Logline: Series follows a single murder trial a season as seen through the eyes of hte individual jurors, exploring the biases and experiences that influence the jurors’ judgement, and how their preconceptions change along the way.
Cast: Archie Panjabi, Ben Esler, Brandon Jay McLaren, Eve Harlow, Hina Abdullah
Creators: VJ Boyd (Writer / EP), Mark Bianculli (W/EP), Carol Mendelsohn (EP), Neil Burger (D)
Studios: ABC Studios TV, Sony Pictures TV
Let me start with a personal anecdote: I am LOVING The People vs. OJ Simpson. I haven’t had a “need to watch every episode” show like this since Mad Men left the air. It really deserves all the Emmys, since it could have gone wrong in so many ways. If Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance don’t win Emmys, I’ll be sickened.
That being said, this week’s episode was the weakest yet. It focused a lot on the jury. The problem is we don’t have any emotional attachment to the jury or really any pre-conceived notions of them from our memory. So the writers had to work extra hard to get us the viewer to connect with the episode. It basically had to draw us in by saying, “You could have been a part of this group. And this is what you would have had to put up with.”
So ABC’s pilot The Jury has a bit of a stacked deck against it. Group dramas with no hint of comedy, like ABC’s failed series Lucky 7, are tough to pull off. You have to give us snippets of each people, then establish the relationship between them, then give us a bigger reason to care.
I’m not going to go into the plot specifics of this pilot, but I’ll just say it didn’t really connect with me. It had the requisite flashbacks to flesh things out, it had disagreements in the present, it had some reveals teased in the logline. What it didn’t have is me caring. And that might be a function of a jury being too large. Or it might be the pilot focused much more on plot points than on character.
The other thing I’ll say is that Making of a Murderer and Serial might have ruined fictionalized trials for me. Documentarians are getting so good at dramatizing real cases, particularly with the abundance of real audio/video clips, that fiction just doesn’t live up to in anymore. We’re living in a post Law & Order world, folks.