This week on Bluray from FX and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is another chance to see it all from the beginning with the release of the ten part series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
In June of 1994, a neighbor horrifyingly discovered the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman outside a condo in an otherwise quiet neighborhood in Brentwood, California. Within hours, ex-husband and football legend O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is notified of the deaths. Out of town at the time, Simpson returns home to the children he shared with his ex-wife Nicole.
Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson), District Attorney and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) are following closely as police detectives question Simpson regarding his whereabouts when the murders occurred. The prosecutor’s office is having a hard time believing Simpson with his vague answers to their questions.
Family friend Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) tells O.J. that he needs to seek legal help and suggests Robert Shapiro (John Travolta). Quickly O.J. becomes suicidal with the events. When he discovers that he is about to be arrested for double murder, O.J. leaves a note and dashes out in his Bronco with friend Al Cowlings at the wheel.
Now the manhunt is on as DA Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) sends out the troops to find O.J. Kardashian finds the note and proceeds to read it out to the media as directed by Shapiro. That is when the white Bronco with Cowlings driving is discovered going doing the I-405 in Los Angeles bringing about a “chase” that sends everyone back to O.J.’s house in Brentwood. After convincing him to surrender, O.J. is booked for double murder.
Now it is up to Shapiro and his team to put together a defense while Clark begins her work on evidence gathering to see that O.J. gets the death penalty. As the evidence begins to come in there is problems for both sides with a bloody glove behind O.J.’s house in Brentwood, a blood trail with large footprints and more. Believing this is a trial of evidence, it would be a TIME magazine cover that bases the trial on race which the defense team runs with.
Shapiro begins assembling his team that includes F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler), DNA expert Barry Scheck (Rob Morrow) and Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance). The group decides to spin everything around on the police with the cry that the LAPD is racist against Simpson and therefore is framing him. Although the team is filled with stars there are already problems within the group as Cochran begins to take over from Shapiro.
Clark is also discovering that Nicole Brown has left behind a trail of abuse put on her by O.J. So much so that pictures and talk begin to surface about the rock relationship between the ex’s. Judge Lance Ito (Kenneth Choi) is not presiding over the trial and begins the jury selection process. Attempting to stack the jury, Cochran looks to keep the jury pool filled with African Americans. At the same time Clark is being roasted in the media about her looks but has to put that aside in order to get her own group together. She asks Christopher Darden to be a part of the team knowing that he once worked with Cochran.
As the trail begins Darden has his feet put to the fire by Cochran who isn’t about to let one slip get by him. Clark and Darden also deal with Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale) who Darden doesn’t care for believing him to be a racist. Clark doesn’t listen to his suspicions which is about to backfire on them all. Trying to juggle everything, Clark is dealing with insanity in her personal life and a divorce that has its own trial proceedings.
When the trial resumes, Clark calls Nicole’s sister Denise who has her own tale to tell about O.J. and Nicole. The worst is to come when detectives Vannater (Michael McGrady) and Lange (Chris Bauer) have to explain about their booking of evidence that begins a barrage of DNA chatter that the jury is overwhelmed with.
When not in the jury room, Kardashian continues to stand by his best friend but is having a difficult time of it. As the story gets bigger and bigger, Kardashian has his own questions but is unsure he wants to know the answers. It doesn’t help that wife Kris (Selma Blair) believes O.J. is a murderer.
As the trial begins to wind down the dramatic power play by Cochran has O.J. trying on the gloves in front of the jury and in his final summary states, “if they don’t fit-you must acquit”.
The jury by this time is about ready to turn on itself. Judge Ito finds that he must dismiss jurors on the basis of many factors. As alternates come in, both sides of the table know they must remain focused and Clark goes in strong with the DNA evidence. Just as she believes she has a hold on the jury, tapes of Detective Fuhrman surface and he tells in his own words how there was framing of black suspects for no reason at all.
When Simpson does not take the stand but instead makes a statement, Clark and Darden stop at nothing to refocus the trial away from Fuhrman and football asking the jurors to look at the facts. It would only take four hours to send the entire world spinning off it’s axis as the trial of the century comes to a close.
But there is more to the story as each person attempts to go on with their lives and, some say, it would only be a matter of time before O.J. Simpson would see bars in his future!
Paulson as Marcia Clark is a woman who never ceases to amaze me with her performances. In this series she pours every bit of herself into a character that is so complex and under the pressures of a woman who has problems in her own life and now problems that were being watched by the world. Paulson plays Clark who was on a roller coaster ride like no one could ever have imagined and she does it exceptionally well.
Vance as Cochran stands as from the moment he steps onto the screen. Taking the reigns quickly away from Shapiro, Cochran was flamboyant, flashy and the kind of slight-of-hand attorney that led the dream team and Vance captured all of that in his portrayal of this character.
Gooding, Jr., as O.J. is arrogant, self-serving, a little nuts and played the game as a professional would. Relying on his ‘dream team’ to find him an out, he did as he was told but never let anyone around him forget who he was.
Travolta as Shapiro threw me for a loop. I watched the trial and I never would have guessed that Shapiro was so erratic and seemed to have such a huge ego problem. Travolta captured it and always kept me guessing wondering what this guy was going to do next.
Schwimmer as Kardashian seemed like a little puppy lost in the midst of something bigger than he could have imagined. Wanting to stand for his friend, it becomes painfully obvious that it gets harder to do as times goes along. Brown as Darden is a man who seems to go along to get along until he is pushed to his limits – and by the man he had always admired.
Choi as Ito also had a compelling storyline that I had no idea about. It must have been difficult for Ito to not only be under a microscope by so many but to have his own family life brought into question during the trial. At the same time I wondered what drove him to make some of the decisions he did, that’s a conversation I’d love to have with him.
Other cast include: Christian Clemenson as William Hodgman, Garrett M. Brown as Lou Brown, Jessica Herman as Kim Goldman, Cheryl Ladd as Linell Shapiro, Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin, Robert Morse as Dominick Dune, Joseph Siravo as Fred Goldman, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick and Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Al Cowlings with an appearance by Larry King.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is amazing to once again bring just what fans want for their home library. Continually bringing new entertainment content for everyone’s media library, their format includes DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. To discover more of what they have to offer please visit www.foxconnect.com.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” had people literally staying home to see how the series would play out when it aired on FX. Of course everyone knows it all turned out but the devil is literally in the details that the public was not aware of. That’s what makes having this series on Bluray, it is an opportunity to watch these stellar performances and catch what might have been missed.
The performances are actually quite eerie in how closely the actors resembled their characters. Those choices are what drew audiences in from the very first night to the very last. FX continues to bring intense stories to viewers and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is an example of what keeps bringing us all back for more.
The Bluray episodes include From the Ashes of Tragedy, The Run of His Life, The Dream Team, 100% Not Guilty, The Race Card, Marcia Marcia Marcia, Conspiracy Theories, A Jury in Jail, Manna from Heaven, and The Verdict. The Bluray also includes the Special Features of Past Imperfect: The Trial of the Century and Facts of the Case: An Interactive Timeline.
The series has 22 Emmy Nominations from everything to Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Leading Actor & Actress, Outstanding Supporting, to Outstanding Casting-Writing-Directing-Costuming etc. Before it is all said and done, award season is going to bestow this series plenty of accolades to deserving individuals.
This story line is based on the best-selling book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” by Jeffrey Toobin. “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is available now on Bluray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
In the end – it was the trial of the century!