• A previous reviewer used,as an example of how this show was an improvement over previous offerings set in prison,The Shawshank Redemption as a contrast to this show.While I understand the contrast of Shawshank's "Hope sets you free" mantra with this show's much more darker assessment of hope and human nature in general,I still think that "Oz" is sort of a logical extension of a show like Shawshank in that,up until the sunnier sense of redemption and perseverance in the movie,there was still a dark,brutal and soul-killing element of the penitentiary system,a stripping away of any notion of "romance" or normative that have sometimes been ascribed to the penal system,which this HBO series expands upon deeply and widely.

    The goings-on inside of Emerald City,an experimental facility created from within Oswald Correctional FAcility(hence the title)get little or no "gussying up",and the damned souls that inhabit it provide interesting,sometimes sympathetic,often disgusting insights into the human mind and the evil men(And some women)can do. Fantastic performances are everywhere,and co-creators Tom Fontana and Jim Finnerty are able to take with them from "HOmicide:Life on the Street"(no doubt with the help of exec.producer BArry Levinson)the same kind of jarring,jittery and unflinching look as the NBC series they cut their teeth on. I've been mostly catching this on DVD now,and I've become hooked. Word to the uninitiated:brace yourself for something that's dark,deep and unrelenting from minute one to the closing credits.