If the title of HBO's brutal prison drama suggests a fairy tale, be warned that this Oz
lies on the other side of the rainbow. This gritty portrait of men behind bars is a testosterone-driven soap opera packed with murder, suicide, sadism, and savage battles for dominance in the concrete jungle. Season 2 opens in the wake of a prison riot that shut down the experimental cell block known as "Emerald City" among the inmates, but it doesn't take long to build a whole new head of steam after prison reformer Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) reopens the unit. The drug wars pit the Italians against the blacks, the Aryan Brotherhood re-establish their campaign of intimidation, and Alvarez is pushed to desperate measures when he's ousted by the new Latino leader (Luiz Guzmán). Even more volatile than the physical brutality (this season offers up a bloody blinding and a crucifixion) is the soul-crushing psychodrama played out between vicious Aryan leader Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) and Beecher (Lee Tergeson), the meek lawyer transformed into a drug-addicted wild man by prison's predatory world and seduced by cold-blooded killer Chris Keller (Law and Order: SVU's
Christopher Meloni). Some the stories get lost in the thrilling runaway pacing, but at its best Oz's
searing stories of men penned in and pushing back goes straight for the jugular and invariably draws blood.--Sean Axmaker
Second series of the gritty, thought-provoking prison drama from HBO. Set in the Emerald City experimental wing of Oswald (Oz) Correctional Facility - the series is a futuristic look at crime and punishment. Emerald City was set up with a pre-agreed amount of members of ten racial and social demographics (The Muslims, The Homeboys, The Aryans, The Bikers, The Italians, The Latinos, The Irish, The Gays, The Christians and The Others) to see whether they might be able to sort things out among themselves or at least to witness their attempts. In this second series, the prison is trying to return to normality after the riot, but the rivalry within the separate factions is heating up. Episodes include: 'The Tip', 'Ancient Tribes', 'Great Men', 'Losing Your Appeal', 'Family Bizness', 'Strange Bedfellows', 'Animal Farm' and 'Escape From Oz'.