Oz

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HBO (ended 2003)

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Ho_Man

User Score: 249

SUBMIT REVIEW

Oz Fan Reviews (64)

8.7
out of 10
Average
2,063 votes
  • More than a decade later - still outstanding

    10
    Gritty, dirty, unique, well acted, superbly written - one of the greatest TV shows ever. The atmosphere is dark, realistic but also weirdly surreal. It grabs you and hold in its world of violence, survival and deep human insticts and emotions. OZ is simply amazing.
  • An Unrelentingly Bleak Meditation on the Violence and Dysphoria Permeating the American Prison System

    9.0
    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.



    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  • One of the best and most entertaining, ever!

    10
    There's still nothing like it. A true original.
  • great tv

    10
    oz is an excellent show! from episode one it's in your face, raw and ugly, very unpc and with plenty of dark dry humour!! it has some great characters and concentrates on the inmates and staff, each episode devotes say 15 minuites to a current storyline and has a great narration by augustus hill on a topic like death, television and society! what's great about oz is that despite all the murders and mayhem there's plenty of morals too!! what the show does best is mix terrible violence, racism and villainy with plenty of dark humour! i also recommend the governer, the wire, underbelly and the shield!
  • excellent show

    10
    gives you a idea of what life is like in prison couldnt stop watching
  • Best tv series

    10
    This is the best tv series ever. I can believe how it could have so much real prison life facts and also be so theatrical, I know many peolpe from jail personally and I cannot believe how much these tv series can reflect so clearly and perfectly. I love it because it is not fuc*ing commercial shit, fiction like prison brake. I like this reality witch is provoking and showing that we are all the same. We all want to love, we all full of rage and jealousy, competition, that we are all humans and equal, what is more it shows that everyone could change his inside world and become a better man and we all deserve for a chance.
  • an incredible show

    10
    it I finally bought the series "Oz" on dvd. I'd heard about about it for many years, but I figgured that was just hype! I was wrong. The show was amazing, especially in the way the show was unafraid to show what went on in that prison. The charactrer I was especially drawn to was Tobias Beecher. He was the average joe stuck in the middle of all this craziness. Season one was good in how they protrayed him, but after season two I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He seems to have gone crazy just to survive, but then enters Chris Keller. Not only did he bring Toias back to some from of normalicy, he took him to the edge of distruction. After that, I just wanted to see what would happen next to them. As a gay man, I musrt say that this was one of the most honest and unflinching portrayal of a gay couple I have seen on tv. The way the writers of the series went about showing them together and the lengths they went to be together was amazing. I wasn't even disappointed in that you didn't see them get it on unlike the way they showed the heterosexual sex. It was unneeded. The chemistry between the two actors and they way they constantly showed them watching each other no matter what went on between them showed more that any sex scene could do. And for the ending between them was as satisfying as the rest of the relationship. I mean the way Chris Keller went after Beecher, it was only a matter of time before one of them died, and I could believe that Keller would kill himself in a way to get back at Beecher for his final rebuffing of him. To be honest, I couldn't see Keller wanting to live without Beecher loving him.
  • Excellent show!

    10
    This was the prison series I decided to watch and I must say I was extremely pleased. The story, the plot and the characters in "OZ" are awesome and I believe they couldn't have done it better. Of course life in a prison isn't supposed to be sweet but it most certainly is interesting. Also, the whole idea of Emerald City, a modern unit for prisoners, is a very interesting take on how prison life can be improved. My favorite characters and actors were Kareem Said played by Eamonn Walker, Augustus Hill played by Harold Perrineau Jr., Vernon Schillinger played by J.K. Simmons and the best, Ryan O'Reily played by Dean Winters. I strongly recommend this show!
  • Very addicting!

    10
    I never caught this show when it first aired on HBO but it doesn't matter when you first watch. The show so entertaining it sucks you in for the entire time and doesn't let you go until the credits roll. The characters are fascinating and the story lines are addicting! I don't know how true to prison life this show is, but I don't think it matters. I like watching and seeing many of the actors from Law and Order SVU and CI, which is really interesting seeing the same actors as criminals and not detectives! I would recommend this show to fans of Law and Order SVU and CI, as well as anyone who likes this type of genre.
  • Oz. It's no place like home.

