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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best show on HBO
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...
Published on September 11, 2004 by N. Durham

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like it or not, it sucks you in
I have come to find that there are very few good dramas that center around prison life. Even then, the handful of films that I think are well done, like "Papillon" or "Sleepers", aren't really about prisons (they're about penal colonies and juvenile delinquency centers, respectively). Most films just follow the same formula: not-so-street-savvy person goes in, is told...
Published on February 21, 2004


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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best show on HBO, September 11, 2004
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
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 cellblock 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 privlages including smoking and conjugal visits. We are introduced to a cast of compelling characters whom be 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 supremicist 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.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first season, the best season, February 18, 2002
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
Oz is decidedly not for the faint of heart. That said, the first (and best) season's episodes were beautifully constructed, exceptionally well-written, and wonderfully cast. The inside/outside viewpoints offered by the wheelchair-bound narrator provide not only the backgrounds of the inmates but also the philosophical point of each episode. There is much graphic violence, moments of such painful truth (Tergesen in paricular turns in an award-winning performance throughout) and such horror, that one is utterly drained by the emotional turbulence. Next to Six Feet Under, HBO's other brave and clever award-winning show, Oz is one of the best examples of what television can be when the targeted audience is more than eight years old. Most highly recommended.
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71 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OZ--The Heat Is Just Getting Started!, March 9, 2003
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
OZ--The Prison Drama that aired on HBO--Home Box Office from 1997-2003. If you have never seen OZ, THIS IS FOR ADULTS ONLY. The episodes contain male full frontal nudity, sexual situations, violence and mature themes. The acting is incredible. The situations, the dialogue and the sets are realistic. This drama is gritty. A plus to the cast is Academy Award Winner Rita Moreno as "Sister Peter Marie Reimondo" and BD Wong as "Father Ray Mukada".
Christopher Meloni got his big break doing OZ and at the same time was in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit from 1999-2011. BD Wong also moved on to Law & Order:SVU in 2001-present.
If these episodes in the Season One collection don't get your heart startled. It's only the beginning. Get involved in the storyline. Watch every episode in proper order. And after you are finished with all eight episodes of Season One. Buy Season Two and get ready for a more mature hard-hitting season. Their are 6 Seasons. And remember, ADULTS ONLY!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome To Oz, Bitch., May 22, 2005
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
The first season of 'Oz' introduces the viewer to a prison filled with low-life thugs, criminals, rapists, and all around nasty men. Throw in some full frontal nudity, man rape, tons of cursing, double-cross upon double-cross and what do you get? One of the grittest, most realistic, and most satisfying shows on television.

Everyone is represented in Oz: the Aryans, the Italians, the Muslims, the Gangstas, the Latinos...pretty much every facet of a prison population. The cast of characters is huge so get prepared to pay attention to who's who and who's doing what and why. Don't be deterred though...just pay attention and you will reap the rewards of this fine show. Every episode focuses on numerous different characters but most of the main ten or so receive about equal time.

The first season is excellent: Tobias Beecher(Lee Tergeson)is a mild-mannered lawyer, sent to Oz on an involuntary manslaughter charge, who is befriended in a not-so-nice way by Aryan leader Shillinger(JK Simmons)who has a beef with the Gangstas who have a beef with the Italians who are all scared of the weird guy who ate his parents...and on and on and on. The season is filled with layer upon layer of conflict and gives a very real sense of what life in a maximum security prison must be like. And there's not only the prisoners, there are the employees of the prison: numerous guards(including a pre-'Sopranos' Edie Falco), the warden(Ernie Hudson), priest(BD Wong), etc. who all deal with not only the prisoners' issues but their own as well. Through the myriad of conflict over the course of the season, the tension builds up to a massive riot taking over the prison. Oh, and don't get too attached to any one character because people, prisoners and guards alike, in 'Oz' die all the time and are soon replaced with new blood.

All in all, the first season of 'Oz' is great. My only qualm being that its much too short(8 one-hour episodes)for much too high a price(as all HBO DVD sets are). Even so, its still worth it. There's not much in the way of extras but the quality of the episodes make up for it. This series was one of the best on recent television and definitely worth seeing. You really owe it to yourself to check this and the four other seasons of 'Oz' out.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best series on HBO. Not to be missed., February 5, 2002
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
When "Oz" first debuted on HBO several years ago, no one was prepared for the intensity and the immense talent portrayed therein. I, for one, was blown away. You cannot watch this show and not be impacted in some way. For all of its harsh and unflinching realism, the emotion under the surface is what makes this the most well-written series on television today. These people know their craft, and they prove it season after season.
Like so many others, I've been waiting for this DVD for a long time. Yes, "The Sopranos" is a great show, and "Sex in the City" can be very impressive, but "Oz" surpasses them all. I can only hope that HBO releases subsequent seasons on DVD much faster than they normally do for their other shows. Five Stars!
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS ONE NOW!!, January 24, 2002
By 
"esummers@buckeye-express.com" (Waterville, Oh United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
I give this 5 stars only because I can't go any higher! Anyone who has watched this HBO original series knows that the acting is incredible, the story lines are as true to life as you can get, and is one of the most overall hard-hitting shows ever to come to American TV (albeit cable). Unfortunately, the show doesn't get the recognition of The Sopranos or Sex in the City because prison dramas don't draw the same overall audience. You have to see this to believe it! One of the most requested HBO series finally comes to DVD and I can only hope that HBO releases the other seasons as well. The best part is, the cast is filled with actors you may not initially recognize, but will later identify in other projects. Be prepared for a series that doesn't shy away from strong language, adult themes, frontal male nudity, and yes, even prison rape! AWESOME!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gusty Series That Breaks all the Rules, March 6, 2002
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
It's easy to see why "OZ" has proven itself as the finest dramatic series on TV up there with "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos" (all cable, all courtesy of HBO.) For pure heart-stopping action, debauchery and in-your-face shock value, though, even the mob doesn't stand a chance! The characters here are sharply drawn and completely rendered by a cast that takes risks every week along with the plotlines that unfold. The first season is more than just a brilliant showcase for the actors, directors and writers at work here - it's also THE crucial link to understanding fully everything that comes later in years 2 and 3. Unquestionably violent, but worth it's weight in cadavers, OZ delivers unforgettable television drama. Surely the set to own this Summer!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Yellow Brick Road Here, August 16, 2006
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
This DVD edition of OZ, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, complete with cast biographies and deleted scenes, is proof once again that HBO is on the cutting edge of TV drama and often is so much better than anything that you will see in your local theatre. Oz is the short name for Oswald Maximum Security Prison where in one section of it, Emerald City, Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) attempts, often with little if any success, to rehabilitate prisoners rather than just house them.

