Seriously Tom Fontana is one F-ed up dude. I've got a lot respect for him for writing every single episode (56 hours!) but it certainly says alot about his sanity. The show is probably known for its frankly sick death scenes but delve a little deeper and you actually see its about the human condition. The show could get very emotional in its depiction of men trying to survive in the most dangerous circumstances and this is thanks to superb performances from an all round outstanding cast. Every character whether they lasted an episode or 6 seasons mattered. Unfortunatly due it already being pretty schizophrenic from the start the show made one of the worst 'jump the sharks' and towards the end despite the performances still shining through the show became pathetic and embarassing. A shame because had Fontana cut it off at around season 4 (where it reached a climax) OZ may of been remembered as a classic show and up there with the Sopranos. Check out the first three seasons and the first half of the fourth for some best and wickedly mad TV ever made.
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!
I've just finished watching all 6 seasons of Oz, and I'm left feeling so empty. Really, after 6 seasons you'd hope to find some sort of closure, some progress in any of the lives we've followed for so long, but all I saw was the same old thing with the same old people in every episode. It began with an introduction and ended where we started with no in-between, on the exception of a few dead guys. Really, couldn't all of this have been done in 2 episodes? Why was 6 seasons necessary? By season three I was convinced that I would never witness a positive outcome to any situation and thus becoming 100% accurate in predicting of the outcome of every major climax - every single time, such predictability! I can see how some people would appreciate the precise drama but in all I think this is a good example of how miserably repetitious HBO series can be. :p
now i have never been to prison, but i have spent a few nights in county jail. and if this is anywhere remotely what prison is like, i will never get arrested again. this show was just too far out there to be taken seriously. it was still an interesting show though.
you don't get to see this much violence and nudity on regular tv so its cable. you see how these people got into this situation and now how they are dealing with their bunk mates and they like to keep their races seperate. you have nazi's and brotherhood
this show has a lot of violence and racism going on all the time. the african american people trying to kill the aryan race people and visa versa. they are selling drugs and sex. they get very graffic in this one. it's funny watching the two guys from svu here.
I watched all 6 seasons of Oz basically in a row, with only a few breaks when time permitted. All in all, I loved the show and the interesting cast of inmates. There were its low points in storylines like the murderous nurse, but also the high points. All in all, I would definitely reccomend this show to anyone with a strong stomach, but be wary what you get into. Its a great show, but there is still better out there, but for a true prison atmosphere, Oz is definitely where it is at.
Not for anyone's eyes (not only because it's for adults only, but also cause it showed strong images of sex and violence).
All and all it was one of the finest shows i've ever seen.
Now I appreciate it even more as I often see shows that are similar in lots of aspects.
I heard about this show ages ago but never really looked at it until it was advertised for a long time on SBS. The show manages to show what a life a prisoner has and it all looks realitic but that's all I have to ride on, I don't know if. All the characters have their own unique qualities which makes the show more interesting. I haven't seen all the episodes but i'm working my way to it and I can't get enough of it. Also, special credit must go out to Tom Fontana who had a hand in writing all the scripts which is an amazing feat to achieve.
Welcome to Oz (The Oswald State Correctional Facility), a terrifyingly corrupt Prison set in upstate New York where the burdens of the state are pooled together with the very worst being brought to "Em City" a cell block oriented around rehabilitation and education led by the originally naive Tim McManus. "Em City" brings many members of diverse groups (Neo-Nazis, Muslims, Gangbangers, Junkies and Psychopaths) into a melting pot where there are no secrets. There are no solid walls, with all of the cells being glass prisms forcing the guards to watch in helpless horror (and even take part in the cruelty themselves) as prisoners Rape, Kill and sell/use massive amounts of Drugs all in the pursuit of power and any equivalent of freedom they can get their hands on. Over the course of Six Seasons each consisting of Eight hour-long episodes we learn more than we could ever want to know about the crimes, passions, relationships and vices of the inmates and guards. The Acting across the board is stellar- striding a fine line between Bold Art (the show is narrated from the rotating prismatic perspective of a wheelchair bound prisoner floating above the chaos of Oz like Glenda the Good Witch in her bubble) and eerie naturalism. Beyond this however most viewers will probably be put off by the EXTREMELY BRUTAL violence and full frontal male nudity (often within the context of Rape). Oz is a grueling experience but ultimately finds redemption in its humanization and not glorification of Prison Life. This is not The Shawshank Redemption. Instead we get an intimate look at the horrors of the Prison System and the corruption that sews the seeds of discontent often ending in the deaths of human beings. For those who can stomach the default nastiness and cynicism Oz will prove to be a rewarding and highly engaging exercise in sustained tension.
Don't get me wrong - I love the show but I hated the ending. OZ lost me somewhere between the middle and the ending when they started killing off the interesting characters. Aside from the ending - I really enjoyed the show, it had lots to say about politics and the world we live in. Alot of time and thought went into OZ as each episode had a theme and a message which the cast protrayed, all of whom did a wonderful job bringing life to the production. I enjoyed the overall development of OZ and how they went about conveying their message without beating you over the head with information. Its fiction but its conscious tv.
