• lhalan8 February 2016
    7/10
    Fantastic Casting--exception: OJ!
    This series is riveting, well directed, fast-paced and informative. The casting is marvelous with one little exception: OJ Simpson!! Cuba Gooding is a fantastic actor, but he completely fails to portray OJ Simpsons incredible charm and charisma that actually enabled him to sliver through years of abusive behavior and the cold-blooded double murder. Gooding is reactive and unsophisticated, while the cocksure Simpson is just missing. This is an incredible failure of casting where the remaining characters are spot on and compelling. Why not Dwayne Johnson or someone with the physical charisma and cool? Travolta deserves great kudos for taking this on, but one has to wonder why he allowed the utter miscasting of the major role. At any rate, this is a worthwhile series to watch and it surely is award-rich.
  • david-m-b953 February 2016
    10/10
    Evocative and Powerful
    The case of O.J. Simpson is one that received wide scale media coverage and attention with the events being closely followed by many and is now the topic of season 1 of FX's new biographical crime drama, American Crime Story. However despite this, this show manages to remain just as gripping and haunting as the case was in real life.

    The acting is across the board incredibly strong with not a weak performance among the main ensemble; Cuba Gooding Jr. and John Travolta in particular stand out. The writing is sharp, never is it overly formulaic or mundane but understandable and real, tension is built tremendously from the dialogue alone. But above all the direction is excellent, the tone is established straight from the beginning and it is crafted to such a high quality.

    There is rarely a dull or wasted moment throughout, the story and pacing remains tight with no parts lacking in comparison to the soaring heights. The show, as said in the title of this review, is both evocative and powerful. The some of it's parts truly do this story justice and will more than likely stir something within you that compels you to keep watching and to examine this story in much more detail. As far as crime dramas go, this feels, to a certain extent, rather fresh and different in comparison to what has come before.

    The show looks set to keep reaching new heights and it is off a magnificent start.
  • phd_travel3 February 2016
    10/10
    Hooked!
    At first I thought who needs to see all this again but once I started watching it I was hooked. The pilot moves quickly from discovery of the bodies (and they are shown) to fleeing down the highway in the Bronco. There are so many details and people that come flooding back and it's interesting to see things put together in a quick moving episode. Lots of details are included that you won't have pictured in your mind at the time because they didn't come out all at the same time in sequence. With race, money, abuse, celebrity it's still the crime of the 20th century.

    The A list cast is hit and miss. Cuba Gooding is an enthusiastic actor but too small in size to play OJ. He looks shorter than the other male actors around him. Should have chosen someone more physically imposing. Sarah Paulson looks enough like Marcia Clark with the wig. Surprisingly David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian looks like him if you check out photos. John Travolta as Shapiro has some strange eyebrows but he is fascinating to watch. Selma Blair as Kris Kardashian is also a good fit. Connie Britton looks a bit too healthy to be Faye Resnick but these are all people you like to see on screen. The link with the Kardashians is quite interesting to watch.

    Well done and very voyeuristic and entertaining.
  • Charles Herold (cherold)4 July 2016
    8/10
    Fascinating story with a serious casting mistake
    When I read the critic's reviews of this fascinating portrayal of the trial of OJ Simpson, the most common complaint was John Travolta's performance. So I was expecting to find it a bad, cheesy performance and everyone else to be great.

    Instead, I thought Travolta did an excellent job as a supercilious attorney who finds himself increasingly outside his own case. True, Travolta has had so much plastic surgery that he looks like he was sewn together by a dollmaker, but his performance is, while not as notable as the really terrific performances by Nathan Lane and, more surprisingly, David Schwimmer, it's a solid performance.

    The truly awful performance is by Cuba Gooding as O.J.

    When I watched the movie, I thought Gooding seemed wrong based on my vague memories of O.J. I'm not a sports fan, I didn't follow the trial, which at the time I thought of as just another lurid celebrity crime, and I'd only seen Simpson in a small part in a movie years ago. I thought Gooding's whiny, unpleasant, crybaby performance seemed untrue to that memory, but I couldn't be sure.

    Then I watched the terrific documentary series. O.J., Made in America, and I realized that Gooding was really horrible. He lacked O.J.'s famous charm, and instead came across as ineffectual where the documentary portrays O.J. as a strong force in his own defense.

