One of the best TV series ever
R. W. Rasband | 11/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OZ continues its DVD treatment with the second of six seasons, which originally aired in 1998. As the first season dealed more with episodic themes (capital punishment, conjugals, drugs, etc.) this is the season where the individual character arcs really began developing. For those who do not know, Oz deals with life in a fictional prison and an experimental unit called Emerald City. It's about hope and survival. This was HBO's first drama, and paved the way for much more successful shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. However in my mind, Oz will always be the best: no other drama can shock you like this one. But it's not all violence; creator/writer Tom Fontana deals with real issues and really makes you think about stuff. Some of the questions addressed in this season: Should neighbors be notified when a convicted child molestor moves into the neighborhood even though he's paid his debt to society? How far will you go to be part of a gang? What's more important: revenge or safety? Is there any hope at all for a prisoner serving life without the possibility of parole? Many of the fan-favorite characters return: Hill, Beecher, Said, Schillinger, Alvarez, McManus, Rebadow, Adebisi, Wangler, Glynn, Mukada, Sister Pete, O'Reilly, Dr. Nathan, Peter Schibetta, Poet, Arif and others.Plus many new characters are introduced: Nappa, Robson, Keller, Hoyt, Cyril, Busmalis, El Cid, Bellinger, Guerra, Pancamo, Kirk, Coushaine and others.This is a great show that deserves a wider audience. I highly recommend it."
Fontana's Mythic Vision
R. W. Rasband | Heber City, UT | 01/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first glance, Tom Fontana's extraordinary television series "Oz" seems to be a hyper-naturalistic view of the hellish life behind bars in American prisons. It is that, of course. But the title is a tip-off that Fontana also has larger, more mythic concerns on his mind. His tortured Catholicism plays a role in the world-view presented here, as it did in his wonderful earlier series "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "St. Elsewhere." It turns out that Oz (the prison) is a kind of purgatory where wounded spirits struggle with good and evil. Even the best (like administators Tim McManus and Leo Glynn) are highly fallible, even misguided and foolish at times. And even the worst prisoners have sparks of humanity in them. These worst include the amazingly terrifying Simon Adebisi, the larger-than-life Nigerian criminal who controls the heroin trade in Oz. And J.K. Simmons deserves some kind of special award for his portrayal of Vern Schillinger, the leader of the neo-Nazi prisoners. He is the worst human being imaginable, but Simmons plays him with such style and elan that you have to grant the devil his due. As the recappers on "Television Without Pity" put it, if "Oz" were more well known, Schillinger would join Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates in the Fictional Villains Hall of Fame.The battle for the souls of these men is best shown in the ordeal of Tobias Beecher, an upper-class lawyer who is convicted of a drunk-driving homicide and finds himself in the middle of this inferno. His horrible experiences in Oz reach a Job-like intensity. The second season sees the arrival of actor Christopher Meloni as the sociopathic Chris Keller. The three-way tango of betrayal between Keller, Beecher, and Schillinger is absolutely chilling. The storytelling of "Oz" is intricate, densely layered, and paced like a rocket taking off. If you miss five minutes of a single episode you may miss the fate of a character's entire life being sealed. There is a heightened, almost magic realism to much of what goes on. (In the land of Oz, it only takes a few weeks from a death sentenced being pronounced until its execution; and each episode is narrated by inmate Augustus Hill inside some kind of omni-aware, postmodern space.) This can be a little disconcerting at first, but the final impact is exhilarating. If you can take the intense (but never gratuitous) violence and the hair-raising prison sex, "Oz" is a wild ride from one of the best writers working in television."
Deeper Down the Yellow Brick Road
James Hiller | Beaverton, OR | 03/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whereas many second seasons tend to disappoint, the second season of OZ not only doesn't disappoint, it continues boldly and bravely with some powerful storylines and even more powerful acting performances.Picking up after the amazing prison riot at the end of the first season, the second season has a big hurdle to overcome. Instead of trying to overcome it, it is a companion to the first season by allowing us to delve into the characters and their lives more deeply. The season explores relationships, sexuality, health issues, love, as well as continuing the "be aware and beware" feeling so important to the success of the story. Strong performances continue this year, with the addition of Chris Meloni as an Aryan "spy". Oz doesn't let you down. If anything, the lesson sent is: NEVER go to prison, just watch it on TV."
An Excellent Continuation To An Excellent Show
BookMania | Stafford, TX, USA | 01/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second season of Oz continues where the first left off. It has now been several months since the riot in Emerald City that killed seven inmates and two prison guards, and the first episode commences as prisoners move back into their cells after it has been repaired and things in Oswald State Prison have calmed down. Governor Devlin forms a committee to undertake the task of figuring out how the riot got started and who, if anyone, should be charged in connection to all that transpired during the ordeal. The committee finds that nobody is to blame for the riot, and therefore, no one is to be charged with any crime.That's just the beginning of the season. The rest of the season shows how certain characters change as they acclimate themselves to prison life. Tobias Beecher (played by Lee Tergensen) undergoes the most notable change. He came to prison as a clean-cut lawyer who knew nothing of street life, and we now see him develop into a hardened convict. He is no longer the victim of aggression, and now assumes the role of aggressor. He wants revenge for all that Vernon Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) put him through, and he goes about getting revenge in several different ways. Also, in an interesting turn of events, the death of his wife has caused Beecher to develop certain homosexual tendencies. There are many characters in Oz, and it isn't possible for me to describe what they all go through during this second season, but I will say that you'll be glued to your television once you start watching. This show is extremely engaging, and time seems to fly when I watch an episode of Oz. This is perhaps the best show that HBO has ever created, and this DVD is a definite must-buy for any Oz fan."