After watching Fred Goldman and his daughter Kim this morning on “Today” reveal the pain caused them by the FX series “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” I feel just a little guilty about my feelings concerning tonight’s episode and the two after that.
The episodes are as strong or even stronger than the first six episodes made available to critics before the series began six weeks ago .
And that is saying something.
I wasn’t so sure that was going to be the case since it took FX weeks to allow critics to preview episodes seven through nine.
The delay made me think that the episodes about the 1995 Trial of the Century, in which Simpson was eventually acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman, might fall down in quality.
That’s hardly the case. The riveting seventh episode at 10 tonight deals with the drama behind prosecutor Christopher Darden’s blunder to ask Simpson to try on the bloody glove found at his house on the night of the murders even though lead prosecutor Marcia Clark told Darden not to do it.
Next Tuesday’s episode focuses on the frustrations of the jurors who had been sequestered for almost nine months, and the overwhelming DNA evidence against Simpson that even appears to have caused Robert Kardashian to accept that his friend may have had a 1 in 170 million chance of being innocent.
Those two episodes highlight the acting of Sterling K. Brown as Darden, Sarah Paulson as Clark and David Schwimmer as Kardashian.
But it is the series’ penultimate episode on March 29 that is the best of the trio. It deals with the so-called “Fuhrman Tapes” that capture Detective Mark Fuhrman, who found the bloody glove, repeatedly utter the racial epithet to a screenwriter that he had earlier denied saying on the witness stand.
The tapes, which the screenwriter planned to use for a script she might write, also included Fuhrman’s insults about the wife of Judge Lance Ito and that led to the possibility of a mistrial.
If you see one episode of this series, make sure it is episode nine on March 29, which also deals with the hostility between Simpson lawyers Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) and Robert Shapiro (John Travolta).
There also is some tough dialogue between the prosecutors, Darden and Clark, before they apologize to each other.
Taken together, the three episodes highlighting the prosecution mistakes and the defense’s ability to play the race card make the verdict more understandable than it was when there was a racial divide over it two decades ago.
But back to “Today” this morning.
The complaints of Fred Goldman and his daughter, who are appearing on The Steve Harvey Show” this afternoon to air them, are understandable and legitimate. As Fred Goldman noted, the series does focus on the lawyers and barely addresses the victims. But I’m not so sure Goldman is correct in saying that a whole generation of young viewers might view the series as “gospel” rather than as a docudrama.
Many young viewers have seen so many docudramas by now that they understand liberties are taken in historical pieces. This series is so riveting that the younger viewers who knew nothing of the Simpson trial might even do a little research about it to see how far the series stretches the truth.
The series certainly follows the blueprint laid out by the book it is based on, Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 bestseller, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
This isn’t to say it doesn’t invent the dialogue and take some other liberties for entertainment sake.
“This is confusing to us, this is not entertainment,” Ron Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman, said this morning on “Today.”
That is a perfectly understandable view for them even if millions of Americans every week obviously think otherwise.
Natalie Morales, who narrated the “Today” story on the complaints of the Goldmans and house guest Kato Kaelin, ended it by saying that the series is a “fascinating retelling” of the case. “It is still a TV series so there a lot of liberties,” she added.
“Imagine it’s your family they are talking about,” added “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie.
It was a nice way to say that it is easy to relate to the Goldmans’ complaints.
But it isn’t going to stop people from watching something they find entertaining even if it may make some viewers feel a little guilty about it.