    If you've never seen Simpson at all, perhaps the performance would seem fine, but it's an absolutely wretched performance from the point of view of verisimilitude. It's easily the biggest flaw in an otherwise gripping portrayal.

    Why the critics didn't notice that I can't say.
  • michaeljtrubic4 March 2016
    9/10
    FX is getting really good at making TV shows
    This is just excellent.

    First rate productions are the best way to attract a first rate cast. Excellent writing of course, brilliant dialogue as well as character design. Another reviewer said that it was better than the real thing - it is. I remember absolutely hating Marcia Clarke and here she is very well played and not overly done. She is very watchable - in real life I had to turn her off very often.

    The actors Kenneth Choi and Mr. Courteny B Vance have roles of a lifetime and they are running with them. The intricacies of Judge Ito and the boundless energy and passion of Johnnie Cochran are captivating and very well casted.

    Particularly informative is interactions between the lawyers on both sides. It is well paced and focused, it flows cleanly from one scene to another. I wish more programming could flow from FX.
  • blanche-27 February 2016
    9/10
    Excellent look at a huge murder case
    Warning: Spoilers
    The People v. O.J. Simpson is a look at the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, for which O.J. Simpson was found not guilty.

    For those of us who lived through every second of it, it brings back a lot of memories -- the Bronco chase, Mark Fuhrman, the verdict, and everything else in between.

    If you are too young to remember, the O.J. trial took over the airwaves for months. It also dominated news and talk shows.

    This is the story of the case, but also some behind the scenes drama. I'm assuming some of that is at least partially true.

    David Schwimmer plays Robert Kardashian. Kardashian was on O.J.'s dream team for support -- thanks to the prominence of his family today, I imagine he'll be front and center. His ex-wife and children are, and I don't remember them being mentioned originally.

    Kardashian finally decided O.J. was guilty and stopped speaking to him, even refusing to talk to O.J. when he was on his deathbed.

    Courtney Vance sounds just like Johnnie Cochran, a brilliant attorney who was responsible for getting O.J. found "not guilty" by distracting the jury and changing the trial to one about racism. Of course, that opportunity was handed to him by Mark Fuhrman. Before Fuhrman testified, Cochran approached Chris Darden and said, "Chris, don't put that white boy on the stand." They did, and there went their case.

    Don't ask me what John Travolta is doing. Normally he's an excellent actor. Sarah Paulson does a terrific job as Marcia Clark. Kenneth Choi is so much like Judge Ito it's scary. The casting is astonishing. You feel as if you are watching the actual people.

    Bruce Greenwood is Gil Garcetti. When we were watching all this take place 20 years ago, this was a perfect role for Clint Eastwood.

    There is one part where the casting seemed wrong - Cuba Gooding as O.J. He is a good actor, but unlike the rest of the cast, he does not really embody the character. O.J. is handsome and charismatic, not to mention a bigger man in stature.

    Billy Magnusson is good as Kato. Kato got 15 minutes of fame out of the trial and milked it.

    Some of what takes place in the film isn't quite correct, as I recall it anyway. No one called O.J. and said, "your wife Nicole has been killed." I remember that as being a big part of my belief that he was guilty. He was called and told, "Your ex-wife has been killed." Well, he had two, but somehow, he knew it was Nicole right away. As far as him asking how she was killed, he probably didn't.

    In the beginning, the prosecution seemed to have O.J. dead to rights, with his blood on the sidewalk and the gloves showing a mix of his and the victims' DNA. But they were undergunned. And frankly, the charisma of Johnnie Cochran was overpowering. I think a lot of the jury was mesmerized by him. Chris Darden, on the other side, went to his funeral. A powerful adversary you couldn't help but admire.

    Barry Schenk's complete ruination of Dennis Fong is considered one of the great all-time cross-examinations - here it was truncated but still powerful.This was the beginning of Schenk's Innocence Project, which has, through DNA evidence, been able to get twenty innocent people released from prison. Unfortunately it couldn't get O.J. in prison. Too new back then, I guess. But the verdict went beyond the DNA, if what went on in the jury room is to be believed. Four hours of deliberation? And why did the people who believed him guilty cave so quickly? It seems like everyone wanted to go home.

