Season Four premiere. The world of Oz--an experimental prison within a prison known as the Emerald City--reopens its doors with the inmates still on a 24-hour lockdown and prison officials struggling...
After a visit with his sons, Schillinger realizes he needs to get paroled. He convinces McManus to let him return to Em City with the condition that he leaves Beecher alone. Beecher comes out of the ...
OZ chronicles the attempts of McManus (Terry Kinney) to keep control over the inmates of Em(erald) City as well as the drug trade and the violence. There have been many groups of inmates during the run of the show and not everybody makes it out alive. There's the gangstas (Adebisi, Wangler, Redding, Poet, Keene, Supreme Allah), Muslims (Said, Arif, Hamid Khan), Italians (Pancamo, Nappa, Schiebetta), bikers (Hoyt), Aryans (Schillinger, Robson, Mark Mack), Christians (Cloutier, Cudney), Latinos (Alvarez, Morales, Guerra, Hernandez), gays (Hanlon, Cramer) and a whole pile of others (the O'Riley brothers, Keller, Stanislovsky, etc.). And there's a great "everyman" character called Beecher who gives a good look at a normal man who made one tragic mistake. Besides the regular inmates, there's guest stars such as Method Man, Luke Perry, Master P, Treach, etc. and a bunch of prison staff doctors (Dr. Nathan), a nun/psychologist (Sister Peter Marie), a bunch of guards some honest, some crooked...Written by
Dean Winters (Ryan O'Reilly) and J.K. Simmons (Schillinger) both went on to be featured in insurance commercials: Winters as "Mayhem" the Allstate spokesman, and Simmons as the Farmers Insurance Professor. See more »
Miguel Alvarez - The large black-and-white rose tattoo on the back of the character's hand, throughout the course of the series, alternates between being on his right hand and on his left. See more »
Do NOT pass go, do not travel down this "Yellow Brick Road"...
...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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