Oz (TV Series 1997–2003) Poster

(1997–2003)

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Do NOT pass go, do not travel down this "Yellow Brick Road"...
cchase2 February 2000
...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.
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Truly tremendous - my favourite drama
Danny_G1323 July 2002
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.
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More genius from the creators of "Homicide: Life on the Street"
thensheappeared20 July 2004
OK, it's violent and bloody and vicious and cruel. It's also wildly creative, beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted (with very few exceptions) and has a great framing device. The stories are both filled with detail and minutiae, and also have overarching moral tales and "big picture" flow. At the end of almost every episode you'll probably find yourself muttering "This is SUCH a good show!"

Although it is ostensibly the story of a prison and its many prisoners, 'Oz' can be viewed as primarily the story of one man, Tobias Beecher. Beecher has committed vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk. Because Beecher is a lawyer, the court decides to make an example of him and sends him to maximum security at Oswald Penitentiary. His journey through Oz is basically the rest of the series, and it's certainly no yellow brick road he follows. Everything that you could imagine happening in a prison setting happens, and probably a lot you wouldn't imagine.

He gets assigned to "Em" City (Emerald City), an experimental unit in Oz; the goal of Em City is to try a different living environment, one that might give the prisoners a chance at changing their lives and possibly rehabilitate them. Managed by a true prison reform zealot, Tim McManus, Em City is for many prisoners the only hope in their lives. The inmates of Em City are some of the most brutal offenders in the entire penitentiary - McManus insists that these are the prisoners to try to reach. McManus also picks newer prisoners, ones that don't have life sentences, to add to the mix and to give them a shot at rehabilitation.

Every episode has a storyteller - most of the time the storyteller is Augustus Hill, shot while killing a cop and now confined to a wheelchair. Because he is unable to be physically brutal anymore, because he is more imprisoned than even his fellow prisoners, Augustus is very insightful and is used to heighten and clarify themes for the audience.

The other inmates in Em City all have their own character development and story arcs - some are impressively vibrant but brief, others last for the whole series - but ultimately the writers always return to Beecher and his story. His friends (few), his enemies (many), his family, and his relationships with the prison staff.

Amid the worst that prison can dish out, the inmates struggle with the meaning of religion, with definitions of family, with the corruption of politics, with friendship, betrayal, and ultimately, survival. There are moments of sheer wanton destruction, unspeakable violence, shocking cruelty, and pure evil. It's prison! There is nothing glorified here; inmates do drugs to escape the horror of their realities, gangs murder each other over trivialities, inmates and guards commit rape just because they can. But how they manage to survive - and IF they manage to survive - keeps you watching.

Some key performances: The always perfect J.K. Simmons as Schillinger, the leader of the Aryans; Chris Meloni as Chris Keller (quite a different part than his character on L&O: SVU!); Lee Tergesen as Beecher; Eamonn Walker as Said, the leader of the Muslims; Dean and Scott Winters (real-life brothers) as Ryan and Cyril O'Reilly; and Kirk Acevedo as Miguel Alvarez, a member of the Latinos. But honestly, the whole cast is excellent. Even most of the "guest starring" roles - new inmates who practically have an expiration date stamped on them - are good, and at least are pretty interesting.

