Home Box Office's latest America Undercover
documentary, Juror No. 5: 58 Days of Duty on the O.J. Simpson Civil Trial, promises
an insider's view on one of the most scrutinized legal proceedings in American
history, but it falls just short of its goal.
The 50-minute special -- which chronicles the experiences
of juror Deena Mullen -- offers a few interesting bits of inside baseball. But those
nuggets do little more than whet the viewer's appetite for a payoff that never comes.
The documentary also spends too much time on ground
that's already been covered.
In one segment, Mullen offers painstakingly graphic
descriptions of how the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman appeared in
autopsy and crime-scene photos. But it glosses over the details of how viewing the grisly
images affected Mullen's outlook on the case.
The presentation juxtaposes shots of Mullen on a stage
performing a monologue on her trial experiences with quick cuts of news footage from the
trial, but it relies too much on the stock footage. We see four or five images of various
reporters on the courthouse steps, when only one would suffice. This slows the show's
There are a few things we've never heard before:
Mullen talks about trying on the infamous "bloody gloves," recounts discord in
the jury room and describes the jurors' bus trip from the Santa Monica courthouse to
a "secret parking lot," media in tow, following the verdict.
But the show only scratches the surface. We see clips of
Mullen making the talk-show rounds, but the monologue offers only cursory information on
how the instant celebrity status affected her life.
Only at the very end does Mullen -- who said she thought
Simpson was a basketball player before his arrest made national headlines -- talk at
length about how her experience on the civil jury affected her as a person.
"I can never be the keeper of the flame -- that's
reserved for the families -- but I can be the keeper of the horror," she says in the
one scene where her voice cracks with emotion.
Juror No. 5 premieres on HBO Tuesday (June 1) at 10