FLASH FORWARD: The People v. O.J. Simpson Episode 1: From the Ashes of Tragedy

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A few housekeeping details first:

  • The Miniseries Marathon and ensuing publications deal with the American network miniseries genre of approximately 1975-1995.  “The People v. O.J. Simpson” is American, but on cable in 2016.  There are a few reasons I’m including it.
  • I refuse to use the “American Crime Story” part of the title.  Nice try, making it seem like a TV series.  How can there be more seasons now that the most famous trial in the history of jurisprudence has been dramatized?  What, is the Harry Thaw trial with centerpiece Evelyn Nesbitt next?  Zsa Zsa Gabor’s cop-slapping?  The People v. “American Horror Story: Freak Show?” (FYI, viewers who pay attention will note that even the FX announcer refers to it merely as “The People v. O.J. Simpson”).
  • Yes, I believe O.J. Simpson is guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.  But that’s immaterial.  What is material is the material in the miniseries and what material it is!
  • This is the first time we are tackling something while it’s being aired.
  • Each episode will have its own post.  Means y’all have to keep coming back for more.

Welcome to American Horror Story: Bundy Drive.  In this season of the Murphy-Falchuk series

Oops, that’s not right…or is it?

Welcome to what many consider to be the frontrunner for the 1987 Emmy Award for Best Miniseries.

Oops, that’s not right…or is it?

Indeed, it is.  “The People v. O.J. Simpson” acts so much like the network miniseries in its heyday, that the network (FX), air dates (2016) and the attempt to sell it as a TV series (Americans can no longer handle 26+ TV series, so we’ve gone British and max out at six or eight or thirteen, but that’s a different story) don’t actually matter.  What matters is how well it fits into the boxes with which you dear readers have become so well acquainted.  Down to the fear of sex and the slumming vets…

We begin exactly where you would expect us to begin: archival footage of the LA riots following the acquittal of the cops in the Rodney King trial…whaaaaa?

Why?  I can only make a supposition.  Actually two suppositions.  Considering the chucklefest into which we are hurling ourselves, this is an attempt to add gravitas to this sordid episode.  If we wanted gravitas, “All My Children” and “One Live To Live” would still be running.  Also, the creators here are obsessed with foreshadowing.  You know, in a miniseries airing in 2016 recounting events from 20+ years ago.  Foreshadowing the past.

Okay, let’s REALLY dig in now.

We begin exactly where you would expect us to begin: June 13, 1994, the Rockingham estate of O.J. Simpson, beloved star of “The Cassandra Crossing” and “The Towering Inferno.”  A limo is waiting to pick up Orenthal (Cuba Gooding, Jr., who about six feet smaller than Simpson–with hands his size, the glove would have fit). Apologizing to the limo driver, Simpson wearily says he overslept and “had to take a shower.”  “I’ve never picked up a celebrity before,” the limo driver says.  What, is this his first day on the job?  What LA limo driver hasn’t picked up a celebrity?  “That’s cool.  I remember the first celebrity I ever met, Willie Mays,” Simpson recalls.  I’m sure Willie Mays is thrilled to be mentioned.

Remember this cutie?

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It’s the akita, Nicole Brown’s, the one with the bloody paws.  A gent out walking his dog on Bundy Drive follows it and stumbles on two dead bodies.  He does not, a you would expect, scream.  He just gasps and suddenly his flashlight is that of the police he’s called.  The po-po make a quick sweep of the house, finding candles burning, rose petals in a bath, slumbering tots and a picture of O.J. Simpson on the bathroom wall: the obvious location for family photos.  Take that, Willie Mays!

“The female is Nicole Brown Simpson.  She’s the property owner,” the cop tells Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale).  Fuhrman is immediately told to “withdraw from the case, it’s being kicked upstairs” and in bounds Detective Van Atter (Michael McGrady), trailed by Detective Tom Lange (Chris Bauer).  After first thinking about the media attention (no one has yet snuffed out one single candle, and this ain’t the stop, drop and roll crowd), Van Atter wants to know where Simpson lives and Fuhrman offers to take him there, having previously been for a “family dispute.”  At Rockingham, Van Atter and Lange buzz to get inside, where they can see lights on, while Fuhrman offers to look around.  That’s when he sees the Ford Bronco and its blood drops.

