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  • Oz is one of HBO's best ever series. It is gritty and violent, yet ceaselessly compelling and riveting.

    The production values are consistently of very high quality, with skillful photography and an authentic setting. The writing is superb, in fact Oz is one of my favourite ever shows when it comes to written quality and the story lines are outstanding.

    Oz benefits further from efficient direction, strongly drawn characters and the acting particularly Ernie Hudson and Harold Perrineau I don't know where to begin praising.

    All in all, a brilliant series. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • Kirpianuscus9 January 2018
    To say it is the best serie is real easy. and fair. and risky. because it seems be a revolution of genre. not stories but a large puzzle. not characters but cases, relations, teams,, business, revenge, the prison portrait in a cold, realistic and bitter manner. and Rita Moreno in one of the memorable roles of her career. "Oz" is special and it is not any way to demonstrate that. it is enough to see it. episode by episode. for know. it is an experience. than a serie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In an innovation on the prison city, a wing called Emerald City is created with Oswald State Penitentiary. With this wing prisoners are given more responsibility and better conditions. Sleeping two to a pod, with clean facilities etc. However the prisoners are no different and violence and crime runs the prison. No one is above corruption and murder can come from the smallest events. Drugs, rape and torture are weapons and no one is above betrayal and deceit as powerful partnerships are formed and broken.

    Insomnia can be a wonderful thing. I started watching Oz many years ago on Channel 4's `Later' slot in the UK. I used to watch Homicide: Life on the Street and they relegated it to a 1am slot. Because I couldn't sleep I used to stay up and watch it. Oz was on after this and I got into that. At first I couldn't believe how brutal it was then I got totally sucked in.

    I'm on the fourth series now and am glad I started watching it. The series has one major strength – the writing. The plot is one of constant tension and drama as plan follows plan follows murder follows betrayal etc. The storylines are always good and always brutal. However one of the main drivers for me are the characters. They change with time – they develop with events, they get killed – regardless of status within the series, they get killed!

    The best example of what I mean can be seen in just a few examples – but on the whole it's true of most of the characters. Beecher came into the prison as a normal guy jailed for drunk driving and killing a child. The abuse he got from Schillinger has completed changed him – in fact 4 series on he continues to change. Schillinger himself is compelling, despite being relatively one dimensional he is a powerful character. My `favourite' character is Simon Adebisi. In series two he became very passive, very submissive but it was revealed as an act and he has become his cruel manipulative self again. I could list them all – obviously there's going to be characters who come and go, background extras who have only a few lines to say, or who move the plot along by getting killed etc. but most characters develop or play major roles.

    In terms of actors the cast is mainly bit part players with no major lead roles under their belts, but to a man they all do good jobs when called upon. It's hard to pick out any one actor who stands out as it depends on their characters, but it's worth acknowledging a few. Tergesen (Beecher) has shone simply in the way he has convincingly changed his character over the years. Likewise Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has done great work as the monstrous Simon Adebisi. These standout because they have shown how they can deal with extreme changes in their roles, however every other member of cast is totally convincing. J.K. Simmons will only ever be Schillinger to me after this and a bit part black actor from the UK's `The Bill' shines in the role of Said (Walker). I could fill this site with praise for the cast.

    The programme is clever and intelligent (although many can't get past the brutality, violence and swearing). The portrayal of the prison as not so much an integrated melting pot of races but a mixed room of races that all manage themselves first – much more like the real America. The use of the brilliant Harold Perrineau Jnr as a character and as a sort of street theatre narrator is certainly different and allows each show to make a social point or a commentary without being preachy is really good – and often funny too.

    It does of course have weaknesses. Sometimes the brutality can be wearing and be too much. Where they constantly bring in new characters each week just to kill them in the same show to move the plot along it gets a bit tired too – however this doesn't happen every week. The plots themselves can only go so far – basically they all come down to violence and betrayal in some form. My hope is that they will only make this for another series at most. It's better if they end on a high rather than risking showing signs of fatigue or running out of new ideas.

    Overall it's brutal, cruel, disturbing, violent and upsetting. Why watch then? Because it's very well written and made, it totally compelling, it has great actors and the storylines are rarely less than gripping. It has an energy unlike anything else – like a car crash, you don't always want to see what's happening but you can't help but look. After all isn't this how prison is? Superb television but not to everyone's taste.
  • kosmasp22 September 2020
    I guess the most logical person to think would be the wizard, would be the prison warden. The guy who is in charge, yes? Then again, maybe it is the character that narrates the episodes and gives us some highlights and or background information. Sometimes not about the show itself, but more about society. And there are some interesting statistics. But enough of this (Prison) Wizard of Oz talk - even if the actors themselves believe that there is a connection or rather a let's call it funny statement that is being made.