It's coming out on DVD in dribs and drabs - rent it, borrow it, steal it, whatever. But watch it!
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Not only the best show on TV currently, but one of the best shows of all-time.
Evan Locci4 December 1998
Consistently well-written and acted, Oz is without a doubt the best thing on TV. Quality wise, it's up there with the first 4 seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street as the most compelling hour of television drama. Presenting a harsh and realistic view of prison life, Oz is a wonderful mixture of superb acting and character development; all of which rides on a nuanced and erudite core (Foucault's Panopticon is the inspiration for Em City's design...and ultimate failure). It is the only show on TV, that I can think of, that has presented characters who were intensely dislikable one moment and oddly empathetic the next. That I am repulsed by, sympathetic with, intrigued about, and involved with every character that has lived, died or survived on the show, is no small feat. Good TV exists. And, for my money, Oz is not only good TV, it is better than most films released throughout the year.
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Brutal, difficult, uncompromising, unpleasant, unsettling and utterly brilliant
bob the moo27 June 2002
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.
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The most underrated show on tv
girardi_is_god13 February 2003
On HBO, all the Emmy's for hard core drama go to THE SOPRANOS, and I dont' think that's bad. It is a great show. But Oz is better. It might well be the best thing on television. It doesn't get the press of the Sopranos. And the other people who watch HBO (those who don't like all the violence) whould much rather watch Ferris Beuller's wife in SEX AND THE CITY, which I will NEVER watch. Oz is amazing because almost every charachter in it's sea of people is in some way a terrible human being. But the magic of this show is that these terrible people become understandable. They do terrible things, but they are not all bad. Ryan O'Rielly, for example, is a cold-blooded killer. But when it comes to his brother and doctor Nathan, and more recently the priest he befriended, he is a warm and caring person who's pain you empathize with. Oz takes murderers, rapists, thieves, and even a rich lawyer who ran down a young girl in a drunken stuper, and makes them likeable and forgivable. That's incredible. And this show is incredible. It goes off the air soon for good, and I wish it had gotten the respect it deserved.
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One Episode and you will be hooked.....
saffrin5 June 1999
There was nothing on and I switched on HBO and got hooked on OZ. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. The characters are real and are well acted. By the end of my first episode I was hooked. I find myself wanting to know more about each character and what makes them tick. This is a definite must see show.
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10/10
Oz is a fascinating depiction of humanity in it's strangest forms
xtremeguy6 February 2008
Oz is set in Oswald State Correctional Facility. It tells the story of confrontation, cruelty, violence, hate and survival at any cost. in a place like Oz, you have to have eyes in the back of your head.

This completely original, intelligent and compelling drama tells of how warped life becomes as soon as you step through the gates of Emerald City.

What is supposed to be a state of art correctional facility is in fact far from being such. The show brings to light some of the many flaws in the prison system, the underestimating of the humanity that cold hard killers are capable of still retaining, and the one true fact: The prisoners are the one's who control the prison.

This magnificent and somewhat surreal show teaches about the importance of every life and helps give an understanding to the reasons that most of the prisoners are there. This show may seem shocking at first but to truly tell it like it is, such a thing is necessary.

Oz is a great depiction of hell on earth and how such a place teaches you some of the most important lessons you will ever learn.
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Its influence will elevate the level of television drama for years to come.
budmassey19 January 2003
The stature of this program must be measured in the context of its format. These are not feature films, but one hour dramas, no different in concept or constraint from countless other network counterparts. But, oh how different in result.

Oz is not for everyone. It is violent, lurid, obscene, profane and controversial. Oz us narrated dramatically by a "Greek Chorus" of inmates who make insightful observations not just about Oz, but applicable to the outside world as well. The talent, none of it marquee, is nonetheless the finest assembly of supporting actors an ensemble cast could hope for.

In order to keep ratings up, the stories sometimes veer into the unbelievable, but the grit and reality are never gone for long. Oz is also a bundle of irony. Although it deals with homosexuality with insight and objectivity in every episode, it just as often bristles with gratuitous homoerotic overtone. Despite the fact that it overflows with action and violence, it never mistakes kenesis for story.

Sometimes, Oz borders on, and crosses well into, genius. Its often surreal direction elevates otherwise base events to sublime levels. Music, pacing, convoluted story lines careening and intersecting in ways that are at the same time graceful and clumbsy, just like real life.

