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O.J. ODYSSEY WAS COMPELLING, VOYEURISTIC AND STRANGE TV

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Under other circumstances, it might not have seemed so strange to see O.J. Simpson tooling down the highway in a shiny white Bronco.

This was a man we've grown accustomed to seeing on TV in commercials, on the gridiron or in the broadcast booth.But to have O.J. wanted by the police for a double murder and pursued not only by the police but by a fleet of television helicopters as he apparently held a gun to his head was surreal.

It was both boring and compelling. Not much happened, but you were afraid to look away for fear that if you did, something would.

It also had a definite air of tabloid TV, leaving you feeling slightly guilty.

But television's saturation coverage of the entire O.J. Incident has had that feel from the moment that the bloodied bodies of his ex-wife and her friend were found. (And some outlets, including the Fox News feed from its Los Angeles station, gave us all the blood anyone could have imagined.)

At the same time, it's hard to entirely blame our voyeurism on television. Sure, the networks, local stations and CNN provided the pictures, but we watched.

And the unfolding story made for better television than 99 percent of the true-crime TV movies. Friday alone was one strange incident piled on top of the other.

First came the news that a warrant had been issued for Simpson's arrest and that he was expected to surrender to authorities. Then the puzzlement when that didn't happen.

Then came the LAPD press conference - carried live by some outlets - in which it was revealed that Simpson was a fugitive. Even reporters gasped at that one.

Finally, the chase of sorts that included some strange TV antics - Dan Rather and Connie Chung interrupting each other on CBS; Tom Brokaw apologizing for pre-empting the basketball game on NBC; Peter Jennings and his ABC crew spending several minutes arguing over which street the car carrying Simpson had exited on or talking to an alleged eyewitness who turned out to be a hoaxer.

Not to mention gossip-queen Barbara Walters breaking in to tell us that Simpson might end up occupying the cell next to Erik Menendez or reporting on O.J.'s lawyer's other celebrity clients.

How about the LAPD officer, questioned about how his department lost track of O.J., retorting that the press had lost him, too? (When was the last time the press arrested anyone?)

And the frightening images of crowds cheering O.J. on.

All of this surrounding a man who has spent more than a quarter of a century as a hero, and who is now accused of a vicious crime. That juxtaposition made this strange odyssey bizarrely compelling television.