    Because Oz is not a place you want to be. Talking about Oz the prison here. And that is with all those really great actors that were involved in the making of the show. Some from the beginning, some later on. Some for a short period of time, some longer. And being in a prison (most of the time you will feel the claustrophobia as much as the characters do) makes it possible, to either get rid of characters or add new ones into the mix. Be it from outside (commiting a crime) or from a different unit. And everyone brings their A-game to this. It's almost a shame it probably will not see an HD remaster, especially because this was all shot in 4:3 ratio.

    The makers really had a feeling of what to do and how to tell stories here. And even if this will not knock "The Wire" off the throne for me, it does include some of the actors that I learned to love from that show. Being a show that was shown on HBO, there was no limit to what the creators were able to do and/or get away with. Be it nudity (mostly male since it is a male dominated prison, a lot of penis and even more behinds being shown) or violence. But there is also comedy ... or rather a dark sense of it. And a lot of profanity too.

    This is not for the squeamish or faint of hearted and it might take you a season or two, to fully get behind it and some of the story/character arcs. Some of the things may feel cliche, but they also feel as real as they can be. And irrational behavior is one of those things. I mean the show even gets away with introducing family members at any given point in time ... not an easy feat to pull off, believe me! As it is, this is not just a great prison drama, but an awesome drama period!
  • Oz has some of the best acting not only TV now, but also in just entertainment. And that is this show's strong suite. It is so convincing in it's depiction of prison life it shows everything- from the vengeful murders, the evil drug sales, and of course the necessary, yet un-necessary anal sex and crotch shots (sometimes the black guys look like they could climb out of Oz with there schweens as ropes). It is definately one of the best HBO shows ever as it is terrifyingly real. A+
  • Harrowing series about life in Oz--an experimental prison where they try to rehabilitate prisoners. There's gay sex, rape, torture, mutilation, killings, humiliation, tons of male nudity...all in your face and going full force.

    It also is easily one of the best written dramas ever put on TV and almost all the actors are just great. Since this was on cable there were no restrictions on what they could say or show. There's plenty of racist comments flying in here but it's for all races. In fact the white characters come off pretty badly (especially the Aryans) and the black characters come off better (the peace-loving Muslims). The Hispanics don't have a strong role and there are NO Asian prisoners at all. All the prisoners seem to be back-stabbers and willing to kill anyone at a moments notice---but you still find yourself sympathizing with some of them. Even the guards, counselors and doctors at the prison have serious issues.

    I heartily recommend this BUT rent it--don't buy it. I have the whole collection and, to be totally honest, I don't think I ever want to see it again. It's incredible TV but so grim, dark and depressing. I give it a 10.
  • Vincentiu17 March 2013
    at first sigh - cruel, cold and strange. at second sigh - cold and strange. in final - only honest. because it is not a series about a prison. only about life. it has not humor or romantic crumbs but it is great. because the speech about existence rooms is direct. not escapes, not masks. only a voice and a lot of faces. rules, crimes, gestures, fight for dominate. and some sparkles of feelings. but in precise form. not, it is not a story. only an extraordinary work. it is itself. not a copy. not a play. and its realism is basic way to transform the viewer not in a silhouette but in the part of show. so, it is difficult to define Oz. because it is, at last episode, short story about its public. evil, madness, faith, families, victims, assassins, groups, teams, fragility as ocean. and lessons about reality of each day. not in skin of parable or fairy tale. only as warning.
  • I originally watched this on HBO when it first came out but watched it again recently on Amazon. The first time I watched it I really enjoyed it but the second time I didn't like it as much.

    I found the story too convoluted and too much happens within a very small time span. Too many people die, too many corrupt guards, too much drama with out much consideration for reality.

    Individually I really enjoyed the first two seasons, but after that I find that the quality of the writing goes south. Things which happen in the show are more of a condensed symbolic gesture at real life behind prison walls.

    This is a graphic and violent movie with sex, rape, profanity and much, much more. Keep it away from little kids and even young adults; it could cause nightmares.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all, season 1 is intolerably bad. The prison is ridiculously unrealistic, the characters are so two dimensional they're nearly transparent, and the direction is terrible. It runs like a bad video of a junior high school play, characters wandering past the camera and uttering highly timed and rehearsed lines, passing off as random prison talk. Soon the show gets better, but not by much. The return from the commercial break is always accompanied by some ridiculous monologue by wheelchair-bound Augustus Hill, who is played impressively by Harold Perrineau. The only time his character is consistently bad is during the bad performance art monologues, most of which take place in an inexplicable rotating glass cube and generally have nothing to do with what's taking place in the show.