    10
    I first got into Oz a few months ago and was amazed at what saw in the show. I puchased the DVDs and I am currently up to season 2. OZ had to be shown on HBO due to it's extreme content which was and still is obviously too much for network television. The episodes ran uninterrupted by commercials and ran almost a full hour each to fit in a lot in each episode. I appreciate the short length of the seasons so far as it stops the show from getting reptitive. But the fact is that I'm finding the show so good that I can't see any signs of it getting repetitive. It may hapen a bit in season six but hopefuly not to a large extent.

    The casting for the show is magnificent. Even the more youthful actors perfectly play their roles especially Kirk Acevedo who plays Miguel Alvarez and J.D. Williams who plays the role of Kenny Wangler. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje flawlessly brings Simon Adebisi to life in a devastating and believable way. Lee Tergesen is so good that Tobias Beecher couldn't be played by anyone else. Kareem Said is well played by Eamonn Walker. The rest of the cast are all just as good.

    The storylines are rich and powerful and by the end of season one everyone should get the idea that OZ is not for the faint of heart. Endings to these storylines are almost never happy endings which adds to the gritty realisim of the show. Happy endings happen to some but rarely because after something good happens to a character there is always something sinister around the corner.

    No characters are flawless. This fact is most evident in the man who manages Emerald City Tim McManus. Viewers will most probably never mind this fact because the most likeable characters in OZ are murderers. So if you have a taste for hard hitting drama and you are found of prison shows then OZ will easily pull you in from the first episode. Kudos.
  • HBO is usually right on point and OZ is no exception.

    9.0
    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.
  • No words awsome

    10
    Oz its a show about prison life and all that the vast selection of characters plus new inmates in almost all episodes make this show the perfect history about prison life
    Augustus its awsome, Schillinger its scary but awsome too, Beecher rocks and Abedesi (To bad it died) was the complement Plus Ryan O'Rilley its so hot the part of the religion its (no question) Said anyway every character its like a number on the equation but the result its one word "A-W-S-O-M-E"
    I take the final episode recap lines "Gone, but never forgotten"
    And its true this show may be gone but we remember it our entire life
    :):)
    10!!!!
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  • It's not for the faint hearted, but a must for all fans of gripping drama and flawless acting.

    9.8
    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.
  • Bring back Oz!!

    10
    My husband and I have all 6 seasons of Oz. It is a great show and could easily be brought back after how season 6 ended. We loved every episode from start to end. I loved how Ryan O'Reily's character was so manipulative. I also liked Beecher's character. I think all the characters did a good job on the show and it wouldn't be the same without them. The only part that I thought got a little carried away was when the new guy took over Oz and put Adabese in charge and he had parties in his cell... Other than those few episodes, my husband and I thought it was a GREAT show. BRING BACK OZ!!
  • I can honestly say that this is the Best show I have ever seen

    10
    I think there are two main points why the "Oz" is dif then most of the other shows.
    1)Like most HBO shows they show it all the good and the bad(very very bad)
    2)The thing that made the show that intersting is that it never gets boring I mean new chars keep showing up and die or what not , I mean yes there are a few chars that are the main but not in every ep. I mean some ep u would beraly see bicher if u would even if he is one of the main char, they can focus on a char that really only came 2 the show and would prob die sooner then later how can a show like that get boring.
    And yes i think killing said was... unesesery mainly because no1 care about the person who killed him, it wasnt like when said killed Adebisi thou that wasnt as exsting as i tought it will be :/. Any way if u havnt seen this show wait for reruns or download it cus if u wont u missed a very VERY good show, u just need the stomatch for it.
  • This show was INSANE!!!

    7.0
    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.
  • Great Show

    10
    Well, I have to say, it's a show that truly moved me with every episode I saw. I don't know if it was because of the violent and uncesored scenes, or because of all the things said and done in it. My favorite part of it, it's of course, Augustus monologue. He says things completely true and in a manner that gives you a lot to think about (that was the result in my case). And after his ''speech'' you can see what he meant and about what. You just have to get it. Amnyway, Oz equals a perfect mark of ten, and I can't find another adjective that can describe this show better than, extraordinary! And still I can't find any reason why HBO cancelled it, they made a huge mistake... I would definetely love to see more of OZ. Too bad it ended at only 6 seasons. But some great ones!
  • The first HBO original drama series is one of the most masterfully written television shows of all time. The cast of characters numbers in the dozens over the show's 6 season run. A raw, uncensored look into prison life is finally presented. Enjoy!

