The White Bronco Case Fictionalized

Everybody still remembers American football player and The Naked Gun actor O.J. Simpson, and that white Bronco car being chased by the police on the highway. FX has made a limited series about it, called American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson. Why v and not vs? No one knows.

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Trial of the Century
In a time when police brutality occurred on a regular basis – nothing much has changed, it seems – the Trial of the Century became much more than just a trial, back in 1994. A spectacle. A circus, and more about race, manufactured evidence, conspiracy theories and the role of the media rather than about O.J. It would seem the perfect material for a television show, and FX has turned it into a high profile drama, if not by the casting alone.

Gooding, Schwimmer & Travolta
Cuba Gooding Jr (The Book of Negroes, Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets) plays O.J. An uneasy, anxious, suicidal and conflicted O.J. His best friend, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer, Madagascar, Friends) is looking out for him, but O.J. goes from bad to all over the place, after the police discover the bodies of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. To make matters worse, his lawyer Howard Weitzman (Ken Lerner, Happy Days, Chicago Hope) is gone, all of a sudden. They turn to Robert Shapiro (John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, Swordfish, Primary Colors, Grease), who seems to know exactly what he’s doing, keeping all options open. He asks O.J. twice, if he did it. Some shows about lawyers, say Suits, claim they should never ask a client if he’s innocent. It’s irrelevant. Besides, it could cause someone to drop the case because of strong feelings; lawyers are capable of receiving these little things we call emotions.

On the Cover
Did I just say Kardashian? O, yes. We have O.J. to thank for planting the seed of the biggest topic in gossip column history. And American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson knows it. Khloe (Morgan Bastin) and Kourtney (Isabella Balbi) even briefly pop up in a scene. While O.J.’s getting more paranoid by the hour, detective Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story, Deadwood, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) is putting all the evidence together. On her own, at first. She can handle it; the case is a no-brainer. O.J. did it. She’s quickly paired up with Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson, Turn, Legends, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr and Jerry Espenson on Boston Legal) to help her, because since a celebrity’s involved, this will be on every cover of every magazine.

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Dream Cast
If you thought that was it, you’d be mistaken. FX has put together a cast most productions can only dream of. Nowhere Man himself Bruce Greenwood (Mad Men, John From Cincinnati) is Marcia’s boss. Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me, The Good Wife, Bloodline) a colleague, just like Chris Bauer (True Blood, High Fidelity and Frank Sobotka on The Wire). There’s Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, FlashForward, State of Affairs) as Johnnie Cochran. Selma Blair (Hellboy, Anger Management) as Kris Jenner. Jordana Brewster (The Fast and the Furious, Chuck, Dallas), Connie Britton (Nashville, American Horror Story, 24, Friday Night Lights). Michael McGrady (Southland, 24, Day Break, Ray Donovan). And even Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show, Jeremiah, Sons of Anarchy).

Reconstruction
I started by saying this would seem like the perfect drama material, but it isn’t. There’s not going to be a payoff. There are not going to be new revelations. The first episode, ‘From the Ashes of Tragedy’, follows the well known events closely, which makes The People v O.J. Simpson above all else a reconstruction. A star-packed, big budgeted reconstruction, but a reconstruction nonetheless. It’s well written, well acted, but if this were fiction, you would keep watching to see whether or not O.J. did it. That climax is going to be absent. In other words, the series is building towards something that will never come. The People v O.J. Simpson can only result in ‘stellar performances’ and ‘critically acclaimed’, but still a disappointment.

The Terrible Journey Of Becoming A Clown

While Steve and Nancy Carell do the ol’ shallow slapstick thing over at TBS, Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. are giving their take on physical comedy on FX. Their new series Baskets has got the screwball, but just as much despair bleeding through it. It’s a small, wondrous show that hits as many as it misses, but because of the (slightly depressing) depths it explores, it is worthwhile.