    Unfortunately, the bad ideas in Oz could fill an encyclopedia of several volumes. Consider the whole situation, first of all. Prisoners are able to hang out in plain sight getting drunk, doing drugs, and they not only have CD players (CDs?? They might as well pass out steak knives), but all incoming mail is thoroughly examined by PRISONERS. Christ, the place is like a men's club with guards. Guards that don't do much.

    Near the end of season two, an older prisoner's grandson is diagnosed with leukemia, and all of the prisoners pitch in thick wads of $20 and $50 bills to help send him to Disneyworld to fulfill his dying wish. These have to be the richest prisoners in the world. Every single prisoner in Oz all of a sudden became caring, loving guys except Kenny Wangler, an irritating character but one of the only ones who is consistently convincing. Even Adibisi wanted to be nice. But that's okay, because there is no order or sense in the show, so even this is not much of a distraction.

    Later, shockingly, there is a boxing scene in which one inmate is wearing an "I Love Cops" t- shirt. In prison!! Can you imagine?? I have a cousin who was in prison a few years ago. I sent him an old picture of us with some friends in high school, and in the picture, one of my friends was holding an "I Love Cops" bumper sticker, and one of "the woods" (guys who have been in prison for years and years) saw the picture but just grabbed it and ripped it to shreds. My cousin got lucky.

    Kenny Wangler also constantly berates the guards and even more senior officers for not calling him Bricks. One of them even tried to bribe him to go to an English class. You may lose track of who is in charge, the prisoners or the guards. More than one investigator, for example, goes into the prison undercover and gets killed trying to stop the drug trade. Personally I would just stop letting prisoners inspect incoming mail rather than risk the lives of investigators.

    Let's see, what else? Shillinger's son OD's in solitary and no one thinks to ask the guard how he got the drugs. He them, I guess. And make sure to pay attention, otherwise you'll miss the reason why the prisoners have enough money to be able to afford ascellular dermal grafts when they get bad gums. I didn't know guests in maximum security prisons were afforded such luxurious treatment options. How about this, when Robson asks about Dr. Faraj's schedule so he can ask what race of gums he was given, Faraj is so terrified that he goes to the warden and quits his job on the spot. Do doctors and dentists not have the right to request not to see certain prisoners? After Poet and O'Reilly make the announcement to the entire prison, Robson asks to see Dr. Faraj, and is escorted to his office, brought in without knocking, and the guard promptly leaves without a word. They might as well give him a gun.

    I shouldn't go on about stupid ideas in this show, but it's like a flood, I can't stop it. Who thought of the Chinese refugees who can't speak Chinese and who disappear en masse from sight unless they're needed? Who thought of the goofy religious wars and all the reverend prisoners? Who though of Robson's gum transplant? What's the deal with Busmalis and Agamemnon? Agamemnon because he clearly doesn't belong in prison and Busmalis because of the whole thing with his grandson. Macbeth, because it was nothing but a ridiculous means to an end, as it were.

    But what are the worst ideas? Things that go nowhere, which are constant. An Irish man comes to the prison and builds a bomb. He threatens to blow up the entire prison, the bomb turns out to be a dud, and the episode ends with him being led away by the bomb squad after the entire prison is evacuated. Nothing is ever heard from him or about the whole situation again. It's like it never happened. In one episode, prisoners are given dogs to train. What the hell?? If that wasn't bad enough, during one training session, a guard fires his gun inside the prison walls as a training exercise. No one seems to mind.

    I also like how anytime some kind of altercation breaks out, the culprits are pulled aside, they don't say anything, and the guards or warden or sister Pete or whoever always says, "I hope you don't think I'm gonna let this go!!" And then they walk away and let it go. The audience won't remember.

    Maybe I'm spoiled by Prison Break, but Oz is just a goofy prison drama that might be better as a play. A short one. At least a low-budget movie. There is just not enough here to sustain a multi-season TV show. Then again, I watched six seasons of it on DVD. Sometimes I don't understand myself...
  • /refers to all seasons/

    In general, I am not into long prison series; it is difficult to find opportunities to watch them (as they are hardly for entire family), and the conditions and background of prisoners differ greatly from the ones in the EU. But due to the Oz' fame and high score at IMDb, I decided to go for it and watch all episodes in sequence.

