The second episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story went deep on the iconic white Bronco chase and ended with O.J. in handcuffs. It’s now officially lawyer time. And the third episode delivered just that, with the prosecution and defense both starting to form their theory of the case, as well as picking up new members like a rolling snowball. But the episode gave us much, much more than just that. Like, for example, Larry King in a wig. There’s a lot to get to, is my point. Let’s begin.
1) The episode was titled “The Dream Team,” a reference to the media’s nickname for the defense team that O.J. Simpson assembled for the trial, and it was largely about that process of assembly. Shapiro’s first call was to legendary trial attorney F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), who made his name defending Sam Sheppard in the case that would later inspire both TV and film versions of The Fugitive, the latter of which came out in 1993, hence Travolta’s line, “We all saw the movie.” After that they brought in Alan Dershowitz, a brilliant legal scholar and defense attorney who became a professor at Harvard Law School at age 28. And most notably, they brought in Johnnie Cochran.
This was also the first episode where we saw the defense start to land a few blows. The first two episodes were about Shapiro kind of swimming in a furious attempt to keep his head above water, especially with the train-wreck of a press conference. Now they’re pushing back with the Fuhrman thing, and the New Yorker article, and the first inklings of their trial strategy becoming clear. This is where things really get cracking.
2) It was interesting to see how the show depicted Johnnie Cochran getting looped into the case. It was basically a two-pronged attack: One, from Shapiro and Bailey, who realized that they might need a more “downtown” member of the team if they wanted to put forward their theory of a racially biased LAPD railroading O.J. And two, from an increasing sense of internal pressure, first as he saw Shapiro butchering that press conference, and then as his media appearances starting turning from impartial analysis to borderline advocacy. Cochran’s in now, thanks to his meeting with O.J. in jail, so all that’s left it to wait and see how long it takes him to nudge Shapiro out of the lead, assurances be damned.
Oh, and for the love of God, screen the damn calls, Diane! Geez!
3) Bless this show, forever and always, because despite casting every other real-life role with an actor, when it came time to cast 1994 Larry King for the scene where Shapiro and Bailey are watching Dershowitz on CNN, I think they just decided to put a wig on 2016 Larry King and roll with it.
I wish they had done the same thing with Kato Kaelin.