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on 4 March 2017
I really enjoyed this show and was disappointed when it finished.most of my colleagues watched this and really enjoyed it.I recommended it to my mum,sister and friends. A great underrated tv show, they dont make them like these anyone, i wish there were more.
Great actors, great stories and suspense, i really dont know how they crammed so much enjoyed all set in Oz prison.
Highly recommended!!
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on 13 July 2013
I remember watching this when I was younger and loving it. I had been planning for a while to get this boxset. The price kept fluctuating for some reason and one day it would be over £40 and another day would be less than £30. I eventually got it for £26.65. Bargain!

Anyway, onto the show itself:

With HBO you're almost guaranteed quality. The first couple of seasons are up there with any tv show around. It kind of deteriorates from there though. The last few seasons are still good compared to other tv shows but it does not reach the heady heights of those first 2 seasons. The writing and acting are top class, J. K. Simmons is amazing as Vernon Schillinger! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes their gritty dramas.

Just be warned though that there's quite a bit of violence adult content.
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on 19 March 2017
These DVDs are fakes, with very poor image quality.
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VINE VOICEon 8 September 2008
Oz, is the slang name for Oswald State Penitentiary; the fact that it is (presumably) name after Lee Harvey Oswald - an innocent man - gives the audience some idea of where this programme is coming from.

Oz is a hugely neglected masterwork, featuring the best cast you've never heard of. This overlooked drama series never stepped out from The Sopranos' shadow, which is a great shame as it deserves to be considered alongside HBO's greats: The Sopranos, Deadwood and The Wire; that is, Oz can be considered as one of television's greats.

Viewer be warned, Oz is set inside a maximum security prison and it doesn't make for comfortable viewing, given that it is populated by neo-Nazis, bikers, black gangbangers, militant Muslims, Latino gangs, the Mafia, drug dealers, pimps, hustlers and killers. Trying to keep a lid on the escalating violence and even making a gesture at reforming the inmates, are a desperate staff of Correctional Officers, psychiatrists, doctors, priests and administrators.

At only eight episodes per series, unlike The Sopranos, The Wire's and Deadwood's thirteen (or thereabouts), Oz is fast-paced, intense, brutal and uncompromising but always intelligent and never sensationalist. There is humour in there too but given its subject matter, it's somewhat of the gallows variety. Creator Tom Fontana, who also wrote or co-wrote every episode of the entire six seasons, deserves great credit for depicting a world full of pretty vile but human people, people whom you generally wouldn't want to spend any time with at all - yet in his hands, they become compulsive viewing.

What seems to draw the most negative criticism of this programme, is not the violence, the drug use, profanity or sexual element of the series but rather the classical device of the Greek chorus, in which Augustus Hill, an incarcerated crack dealer and cop-killer, offers a commentary and reflection on the events portrayed in each episode. This has proven a frustrating interruption for some, an ironic interlude for others.

Rather than review every individual series, briefly put, the first four series of Oz are fantastic (including the fourth double-length series), the final two seasons are slightly uneven but are still far superior to much else on the fool's lantern.

If prisons are an extreme reflection of society at large, then Oz captures the paranoia and pre-millenium tension of a society at war with itself, unsure or perhaps even unwilling, of how to progress to a more compassionate level.
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on 1 June 2010
Last night I watched the last ever episode of `Oz'. That was the end of a 6 week period spend watching the show from Season 1, Episode 1 to Season 6, Episode 8. I'm a huge fan of American TV Drama. In recent years I've watched The West Wing, The Shield, Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Wire, Generation Kill, Damages and The Corner in their entirety. Oz is right up there with the best TV dramas of all time. Oz is the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility, formerly Oswald State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison at Delaware, USA. Many of the plot arcs are set in "Emerald City" ("Em City"), an experimental unit of the prison in which the unit manager attempts to emphasize rehabilitation and learning responsibility during incarceration. Emerald City is an extremely controlled environment where there are a controlled number of members of each racial and social group.

The writing of the show is brilliant and I believe this is helped by the fact that series creator Tom Fontana was involved in the writing for every episode. I believe the slight dip in quality of writing on The West Wing was down to Aaron Sorkin's departure from the show. Oz doesn't have this problem. Although some storylines are slightly far-fetched, each episode has something to grip you and bring you back to the harsh realities of the brutal prison environment. The performances from the principal actors are outstanding. The characters are believable and you develop an emotional bond with some of them. This has a lot to do with the writing but can only have the impact it does thanks to the performances.

Emerald City's idealistic founder and Unit Manager Tim McManus (played by Terry Kinney) and Warden Leo Glynn (Ernie Hudson) are faced with the day-to-day struggles and frustrations of working with many criminals who show no signs of remorse for their terrible crimes. The remorseful prisoners are generally either killed or dragged back down by the grip of Oz. This infuriates McManus & Glynn who, as well as the problems they face in Oz, also have to face up to personal problems during the 6 year run of the show. Both actors bring authority to their roles and also likeability to characters who are not always sympathetic.

Rita Moreno as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo (known as Sister Pete) and Lauren Velez as Doctor Gloria Nathan are the lead female characters of the show and are present throughout all 6 seasons. Both characters work directly with prisoners to try to help them with overcoming their difficulties in Oz. Both characters have doubts about their lives during the series and Dr. Nathan in particular has to face up to two major personal tragedies.

The prison chaplain Father Ray Mukada is played sympathetically by B.D. Wong and the recurring Correctional Officers Diane Wittlesey, Sean Murphy & Claire Howell (played by Edie Falco, Robert Clohessy and Kristin Rohde) are given good storylines which are well handled by the actors.

