Oz (TV Series 1997–2003) Poster



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  • The question puzzles everyone who knows about this series. I guess only HBO has the answer. Edit

  • Yes....and it's creator/writer Tom Fontana getting it too, seeing as he couldn't find anyone who would get it at the time. Edit

  • Except for the murderer Jason Cramer, who has his sentence overturned, and Jackson Vahue, who is paroled, no one who is ever sent to Oz ever makes it out on the show. Miguel Alvarez and Agamemnon Busmalis escape, but they are recaptured. A few prisoners, such as Arnold "Poet" Jackson, and Tobias Beecher are paroled but they end up being sent back to Oz for further crimes. Robert Siple the pedophile gets released but wants to stay in Oz voluntarily. Kareem Said is granted clemency, but he refuses it. Edit

  • The seasons of Oz were all planned to be eight episodes long. The sole exception is season 4, which is sixteen episodes. Part way through season 4 HBO found out that the Sopranos would not be producing a season that year. With the money which they would have spent on that season of the Sopranos, HBO decided to buy extra episodes of Oz. This is why season 4 is twice as long as the other seasons and why it's structure is somewhat more disjointed, with two major arcs. Tom Fontana only found out about the extended season after production had begun and he had to write extra episodes for the season. Edit

  • In some regions, the season 3 DVD wasn't formatted properly. So while most people who buy the DVD will skip over the opening credits, it will take you straight to the beginning of the episode, but with this season, it skips the first 10 minutes of every episode! So just remember to check the time counter on your DVD after you skip the credits. Also keep in mind that every episode opens with Augustus Hill talking to the camera. So if you don't see that, chances are you skipped something. Edit

  • Season 4 ends with a dream sequence ending in which Beecher seems to be released from Oz only to wake up back in prison. When season 4 was being filmed, the producers were not sure if the show would be renewed. They therefore filmed two endings: If the show was cancelled they would end with the upbeat ending of Beecher being released. If the show was renewed then Beecher would remain in prison. Both endings were filmed before the producers found out that the show would in fact be renewed. However, they were so pleased by the various performances in the "happy" ending that they incorporated it into the actual show in the form of a dream sequence. Edit

  • Tom Fontana has always said that he willingly sacrifices factual accuracy for dramatic purposes. In particular, Fontana has indicated that he believes that maximum security wings like Emerald City are significantly safer than depicted on his show. Chuck Zito, who plays Chucky Pancamo on the show, and who is one of only two cast members(the other is 'muMs da Schemer') to serve prison time, has commented that Oz is a heightened version of the reality of prison. The amount of violence, sexual assaults, and drug abuse which is depicted on the show is far in excess of reality, but most of the activities depicted have a basis in fact. Edit

  • A constant source of speculation for both fans and characters such as Martin Querns, is how Adebisi manages to keep his hat on his head when it's cocked to the side. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, the actor who plays Adebisi claims to have based the hat on real African gangsters who he knew while growing up in London. Supposedly the more crooked you could manage to wear it, the higher status you were. Edit

  • It's short for "prison fag" which generally relates to prisoners who aren't gay, but commit homosexual acts while inside prison. Also it is usually said by the dominating inmate to refer to the submissive. Edit

  • As said by the C.O.'s introducing new inmates to Em City; Emerald City is an experimental Maximum Security wing, staying there gets you special perks, such as being able to wear your street clothes, getting sealed rooms, which means you don't have to hear any commotion when trying to sleep, TV's set up to view whenever you feel like it, a computer room, card tables and chessboards, etc. These perks come at a price however, you're required to attend therapy sessions, classrooms, and there is a zero-tolerance for fighting, drug use, or sexual assaults. Getting caught doing any of these results in getting sent to "the hole" or "the cage". If your infractions are frequent enough or severe enough you get sent to solitary or to Gen pop (General Population). Where you have to wear prison issue jump suits and all or most of your perks are taken away. Edit