Oz takes a violent, drug-filled prison environment and crosses it with interesting and unique plotlines and character development to give us one extremely entertaining and addictive show.
The show, which focuses on an experimental cellblock called Emerald City, offers an interesting take on prison life, showing an environment of drugs and violence, where the main goal of any inmate is usually to stay alive. Oz provides an entire lineup of interesting and unique individuals and the plotlines, although they can get a little wacky at times, are completely different than anything else on TV, and keep you always wanting to see the next episode. The realism of what goes on inside of Oz is questionable but I don't think it matters too much since the end result is so enjoyable to watch.
Now whether Oz is realistic to actual prison life is anyone's guess. Personally, I am guessing that they take alot of creative liberties, but either way there is no doubting this - Tom Fontana made one damn good show. Complete with violence, drug abuse, and yes....even rape, Oz is not an easy show to watch at times. However, if you can stomach it, you will find yourself nodding approvingly and saying at the end of every episode, "This is one damn good show."
I cannot be biased by my love for the show, though. As it goes on, the plotlines become more ludicrous and lazy (Maxim magazine? Lottery tickets? C'mon, now), but that is balanced very well by extraordinary acting, and the later seasons while below the show's former quality, demonstrate MANY powerful moments scattered throughout. Oz is indeed a trendsetting show; as it was the first of its kind and includes many television firsts. It is hard to be original these days, and Oz did it. A true gem in and of itself indeed. It's a shame it didn't get the same recognition as Sopranos, Sex & The City, and Six Feet Under do.
I came into Oz late...if I can recall clearly, it was the second season that caught my eye, and I have been a fan from sice then.
What a show?
The show centers around a prison, its inmates and the prison guards.
It's bloody, brutal, emotional and highly entertaining.
Although, the show started getting slightly boring in its latter season, and I was really mad when some of my favorite cast mates like: Hill, Warden Glynn, Said, Schillinger were killed off, the show still kept my interest.
Prison shows are not unique but Oz does present itself in a unique light. The superficial story telling is excellent. One could stop there and just enjoy the story. The characters all have depth. None of them are without positive and negative traits. All of them get pushed to there limits and demonstrate both how good one can be and how low we all can fall.
The writers do not stop there. The layers and questions it asks are exceptional. What is a prison? Do we make our own prison? What is freedom? Who really is free? What is the meaning of life and what is really important?
The darkness of the show and brutality give you a visiceral response. Once you recover from the response, the deeper meanings start to emerge. This show is not for the weak of stomach, but if you want to explore life, explore Oz.
People should thank these men in Oz , for their good looks and dramatic mode. They should put more female, I know it's a male jail. But that one girl that was in jail, then the next season she died. The reason why men dream about sex all the time.
Very sexy, dramatic, and witty. You should brink back this show, who cares about the contract. There's a reason why men don't really like women, only the police officer and the dr. Enough with the men on men action here. Need more female leads in this shows. These men are hot and very careful who and ehat they are dealing with. They should have re-runs on HBO, it's very pleasent to deal with the stories on how men feels when they don't have a life. Only men have a life with each other, and tells the inside of a mind of a person who is incarcerated. Deals with real-life issues drugs,sex and compettition.
Oz's brutally frank depiction of life in a maximum-security prison tested the limits of HBO's abiltity to provide artists with freedom from the fetters of censorship imposed by broadcast networks. The riveting series that resulted set a new standard.
The dark corridors of the Oswald State Pen gave the series' creators a fertile backdrop against which to examine a wealth of issues.
This excellent series poses searching questions about the transience of societal conventions in the face of animalism, the relativism of concepts like good and evil, the never-ending struggles of sex, class and race... the list goes on. All this, plus compelling writing, incredible acting from an ensemble cast (many of them soon to be household names), gifted directing and the numerous grace notes that denote an excellent production team. This series is worth renting a season at a time and locking yourself up in solitary to catch up.
Oz is simply one of the best shows i've ever seen. The way the story continues in each episode is very good. And most important of all it's very realistic.
The actors offcourse play a huge role in this show. Each acter fit perfectly in the role they are playing.
Oz details the daily life (and death) of the inmates at Oswald Penitentiary. Different cliques and alliances make for interesting pod-mates, and internal power struggles and vendettas affect not only the inmates but everyone who enters the world of Oz.
The first episode of Oz I saw was the one where Beecher uses his fingernails to murder the Nazi guard who had allowed the skinhead inmates to break Beecher's arms and legs. There was a lot of other stuff going on in that episode, but I will never forget the scene of Beecher calmly clipping his blood-soaked fingernails into the toilet and flushing the murder weapon/evidence away.