“Why don’t they answer the door?”  Halfway through that question, Fuhrman scales the gate and opens it from the inside, following proper police procedure, at least as far as LA mansions go.

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No one answers at the big house, so, passing the garden statue of O.J., which looks like it was made in a pottery class just that day by fourth graders, the detectives pound on another door.  Success, in the form of half-naked Kato Kaelen (Billy Magnussen, a requisite slab of Murphy beefcake).  For the second time, the movie shocks us by NOT having a sex kitten approach the door in a robe asking “who is making all that noi…” only to embarrass herself, Kato and the cops by being recognized as someone important’s wife.  Asked if he’s high,  Kato thankfully remembers a noise he heard earlier and asks, “was there an earthquake or something?”  Yes, Kato, there was and everything from Acapulco to Vancouver is now an island, except Rockingham.  Why don’t you go inside and not put a shirt on because we just activated your 15-minute clock.

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Kato send the dicks to see Simpson’s daughter Arnella, who provides a head-scratcher without even a line of dialogue.  Bauer reaches Simpson in Chicago to tell him of the murder, while Arnella very calmly brings everyone hot beverages, seemingly unaffected by the ado.  Simpson reacts drowsily and then cries through the puzzling line, “oh my god, Nicole has been killed? Oh my god, is she dead?”  I so wish Bauer had deadpanned, “yes, Mr. Simpson, she’s dead, that usually happens when people are killed,” but he doesn’t.  However, he is suspicious.  “He didn’t ask how she died,” he notes to Van Atter, who sits calmly, no doubt due to Arnella’s soothing hot beverages.  Kato leads Fuhrman, soon followed by Van Atter and Bauer, to find…the bloody glove.  “This is a crime scene,” Van Atter announces.  Calm down, have another of Arnella’s calming tonics.

Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is trying to get to work, despite the bickering of her two young sons. As they squabble, she removes their cereal bowls, telling them, “okay, that’s it, you’re going to starve.  I hope you can make it until lunch.”  Clarkophiles know that is not just a threat.

Ring, ring, it’s Van Atter, asking for her “opinion on a double homicide.”  Van Atter starts, cut off by Clark, dryly clucking, “Brentwood?  Nobody gets killed in Brentwood,” and then halts him again, completely unaware of who O.J. Simpson is until Van Atter references the “Naked Gun” movies and Hertz commercials (here’s a miniseries about a slumming vet and the writers know it, but the aging hams have yet to show up).  “Oh yeah, that guy, hmmm.”  She’s clearly not interested until she hears about the bloody gloves.  “You have enough evidence to arrest him, this is major,” she says, now enthused.  Alas, all Van Atter wants is a search warrant and her opinion.  “This prosecutor says, ‘go get him,'” and hangs up, seemingly on the verge of an orgasm.

As the crime scene investigators, none hunky or brilliant like we’ve learned to expect, are doing their thing, Nicole’s phone rings and it’s her kids calling for her from the police station.  That’s the kind of macabre detail that makes this cheesetastic.  It’s also the kind of detail that reminds us it’s 1994, as no one has answering machines anymore.

At the office, Marcia’s assistant has her own problems, something about tulip colors.  “Your lips are moving, but I don’t know what you’re saying,” Marcia snarls.  It seems Marcia is throwing a baby shower at lunch.  “Not anymore…I’ll tell her, she’ll understand,” Marcia says of her soon-to-be-ex-friend as the assistant goes on with her to-do list, noting next a call from her ex-husband’s lawyer. “I can’t deal with this!”