    In the end, this trial was a big waste. Johnnie Cochran put the LAPD on trial, and as Chris Darden tells him, "They're still going to beat us, arrest us, harass us." History has proved him correct. There were people on the jury who had no intention of voting for O.J.'s guilt.

    So other than reality shows for Faye Resnick, Kato, and Kris Jenner, a huge book deal for Marcia Clark, franchised offices for Robert Shapiro, private practice for Chris Darden (once he recovered from a near-nervous breakdown), a brain tumor for Johnnie Cochran, and more golf games for O.J., what was accomplished for Nicole and Ron Goldman?

    The last half hour or so of the final episode has some of the most stunning moments on television, particularly the very end. Very emotional and thought-provoking.

    I was surprised to read that some younger people had no idea O.J. played football. I don't know why I should be surprised. There are people on this site who think Gandhi was a fictional character.

    Whether or not you're familiar with the case, the series will prove fascinating.
  • Robert J. Maxwell6 April 2016
    6/10
    Miscarriage.
    This is based on Jeffrey Toobin's account, "The Run Of His Life," about the murder trial of the African-American O. J. Simpson and the events leading up to it. But this film diverges from the mostly legal and characterological view that Toobin took at the time. It adds some things, intimate conversations, solitary acts, some of them certainly fabricated, and eliminates some of Toobin's more cynical observations.

    In plain English, what appears to have happened is this. Simpson, an award-winning football player, admired and befriended by the Los Angeles Police Department, had a history of brutalizing his wife, the white Nicole.

    One night, a dog-walker discovered the mutilated bodies of Nicol Simpson and a stranger who had happened on the scene. The police had no particular difficulty in building the case against O. J. Simposon, based on physical evidence. A earlier recorded 911 call from Nicole, while Simpson shouted threats in the background, was found. A blood trail led to Simpson's home in another part of L.A. DNA evidence was stacked against him -- his blood mixed with Nicole's was found on a pair of socks in Simpson's bedroom. A similar DNA mix was found on one glove at the murder scene and another glove on Simpson's residence. Simpson was seen by a witness speeding his white Bronco on the shortest route between the murder scene and his own house.

    The physical evidence was conclusive. Or rather, conclusive to everyone except the jury, who heeded Defense Counsel Johnny Cochran's plea to "send a message to the police" by acquitting O. J. Simpson, which they did.

    The trial was covered comprehensively by the manic media. To me, the most disheartening scene was a clip of law students at Howard University, a traditionally black school, when the verdict of not guilty was announced. The students leaped for joy, cheering and hugging each other. And these were law students.

    As for the film itself, it's pretty well done with a couple of exceptions. Much time is given over to David Schwimmer, as Bob Kardashian, the lawyer who was a close friend of Simpson's. He always referred reverently to him as "the Juice." But, in a way, Kardashian's role in the narrative may be small but he is a fulcrum point on which the moral message turns. As the evidence accumulates, even Kardashian, the most loyal of lawyers and the oldest of friends, realizes that Simpson is a shallow man and a murderer.

    As Johnny Cochran, the ever smooth Courtney Vance is phenomenal. He sees from the beginning that the trial is about race, even though Simpson had long ago lost touch with the black community. "I'm here to win," he announces with a grin. Stephen Brown as the thoughtful and sensitive Chris Darden is almost as good. Unfortunately he proved not such a hot lawyer, what with the spontaneous glove business. The film suggests that Clark was open to a closer relationship with Darden. I wonder where that information came from.

    Sarah Paulsen pulls off her role as the uber-confident Marcia Clark convincingly. When things go awry, it's touching to see her alone at night, puffing on a cigarette in her back yard because her children are inside the house and -- you know, second hand smoke? One whiff and your growth is forever stunted. And, as we learn, she truly loved her kids. Kenneth Choi looks and sounds so much like Judge Lance Ito that I had the eerie feeling that it WAS Ito performing under a nom de cinema.

    In the minus column is Cuba Gooding as O. J. His inability to fill the role wouldn't be so noticeable if we weren't already familiar with the original. Simpson had a fluid baritone voice. He was tall, built like a football player, an unpretentious but impressive persona. Gooding has a good physical presence but he's of normal height and his voice squeaks.