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Poignant
It’s not a match made in heaven; FX and original comedy programming. Last year’s off-beat series The Comedians saw the return of Billy Crystal, but even though his timing hadn’t lost any of its, well, timing, viewers didn’t exactly appear in droves. Did they grow tired of the documentary style? Shows about the backlots of Hollywood? Poignancy? Josh Gad? All of the above? I’d say poignancy wasn’t the problem. Louie is a modest hit, and albeit more of a sketch show, that series absolutely soaks, if not to say smothers in poignancy. Well, there’s enough of that in Baskets, too. Ambition times naivety times bad luck; I’m certain that’s not the recipe for success. It’s a starting point for comedy, if you keep it grounded. Otherwise it’s just sadistic, dragging your main character through the mud. Baskets walks on thin ice. It continuously is one scene away from rubbing your nose in it a little too much, but the pilot keeps it together nicely. Nicely and barely.

La Symbolique Du Bouffon
There’s no one who can play ‘down on his luck’ better than Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, The Campaign, Due Date, Bored to Death). I mean, you can put on a beard and try to act like him, while you discover you’re The Last Man on Earth, but it’s just not the real thing. He plays Chip Baskets, an ambitious guy, but just not smart and/or lucky enough to make that ambition a reality. He wants to be a clown. A real, theatrical one. The kind that doesn’t just make you laugh, but also cry and even astonish. Unfortunately, his naivety sends him all the way to France, to follow an expensive course in ‘la symbolique du bouffon’ – without speaking one word of French. To make matters worse, he falls in love.

Love
After his trip or should I say catastrophe to Europe, he’s back in Bakersfield, California. With his new wife Penelope (Sabina Sciubba). He proposed, she said yes, but made it clear right away: she doesn’t love him. She is going to leave him for somebody else, and she wants a Green Card. O, and 40 bucks for HBO, let’s not forget that, because getting that amount of money together plays a big role in the pilot. Chip does find a job. As a rodeo clown. Further removed from the clown business seems impossible. He’s not making any money, not really, so in order to keep his wife happy, he visits his mother (Louie Anderson) and brother, asking to borrow some money. His twin brother is a perfect sack of shit; and who can play ‘sack of shit’ better than Galifianakis.

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Cynicism Free
There’s a love interest in the story, too – real love. Not so much ‘interest’, though, from Chip’s side. Martha Brooks (Martha Kelly), from the insurance agency, volunteers to drive him anywhere he wants to go, since his French scooter broke down. She’s dropping all kinds of hints, but Chip’s just too busy trying to survive and making his rodeo gig work. All he does is get hit by the bull, and he couldn’t be unhappier about it. He’s going to quit; he has to. So as a last resort, he puts on a show, dressed up beautifully as a true clown, with the right music, a spotlight on him as if he were standing on a big stage in Paris. This scene is awesome and totally saves the pilot. I was on the fence up to this point, but by seriously committing to Chip’s quest, and showing he actually got what it takes, Galifianakis, Louis C.K. and creator Jonathan Krisel won me over. The way Chip performs in front of the rodeo audience, gives the show heart and soul. In the middle of his performance, he gets hit by the bull, of course, to remind us it’s still a comedy, but all’s forgiven. If they continue to take Chip (and therefor the audience) seriously, by putting in cynicism free scenes in there, this could just be the small, wondrous show I was expecting to see.

Fargo: Palindrome

It’s been quite the experience. Fargo, season 2, has come to an end. Not a conclusion, per se; an end. Last year, I wasn’t convinced yet. The first season was too much of a ‘Going Coen’ type of exercise. The tone was spot on, but the story as a whole felt too fragmental, and the reasoning of the characters was often hard to follow. This year, the cohesiveness is there. Understanding of the characters is there – no matter their goofiness. The tone has stayed. The absurdity has risen to great heights. The show deserves every Golden Globe nomination it received last week. It’s a pity it’s over now, with the finale ‘Palindrome’.

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Alien
I love how Lou (Patrick Wilson) speaks the words that every episode of Fargo starts with. ‘This is a true story…’
I love the montage of all the casualties of the last few weeks, and the inclusion of Lou’s wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti), who then opens her eyes.
I love the flash forward to the Future Lou (Keith Carradine) and Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman).
I love the use of the song ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath to kick things off again.
I love how Mike (Bokeem Woodbine) enters the house. Is he… an… alien..? No, it was just tongue-in-cheek, wasn’t it? Was it?