With District Attorney Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) and assorted minions, Marcia goes over the timeline of the previous evening’s events.  “You think O.J. had time to do it?” Garcetti asks, to which a minion replies, “well, he is fast,” earning a glare from Clark and two from me.  Marcia has never “heard of a restaurant that offers that service,” referring to Ron Goldman bringing the glasses Nicole’s mother had left at the restaurant where he worked to her house.  Seeing the crime scene photos, the same minion offers his opinion: “I just can’t picture O.J. Simpson doing it.  I met him once at a golf event, he’s the nicest guy.”  “Yeah, I met him,” Gil notes, “he’s charming.”  ADA Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson) gives them the news about Simpson’s history of domestic abuse and evading punishment for it (instead he “raised money for Ronald McDonald,” Hodgman sneers).

This scene is vintage 80s miniseries because it’s the first time sex is addressed.  Marcia Clark’s quip about the restaurant is her way of saying that she thinks Nicole and Ron were boffing each other.  But sex is taboo in a miniseries.  It’s in all of them, but sanitized enough for Sunday school.

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Make way, clear the aisles, bow graciously, avoid direct eye contact, you are about to meet a genuine saint, one who once waked among us.  He created four miracles (some might say three) during his lifetime and thus I have no idea why Robert Kardashian is not being fast-tracked for canonization.  We have had three Popes since 1994 and Murphy is on his knees daily hoping Pope Francis rights this egregious wrong.  “The People v. O.J. Simpson” may not always know which side to take in any given episode, or even in any given segment between commercials, but there is one thing on which it is 100% clear: Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer), he of the skunk hairdo and skank family, is the only completely, for sure, indubitable, everyone-agrees greatest person ever to walk on this planet.  While the other principals are scampering around with the press and racism and fame whoring, St. Robert Kardashian is the only person who cares.

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He cares, damn it.  He cares.  If you somehow missed this bias while watching the miniseries, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you.  You obviously can’t think above a Judge Judy level and thus…sashay away.  Why the ass kissing?  Beats me.  It’s not because he’s dead.  So are Bailey and Cochran and they are not costumed in halos.  If Murphy and Falchuk are looking to do “American Horror Story: Calabasas,” all they need to do is offer cash, no need to brown nose.  It’s not in Toobin’s book.  It’s not because Schwimmer is a great actor (he’s barely even good).

Threading his way through the press outside O.J.’s, and apologizing for jostling anyone, St. Robert is denied entrance.  “I’m sure I’m on the list,” he says, as if that’s normal.  “There is no list,” a cop barks back.  Only in LA!  O.J. arrives home to find a zoo at his manse and the cops take him away from the cameras to handcuff him.  Except one smart paparazzo runs through the maze of exotic garden trees and gets footage of it.  Van Atter takes off the cuffs and apologizes to the forlorn footballer.  His lawyer advises him not to, but O.J. agrees to go with Van Atter and answer questions.  “I’ll cooperate,” he says with self-importance, tinged appropriate melancholy, though that is the exact moment everyone notices a bandage on his finger.  Literally.  “O.J.’s a suspect,” the paparazzo tells his friend with excited glee.

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One by one, the leads enter the story.  We two for the price of one when Johnny Cochran (Courtney B. Vance, in the role of a lifetime, which is how he handles it) and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown) are discussing a case.  Johnny is incensed about a black woman shot in the back.  “Johnny, I wish I could prosecute, it’s terrible,” Chris stumblingly bleats.  “What do you expect me to do?” Chris asks.  “You know what we’re talking about, choose a side,” Johnny tells him, wagging his finger and spitting out each word in his inimitable go-for-the-gold style.  Darden confesses to Johnny that “I hate this place” (the D.A.’s office) and wants to quit.  Johnny, of course, is playing him masterfully “The world needs more black men willing to make a difference,” Johnny oozes, causing Chris to bless him as his mentor.  Having pushed poor Darden into an obedient stance, Johnny reveals his “Plan B,” which means advising his client to sue the city.  Darden has been had.  And without so much as a handful of spit.

Everybody sees the foreshadowing here too, right?  Cochran, the wily showman, Darden the wan wannabe.