    John Travolta is amusing as Robert Shapiro, who began as lead lawyer but, being a white man, was sent to the bench and replaced by the somewhat darker and more slithery Johnny Cochran. Travolta plays Shapiro with his chin stuck out and his nose in the air and a superior tone of voice. It's a parody of a high-end lawyer, but then Shapiro wasn't too distant from Travolta's vision.

    Too bad for L.A., too bad for the prosecutor, too bad for America, that the racial divide that was pointed out long ago by visitors like Alexis de Toqueville and Gunnar Myrdal seems to be almost as stark now as it was then. Simpson wound up in jail anyway for a different offense. He'll be eligible for parole next year.
  • amplexuslotus19 March 2016
    9/10
    Terrific True Crime - Courtroom Drama
    Sarah Paulsen (Clark), Sterling Brown (Darden) and Courtney Vance (Cochran) are absolute stand-outs in this excellent TV series. Great writing and terrific acting. The one criticism I have is Cuba Gooding, Jr, although a wonderful actor, doesn't have the physicality required to convincingly portray O.J. Simpson. Other than that poor judgment in casting, excellent direction and production make this a series worth watching. Even if you believe you know everything about the case, you'll gain a deeper sense of the sorrow the families (and still are) lived through. And a greater respect for the district attorneys, who by no fault of their own, found themselves under the microscope while working inside a circus ring. Like Nicole and Ron - the LA District Attorney never had a chance.
  • Alex A4 February 2016
    10/10
    Brilliant
    This show is brilliant.

    I just finished watching the premiere, and I am blown away by its sophistication and complexity. Ryan Murphy is a masterful director. He has succeeded, so far, in handling the varying issues of the case with sympathy and truth. The show captures the complete essence of 1990's and has a very professional look and feel.

    The racial tensions at the time, blended with the austerity of the case, OJ's celebrity, the naiveté of the prosecution, and the madness of the media, are all captured here. The actors are at the top of their game. Sarah Paulson embodies Marcia Clark. She is overworked, ambitious, idealistic, and unaware of what she is up against. I envision a future Emmy nomination for Paulson. Her portrayal is spot on, and allows the viewer to empathize with Clark- who was unfairly portrayed by the media at the time. Cuba Gooding Jr. and John Travolta are all standouts here as well.

    Some of the message boards have criticized Selma Blair's acting. I, however, think she has done a great job of capturing the vanity and nuance of Kris Jenner. In the short airtime she has in episode one, I think she has done a great job of playing a flawed and well known figure. I cannot wait to see how the show will deal with Faye Resnick, Detective Mark Fuhrman, and the rest of the key players in the case, and in the media.

    For now, I am hooked. This is a definite must watch.
  • Billy Jason18 February 2016
    1/10
    Absolutely horrible
    Warning: Spoilers
    Conceptually, it fails because when you have the most documented and talked about crime in American history, reenacting it cannot contain drama since there cannot be any surprises unless you contain new information or a biased slant. This show does neither. JFK the movie, for example, worked because it incorporated all the conspiracy theories into one coherent movie, it was a unique statement on an overexposed part of our history. The People v. O.J. Simpson, contains almost nothing that hasn't been repeated ad nauseam for decades.

    The script is lifeless. Even the best actors can't infuse life into it and there are some great actors trying desperately to give the script CPR and looking ridiculous in the process. David Schwimmer is mesmerizingly bad. It is like watching a comedian die on stage and while you are cringing and feel pity for him, it is hard not to watch him implode. In a bad show, the quality plummets instantly the second he says a line. He's not a dramatic actor. It's Ross being comedically bad at acting. Cuba Gooding Jr is a decent actor trying too hard to raise the quality of the show by himself. No lead could make a show with such a huge cast good by himself, and Cuba's acting looks contrived and unconvincing as OJ, somewhat because physically he is so miscast. OJ's presence was partly due to the way he looked, he was a big man with perfectly chiseled looks, Cuba can't fill his shoes. The repeated cutaways to the Kardashians is a desperate and tacky way to stay topical that always is a sharp break from the narrative.
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