecution? Been a long time.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Also, congrats on fifty contributions. That is alot of work for, what, 14 months or so. Dee the workhorse. Not just quantity, but quality. Your shit is always well thought out and entertaining.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Who else thinks Judge Ito is Darth Plagueis?

  • I_am_better

    Travolta is looking more and more like a Mort Drucker drawing of himself

  • Stalkeye

    Haha. of course not.
    I’m actually referring to your take no prisoners approach to trashing certain films.
    And if anything, some may think I’m the “Curmudgeon” especially after the upcoming joint article.
    And I can live with that. XD

  • Dee

    😉

  • Dee

    Thanks a lot! High praise coming from you!

  • Dennis O’Keefe

    You should check out the Walt Disney episode of the “You Must Remember This Podcast.”

  • Stalkeye
  • Tarmac492.1

    This guy was z-grade Rob Lowe. He had his 15 minutes.

  • Agreed, 2 is the best.

  • Well to be fair the wife and I still need to watch the last two episodes, but then that should explain how much we’ve enjoyed it. It’s just been so boring and doesn’t really have much of a main plot-line at all to hold everything together. Feels like a series of vignettes, interspersed with a ton of faux nudity and wasted talent.

    That said, I think I’d have loved it if it were a period piece focusing on Evan Peters’ character. He’s been fucking awesome. Denis O’Hare and Kathy Bates have been great as well. That’s about it.

  • Stalkeye

    Everything about him spells “Douchebaggio”.
    No fan of Asshole OJ either and hated that tabloid show Hard Copy who was pimping this case for over a year straight.
    Announcer: “Nicole, a Beatiful Wife and Mother who was caring” *Soft piano Music ends* *Cue dramatic Music* “Her life cut short by her abusive Husband OJ Simpson….!”

    Glad that show was shitcanned.

  • Stalkeye

    ??

  • Dee

    no way

  • Tarmac492.1

    hard copy blast from the past!! was that oreilly? i know he did a current affair?? 20 fucking years. oj, u had everything??? was it worth it?? i

  • Stalkeye

    His hubris had gotten the best of him so I can’t feel bad for “Poor ol OJ”.