As Marcia chain smokes and expresses her disgust at O.J.’s abuse of Nicole over the years (“the LAPD and a famous guy,” she’s told, truthfully), the interrogation tape arrives.  O.J. speaks of buying flowers, for is daughter, sitting in hot tubs with Kato, charming the cops, but never pinning down times.  Marcia is outraged and keeps yelling at the tape.  She’s not wrong, but it’s a one-sided argument.  The tape never gets to argue back.  But Garcetti explains why the interrogation is so mishandled: the cops “are not used to grilling a star.  He’s the Juice.  He rushed 2000 years in one season.”  

“He got away with beating her, he’s not going to get away with killing her!” Marcia vows!

Dun, dun, dun, foreshadowing…

O.J. is incensed.  He feels like a criminal (get used to it, bucko), cursing and spitting in front of his fragile mother, Kato, St. Robert Kardashian, even Arnella, whose hot beverages must not be cutting it today.  In come A.C. Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) with some much-needed fast food.  “Who called?  Any of my friends called?” O.J. wants to know, but he has to drop that topic when the news shows him in handcuffs.  “Oh, now see, that pisses me off, the Juice in handcuffs, I was handcuffed for five seconds!” he howls.  I wonder if Nicole could pick five seconds of her situation that could possibly compare to the Juice in handcuffs.  St. Robert, level-headed and calm, wants to know why O.J.’s lawyer isn’t there.  “Aren’t you a lawyer?” he’s asked.  “Yes, but not criminal,” he replies.  Being a criminal lawyer would not allow him enough time to represent lepers, homeless and abused kittens pro bono like a proper saintly Los Angeles lawyer.

Steel yourself.  Wearing more make-up than a clown and for some reason playing him gayer than a Memorial Day no-pants party on Fire Island, John Travolta finally appears as Robert Shapiro.

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He’s at a posh lunch with his wife (Cheryl Ladd, who once had lead parts in miniseries), gloating and tossing out celebrity name to the delight of his lunch companions, such as…

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He’s interrupted by an “emergency phone call” at the restaurant (remember when people had to be tracked down?).  “Who is this?” Robert asks.  “It’s O.J. Simpson,” O.J. Simpson replies (hey, you’re telling the truth, good for you Juice!), in a robe at the head of his breakfast table, looking like a pee-wee Don Corleone.

(I can’t explain Travolta’s flamboyant acting style here.  Robert Shapiro comes off as a dandy, but not Edward Everett Horton!  And Travolta is an executive producer here, so he’s not being forced into it.  And, Shapiro is still alive!)

You think O.J. is angry, wait until Marcia Clark gets unwelcome news from Gil.  Because she’s such a hothead and “will be drowning in paperwork,” he’s decided that Bill Hodgman will be working the case with her.  She screws on a false smile and chirps, “nobody is more organized than Bill,” as Bill stares down at the floor, wishing he could be a taxidermist, atomic bomb tester or understudy at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater, ANYTHING but a target of Marcia’s fury.

“Nobody is more organized than Bill.”  Someday, that will be listed as his cause of death.

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Robert Shapiro tells O.J., with St. Robert there as well, “you can’t afford any more missteps.”  Is that a reference to bloody footprints or being interrogated by the police without his lawyer?  “You have got to stay ahead of events.  It’s the same thing I told Johnny Carson when I represented him,” Shapiro drawls, maddeningly dropping names (Johnny joins Willie Mays in the “thanks for inclusion, but no thanks” club).  To Shapiro’s claim that the D.A. will be “throwing all their resources” at this celebrity trial, St. Robert notes, “O.J. has a very good relationship with the cops. They come over for tennis sometimes, Saturday pool parties.”  For reasons that are anything but pure, Shapiro suggests St. Robert renew his criminal law license and join the team. “Absolutely, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for this man.  When Kris and I broke up, he was there every night,” St. Robert notes.  Shame the Juice wasn’t around when the fateful decision to marry Kris was made.

Shapiro tosses St. Robert out of the room to get serious with O.J.  After a bit of grandstanding, he wants to know if O.J. did it.  “No.  I loved her,” O.J. replies.  There isn’t enough make-up in a WeHo drag queen’s kit to hide the “oh, please, girl, peddle that sh*t elsewhere” thoughts on Shapiro’s face.

