Reviews: The People vs. O.J. Simpson - American Crime Story - Episode 1 - From The Ashes of Tragedy

We're a day behind on our review of the first episode. So what? Murder us. 

Ever seen Snow Dogs? It's my
finest work!!! Show me the money!
The '90s were a tumultuous time defined by a multitude of huge legal cases surrounding race and color. From the Rodney King beatings to the connected L.A. riots to the Malice Green death to the major legal case of the People vs. O.J. Simpson, the decade is an unforgettable one in which things were changing at a rapid pace. Known as the grunge rock period and gangster rap era, society was changing for the better and worse. Through the first episode of American Crime Story, it's easy to see that Ryan Murphy and his crew are in prime form after some disappointing seasons of American Horror Story. Bringing back his more dramatic, character driven flair, part one is a rousing statement that captures the essence of the attorneys, the abnormal behavior of one Orenthal James Simpson, and the surreal "friends" that he associated with on a daily basis. 

If you were there in the '90s experiencing the outlandish case and the brutality of the murders, From the Ashes of Tragedy renders a highly realistic presentation of how the whole thing began. Reproducing the events that triggered the case, the show doesn't hesitate to present a cold, hard look at the real life characters, their flaws, and their obvious ambitions. With some spot on casting and excellent looking makeup, American Crime Story is a looking glass through time that only stumbles in its casting of Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J..Though Gooding's performance isn't the problem. It's that he looks nothing like Simpson while everyone around him is a nearly spitting image of their real life counterparts. I know. You can't have your cake and eat it too....unless you're wearing gloves. Honestly, hopes are high that his role here might throw him back into the spotlight as a serious actor. 

I really hope this thing Pulp Fictions
my career. These direct to DVD things
are killing my mojo. 
The rest of the cast is rounded out by a wrecking crew of top level actors. John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, Bruce Greenwood, Courtney B. Vance, David Schwimmer are all in prime form taking on roles that we'd never imagine seeing them in. And Travolta hasn't done television in decades. Doing American Crime Story may revitalize his once again sagging career as David Schwimmer brings his most dumbfounded look as best friend, Robert Kardashian. Each of these actors create a dramatized version of the real life people they're representing, but none of them play it up too much for the camera. Other than some of Gooding's noticeable acting flaws, this first episode was simply killer (pun fully intended). 

Typically, we stick with genre type television reviews. In the case of American Crime Story, I thought it would be an interesting spin on what we do. Being a long time Nip/Tuck fan of the highest order, it's nice to see the Murphy crew sidestepping AHS for something that returns him to his roots. Surely, some of this will be hyper stylized and will fall under the category of nighttime soap opera infused with Murphy-esque melodrama topped off with a major dose of reality. No matter what, they're onto something here. With How To Make A Murderer still on everyone's minds and the sudden interest in all things '90s, The People vs. O.J. Simpson is an episodic piece of American history that must be seen. 

If this is a success, there is an endless slew of American crime stories for them to choose from. From the Robert Blake case to JonBenet Ramsey all the way back to The Black Dahlia, Murphy has once again perfected his artform and has direction.

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