Relentless
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Dunst) ‘You’re going to be okay’, after seeing a pretty devastating wound. Relentless Blumquist optimism.
I love Peggy and Ed’s (Jesse Plemons) emotional moment (in a cold storage).
I love ‘You see the shotgun, right?’
I love the ticking clock in the background, during Mike’s speech about kings. And cruelty.
I love the cold, making Peggy hallucinate.
I love how Lou’s obnoxious colleague Ben ‘I don’t know how to write this up’ Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) is almost overtaken by emotions.

Dreaming
I love Lou and Peggy’s car drive.
I love Peggy’s romantic idea of a Californian prison, overlooking the ocean.
I love Lou’s war story.
I love ‘They call it our burden, but it’s really our privilege’.
I love Peggy’s look in the backseat, like life has been drained from her face.
I love the car drive ending with ‘California Dreamin’’

Desk Job
I love how the makeup artists went all out on Hanzee’s (Zahn McClarnon) face.
I love that Mike’s done all his hard work, only to get offered a desk job. (Probably means he’s not an alien after all.)
I love that he has to get something grey, or pinstriped.
I love that the show’s quietly moved into the eighties. The end of an era. Everything’s different now. Everything’s just about the money.

Good Intentions
I love how Mr. and Mrs. Solverson are such a believable couple, including inside marriage jokes.
I love that Hank (Ted Danson) is creating a new language. Based on boxes and triangles.
I love that he sees himself, not as a good man, but a man with good intentions.
I love that the season ends with Lou and Betsy in bed. Tomorrow’s just another day. No reason to let her die from cancer in the last scene. Everything’s fine at that exact moment. They turn off the light and go to sleep.

Fargo: The Castle

It almost feels unfair that Fargo, at least when it’s 1979 concerned, is almost over. Next week gives us the final instalment of the perfect revival of absurdism since 2037. (I tried a little absurdism right there myself; see how hard that is?) Could Fargo have paved the way for other completely off-beat drama, or is it one of a kind, an unimitatable kind? We’ll just have to see. Right now, let’s kick back, relax and enjoy ‘The Castle’, wonderfully directed by Adam Arkin (Justified, Masters of Sex, Sons of Anarchy).

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If I Were Us
I love the anything-but-slick opening of the episode, with the opening of a history book. As if the show’s based on real events. Wait a minute. Isn’t it a true story, then? Wasn’t the first season real either? But the movie was, right? Yes. Thank god.
I love the narrator, too.
I love the shot through the window of the supply store. Such a hard shot to make – I mean the camera shot, of course – with the reflection as clearly visible as the store manager behind the window.
I love the ‘We are not alone’ sticker. It would be totally random, but we know better. Or do we?
I love ‘They don’t look like much.’
I love ‘If I were us…’
I love how Lou (Patrick Wilson) sticks up for the Blumquists.

Non-Synchronicity
I love that Ed (Jesse Plemons) doesn’t know what a ‘wire’ is or means.
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Stewart) ‘Hey!’
I love the non-synchronicity of the scene with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) making a phone call.
I love the conversation between Hank (Ted Danson) and Captain Jeb Cheney (Wayne Duvall).
I love that Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) is on the look out, on top of a building that reads ‘Optometrist’. Or is that a bit too much on the nose? You know what, I don’t care.

Hashtag Hero Shot
I love how Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell), excuse me, Detective Benjamin Schmidt is becoming more and more of an asshole. A gullible asshole.
I love Chief Gibson (Terry Kinney) out of his uniform, just hanging it all out, passive-aggressively telling Jeb that the ice machine is ‘all crapped out’.
I love ‘I’m an outdoor guy myself’ in this context.
I love Floyd Gerhardt’s (Jean Smart) pose, white sweater, red coat, swung to the side, her gun exposed. Hashtag hero shot.

They
I love the obvious shadows of bad guys moving across the curtains, but everybody’s too busy playing cards (and discussing whether or not pissing in the pool is acceptable).
I love how Jeb completely overdoes his fall off the bed.
I love the look in Bear Gerhardt’s (Angus Sampson) eyes change.
I love the freeze frames.
I love that Lou sees… something… in the sky..?
I love that it has ‘puzzled historians for decades.’
I love the shootout between Hanzee and Lou.
I love that Hank will probably survive.
I love that they finally show up.