    Well, at first I was not too impressed, had some thoughts of call it quits (lots of misery, flagrancy, incomprehensible punishment and imprisonment arrangements), but then I realized that several characters excited my interest, both among guards and prisoners. In short, all the main characters are somewhat special, and so are most recurring ones, often "hiding" the script's shortcomings or inconsistencies - evidently because of multiple screenwriters... At times, it was difficult to keep records who was punished or killed and why and what were the consequences (the number of flashbacks is limited), and the inclusion of serenity and religious stuff did often contradict with the rest of events. Sometimes I felt confused because many non-White performers had similar roles in other gang or police series I have seen in recent years (e.g. The Wire, The Shield).

    The setup of the series is distinct, with Augustus Hill as the show's main narrator, providing witty observations and background information about the US legal system and local habits, and the main crime of most Oz' inhabitants. I often felt that the creators were against death penalty, but, on the other hand, the viewers were often deprived of the views of the people whose people close to them were brutally murdered or raped... But still, after dozens of hours of watch, I have to agree that it seems to be a realistic overview of US penitentiary scene, and to recognize that the concept of uniform US citizen is a myth as the color of skin and religion have too much impact on people's lives.
  • Coxer997 September 1999
    Fantastic series from "Homicide: Life on the Streets," creator

    Tom Fontana and Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson about life in a maximum security prison where there is never a dull moment. Episodes of the show have been directed by some of Hollywood's elite, including Kathy Bates, Steve Buchemi and Chazz Palmintierri. Proof that there is still gritty, real life television on the air.
  • "Oz" is one of the best shows out there right now,and its stands up to the countless boring reruns and cheesy newsmagazine shows that's killing prime time. Its a perfect summer retreat from the norm. In Emerald City,you'll never know what these prisoners may do next or the warden for that matter. Especially the most ruthless prisoners out there,the dreated and unpredictable Nazi Schillinger,and the extreme not to be trusted sly as a fox;the African imate Adebisi,and the security guards too are always up to some evil scheme or another. Its one of the most gripping hours worth of TV that you'll see anywhere,and with each new episode its just gets better than the next,and there's always something going on each week that's not be missed by a long shot. Always Something.
  • My friend Jake thinks that OZ is about nothing but how homosexuals live. I suggest that he sees something like Jeffrey if he thinks that. Anyway, OZ is the real deal. Adebiso wears that cool hat that appears GLUED to his head. Then Tobias has a good brain and is a HARVARD grad who likes that guy from LAW AND ORDER. Then there is McManus who is a odd looking duck who has sex with all sorts of nasty looking guards, even Carmella from The Sopranos. Of course, OZ would not be OZ without that dude in a wheelchair. He is super wise!! He and O'Reilly are very wise and very opposite. Then there is the retard, Searle. But of course, CHUCK ZITO!!!! He is a super cool tough guy!! I love OZ!!!
  • 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.
  • Oz is one of the best shows that I've ever watched on TV. The show is full of realness and actucally scares me of going to prison. Every episode you watch leaves you hooked wondering what is going to happen next. Aside from all the gayness which makes me want to vomit this is a great show.
  • At first it may seem like a very fine docu-drama, exposing problems of prison life from an insider's point of view.

    As the series continues, the "docu" begins to fade, leaving gutsy drama in view.

    Later, a truth emerges: "Oz" is a de facto "prison soap opera."

    This discovery brings less enthusiasm for Tom Fontana's creation. One realizes the script is now more exploiting than expressing significant needs for penal reformation.

    With an excellent, powerhouse cast, though, "Oz" brilliantly delineates inner workings of prison life through its seemingly real-life characters. Most cast members don't even seem to be acting, so effective is their skill. The enactment does bring attention to a most important societal challenge of how to deal appropriately with unsocial behavior.

    Is the state to continue merely incarcerating or seeking truly effective rehab programs? These tough, tremendously pertinent issues here ultimately become secondary to the more pragmatic "performing warden favors," buoyed by standard power-playing and manipulating.

    Further, the volume of in-house incidents of violence becomes too many, much, and often for full credibility.

    Granted, this isn't a new problem. Whenever a social expose type project is undertaken, the question is how to present it with integrity, while not overdoing the quantity or degree of incidents. Frederick Wiseman faced this problem in the 60s with his revealing documentaries ("Titicut Follies,'67; "Law and Order," '69 and "High School," '69). Later Paddy Chayefsky ran into a similar problem ("Hospital," '71, and "Network," '76).

    In each of the above cases, it was as though the writer took cases from many situations and sources, then "condensed" them into one setting. While such "synthesizing" may enhance dramatic movement, it can help to defeat intrinsic credibility.

