A few quick notes on the Furhman tapes before we get ready for the finale…
The Tapes Themselves:
Yes, the tapes almost lead to a mistrial, but it would not have benefited the prosecution. Accordingly, Marcia Clark’s decision not to seek a mistrial as she presented during the tense, private scene with Darden at the table after Ito discussed the tapes was the right one because a mistrial as petitioned for by the prosecution would have made it impossible to bring Simpson back for a second trial because of double jeopardy. The event timeline from the show detailing how these tapes came to the court and how they were eventually presented was accurate with the exception, potentially, of the Darden elevator scene and the aforementioned conversation at the table, which were examples of creators taking dramatic license.
When Fred Goldman was holding an angry, impromptu presser about how the OJ trial became the Furhman trial (and a circus), he was right to be upset. However, the target of his vitriol should have been Judge Ito as opposed to Furhman or anyone else on the defense team. For example, you know all of those wild speeches in the court by Cochran, Clark, and, especially, Darden? All of those really happened and not one of them should have. While the prosecution dragged the trial out for a year with evidence that the jury hardly listened to, Cochran made the case a referendum on race and effectively won the trial by winning over the public. All the while, Ito, long before the Furhman tapes, had lost all control of the court and allowed these things to happen thus creating the circus (and marathon) of a trial that we all remember.
OJ’s speech from the previews came after he decided not to testify. OJ, when asked if he wanted to waive his right, famously launched into a brief speech proclaiming his innocence, and who could blame him? Ito was letting everyone else use their status as participants in this trial as a bully pulpit to wax poetic on issues ranging from single parent hood to race relations.
Darden, as depicted by the companion book for this series, The Run of His Life, The People v. OJ Simpson, was a disaster during the trial, had more outbursts than anyone,and had his buttons pushed easier and more often by the defense than the show depicts. The show does do Darden some favors- the elevator scene- and one has to wonder if parts of the show’s narrative came from Darden’s book, In Contempt.
Furhman never plead the 5th on the final question of whether or not he planted evidence in the OJ matter because Cochran never asked the question, and I have no idea why that was included. My thinking was that it was better to have a climactic point in the matter of the tapes as opposed to depicting them as what they actually were: a prolonged court drama that amounted to nothing. Ito was right to include the parts of the tapes that he did and no more. Also, Cochran and company did find out via fax, and the pres conference that followed did happen.
Loved the made for TV movie style scene where the jet is shown touching down in North Carolina…trite? What was better, in the two camera shots that followed, we see the North Carolina flag both first as the camera zooms, and prominently on the walls of the conference room where Cochran and Bailey read the transcripts. I wonder what Fx network’s data on its average viewers suggests that makes them include such scenes.