A few thoughts on tonight's The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story coming up just as soon as I don't have a Father's Day reservation…
Celebrity is one of the key subjects of The People V. O.J. as a whole, and particularly of “The Dream Team.” The hour gives us Robert Kardashian's lecture about the hollowness of fame falling on his children's deaf ears. It gives us Kato experiencing the upside and downside of fame in under a minute. And it gives us Gil Garcetti's proclamation that “a star is born” after Marcia Clark's first major press conference about the case. Mainly, though, the hour is concerned with the growing number of celebrity attorneys who will be mounting O.J.'s very expensive defense.
Robert Shapiro, who specialized in plea bargains, came to realize that he needed a lot of help (even if he was the first one to put the idea out there that racial bias was a key factor in the case), and help came running, including F. Lee Bailey (played here by Nathan Lane, and most famous for defending Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was the inspiration for Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive), Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler, unrecognizable under a wig), DNA specialist Barry Scheck (Rob Morrow) and, of course, Johnnie Cochran, whom we met near the start of the series.
It's the arrival of Cochran that's the big one, for both the defense and for the miniseries. Everyone who watched the trial back then knows what a huge role Cochran would ultimately play, and those who have seen these three hours of TV can already tell that Courtney B. Vance is doing something very different – more natural, more nuanced, and much more charismatic – than whatever it is John Travolta is attempting as Shapiro. This show is very lucky to have him, and he's just getting started.
What did everybody think of the Dream Team's assemblage? Did the Kardashian family meal strike a chord, or seem like another instance of shoehorning in Kim, Khloe, et al?