    "Oz" does bring some attention to the need for society at large to deal with constructive rehab programs and techniques over merely blind incarceration. It's not a pretty tale being told, yet one of genuine importance. Many so-called prisioners today will be fellow citizens tomorrow. It behooves the striving for compassion and understanding in supporting of genuine penal reforms.

    As for the hard-working cast and crew, kudos to all for fine work and helping to raise television programming to new quality standards.
  • ...if what you want is the usual depiction that passes for prison life in a dramatic format. No SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION here, folks, no benevolent GREEN MILE guards or saintly supernatural inmates. OZ tells it like it is, and baby, it ain't pretty.

    Using at times a sense of hyper-realism, (in the narrations of the excellent Harold Perrineau, who serves as the show's conscience and Greek chorus), OZ shows us both the profane and profound aspects of prison life that we good, law-abiding citizens don't like to think about. We have the "authorities" to take care of that, don't we?

    Exceptional art, no matter what the medium, has the ability to move us, make us think, make us feel both things we embrace and things we reject. The power this show has to polarize viewers into two different camps--love it or hate it--is proof enough that Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, the forces behind HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS, have fashioned something we haven't seen the likes of in a very long time.

    I would strongly suggest that anyone who has not yet seen it give it a try, if you have HBO. Then I dare you to tear yourself away from it. It's rare television that makes you sit up, take notice, and actually care about even the minor characters in an ensemble such as this, no matter how heinous their crimes, or how street-and-battle-hardened their exteriors.

    Augustus Hill, Simon Adebisi, Tobias Beecher, Vern Schillinger, Chris Keller, Jefferson Keane, Ryan O'Reilly, Kareem Said, Nino Schibetta, Bob Rebadow, Tim McManus, Warden Leo Glynn, Sister Peter-Marie, Father Ray, Officer Diane Wittlesey and all the others will imprint themselves on your memory and stay there, until you can't wait to find out what happens next.

    A blend of black humor and outright horror, cutting commentary and the basest brutality, it is one of the very few shows being done now that can reveal the most majestic qualities of the human spirit. The ongoing struggle to resist surrendering to impulses and urges that cause the evil that men do, in the one place you would least expect to find any light--in a sea of human misery and darkness.
  • Maniac-921 October 1998
    The shoe is as real and most quality show of ALL t.v. It has some of the most interesting characters I've seen on t.v. in awhile. My favorite characters would have to be Ryan O'Reilley, Miguel Alvarez, Kareem Said, and Simon Adebisi. Oz shows what it really takes to make it on the inside, you have to be watching your butt at all times. You can't trust anyone and no one trusts you. It might not get as much exposure as if it where on a network or anything but being on HBO allows more creative freedom. They aren't afraid that they will get censored and are just concerned about putting the best show possible on the boob tube.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the time it was released, „Oz" had a lot going for it. It came out during a time when one really wasn't sure what to watch on TV anymore. Most series and show had become stagnant, repetitive, literally parodies of putrid soap-operas and so one often opted not to turn it on at all and rather waste one's time with other activities; like reading books and spending time with friends and family.

    Then came "Oz", pulling us right back to the temple of the holy square. "Oz" gave us what we had never expected from television entertainment: not only talking violence, foul language and male nudity, but decent acting and interesting story lines. It gave us characters that literally deserved to rot in prison, psychopaths and scum that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, but at the same time kept us interested and made us sympathize with them, even. In that sense "Oz" was a blueprint for "The Sopranos", which would conquer the small screen a short while later.

    By the middle of season two it had become pretty clear what to expect: every member of the cast would be raped and shanked at least once, get a 180-degree character-makeover and it would become abundantly clear that it was just a matter of time until he (and occasionally she) would get killed off in some imaginative way.

    During the final two seasons "Oz" began to reek of desperation. After all, there are only so many stories one can pull out of a prison and only so many ideas a TV-writer can pull out of a certain orifice. Rather than reinventing, the show began to copy itself, whole story lines were literally repeated, became as improbable as could be and one could literally smell the anxiety to keep the ratings up. But the avid fan still stuck with the show, always hoping for those moments of brilliance that became fewer and further in between.

    Even if the story would become progressively soap-operish, we could always depend on the actors: the characters, be they full-time or guest-stars, were always interesting, their background story always colourful (to put it cynical) and, as said, their demises were generally imaginative.

