The People v. O.J. Simpson: A Jury in Jail

"Who votes Martin?"

Another world heard from, 'A Jury in Jail' gives this show further depth as it examines unprecedented levels of jury fatigue and ennui within the 12 jurors and 12 alternates of the O.J. trial. In the end, 10 of the 24 were dismissed for personal conflicts, criminal conflicts or misconduct. As ever, these dramas are executed in the style we have come to love.

There's a good deal of remix and condensing in this episode of how things really went down with the jury and, honestly, it's handled with mastery because even the chapter in Toobin's exquisite book is a hard read for all the incredibly convoluted details to this aspect of the trial. Shown here, we see a well-drawn spectrum of the issues the jury had to deal with, from the sheer length of their commitment (the longest in history) to the racial divide that's now well-documented. As was the whole trial, there were multiple scenarios where the jury were forced through uncharted territory. Not a surprise that the result was the phrase Dominick Dunne revealed on Larry King Live, "Juror revolt." By all accounts, being on this jury was like a very very bad summer camp. Made worse, no doubt, by the extremely emotional aspects of the case.

Worse camp counselors ever

In the midst of all of the emotionality driven by race, and the salaciousness of celebrity, the cold scientific DNA evidence (a much different beast than it is now in the public eye because it was relatively new in '95) didn't really have a chance. It's so interesting because the jury was starved throughout the trial of recreation and diversions (save Blockbuster Video and a small handful of 'outings' Ito arranged) and didn't have the stamina for fancy chemistry and dry facts of what's now considered to be reliably damning evidence. Barry Scheck didn't take down Mr. Fung in a day, as it's dramatized here. It lasted for two agonizing weeks. The jury must have been catatonic by the end of the cross-examination, if Fung's deterioration as a witness is any indication. So then, it's a reasonable possibility that the jury was charmed by the defense team's outlandish theories and show-boating, along the way, because entertainment. The DA's major disadvantage, in some ways, was having to present the case without any fanfare. The defense doesn't have the burden of proof to worry about. They're free to bring all the drama.

Whoever started the chain of events that led to 10 jurors being, eventually, let go, well, it's quite an end game strategy. (I'm talking last 30 seconds of a basketball game when each coach calls all of the TOLs in hopes the other team will foul and allow shots at the line.) For the DA, it was re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. But for both sides, it still seemed worth the effort. And it was made extremely fun to watch thanks to Vance and Paulson. Bless. This show sure as shit knows how to do a montage. And kudos to one starring the fantastically well-timed eyebrow raise. (Paulson's wears her spiritedness on her sleeve a.k.a. her face, whereas Vance's is energetic and whole-bodied.)

Finally, I loved watching Schwimmer's Kardashian finally tap out. The DNA evidence may have bored the jury to tears, but it was compelling enough for O.J.'s most ardent supporter to finally accept his guilt. As an aside, I thought Cuba Gooding Jr. did a stunning job in the scene where Kardashian confronts him about the blood evidence, desperately shifting his eyes and voice in an effort to keep hiding from his friend. For the first time in the series, both men morphed into who they really are, in front of one another, for long enough to see what was always there.

Closing Statement

* Really enjoying Bruce Greenwood as Gil Garcetti.

* The poker scene comes up on O.J. commenting on a recent Seinfeld episode.

* Haha -- the jury gets their own damn slo-mo to a kickass 90s rap song.

* Kenneth Choi has mastered the pursed lips look. I really like his portrayal of Ito with each successive episode even more. (Do you think the spousal release form his wife signed will come back next week with a fury?)

* Amazing the Dream Team even flirted with putting O.J. on the stand -- though in actuality it was only Bailey who proposed it earnestly.

* God love them that the creatives can make the process of alternate juror selection so riveting. That's a huge gift this show possesses, by the way, that they can make the sometimes-tedious, very compelling. Direction and music helps a lot, so yay Mac 'Mr. Robot' Quayle and here, Anthony Hemingway. (A lot of dolly shots!)

* Every time the title card burns on the screen, my eyes well up with tears. Not sure if that was the intended effect of the creative team but to me, the precision to the incorporation of the title of this show into the action deserves an award that doesn't yet exist (but maybe should!).

* The series has used multiple chapter names from Toobin's book as episode titles. Next week's 'Manna from Heaven' details the most grueling chapter in the book about the return of Fuhrman. Steel yourselves.


Juror: "Why do we never know why anything happens?"

Gil: "Nobody understands goddamn DNA, Marcia! But everyone can tell when a goddamn glove doesn't fit on a goddamn hand!"

Marcia: "One person... in 170 million."

Marcia: "Toughen up, Cochran. This is the smokers' lounge. Day care's on the first floor."

Marcia (to Bailey in chambers): "You just said that. Out loud."


Josie Kafka said...

I loved that one juror staging a half-real, half-fake freak out. That whole experience just seemed nightmarish, and I'm glad the show took an episode to focus on how miserable the trial must have been for the jurors.

Do we know if the real Ross Kardashian had a change of heart? Or is that just Toobin's best guess?

Heather said...

You are my favorite non-fan of this show, btw. :)

Toobin only speculated about Kardashian's waning support and subsequent abandoning of O.J. at some point in the trial. But only three days after the verdict, RK was interviewed by Barbara Walters and he openly talked about his doubt that O.J. was innocent. Very quickly after the trial, the friendship 'officially' publicly fell apart over a tell-all book that both O.J. and Kardashian had initially signed on for. Kris Jenner wrote a book in 2011 and included a chapter about the trial and went into further depth about how the trial unravelled their post-divorce friendship but didn't confirm that RK had apologized to her for his blind faith at any point, or whatever one wants to call it. Interestingly, there is still much conjecture over whether Kardashian helped dispose of the murder weapon. Every time Shapiro brought up the plea bargain, he'd always wrap in an accessory charge for Kardashian. Hmm.