The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016)
Much like the Dream Team assembled to defend O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, this series manages to overcome the imperfect vessel at its core. For despite the excellent efforts of John Travolta, Courtney B. Vance, Nathan Lane and David Schwimmer as Simpson’s lawyers, the series is almost undone by the miscasting of Cuba Gooding Jr. as the accused.
Fortunately the rest of the cast more than make up for Gooding’s lack of presence. Sarah Paulson turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance as Marcia Clarke, while Sterling K. Brown’s patented ‘wounded sincerity’ is used to good effect. At first confident of their chances of gaining a conviction, this prosecutorial team’s gradual realisation that the case will not be determined by evidence alone is like watching a train-wreck happen in slow motion. All the while, the time-bomb that is Mark Fuhrman is referenced throughout until it finally explodes.
Herein lies another of the series’ many strengths. Developed for television by the creating writing team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the script cleverly juxtaposes well-known incidents of the trial with off-court scenes that provide an insight into each character. Yet there is nary a scene across the entire ten episodes that feels either rushed or superfluous.
Even a family visit to a restaurant provides David Schwimmer’s Robert Kardashian an opportunity to warn his young children about the misuse of fame. The wry humour inherent in knowing these same children will go on to become famous for being famous is offset by the fact that fame may also just help you get away with murder.
Deputy District Attorney Bill Hodgman did not collapse to the floor in the courtroom. He had chest pains after the day’s session was finished and was taken to hospital.
Though O.J. Simpson's acting career is mentioned throughout the series, there are no scene recreations of his films in this biopic.