    Despite all flaws and shortcomings, especially during the second half, "Oz" was all that TV could and should be, in my humble opinion second only to iconic "The Sopranos" and certainly worthy eight points from ten.
  • This is one of HBO's first big hits and is still one of not only HBO's best but one of the best in general! Oz will hook you from the very first episode through the finale and every episode is great!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *******SPOILER ALERT!!!!!**********

    I have been a fan of this show since it first hit HBO back in 1997. It's not your typical show: Oswald State Penitentiary (or "Oz")is a good idea gone bad. Every episode has Tim McManus (Terry Kinney), the prison administrator, trying to make the enviroment work. He comes off more as Don Quioxte trying to tackle a windmill with a toothbrush: the program that he helped create is destroying him in the process (He gets shanked, beaten up, and he begins to drink a lot). Meanwhile, the population of Oz has its own little soap operas going on, but my favorite is between Beecher(In for a DUI that resulted in a death) and Schillinger(In for assault, then for conspiracy). Beecher( Lee Tergensen)is in constant battle with Schillinger(Played wickedly by J.K. Simmons), a Aryan Brotherhood member that makes life HARD for Beecher(Giving the go-ahead to bump off Beecher's father and his son is just HORRIBLE!).The 2 of them are in a constant battle that eventually leads to one of them ending up dead (In a prison production of Hamlet, no less!). The last episode left too many loose ends(It's vacated due to a deadly white powder and the remaining prisoners leave in buses) and I wish that it had ended better, but hopefully, someday, they may end it properly.
  • This is such a powerful show, superbly acted, that frankly I feel it's the best TV drama ever made. I know plenty of Hill Street Blues/NYPD Blue/Prime Suspect (etc) fans would enthusiastically argue this point, but I feel Oz is so well acted, so well realised and so darn entertaining that it's no contest. The characters are very watchable, the stories are gripping, and so much happens in each episode that the viewer has a lot of food for thought once the show is over. I'm currently at the 4th season being in UK, so I don't know the latest developments, but I got a lot of story to look forward to...

    The fact it's also very satirical, particularly from Augustus Hill's commentary adds beautifully to the mix.

    Nothing short of outstanding.
  • No...I don't mean bunk-beds. I mean bunk.

    I watched every season of Oz from start to finish and I have to say, it never wasn't entertaining. Anyone who thinks this show could be viewed by just anyone better think again. Here is just a taste of what you're in for if you decide to embark on the same journey that I just did: defecation, anal rape, (on camera...) suicide, gouging of eyes, shanking, urine being consumed, feces being played with, torture, more anal rape, (this time with a spoon...)and plenty of good old fashioned bloody violence. Needless to say, it's a graphic show, but unfortunately for Tom Fontana, (writer of most episodes in the series) it fails to remain plausible.

    What starts out in season one as a well-acted, superbly-filmed prison drama degenerates into a wishy-washy, ridiculous, unsatisfying shock-fest that makes you scratch your head and say, 'how the hell could that happen?'

    Examples of ridiculous plot lines:

    1. Cyril O'Reilly, a mentally handicapped man is thrown into a maximum security prison, then sentenced to death for defending his brother and taking another man's life. Our right wing (of course!) Governor is cold-hearted and cruel and cares not for any prisoner, much less a retarded one...The political statements in this show are blatant and, as per usual with left wing TV, ludicrous.

    2. Chinese refugees are thrown in maximum security prison. Please! Like this would EVER happen. Political refugees would be placed into a middle school before being thrown in with a bunch of murderers and rapists. Of course, one of these refugees who we grow to love is brutally slain in graphic detail for us to enjoy. Barf. Pure shock value.

    3. Prisoners on work detail roam the halls, kitchen, and gym unsupervised. A prisoners' father and brother are even shanked, separately while they are visiting! In one scene, a Moslem gets sliced open with a box cutter by two Aryan thugs in a storage room. No one hears his screams. In another scene, a man gets his arms and legs broken on a wrestling mat while a guard watches and laughs. No one is held accountable.

    4. In "Oz," every correctional officer is not only corrupt, but they are even gang members, murderers and sadists. If I had to bet, real correctional officers are deeply offended by this show. The CO's in "Oz" set up murders, are bought by prisoners for a pittance, and show no mercy. A female CO even 'rapes' several male prisoners! And of course, no one sees any of this or investigates the crimes. It's portrayed as 'just part of prison life!' Give me a large break.

    5. In "Oz," murders take place on a daily basis. "Oz" has more murders in a given year than the entire city of Detroit. No one thinks to put in camera surveillance? The murders are brushed off unless they are committed by one of our main stars who we like. Then they are sent to death row.

