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Tom on O.J., Vick and the new TV season

People ask me questions:

· Will O.J. Simpson, facing kidnapping and armed-robbery charges in Las Vegas, get a fair trial this time around?

Gee, I hope so. Lord knows his last criminal trial wasn't fair.

It's almost 12 years to the day that the verdict was announced in that trial, and I remember thinking that Marcia Clark needed to do time for blowing the case so badly. Or perhaps Christopher Darden deserved punishment for sitting by, quietly and meekly, while the incompetent Clark trashed his career.

I'm still dismayed at how many people think it was OK for him to get away with killing two people in exchange for exposing the racism in the Los Angeles Police Department. If we had a show of hands of everybody who knew there was racism in the LAPD before the O.J. Simpson trial, we'd create an updraft worthy of a late-July thunderstorm.

You know how some states allow a jury to find a defendant "guilty, but insane"? Well, the verdict in that trial should have been, "Some of the cops are racist, but O.J. is still guilty as all hell."

Remember stupid-ass Mark Fuhrman denying that he had ever used the N-word? Who hasn't said that word?! Mother Teresa used that word when referring to her fellow sistas of the poor! I spent much of the 1970s translating Richard Pryor albums to my white college friends and teammates. It's pretty hard not to have ever said that word.

The word is pretty much inescapable, and even though the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a mock funeral for it, I'm betting it won't stay dead. Ask Eddie Griffin.

One last thing on that matter: Did you happen to see O.J.'s latest shack-up mate on TV? How creepy is it that she's the slitting image (oops, Freudian slip there) of his ex-wife? I've heard of people who don't even like a variation on the theme; they just like the theme. I think famed Shakespearean actor Cleavon Little said it best (speaking the line written, coincidentally, by Richard Pryor) when he said of O.J., "Hey, where da white women at?!"

· While we're on the subject of NFL nutjobs, what do you think of Michael Vick testing positive for drugs while awaiting sentencing on his dog-fighting conviction?

Is he the gift that keeps on giving, or what?

I suffered through this town-hall thing on ESPN recently where every single person in Atlanta lined up to show support for this clown. Some still think it's a racist conspiracy, and a handful even think that it's OK to have dogs tear each other to pieces so that grown men can bet money on it. The overriding theme of the night was: "After he's paid his debt to society, he deserves a second chance."

I'm not sure what they meant by that, but I get the feeling that some believe he somehow has a right to play in the NFL again. Not so. Besides, it might become a moot point. If he keeps getting high while out on bail, it might be like that Jim Croce song "Five Short Minutes (of Lovin' Done Brought Me 20 Long Years in Jail)": The pertinent lyrics go, "When I get out of this prison, gonna be 45/I'll know I used to like to do it/But I won't remember why."

· What does the new TV season look like?

Boy, am I glad you asked, because I really want to hype this one show. Most of the new stuff consists of Heroes wannabes and prime-time soaps, but there's a new CBS sitcom that had one of the funniest pilots I've ever seen. The Big Bang Theory features two Star Trek/computer-nerd roommates who clash when a young woman who works at the Cheesecake Factory moves in across the hall.

The pilot starts out with the two guys in the waiting room of the genius sperm bank, waiting to make deposits in exchange for enough money to buy increased bandwidth for their computers. One guy balks and says that it's genetic fraud. "What if the woman expects the baby to be a genius, and he doesn't even know whether to use an integral or a differential to compute the area under a curve?"

His friend says, "She'll still love it," to which the first guy replies, "I wouldn't."

They argue over string theory, drop the names of Oppenheimer and Huygens, and have the periodic table on their shower curtain. It's very funny, but probably has no chance. If it goes away, it'll join the ranks of such cult series (that died way too young) as Police Squad! and Bakersfield P.D.

I also like the new show Chuck, about a guy who accidentally downloads all of the CIA's files into his brain. A beautiful spylady has to decide whether to kill him or use him on her assignments. It's a series, so she doesn't kill him.

And the idea's not that far-fetched. The useful stuff the CIA has done in its history could be downloaded onto an iPod Shuffle, with room left over for 239 songs.

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