There is another case nagging at Marcia: divorce proceedings.  “I don’t have time for this,” she tells her lawyer, the second time she’s said that in this context in this episode.  “You filed on Thursday, you had to know…,” he starts to say before Marcia interrupts with a line so classic it deserves its own paragraph:

“I didn’t know O.J. Simpson was going to kill his wife on Sunday!”

That’s a horse of a different color.  I’m sure the family court judge will take that into account.

Johnny Cochran, according to this treatment, did not invent the race card.  I know, I know!  I’ll wait a moment while you recover from the shock.  Not yet involved in the case, he’s listening to talk radio on his way to make a TV appearance.  An angry guest is incensed that O.J. was “put in chains” (referring to the handcuffs) and that Jeffrey Dammer (“he ate people!”) was never handcuffed.  “The LAPD’s war against African Americans has got to be stopped,” the guest says.  “You done touched a nerve, you got the phone lines lit up,” the host replies, not doing anyone any grammatical favors.

Here is Johnny’s harangue to the make-up woman before his appearance: “Look, I ain’t been this popular since the riots.  Famous black man in trouble.  The TV shows go down the list…Jesse, Sharpton, me.”  “Are you on the case?” she asks?  “No, my plate is full!  I’m busy with a single mother, been shot nine times by the LAPD, nine times!  Typical, but it ain’t sexy, so they kick it to the back of the newspapers.”  Hearing that Bob Shapiro is heading up O.J.’s defense team, Johnny says, “he’s great if you smash your Rolls drunk on Mulholland.  He’s a plea bargain guy, he ain’t no litigator.”  She asks if he would join the legal team if asked.

“No, no.  I like to win and this case is a loser!”

Let’s say it together: foreshadowing.  I mean, COME ON!

Marcia and Bill interview witnesses, including the limo driver, who, for reasons unexplained, decided to call not only his boss, but his mother, when the guy he was supposed to pick up wasn’t on time.  The evidence is just piling up for he prosecution.  Marcia smokes packs and packs proudly, but that’s not good enough for her.  “Bill, I know that you know that I wanted this all for myself, but I’m glad we’re doing it together.  Okay?” she says, with the sincerity of Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother, and he nods graciously, if nervously.  We’ve already heard Bill’s cause of death, but with this corker, Marcia just make it clear she aims to hustle it up.

While O.J. is taking a lie detector test, St. Robert says to Shapiro, “I don’t think he’s holding up well. It’s like he’s not the Juice anymore.”  He cares.  Damn it, he cares.  When the test results of -24 come in, Shapiro has to explain to St. Robert, “it’s the worst you can do.”  “There’s no way he did it,” St. Robert keeps saying.  As for O.J., he explodes (again) upon hearing the results, and he has a set of handy excuses.

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "From the Ashes of Tragedy" Episode 101 (Airs Tuesday, February 2, 10:00 pm/ep) -- - Pictured: (l-r) John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

Opinions vary.  Some would say O.J. Simpson is the star of this series of events.  Some would say Marcia Clark.  Others Johnny Cochran, Bob Shapiro, St. Robert Kardashian, Kato, Darden, Nicole herself, but I guarantee there is one person whose opinion would differ and we are about to meet her.

It’s the day of Nicole Brown Simpson’s funeral.  The press has swamped the church and the limos are on parade.  The Brown family is there, even Nicole’s kids.  Also there is a Greek chorus in hats.

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” quoth the first.

“She was my personal angel. I wouldn’t have gone to rehab if it weren’t for her,” quoth the second.

“Khloe, Kourtney, stop running!” hisses the first.

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Yup, Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) is here, swapping catty remarks with Faye Resnick (Connie Britton).  Why the episode doesn’t end here, I have no idea.  It’s all going to be downhill once we meet the star, not to mention, two of her progeny.

“Do you…do you…think he did it?” Kris asks.

“Oh, Kris, she was terrified of him.  I just wish we’d done something,” Faye answers dramatically.

“It was always right in front of us, he always had that temper. He’d be smiling and then she’d mention some guy and he’d start screaming,” Kris whispers, trying to top Faye’s dramatics.