    6. Our main character, Tobias Beecher, slices and dices a guard (with fingernail clippers, no less...) and nothing ever comes of it. The guard is simply gone. It's never mentioned again in that episode, or later episodes.

    7. Prisoners are purposely left alone with those who they seek to kill. In one scene, a vicious Aryan psycho is left alone with a dentist in a small office. The guard simply shuts the door. I guess the Aryan paid him $20... In another scene, as I mentioned above, a visiting lawyer, who happens to be a prisoner's father, is shut into a hallway so a pragg can shank him and gut him like a fish. When the visitor calls for the guard, the guard slams the door in his face. Guess he got paid off, too.

    They tried to intertwine too many stories and introduce too many characters in "Oz," most of whom were uninteresting and did nothing for the main story lines. It probably could have been done in half as many seasons. The audience has to be 'reminded' of plot lines from prior episodes by these little black and white flashbacks. It gets very tiring trying to keep up with it all.

    I could probably go on and on but it's not worth it. I did watch every single episode of this show and I did enjoy a lot of it. What I did like tallies up to be more than what I didn't, so for that, I'll say thanks to Tom Fontana, Levinson and crew. Lots of good acting and great lines. Lots of memorable scenes and I especially enjoyed the character Kareem Said who was, by far, the coolest man in the show.

    If you can stomach wretched, shocking scenes, a lot of racial slurs along with derogatory terms and plenty of implausibility, I'd recommend buying this series. Buy every season because it is highly addictive. But get it used if you can. And get ready to pass it on because it's not the kind of show that many people will enjoy watching repeatedly.

    6 out of 10, kids.
  • The HBO series "OZ" was one of the best shows to ever grace the mid-1990's. Speaking of some of the great shows that came from that period like "The X-Files","Homicide:Life On The Street","NYPD Blue","The Practice","Law and Order",and so forth. For the six seasons that it ran on Home Box Office(HBO),producing a total of 147 episodes that begin with the opening episode of the series,the first episode on July 12,1997 to the emotional and astounding finale of the series on February 23,2003. This was a brilliant series in astounding detail that was superbly acted and exceptionally well written with some of the most grippest episodes ever conceived and it shows coming from the creative minds of Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana,the forces behind this show and there over successful venture "Homicide:Life On The Street",have fashioned something that was out of the ordinary and for one something we haven't seen the likes of in a long time. And to show it "OZ" was just that...a gripping and intensely violent drama that takes place within the walls the nation's penal system and the inmates and prison officals that control it. "OZ" was so successful in fact that it was nominated for two Emmys(twice)for Best Dramatic Series on Cable Television not to mention winning the ALMA,Cable ACE,Edgar Allen Poe Awards for Best Writing,The Writers Guild Of America for some of the best writing ever presented on television. For one "OZ" was something special that got people's attention: It was a rare series that made up sit up and basically take notice,and actually care for the characters in such an ensemble cast as this,no matter how heinous their crimes,or how street-and-battle hardened their exteriors were.

    Another reason why "OZ" was so brilliant was that it took the level of television drama to another level which was something that you would never see on any of the major television networks,and it was only on HBO that you saw it the way it was meant to be seen,and let me tell you this: "OZ" was graphically violent and bloody,vicious,and cruel not to mention full of nudity and explicit graphic language. In other words,"OZ" tells it like it is and believe me it is not pretty. It's realistic,frank and very controversial. It was also wildly creative,beautifully filmed,brilliantly acted with the grand and beautifully innovation of great storytelling. This was a show that was clever and highly intelligent(although many can't get past some of the brutuality and constant swearing not to mention the blood and gore)and since this was basically an adult show,made for adults. Some of the plots within the show are one of constant tension and drama as plan follows plan follows murder follows betrayal and so forth with some of the story lines exceptionally good and sometimes brutal in the aftermath. As for the characters themselves,especially with some of the inmates,and some of the guards too,they change with time-they develop within the events,they get killed and regardless of the status within the series' run they get killed off-one by one! New inmates are added and the same formula follows the same suit. Regardless,to get through a entire day in "OZ" is through survival-where only the strong survive.