This is said to be the last season of Oz, and yet, only two seasons are on DVD. With constant reruns and each episode being aired about a dozen times a week, you may be tired of this jewel anyway, but its influence will elevate the level of television drama for years to come.
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10/10
hands down the best show on tv
The_Wood27 January 2002
Oz, no Dorothy you're not in Kansas anymore. Oz is the television show that pushed the limits in what you can get away with on television. Oz is real and violent, and it also makes for the single best series on TV, ever. With performance that grab attention, and some of the best direction ever on TV, Oz should be watched by ritual.
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Best show on Tv
crazydog-228 November 2000
I ended up watching OZ as probably many others: I opened the tv on one monday-tuesday night and there was "nothing on" (really surprising: the clock was around 1 at night.)I wasn't instantly hooked: it took me couple of weeks. But after the Ryan O'Reily-Dr. Nathan storyline have watched every episode and the last couple of months I've done nothing else that expected the next episode. I just got so hooked on the show. So what's so excellent in the show? Everything. There is wonderful acting, GREAT srorylines, characters that are just perfect and of course the cold reality of the show. One thing I really like is this realism: There are no stupid heros that shouldn't be in prison. Everyone there's a criminal and deserves to be there. This doesn't mean they are some emotionaless robots: they also have feelings. Just watch the way ruthless killer Ryan O'Reily takes care of his retarted brother. Or the Beecher-Keller affair. This show can offer you a peek to the prison life,or at least as close as you can show on tv.Because it's done for cable you can say the f-word and show violence(it would be kind of stupid if the prisoners said "oh darn" or tried to solve their fights in a nice game of poker..)So the strong language and shocking deaths are justified, but may not be suitable for younger audience. But for older people, this is the best thing American tv can offer you.
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Towers over every show on television
claudonio24 November 2000
With the exception of "The X-Files", "OZ" is by far the best show on TV. It is unrelenting in it's realism and the acting is phenomenal. It's too bad that HBO's other series "The Soprano's" gets all the awards that this show deserves. I have never missed an episode of this show, I always make time to watch it. I cannot say enough good things about this show, it always suprises me, I look forward to watching this show. When this show goes off the air it will stand tall among the best television series ever.
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Gripping TV at its very best!!!!
raysond23 August 2000
"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.
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Oz
alonenmysolitude18 August 2003
This show has to be one of the best shows ever! And I'm not exaggerating. Oz deserves and Emmy for the beautifully acted scenes. Yet now the show has ended, but no Emmy. Oz is critically acclaimed, but has a small fan base. Why? Because people don't want to put a face on all the criminals in the world. They don't want to feel for all those millions put behind bars. They don¡¦t want to feel for murders, drug addicts, for rapists. People don't want to put a face on those people because then they'll feel for them. And no one wants to feel compassion for a cold-blooded murderer, now do we?

Oz is HBO¡¦s first drama series. But it goes unrecognized and overshadowed by the highly viewed THE SOPRANOS. Lee Tergesen's role as Tobias Beecher is perhaps one of the most hurt characters in Oz. He plays pain so- well; I can¡¦t explain it you just have to see for yourself. All the characters in Oz are hurt in one way or another, but they all handle their own pain differently. Miguel Alvarez (Kirk Acevedo) is depressed over losing a child and goes a little insane. But you feel for these people and you relate to them. Then it hits you like a bombshell- they killed someone, they broke the law! (Gasp!) Oh no! How can I relate to a murderer, an abuser? A ¡K. nazi?