    10
    Oz is a show that I had been watching since it's original run began a decade ago. Underappreciated is just the tip of the iceberg to describe it (I would say it is near #1 on my top ten list to boot). It is definitely ahead of it's time as the magic trifecta of writing, acting, and production combine to envelop the viewer in a world without the imposed moral restrictions broadcast censors invoke (which is why it can still beat most television dramas to this day in believability/realism). Those of us who have been following the show and collecting the six DVD sets over a lengthy release span of 5 years also appreciate the show's rewatchability value as I could personally view the entire series at any time and at any point (Season 4 is a lovely gem for it's double-length) enjoying a glimpse this world provides into the life of Oswald State Penitentiary. If you can handle it, I suggest you at least rent it because it is a real treat. Tom Fontana should have been deified for the show's unpredictably and constant feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next. The music score is perfectly matched and never gets redundant like most television series soundtracks tend to be. The violence is believable to a point where you can swear you could feel the pain of the shank going in. As stated before... enjoy at your own risk... it tends to be addicting. - Johnny Promoshot 0709.13
  • Love it!

    10
    Oz is a completely awesome show! The characters are great, and their stories make you love them, even if you completely hate them! Oz is completely great and I would make everyone watch it if I could! The way the charaters are portrayed is amazing! I love the show more then life itself! No, not really, but I do love it! The writers and directors were qenius'! The show was a definite hit! Oz just completely rocks, and everyone should be made to think so! I sound like the Oz nazi...no, maybe not because that's Shillinger, but I think I'm pretty close!
  • 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.

    9.2
    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 was a harsh show, even more violent and sensual than most of HBO's fare, but it all is used perfectly to create the image that you are in prison.

    8.0
    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.
  • A phenomenal look at the realities of prison life.

    9.9
    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.
  • You don't wanna miss it!

    7.0
    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!
  • The best show HBO has ever produced...

    10
    With most network shows, set in around a prison atmosphere, you never really got the full effect of what it might be like in prison, that is until Oz hit the airwaves. This show changed the landscape for HBO, that gave them confidence to make other dramas, such as The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under. The characters are unlike any other on television, each of them have their own unique flaws, but we rooted for them each time, they were criminals, and it's a testament to the writers of this show that they actually made us care for them, and to actually like them, and even to love some of them. There isn't any starpower on Oz, with the exception of maybe Ernie Hudson, but it was a wise move to cast mostly unknowns in the roles, as we could then suspend our disbelief. The writing of the show was the backbone of it, focusing mainly on five of the prisoners, and the men around them. While the show may have went just a little during the last couple season, it still remains one of my all-time favorite shows, and I think no show will ever surpass the amazing overall quality of this show. Series Score: 10/10.
  • Unique and utterly original. Fantastic writing and acting. So different from the usual banal tv fare, and tragically under-rated.

    10
    Unique and utterly original. Fantastic writing and acting. So different from the usual banal tv fare, and tragically under-rated. I've watched it over and over again, and there's always something new, missed beforehand because it's so well written and the acting is first rate. It's such a shame that the show wasn't given more recognition, perhaps because of the sex, violence and language, while other, much blander and less thought provoking television was lauded. Without the groundbreaking Oz, I doubt they would ever have made the decision to risk investing in the more popular The Sopranos. I hope it gets rediscovered and fully appreciated at some point in the future.
  • You won't find Dorothy in this Emerald City.

    10
    Before Six Feet Under. Before The Sopranos. Before Deadwood. Before Sex and the City. There was Oz!

    This groundbreaking series, which took place inside Oswald State Correctional Facility, paved the way for all those other HBO originals, and yet never got the recognition it deserved.

    Well written, directed, and acted, Oz told the story of the inmates from Oz and more importantly from Em City, the experimental unit within the prison. Often violent and vulgar, Oz was not a show for the faint at heart, yet it boasted some of the best actors on television, including Christopher Meloni, Harold Perrineau Jr., Ernie Hudson, J. K. Simmons, and Rita Moreno.

    A wonderful series, gone before it's time. Oz still remains one of HBO's best ever.
  • Once you're in, you can get out only in the plastic bag!

    9.4
    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.
  • 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

    9.8
    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.
  • Great prison drama

    8.8
    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.
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