We certainly are not in Kansas here although there is no yellow brick road either. The film is graphic, brutal and intense. There are rapes, drug deals, racial tension, murders and suicides and guard misconduct; but there is also a decent Asian Catholic priest as well as a nun social worker (Rita Moreno) in addition to Tim McManus who tries so hard to do the right thing. While some of the action is predictable-- we are convinced that this is the way life really is in a maximum security prison-- the plot moves quickly as the episodes are short. The story is framed by an African American inmate, confined to a wheelchair, who speaks directly to the viewer, giving his commentary on the action as well as providing the background from time to time with flashbacks as to what crime each prisoner committed to get him sent to Oz.

The critics are right about this one. It is as good as this sort of drama gets. In a word, OZ is addictive.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining, well-acted, well-written, but..., July 20, 2006
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
I am very late to the world of OZ, having just watched season 1 (but ready for Season 2!). I can certainly see why this show caused such a stir. It makes THE SOPRANOS look like SESAME STREET in its depiction of violence, drug use, language, racism, brutality, abuse and its generally pessimistic outlook on everything.

It is a highly entertaining show...don't get me wrong. I find it gripping, involving, well-acted and inventively executed. It is well-written and directed. The only thing I hesitate to find in it is "deeper meaning." If Emerald City, this experimental unit within the larger Oswald Penitentiary (OZ), is meant to be some sort of microcosm of the world...then I can't buy into that. These inmates have virtually no redeeming qualities. Those that look for redemption mostly find death and disillusionment. Those who fumble towards spiritual redemption usually fall short. No one has pure motives...prisoners or their guardians. I'm a cynical person...and this show is almost too cynical for me. So I don't believe it represents "all of humanity." If the show is meant to be a comment on our penal system...I'm not sure what the comment would be. My reaction to these characters is "Please never let ANY of these people walk the streets again." Are we meant to feel pity for them, or loathing? It's hard to imagine writers, actors and directors wanting me to loath most of their characters...but I pretty much do.

Again, this is not to say that the show isn't fun. It's lurid fun. Sometimes it is moving. Sometimes funny. Sometime horrifying. But the characters are easy to hold at arms length.

What IS great is the writing and acting. What a fabulous cast they put together for this show. B.D Wong, Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons (absolutely creepy...this guy is great at everything he does), a couple of guys who went on to star in LOST, Edie Falco (pre-Carmella Soprano, I believe), and on and on and on. You'll recognize a lot of them, even if you don't know the names. And let me not forget Rita Moreno...what a treat! A tough as nails nun...she is a very believable character in all this...and remains heroic. The writing is always excellent. Great attention to little details. Each character has a distinctive "voice" and they're all very eloquent, but always within their voice. No one suddenly busts out with a speech they would never in a million years utter. This gives the show a sheen of authenticity.

So, if you want to be hugely entertained by a large group of folks doing top drawer work (and aren't put off by brutal language, brutal violence and just general wallowing in the dregs of humantity), this show is a MUST. If you're hoping for something inspirational or enlightening about the true state of our penal system...keep looking.

And I hope it goes without saying: this show is NOT for kids. I can't be more blunt that that. 17 and over only, I would say.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like it or not, it sucks you in, February 21, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Oz: Season 1 (DVD)
I have come to find that there are very few good dramas that center around prison life. Even then, the handful of films that I think are well done, like "Papillon" or "Sleepers", aren't really about prisons (they're about penal colonies and juvenile delinquency centers, respectively). Most films just follow the same formula: not-so-street-savvy person goes in, is told to beat up the first person he can, befriends some guy, gets sodomized in the shower, et cetera.
This HBO series, however, is surprisingly good. At times it gets a little too ambitious and tends to lose focus in trying to delve into each of the diverse characters, but by the last three episodes or so the action really gathers momentum. In fact, the plot is perhaps one of the most interesting I've yet seen; the problem is in the delivery. Tacky lines (for instance, "Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment", from Reilly) muddle the action, and the Aryan Nations inmates feel a little too much like "American History X" clones. The worst part of the show, however, is the wheelchair-bound guide, whose incessant gesticulations and headset and dialogue are enough to make you want to stop watching.
All in all, though, its solid. The cast is pretty convincing, the violence is intense, and the climax is unbelievable. My verdict: good to rent, but not the best buy.
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Oz: Season 1
Oz: Season 1 by Ernie Hudson (DVD - 2002)
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