“Did you see the pictures of her face after he laid into her?  And you know she hid them away, just in case something happened,” Faye replies, the sound of the crowds announcing a big arrival, shushing these head mourners.

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The big arrival is a limo, hopefully insured for $6 billion given the cargo, with St. Robert, Bob Shapiro and O.J. himself.  “Let me handle this,” Shapiro tells the Juice, pushing him back into the limo.

(Meanwhile, St. Robert heads into the church.  “There’s your ex,” Faye says with a twinkle, as Kris puts on her best sympathetic face to look appropriately teary as St. Robert grabs her hand and silently walks on.)

“Please, no pictures!” Shapiro insists.

“Who the hell brings their lawyer to a funeral?” a snippy paparazzo asks.  In a slow motion take, O.J. gets out of the limo, looks left, looks right, with the tiniest of facial movement about to turn into perhaps a proud smile, but Shapiro guides him into the church.  Past Kris and Faye, past A.C., past Kato, past Donner and Blixen and Cupid, past St. Robert, the Brown and his own kids, O.J. strides up to the coffin.  “He came, he has no shame,” spits Denise Brown (Jordana Brewster).  O.J. kisses Nicole’s forehead and stands, head cocked in sympathy, as the camera slowly pans back to show this lone figure at a coffin surrounding by increasingly massive bouquets of bright flowers.

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Now THAT is the kind of howler scene that does the American Miniseries proud.  Giant emotion, giant cast, giant treatment, giant hats.  The only thing missing is Jane Seymour.

It’s late and Marcia cuts a phone conversation with her kids short when Van Atter and Lange show up at her office.  The blood and DNA from the Bronco and the glove match Simpson’s.

The next morning, Simpson has to turn himself in.  However, Bob Shapiro wants control of it.  “No perp walk,” he insists over the phone to Garcetti.  He’ll bring Simpson by at noon.  “Why do you need three and a half hours to get here from Brentwood?” Garretti asks, compromising to 11:00.

“You have my word and my word is gold,” Shapiro assures him.  “Your word is gold?” Mrs. Shapiro asks, all but laughing.  Bob tells her it’s bad news, that the D.A. is jailing Simpson until a verdict is rendered.  Also, O.J. isn’t quite at Rockingham.  He’s at “the hideout.”

That would be the Encino home of St. Robert Kardashian (where no one in this story would dream of going).  “He’s sedated, he was really upset after the funeral,” St. Robert tells Shapiro, once again showing that he cares.  Damn it, he cares.  O.J. is in bed with Paula (Angie Patterson) in a room covered with posters of Joey Lawrence (“whoa!”) and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (“oh, no!”) when Bob Shapiro gives him the bad news of his impending arrest.  “This may be he the last time we get to speak without anybody listening, so if you have anything to say, I’ll clear the room,” efficient Bob offer (which would mean chucking out Paula and St. Robert).

The doorbell rings, it’s “just friends” as Shapiro refers to them when O.J. panics.  As people hired by Bob (“the best defense money can buy) go over O.J.’s body and look for sign of illness or trauma, Paula says, “he looks so sad, can’t he lie down?”  Thanks, Paula, you have about 27 seconds left on your 15-minute clock, glad you got a line in.

St. Robert is confused about all the doctors, but finally catches on when Bob says it’s just protection should they need a “diminished capacity” defense.  “Plead guilty?” St. Robert asks, stunned, wearing the same dumb look on his face since first we saw him.

Meanwhile, Van Atter and Lange are waiting for O.J.’s arrival, realizing they have been conned.  “Are you in your car?” Lange asks Bob when he calls.  “Well, almost,” Shapiro replies.  “We have a press conference scheduled for 12, Marcia’s going to blow a gasket,” Lange yells and hangs up.

Marcia is unaware of the lateness as she’s busy grilling Kato in a Grand Jury Hearing.  Well, not exactly grilling him since he pleads the Fifth with every question she asks.  “You are a witness and not a suspect, so you do not have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment,” Marcia reminds him (and those of us not up on the law, including the judge, who has let it go on), but before another question can be posed, Bill sneaks in and gives her the bad news, that O.J. hasn’t shown up yet.