And the show only continued to get better from there! Even though each character has a despicable side (which Tom Fontana pulled no punches in showing), they also have a oddly likeable side, which pulls you into the stories and makes the show as addicting as the drugs that play a prominent role in many of the storylines.
Towards the end of the series, it seemed that the writers were running out of ideas, so the show became "who can we kill off this episode." It became tedious then, and it seemed that ending the series was the best idea. The final season, however, may have been the best one, with the execution of Cyril O'Reilly being one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever seen. I loved the storyline about producing the play "Macbeth" and the way it played out for the lives of the characters.
The show is raw, bloody, graphic and defintely NOT for everyone. But if you like that sort of thing, it's definitely for you!
One of the best HBO shows ever. The best thing about it doesn't have real main characters, everybody can get killed in the next episode (and most of them do). Another interesting fact,it ended right when it was supposed to end, no redundant episodes just to make series last longer. Clear and concise. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Action/Drama genre. Available on DVDs but only for region 1.
This has to be the best prison drama that has every been made. I have never been to prison but this show is so real you feel like your sitting in the ceil next to a convicted felon. It will blow you away and keep you glued to you plasma"s. Enjoy.
I have always said though, if there was this much death in a regular prison, it would be shut down immediately.
This show is about life in the prison, and about the way the many different factions relate to one another. Unlike most shows, where you can predict what is going to happen to most characters, that was never the case here. Oz was amazingly told, and managed to shock you every episode.
I have purchased every season on DVD and have converted many people I know into hardcore fans of the show. And with only 8 episodes per season (except for one, which was 16 episodes) , and only 6 seasons, its just not enough.
I'm a big fan of Christopher Meloni in Law and Order: SVU (the only one I watch) so I decided to check out his other TV show - also cause I come from Aus, I thought it might have something to do with my country...
Little did I know that it was hard hitting, intense drama. It's no holds barred and it's AMAZING!!!
I was astounded at Meloni's acting (wizzing in a bucket on cue) and Tergesen as Beecher as well. Watching all the characters evolved as the series continued was sensational. I couldn't help but yearn for Cyril O'Reilly in "A Day In Death..." as he is walking to his execution completely oblivious to it cause of his brother, Ryan. All the characters were extremely well presented and I recommend this for anyone willing to embrace the world of Oz.
The Ozwald State Penitentiary. Tim McManus is in charge of Emerald City and experimental unit of Oz. In Em City, everybody belongs to a group, and every group has it's piece of the pie. But what REALLY goes on? Drugs, violence, and much more
From Homicide: Life on the Street creator Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, Oz is one of the most compulsively violent and addicting shows to hit HBO. While the Sopranos garnered most of the attention from HBO viewers, the primal nature and sheer unpredictability of Oz made the series the definition of must see TV. Taking place in the Oswald Correctional Facility (known to the inmates as Oz) these eight episodes revolve around Emerald City: a cell-block overseen by prison reform advocate Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) and the warden Leo Glynn (Ernie Hudson) who is desperately trying to keep the peace among the inmates as the governor bans privileges including smoking and conjugal visits. We are introduced to a cast of compelling characters whom we both pity and despise, including meek lawyer Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) whose transformation from frightened new convict to drug raddled madman must be seen to be believed, white supremacist leader Vern Schillinger (J.K. Simmons), backstabbing and double dealing Ryan O'Reilly (Dean Winters), the cocky and self loathing Miguel Alvarez (Kirk Acevedo), wheelchair bound narrator Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau), and Muslim activist Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker) whose extreme policy of non-violence explodes in the season ending riot that sets the stage for season two. The rest of the cast, including Rita Moreno, the Sopranos' Edie Falco, and John Seda (even though he only appears in the first episode) does brilliant work, all of whom help make Oz unforgettable. If you've never seen Oz, you should definitely check it out and see for yourself one of the best and underrated shows on HBO and maybe even TV history, but do be warned, this series is not for the squeamish.
Without question, the absolute most realistic, dramatic, traumatic, and thorough television show that has ever aired depicting prison life. I chose to label this show 'Trandsetter,' although many classifications could fit all the same: 'Classic,' 'Personal Favorite,' 'Influential,' 'Cutting Edge,' 'Ahead of Its Time.'
The grittiness and brutality of this show are mixed with excellent writing, directing, casting and acting. Every episode serves a purpose in the overall scheme of the show. There are no 'filler' or 'garbage' episodes. I would very highly recommend this show to anyone who likes this genre, It is 'rated' mature for a very good reason: lots of nudity, violence, rape, foul language. But those elements are also what makes OZ so realistic regarding prison life. Just a fantastic television experience.
Started watching but stopped after episode 5 of season 1 I got sick of the show cutting to the guy in a wheelchair talking totally ruined it for me!!!! What's the point! Just for the record unless I score high my review won't publish! Says it all
The 6 seasons that OZ did were great & the way they ended the series was almost like a Cliffhanger the cyanide chemicals were released & the whole jail was evacuated & they just left! ! That's not fair HBO why do that 2 your loyal fans!!!
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