- by Jeff Beck
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson: A Riveting Retelling of the Infamous Trial (Blu-ra
It was the trial that captivated an entire nation. In June of 1994, beloved football star Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was charged with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and in January of 1995, the infamous trial began. For months, the entire country watched as both sides presented their evidence, including DNA, recordings, and gloves that didn’t quite fit the defendant. When the “not guilty” verdict was announced in October of 1995, there were multitudes cheering, but also many who were completely shocked at the result. One thing was for sure, these events would never be forgotten by those who lived through them, making it the perfect subject for the new FX series “American Crime Story,” a show that takes an entire season to tell us the whole story from beginning to end.
As the show starts, the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are discovered, with O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) being named the prime suspect in the case. At first, his defense is handled by attorney Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) and a long-time family friend, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), but soon others are brought in, including F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane) and Johnnie Cochrane (Courtney B. Vance), the latter of which eventually leads the defense. In the courtroom of Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi), they must square off against the tough prosecution, which consists of Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown). As evidence is presented over the subsequent months, the trial begins to take its toll on all of those involved, and we as the audience become privy to the effect the high-profile nature of the case has on each of their lives.
Indeed, “American Crime Story” couldn’t have picked a better launching point for its premiere season, as what we are treated to is a marvelous dissection of one of the most popular cases in American history. In just these ten episodes, we are given a thorough telling of the case, from the most famous moments that everyone remembers (the Bronco chase, the gloves, the verdict, etc.) right down to certain parts that not everyone will be familiar with, including much of the behind the scenes effects and strategies, as well as the difficulty in finding the right jury. Now obviously it can’t give us a complete breakdown of the several-months-long trial, but it hits all of the major points along the way, giving us as complete a picture as we could ever hope to get.
What’s particularly fascinating about the show is that, even though most of us already know most of the story and how it turns out, it doesn’t make the show any less spellbinding. Each and every week the show was on, I, like millions of others, was glued to the set, captivated by every twist and turn in the case, and riveted by the multitude of characters and how the trial was affecting them. As we watch each of the big pieces of the case play out, it felt just like reliving them all over again, from the bizarre chase on the 405 to Cochrane coining the phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” to the unforgettable reading of the verdict and the public’s reaction. When a story can be this compelling when the events and outcome are already known, then you know that it’s doing something incredibly right.
One of the major reasons for the show’s remarkable success lies in its extraordinary ensemble. Every member of the cast gives a memorable performance, including Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, but special notice must be given to both Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochrane. Paulson flows with her character brilliantly, showing us exactly how this case affected her publicly and privately, while showing us her undeniable strength, resilience, and determination to put away someone she fully believe to be guilty. In a similar fashion, Vance perfectly embodies the eccentric Johnnie Cochrane, capturing his mannerisms, speech patterns, and his showmanship, all in service of trying to prove his client to be innocent. Their performances, along with those of the rest of the cast, are what truly bring this dramatization to life, giving the story the grand emotional draw it requires.
All-in-all, it adds up to a fantastic show that will have you transfixed for the full duration of its brief ten-episode run. For those who are too young to remember the events, it will be a marvelous look into the past at an event that was the continual talk of the country for years, while for those who lived through it, it may very well take you right back to those days of when the trial grabbed the attention of the nation. When it comes right down to it, the show becomes just as unforgettable as the infamous events that it so brilliantly tells, making this first season of “American Crime Story” an event not to be missed.
“American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. All ten episodes present a beautifully clear and sharp image that couldn’t possibly have been improved upon. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all audial elements in excellent and unbeatable quality. Overall, the show has been given the best possible treatment, leaving you with a great experience in both departments.
Past Imperfect: The Trial of the Century (29 Minutes): An excellent featurette that takes a look behind the scenes of the show, featuring several interviews with the cast and crew.
Facts of the Case: An Interactive Timeline: Just as the title implies, this is a timeline of the events of the case, broken down into sections.
With its brilliant ensemble and sharp writing, “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” becomes a fascinating and absorbing look back at one of the most infamous trials in American history. From the opening scene to the last fade out, this season presents a thorough and captivating breakdown of not only the trial itself, but also the events and characters surrounding it, showing us the impact the case has on the lives of all the people involved. It’s a grand dramatization that demands your attention, but as it just so happens, you’ll never even want to turn away.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting today.
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