Fargo: Loplop

Noah Hawley is hot. And rightly so. He’s being linked to several new shows and adaptations, not to mention FX renewed his Coen/Hawley brain child Fargo for a third season. But we’re still in the second. Episode 8, ‘Loplop’, a longer one than usual. More to see. More to love.

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Positive Peggy
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Dunst) hallucination, which is a philosophical Coen version of The Matrix’ ‘The Architect’.
I love ‘He’s the leader.’
I love the overhead shot when Peggy and Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) drive away (with Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan) presumably in the trunk). Is it more than just a nice shot? A UFO, maybe?
I love the Blumquist house. Not just the magazine basement, but also the living room, with the squared lowered floor section. One more thing that makes me wonder: when did that go out of style?
I can’t get enough of Peggy swinging the electrocuting stick around.
I love ‘Foot’s on the other shoe now.’
I love ‘Positive Peggy is what they call me’, after stabbing Dodd twice in the chest.
I love Dodd eating beans.
Correction: being bean-fed.
I love the look Dodd gives Ed, terrified of Peggy.
I love Ed telling his wife to ‘stop stabbing him.’

Puzzle
I love Ed making phone calls, but no one’s answering.
I love Peggy is finally ‘working as equals’ with Ed.
I love Ed deciding to just call ‘the other side’, to take Dodd off his hands.
I love Ed’s conversation with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine).
I love how all the characters are steered towards one location – for the apotheosis. This must’ve been Hawley’s plan all along, and even though it’s only a 10-episode season, it’s been one heck of a puzzle he’s created. This season in particular will go into the TV drama screenplay writing history books as the example of ‘How it’s done’.

Bone Structure
I love Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) interrogating the shop owner, specifically his final word: ’Yes’.
I love the breaking of the knife handle.
I love Dodd’s solution of getting the knife out of his foot, or should I say getting his foot out from under the knife. Or something. I don’t think there’s a way to describe the balls on this man.
I love Peggy coming to the rescue.
I love ‘You’ve got the bone structure.’
I love the arrival of Lou (Patrick Wilson) and Hank (Ted Danson).
I love the slow motion.
I love that Hanzee’s out of bullets.
I love the pair of scissors flying through the air.
I love that Hanzee escapes. We’re running out of bad guys, it’s nice to keep one around for a little longer.

Aliens
I love the cabin Ed and Peggy are holding Dodd. It’s one of Fargo’s many strengths; sets and locations. Even though ‘Loplop’ may be running a bit long, especially considering it almost entirely qualifies as a flashback, there’s a lot to enjoy. I do hope the last two episodes will be more kaleidoscopical again, although that seems impossible now, with so few characters left. And I hope that UFO hasn’t just been a silly gimmick. I don’t need to see aliens, but it’d better play a role of importance.

Fargo: Did You Do This? No, You Did It!

In last week’s ‘Rhinoceros’, Fargo walked a straight line, but the show’s grown a few extra limbs again, which has resulted in ‘Did You Do This? No, You Did It!’, an episode like a broken up chocolate bar; delicious splintered pieces of the same thing.

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Jaws
I love the fargonian predictability. On a show like this, you know trouble’s on the rise when two window washers are moving into view. Is it just a nice touch? Something to add extra flavor? Or does it have a purpose? You’re damn right it has.
I love the use of music. The episode starts with a killing collage, accompanied by the song ‘Locomotive Breath’ by Jethro Tull.
I love ‘I’m grown’.
I love the Jaws reference. Because it’s Jaws, ya?
I love that the police waited till ‘the dirt settled’.
I love the deep voice of Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson), not to mention the grunts in between.