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In fact, he’s still in Encino, scribbling notes in a bathrobe.  “We gotta get you dressed, Juice,” St. Robert pleads with him.  “Call up the Browns…let them know I want them to be the guardians of my children,” O.J. replies.  Simpson has been busy, he’s written a will, a letter to his mother, a letter to his kids and, natch, one to his fans.  He pulls out a gun, telling St. Robert, “it’s easier for everybody.”  If anyone can take him down from the precipice, it’s St. Robert.

Marcia is hopping mad, berating Shapiro, who says O.J. is with doctors because he’s depressed.  “Yeah, well, he should be depressed.  He killed two people. He’s going to prison, now what is your location?” she barks.

O.J., gun at his head, dashes upstairs, St. Robert trailing him and then begging him with a line that became a classic the minute it was uttered and will very likely be one of he most defining quotes of this entire miniseries.

Ready?

You sure?

“O.J., come on, please, do not kill yourself in Kimmy’s bedroom.”

You wondered at the funeral why Kris only mentioned Khloe and Courtney, right?  Now you know why.  Kim needed a mention all to herself.  Yes, folks, those were her Joey Lawrence and Jonathan Taylor Thomas posters over her bed in her room where O.J. and Paula were slumbering.

“We all love you.  Your kids love you.  God loves you!” St. Robert begs O.J.

A.C. shows up, enough of a distraction that St. Robert can have Paula wait with O.J. while he and A.C. figure something out.  He tells A.C. that O.J. is “suicidal.”  Only Bob Shapiro is not horrified by that pronouncement.  When the fuzz shows up, Shapiro calm greets them, sending St. Robert up to get him.  As the seconds tick buy, Shapiro vamps, “are you gentlemen familiar with Chief Williams?  He’s a good friend.”  “No, sir.  We just need Mr. Simpson,” Cop #1 replies.

“He’s not there.” St. Robert says, returning without O.J.

“He’s gone?  Let’s find him, come on!” Shapiro screams as he bolts up the steps, checking every door with the cops.  St. Robert find Paula crying in Kimmy’s bedroom.  “He went out back,” she says and St. Robert sees the Bronco is “gone.”

“Oh, God.  We’re going to look like morons,” Marcia says witheringly when Garcetti gets the news.

Morons

A white Ford Bronco is seen speeding down the 405.

Categories: Historical Miniseries

2 Comments to “FLASH FORWARD: The People v. O.J. Simpson Episode 1: From the Ashes of Tragedy”

  1. arklatexan 22 March 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    Re: calling it a series

    The creators hope to do the same thing that the creators of AMERICAN CRIME and AMERICAN HORROR STORY have done, which is to have the same genre of programming (horror, for example) and some of the same actors from season to season. They will simply pick another sensational crime/trial for the next season.

    • Bj Kirschner 26 March 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      Yes, I noted that in the first paragraphs, but with the question of how in the world any season can top this one.

      First, it cannot be compared to “American Horror Story” because the O.J. Simpson trial is real, the seasons devoted to horror are not, they simply bring together all of the fictive elements associated with the subgenres. They have to stick to real trials for the series. I’m sure the debated whether to use the case as is or to fictionalize it by changing the names and details, but they made a choice to use a real trial and now they are boxed in by that choice, which leads to the second problem.

      The O.J. Simpson trial is the most famous and well-known trial in the history of the United States (and it’s well-known outside the US as well, but the series include only US trials). No other trial , and we can go from Stanford White/Harry Thaw/Evelyn Nesbitt to the Ronsenbergs to Charles Manson to the Scarsdale Diet Doctor, all astounding trials (Manson and Jean have already been miniseries, of course) and none of them have the same impact of the O.J. Simpson trial. It was sheer lunacy from beginning to end and that’s why it gripped the nation. It’s also a trial memorized by the entire nation (and presumably outside, but the series is “American Crime Story”), every detail remembered after 20+ years.

      I hope they do find a way around it, so we’ll see what happens. They went right to the top in choosing this trial, so the only way they can go now is down in terms of notoriety.


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