I am shocked to learn the six years Oz has been on HBO it had only 2 Emmy nominations. For casting and a guest performance! And they didn't even win! I am quite horrified to learn that a critically acclaimed show has never won a f***ing (Excuse my French) Emmy! Perhaps I will never know the reason why. Maybe they don¡¦t want the younger generation to watch this show and feel the urge to be a criminal. Maybe the show gives them too many ideas about killing. Whatever the reason may be I will always remember the beautiful show called OZ with a not so beautiful world.
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10/10
Best series I've seen
darieldowning26 April 2019
This should be a award winning series for story line and the outstanding portrayal of the actors. I was stunned by the quality of the actors due to never my never hearing of this series. It's time to bring this series back to life. I believe it ended after 6 seasons in 2003. Please bring Oz back to life.
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9/10
Gritty
Iknowbest7 October 2018
This is possibly the mother of all prison series. It's gritty, suspenseful and the characters are all so unique. You just don't know who will be next to get shivved or pushed up against their bed in the middle of the night. Watch this in one sitting!
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9/10
Best prison-based tv show ever
hawkeyepierce-1509313 February 2018
I would be a little subjective because this is my favourite "type" of a tv show, but OZ is much more than just another prison drama, it carries a certain message, with all of its characters (to the smallest part) full of uniquenes and individuality, and that message is that no matter what religion, skin color, sexual orientation, or sins makes a man what he is, value of his life is not something to be lightly taken away. The most important thing in human society is equality, no matter on what level or on what grounds. And people do change... I highly recommend this series, because it is one of those rare ones that will force you to question your believes, no matter who you are and what you believe. Thumbs up!!!
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special
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.
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Truly worth watching
Sparkle1329 March 2005
Oz is, flat-out, one of the best series I have ever seen. It is filled with characters that you "love to hate," always intriguing story lines, mind-blowing plot twists and just awesome acting. I think that Oz isn't recognized or critically acclaimed as much as it deserves. I watch that show and I forget that they are actors, it is that convincing! You just get sucked into it and if you're like me, you just want MORE!! I can't get enough of it! I love the fact that it has a rotating cast of "main" characters that is always well above 25. Oz does a very good job of focusing due attention on all the characters individually, as well as their many complex interactions with others. I have to say, I have the hots for about 75% of the cast, hehe. Oz is definitely worth seeing but also it is not for the fainthearted. There is gratuitous violence, foul language, and nudity/sex. But hey, it is a great show and the above named only help show the grit of prison life.
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Interesting And Violent
Oskar_SW19 April 2004
Oz is like a show like no another! There is a lot of comedy show and other shows that are very,very similar. Oz does not fall into this category. It takes place in the notorious prison Oswald Maximum Security Prison or OZ!. Warden McManus fight`s every day to avoid chaos in this tough environment. He believe that instead of oppressing the inmate`s he tries to convert them from the criminal path that they have chosen.

Its always good episodes and the actors performance`s and the "plot" keeps the interest alive and the mind intrigued on what`s happening next. Praise to the actors and all other involved.
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Arguably this was one of the best shows to ever come out of the mid-1990's and lasted into the next millennium
rcj53654 January 2007
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.
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9/10
Oz is a great series
ragoodmanster11 February 2007
Oz is a great series, one of televisions underrated shows. It has a certain relationship to soap opera in that something evil is always happening, and it is the unfolding of each instance of evil that fascinates. From my discussions with people who are actually in prison, it rings true. Every interaction has some machination working in the background. Behind every action, there lies a scheme, a plot to do someone else in. I like this series so much that it is one of the few TV shows I have bought completely, on DVD.

And, yes, I agree with the writer before me who commented that there are elements of satire in it. The character in the wheelchair who offers his jaundiced view of life does so with a certain bit of ironic humor.
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9/10
Hard to explain!
NHNeil18 August 2000
I never realized what this show was all about until last season. I only wish that I could locate back episodes and watch each and every one. This show leaves you wanting for more at the end of the hour. I sometimes watch the repeats later in the week.

I can't explain why I care about the characters but I do. They are basically a bunch of cutthroat SOB's but I am drawn back each week as if I know each person. Never get too attached to one character as they may not be there the following episode.

Haven't seen a show this powerful since I don't know when.
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oz The show i've seen from Hbo.
RUKIA1927 August 2002
I am a big fan of Oz i have never seen anything like it before. Oz is gripping and tense with appealing characters you'll either like or loathe.In the UK Oz is rarely mentioned as it's timeslot is so crap channel 4 should have more respect and change it to 10.pm. Anyway, if i had to choose my one favourite Character it would have to be Ryan O'Reily be in control and he sure knows how to manipulate others and he sure is a right scheming scumbag and i think he is so hot.I really like the way Dean Winters plays him.Oz is so underrated overhere but i have to say that it's's the best show i've ever seen it wont appeal to everyone but it's the best drama i've ever seen.I am sad to hear That Oz will end in season 6 because it was a brillaint show and nothing can replace it.
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6/10
Graphic, shocking, brutal...with plenty of bunk.
coldwaterpdh27 June 2008
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.
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