    "OZ" is set within the confine walls of Oswald State Penitentiary and within the wings there is a section called Emerald City which is basically a city within a prison. With this wing prisoners are given more responsibility and better conditions. Sleeping two to a pod,with clean facilities,etc. However,the prisoners are no different as crime and violence runs the prison. No one is above corruption and murder can come from the smallest events. Drugs,rape,and torture are the weapons and no one is above betrayal and deceit as powerful partnerships are formed and broken. Even the guards are in on the act right under the warden's nose. The head warden of Oswald State Penitentiary is Leo Glenn(Ernie Hudson),who runs his prison like a ironhand and is strictly by the book. His counterpart,the manager of prison operations,Tim McManus (Terry Kinney),oversee the majority of prisoners since he is dealing with some of the most dangerous inmates ever. The rest of the staff consisted of Sister Marie(Rita Moreno),Father Mukada(D.B. Wong)and Nurse Reyes(Lauren Velez).

    The cast consists of the some of the best acting around...check it out the performances too including the youngest inmate ever inprisoned in OZ,teenager Kenny Wangler(J.D.Williams),not to mention the first woman to be executed on death row in OZ,Shirley Bellinger(Kathryn Erbe,in a far cry from her role on Law and Order:SVU),and Inmate Chris Keller(Christopher Meloni in a role that was far away from what he does on Law and Order:SVU). Key performances what made this series stand out are here especially from first-rate actors Lee Tergensen(Tobias Beecher),J.K. Simmons(Aryan Leader Vern Schillinger),Eamonn Walker(Kareem Said),Tony Musante(Mob Leader Nino Schibetta),and not to mention the narrator Harold Perrineau(the narrator of OZ,Augustus Hill),real-life brothers Scott and Dean Winters(as Cyril and Ryan O'Reily),and Kirk Acevado(Miguel Alvarez,leader of a tough Latino street gang),not to mention Zeljko Ivanek(Governor Devlin),and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje(as the notorious Simon Adebisi). And the guest stars that appeared on this show during its six-year run,which would have anybody from hip-hop artists(Method Man of Wu Tang Clan, LL Cool J,and Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian not to mention rappers like MC Lyte and Sheryl Denton- of the 80's female rap group Salt and Pepa),NBA Superstars(Rick Fox),Nationally known poetry artists(muMs da Schemer)and Broadway stars(Joel Grey,and Patti LaPone)and other television appearances(Edward Herrmann,and Edie Falco,who was a regular during the show's first season as one of the guards). A show that was great in all aspects.
  • mattiasflgrtll610 December 2015
    That's right. This show is so fantastic there are no words which make it justice!

    Right from the very first episode, there is a LOT going on, and many reasons why the next episode is worth watching. Conflicts are introduced which are built upon in the next episode, and new conflicts then arise in THAT episode. Sometimes as a result of the PREVIOUS conflicts. That's how complex this show is, the heat is in the air the whole time.

    The writing is AMAZING. You never can be certain of what will happen next and the dialogue ranges from witty or darkly hilarious to intense or very heartbreaking. A lot of episodes among all the violence and scumbags contain interesting messages about life. Every episode has a theme; it could be revenge, sex, love, drugs... These are presented with the narration by this show's moral centerpiece Augustus Hill. And still, he's not perfect himself. All of the characters have their own flaws which this series present excellently.

    The characters are MANY, but somehow this show manages to make almost every one of them fascinating in some way. Even those who appear in only one single episode can make you attached to the screen and anticipated over what will happen with him next (it's USUALLY a him, it's a prison full of males after all). Just when you think you know how someone is like, that character can go through things which radically alter their behavior. Even the most innocent of people can suddenly flip. Among my favorites are Tobias Beecher (the closest thing to a main character), Vern Schillinger, Tim McManus, Kareem Said, Father Ray Mukada, Simon Adebisi, Omar White... There are just too damn many, man! There are all sorts of people to get invested by, and the writers respect character development to such a point that you rarely feel like someone is one-dimensional.

    Taboo subjects are touched upon, such as racism, homophobia, rape, drug abuse among other things. You will find at least 10 people here who either holds these opinions or has done any of the latter stuff. Despite what is said to be a maximum security level, Oz is a rat maze! You have to look around the corner, be suspicious about everyone. Somebody could act like your best friend just to later brutally execute you. Sure it occasionally gets unrealistic and even a bit convoluted (Aging pills? An unconscious body which disappears without explanation?) but it's easy to overlook since there's always something to keep my eyes on. It never gets so distracting that I become angry and turn it off. Oh no, boy. My eyes are glued to the screen even more than Charlie Sheen is addicted to sex.

    Everything is mesmerizing. Hell, it even has one of the best theme songs of all time! The cinematography as well, it's shockingly impressive! I especially have to praise Alex Zakrzewski, who is the most frequent director of photography. Give the man an award already!

    To say this show is a must-see would be an understatement. If you've never seen Oz, you haven't completed your life. Breathtaking television.
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