'American Crime Story: The People Versus OJ Simpson' continued last night, with producers quite rightly opting to dedicate the whole episode to the bizarre circumstances of the football hero's flight in a white Bronco van, as television networks switched all their cameras over to the freeway, and 94 million US viewers tuned in to see the strange fate of an American legend.
That day was an extraordinary one, even viewed now through the prism of all the reality TV we've hoovered up ever since - a good-looking, charming sports star turned film actor and TV presenter, the embodiment of the American dream, being driven along the freeway, with a police escort simultaneously embarrassed by his slipping through their fingers and in awe of his status, making emotional phone calls, and holding a gun to his head. You could not make this up.
It was another cracking episode, both in the real terms of the story it told, and our side-eye glance to the reality television it heralded, plus the performances continue to delight - namely David Schwimmer's permanently angst-ridden eyebrows, and John Travolta's... well, just John Travolta.
Among this feast of treasures, here are the four things that delighted us the most in Episode 2...
- In his cracking analysis of website TMZ, New Yorker journalist Nicholas Schmidle quote author Leo Braudy who, in 1986, defined fame as “the interplay between the common and the unique in human nature". We had all of that on display in this triangulated showdown between sporting royalty, the police and the media, and we also had the treat of the luxury surrounding these very base characters - Robert Kardashian praying for OJ's soul, even while he was sitting on the edge of a peach-coloured jacuzzi, and the waxen Robert Shapiro desperately trying to cut a new deal with the DA, even as his client was fleeing, and even while his hand ran appreciatively along the marble edge of his gleaming, oversized kitchen. Are we envious of these people?
- How the drama thoroughly captured the intensity of the day as the judicial system and media competed to get first to OJ, grabbing cameras, sifting through tips, clamouring for spots at opposing press conferences, then chasing him all along the 405 freeway, only for him to hand himself in at home. What a chaotic scramble it truly was! The only person not listening to the news updates? Robert Shapiro, opting instead for his default Kenny G-esque tunes on the car radio. Classy.
- The brooding, brewing readiness of Johnny Cochran (Courtney B Vance) to get involved in the trial, watching coolly despairing as Robert Shapiro bumbled self-interestedly through his dealings with the media. Johnny knew he could better. And, as we know, he did.
- Another sighting of the mini-Kardashaians, squealing with delight as their patriarch took his place at the centre of a larger-than-life drama. Who cared if Daddy was reading the suicide note of Uncle OJ to the assembled media, while the man himself continued to circle the city gun to head? Never mind all that, because daddy was on telly. And thus was the acorn sown.