Adorable Chubby Police Captain
I love ‘I’m going to smoke’, while being in an interrogation room.
I love the cops pulling out the ashtray, like that’s what you do. I love that it’s probably completely accurate – taking place in the seventies and all – and at the same time it’s a clear comment on the times we live in now.
I love smoke on screen.
I love guest star Terry Kinney (Oz, Show Me a Hero, The Mentalist), who always seems to pick ‘tough guy’ roles – but never looks the part. Here, he plays an adorable chubby police captain. Fargo, because of being populated by different degrees of goofball, really brings out the best of every actor on the show.
I love ‘This thing is over when you say it’s over.’
I love the ‘northern expansion’.
I love Floyd Gerhardt’s (Jean Smart) eye-roll. Hey, it’s in the tiny details, you know.

Seen Me or Watched Me
I love the grey, bleached, light-brownish look of the show. I love the subtlety of it; it’s not an obvious filter.
I love ‘sending The Undertaker’.
I love the vocabulary of Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine).
I love the elevator mirror. Very Bohemian Rhapsodian.
I love ‘Seen me? Or watched me?’
I love ‘the noose’. Just because of the sound, I guess.

Speeches and Pants
I love the creepy smile of Ricky (Ryan O’Nan, Ray Donovan, The Unusuals, Mercy).
I love Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) speech to Mike. Nail + Head.
I love Mike’s speech to Lou.
I love Karl (Nick Offerman), his back, the couch and the floor. And those pants. When did they ever go out of style? Now that type of clothing should be in clothing stores – and not just in vintage clothing stores.

Triumphant & Downplayed
I love the trip of Bear and Simone (Rachel Keller). It had quite a Sopranos feel to it.
I love the fish-eyed aerial shots.
I love you never see (or hear) Bear pulling the trigger.
I love Floyd’s ‘they bought it’ look.
I love ‘That’s one way to think about it.’
But what I loved most was the great climax of the episode, which featured a both triumphant and downplayed return of the long absent Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons), making a phone call.

Fargo: Rhinoceros

There aren’t many characters left in the world of Fargo. Besides, the Gerhardt family is after Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons), which seems to be the main – and at this point only – storyline. There isn’t even a single UFO peeking around the corner this week, so it’s all pretty straight forward. Operation Get the Butcher. The only thing standing between Ed and Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan), is a handful of police officers. More than ever before, ’Rhinoceros’ turns the show into a full-blown western, paying tribute, in very Fargo fashion, to Assault on Precinct 13.

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Unprovable
I love Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) reference to westerns; ‘This kind of thing didn’t work in westerns, and it’s not going to work tonight’. Especially season 2 of the show, qualifies Fargo, in my book, as a 21st century western. That also makes me a bit uneasy, though, because with that UFO flying about, I hope it won’t turn into Cowboys & Aliens.
I love ‘unprovable’.
I love Dodd getting kicked the shit out of him, but calmly telling the shitkicker to ‘cut it out’.
I love Dodd talking with blood in his mouth.
I love Mike Milligan’s (Bokeem Woodbine) poem recital.

Grits
I love Simone’s (Rachel Keller) seventies blue bell bottoms.
I love Simone’s ‘grits’.
I love ‘You just try to be dramatic’.
I love Ed’s own interpretation of the Pushing the Boulder story.
I love Ed’s arrest is where Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) really comes into the fold. It seems everyone’s connected to the story now.

Outside the Blumquist House
I love Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) stepping outside of the Blumquist house.
I love the Gerhardt cars just standing there. Lights on. Nobody stepping out.
I love how unimpressed Dodd is, seeing police officer Hank there.
I love Dodd’s weapon of choice.
I love ‘Ed home?’

Allies
I love the Blumquist magazine maze.
I love Peggy and the Stick.
I love how Karl enters a room (or police station for that matter) drunk.
I love ‘Hold on now, we’re all allies’.
I love the tension on Hank’s face.
I love the tension on Karl’s face.
I love Karl smoking a cigar.

Foxhole Brotherhood
I love Lou’s simple escape plan.
I love Lou and Ed getting picked up by Hank, and Ed deciding to make a run for it.
I love how Lou and Hank just let him go; they’ll find him again soon enough.
I love foxhole brotherhood.
I love the moment the song ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ kicks in. Perfect.
But most of all, and I’ve already mentioned it, but it can’t be mentioned enough, I absolutely love Dodd’s line of ‘Ed home?’