The People vs. O.J Simpson: An American Crime Story is the best thing I have seen on television in quite some time. This engrossing melodrama from the creators of American Horror Story takes viewers inside the O.J Simpson saga in ways we have only ever imagined. Moment to moment drama and tension build from O.J's limo driver seeing a figure crossing the lawn to the mansion just after the murders, to O.J's odd excuses for being late to that limo to the discovery of the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, the authenitic, engrossing drama of never lets up.
Cuba Gooding Jr. takes on the role of O.J Simpson and delivers big time with a powerful performance that captures O.J's arrogance, fear, and startling temper. Gooding's O.J is at first eerily calm and agreeable but quickly turns scattered and volatile like a wounded animal stuck in a trap. When the white bronco arrives in episode two, Malcolm Jamal Warner's A.C Cowlings only adds to the remarkable authenticity of the scene that will have you feeling as if you are in that Bronco as the legendary chase plays out.
The cast of The People vs. O.J Simpson is uniformly fantastic. In an unpredictably great performance, John Travolta stars as Robert Shapiro, the celebrity lawyer O.J turns to before each agrees that a more cynical and calculated choice, Johnny Cochrane (Courtney B. Vance), is more suited to the defense they are planning. Travolta's Shapiro is canny and practical in the face of the incredible storm of media. David Schwimmer is equally great as the good-hearted Robert Kardashian, O.J's friend whose desperate hope for O.J's innocence becomes genuinely heartbreaking as the realization hits him.
On the other side of the aisle, Sarah Paulson cuts a brilliant figure as prosecutor Marcia Clark. Paulson captures the humanity behind the professional and aloof manner many complained about in Marcia Clark during the actual trial. Yes, Clark is tough as nails with a cynical, angry, demeanor but Paulson also captures the crusading side of Clark who simply wanted to see a wife beating murderer get what he deserved. Bruce Greenwood and Christian Clemenson are perfect foils for Clark as equally cynical defenders of justice while Sterling K. Brown brilliantly captures the tragic figure of Christopher Darden who strived to be more than a token in the DA's office only to find himself shunted into the prosecution of O.J Simpson.
Race plays a major role in The People Vs. O.J Simpson with Darden's visit to his father in Compton, California, a brilliant counterpoint to our modern conversation about race relations and police. The LAPD have long had a terrible reputation but the scripting here is fair to the LAPD while casting a wider correlative conversation about police mistrust among African Americans. This is edgy material and gives just that perfect extra kick of timeliness to a story that could have felt trapped in the 90's.
The direction is top noth, the writing and acting are spot on and there is still plenty of room for the daring and salacious brand that the American Horror Story crew are known for in The People vs. O.J Simpson. Yes, when I say salacious I am referring to the Kardashian's who are background players in the O.J saga but play as a brilliant counterpoint to the intensity of the prosecution and defense. Did you know Kris Jenner was one of Nicole Simpson's closest friends or that she once dated O.J? We even get a glimpse of the Kardashian kids playing at Nicole's funeral, an especially eerie scene when O.J shows up to mourn.
Everything about The People Vs.O.J Simpson An American Crime Story works and the show is among the best things TV has produced in years. This is historic television, capturing an event that millions remember in a brand new, shocking and even suspenseful way. This is a truly MUST SEE show.