Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee, Nip/Tuck) has made waves in television over the last decade by giving a fresh face lift to what was once the syndicated, poor man's version of film. Murphy is one of the leading innovators in making prime-time glisten again.
And on Wednesday evening, Ryan Murphy's highly anticipated new anthology series American Crime Story premiered to a riveted audience. The People v O.J. Simpson took no time to break, the pilot episode picking up right on the night of June 12th, 1994 in Brentwood, California, the night of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman's murders.
I will leave it to Entertainment Weekly and Variety to give you the play-by-play synopsis of "From The Ashes of Tragedy", but there were a few things that stuck out, which you should keep an eye out for over the course of the series.
The long sweeping camera shots brought a reality to the story that needed to be felt. From gliding down the driveway of Simpson's Brentwood mansion to slowly panning up the brick path where her body lay strewn to that final sweeping shot of the white Bronco careening down Interstate 710, the cinematography has been nothing short of raw and authentic. Nelson Cragg, who has worked on Breaking Bad, Homeland, & Halt and Catch Fire, has done an outstanding job with this project and I expect to be further impressed with each new episode.
One thing that never fails in Ryan Murphy's work is the music. From Glee to American Horror Story, he has a way of eliciting every emotion from you through song and score. With The People v. O.J., we are hit with an intense amount of grief and heaviness that weighs us down a little bit more with each scene. The pilot episode was perfectly tied up with Nina Simone's "I Shall Be Released" playing as you see the notorious white Bronco disappear on the highway.
The A-List Cast
I was initially going to point out Sarah Paulson and her performance as Marcia Clark, yet as the episode went on, I was blown away by each and every one of the performances. Cuba Gooding Jr gives a cringe-worthy performance as O.J. (Juice) Simpson. The scene where he stands over Nicole's casket at the funeral? Chills. David Schwimmer, Selma Blair, and Connie Britton all perfectly exceeded my expectations, while Courtney B. Vance was a slimey, smooth-talking Cochran. It was frightening just how much John Travolta's face scared me half to death, yet his performance was on point as Robert Shapiro.
Without a doubt, Murphy has done it again. American Crime Story is going to be nothing short of brilliant this season and with nine episodes left, America should expect the Trial of the Century, which we have all come to know over the last two decades, to be revealed in a new, chilling, and haunting way.