  • Because he is very smart, cunning, can think on his feet and never panics. He is quite possibly the smartest person serving time in Oz. Whether or not he is the most intelligent is another story. He didn't belong to any gang, he was by himself for the most part, minus his brother Cyril whom he had to look out for. But Ryan knew what everyone wanted, he would make friends in high places on both sides of the fence and in every ethnic group by dealing drugs to them, tipping them off, keeping his ears open to gain information to barter with. Though he would not shy from betraying one person or another if it meant risking his being found out or killed by staying silent. The most unique thing about how he lies, is that there's about 90% truth to what he says, he twists facts to help deny his involvement, which makes it extremely difficult to tell whether he is lying or not and he's persuasive enough to get people to believe him. Also, he insulates himself from doing the dirty work, if someone asks him to kill someone, or if he needs someone killed; He creates a set of circumstances where he either convinces someone to kill the person or extorts someone into doing the deed. [For example: In season 2, Ryan tries to have Schillinger killed. So he asks Jazz to slip a package through the mail room for him. Then Ryan tells one of his friends in the gym "Hey man, I'm having a package slipped through" but made sure one of the Aryans was in ears shot, so he would run and tell Schillinger. Sure enough, that's what happened and Jazz gets caught trying to slip brass knuckles through the mail room, leading to him being punished. So Ryan says to Jazz "I thought you and Schillinger were friends. If I was you, I'd teach that fuck a lesson." Which convinced Jazz to make an attempt on Schillinger. Which of course completely insulated O'Reilly from killing Schillinger had Jazz succeeded. Edit

  • It's interesting to note, that during all the flashbacks that show the crimes the characters commit that gets them sent to Oz, Kareem Said is the only one who isn't shown on camera actually committing the crime. All that is shown is a building exploding. He claims he is a political prisoner, but aside from this he never denies guilt for his crimes. Meaning he likely was guilty. However, one glaring contradiction is the fact that he is a pacifist. Nobody was killed in the explosion, so it's likely he waited until the building was empty before destroying it.

    It should be noted that Tom Fontana has commented that he attempted to pointedly contrast other fictional representations of prison, such as The Shawshank Redemption, by not having a wrongfully convicted character. Edit

  • The hole is meant as a punishment. Being locked in a cold, dark, dank room with nothing but a bucket to relieve yourself in, also being completely naked without being able to take a shower or shave for the duration of your time in the hole. The conditions of the hole are to deter inmates from breaking the rules. Being naked is probably also to keep the inmates from using their clothes to fashion a noose to commit suicide with if they have a mental breakdown. Edit

  • Much of the slang used in the prison, such as "prag" for sex slave, "pod" for cell, and "tits" for drugs, was made up by the writers. Tom Fontana has said that some of the cast members who were familiar with street slang offered to teach him real slang terms but he declined the offer fearing that slang which was too accurate and on point would make the show look dated once that slang went out of style. Edit



The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • No, the show follows multiple characters and their stories. However, it could be said that the show has focus on a certain group of characters; Ryan O'Reilly, Kareem Said, Tobias Beecher, Tim McManus, and Augustus Hill. To a lesser extent, Miguel Alvarez and Vernon Schillinger.

    Each character represents the different groups of people that live in Oz, and how they interact within their groups and with others.

    August Hill had the most screen time, however, as the character had special narrative segments in which the fourth wall was broken for the first five seasons. After Hill's death in the fifth season, the sixth season saw different guest narrators for each episode to soliloquize to the audience.

    The closest Oz has to a main character would seem to be Tobias Beecher. The show somewhat follows his life in Oz with the first episode beginning with his arrival and the final episode showing his removal from Oz. The season four finale (which was originally planned as the series finale) shows Beecher being released from Oz. Beecher appears in every episode but plays a limited role in many episodes. This can be seen as similar to Tom Fontana's previous show, Homicide, which began with Tim Bayliss arrival in the homicide unit and ended with his leaving but wherein Bayliss did not feature in every episode. Edit

  • At one point, the bikers along with Timmy Kirk chain Cloutier to a pipe and brick him up in the kitchen wall. At the end of the season, there is a large explosion in the kitchen. We discover the next season that Cloutier in fact survived the explosion and was found. With severe burns, he is kept in the hospital wing of the prison. Shortly after, a couple of the bikers start having visions of Cloutier, telling them to kill each other and then Cloutier disappears from the hospital without any explanation.

    We are lead to believe that he was truly mystical and had mysterious religious powers, but we later learn that the two bikers who had visions of him were clinically insane, and it is revealed that the bikers actually snuck in to the hospital, kidnapped Cloutier and bricked him back up where he was before. Edit

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