Governor James Devlin is played with relish by Zeljko Ivanek (who recently starred as Ray Fiske in Damages). Devlin is not a fan of Em City and is not liked by many of the staff in Oz. His decisions throughtout the series cause a lot of hassle for the staff and inmates at Oz.

That sums up those in charge but what of the inmates?

Oz is narrrated by wheelchair-bound inmate Augustus Hill. These narrations by Hill break the fourth wall in that Hill addresses the camera (and thus the audience) directly, out of the fictional context of the scene. Hill is one of the most likeable characters in the show. This is probably because he's played by likeable actor Harold Perrineau Jr. It took me a few episodes to get used to the narration but after that the epsiodes wouldn't have been the same without it.

A story arc that carries through the six seasons is that of Aryan Brotherhood Leader Vern Schillinger (the outstanding J.K. Simmons) and Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen). Their hatred of one another leads to many interesting storylines, especially after the arrival of Chris Keller (Law & Order SVU's Christopher Meloni) in Season 3). I was recently impressed with Tergesen's performance in Generation Kill but his brilliant, moving portrayal of the deeply troubled Beecher is on another level entirley. J.K. Simmons has the rare ability to be terrifying and hilarious in the space of a few seconds and Meloni brings intensity, sexual energy and ominous danger as Keller.

The Muslims in Emerald City are led by Minister Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker). Said is highly respected in Oz not only by the muslims but my many other inmates and the administration. During his time in Oz he tries to help various inmates with legal and spiritual advice. I had never seen Walker in anything before but I hope this is not the last time as he is a tremendous dramatic actor.

Simon Adebisi (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Miguel Alvarez (Kirk Acevedo) are troubled inmates who suffer different fates. Both head on roads to salvation only to find themselves pulled back in to their old ways.

Chuck Zito as Italian wise guy Chucky Pancamo and Anthony Chisholm as Homeboy Leader Burr Redding are both excellent. As are Luis Guzman and David Zayas as powerful Latino inmates Raoul Hernandez and Enrique Morales.

The occassional light relief is mainly provided by inmates Bob Rebadow (George Morfogen) and Agamemnon Busmalis (Tom Mardirosian). Although they regularly provide laughs they both have extremely difficult times during the series, Rebadow has various encounters with illness, to himself and loved ones and `SPOILER ALERT' Busmalis is jilted at the altar.

Many other bit-part characters get interesting storylines. Aryan gang member James Robson, biker Jaz Hoyt, death row inmate Shirley Bellinger, Italian inmate Peter Schibetta, undercover cop Johnny Basil, troubled Homeboy Omar White, Rev Jeremiah Cloutier and Correctional Officers Dave Brass and Clayton Hughes.

Every member of the huge ensemble cast is impressive. In fact, the ensemble cast is one of the best I've seen on TV.

If you are as big a fan of Oz as I am you'll think I've forgotten two main characters. You'd be wrong. I left my favourite characters to last. Real-life brothers Dean & Scott William Winters play inmate brothers Ryan and Cyril O'Reily. Ryan is a manipulative Irish-American serving life imprisonment for manslaughter. He is joined in Oz by his brother Cyril in Season 2 following Ryan's instruction to Cyril to commit a horrible crime.

We discover that Cyril was left badly brain damaged by a blow to the head following violence caused by Ryan. This has left Cyril with the mental capacity of a five year old. We sense throughout the series that Ryan is deeply remorseful for the harm he has caused to his brother.

Ryan regularly uses his manipulative abilities to get his own way but we never totally dislike him. I found the character to be extremely likeable. Much of this is down to Dean Winters. Many people will associate him with his role as Dennis (Liz's boyfriend) in 30 Rock. In Oz he brings the same likeablity factor and humour but with a touch of menace. Despite his regular criminal activity and violence towards other inmates, Ryan is extremely protective of his brother Cyril. In the final two seasons, in the face of adversity, his love for Cyril shines through and draws out an extremely moving performance from Dean Winters.

Scott William Winters excels as Cyril. Many actors could have ruined the character with an over-the-top attempt at a mentally handicapped character. Winters underplays and makes the character childlike more than retarded. His interactions with his brother, particularly in the last season, are touching and emotional. I have a younger brother and know the natural instinct to protect him. These feelings, along with the excellent writing and performances led me to shed some tears in Episode 6 of Season 6 during very moving scenes between the O'Reily brothers. If you've seen this episode you'll know what I mean but if you haven't you'll find out when you watch it. I dare you not to cry!

If you have never seen the show you should know that it is extreme television and features coarse language, drug use, extreme violence, male frontal nudity, homosexuality, and male rape, as well as ethnic and religious conflicts.

So that's my review of Oz. I hope it's been helpful to you. I strongly recommend that you by the box set right now! If you don't you'll miss out on a wonderful tv drama experience.

I'll never forget my experience of Oz.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2010
All the clichés are true: it's gritty, controversial, and hard-hitting and will definitely tax your sense of injustice.
I missed the series when it was shown on TV so this was a complete faith purchase for me. Hearing about it on the grapevine and reading the helpful reviews here I decided to go for it.
If you're reading this then you must be considering doing the same so I'll lend my voice to the others' here and say: do it; you wont regret it.
You may be concerned (like I was) that a 6 series drama set in a prison might get a little laborious story wise and a tad claustrophobic. Well lay those fears to rest! This truly is brutal TV; it'll leave you shocked, affronted, angry, maybe even a little sad. One thing it will not leave you is bored.
Acting is top notch with some really interesting characters. Tobias Beecher's (Lee Tergesen) journey is probably one of the most compelling as you witness how prison life completely changes him from naïve polite man to a designer-beard wearing hard man teetering on the brink of sanity.
The truly despicable Vern Shillinger (Tobias' arch-nemesis if you'll permit me to be so dramatic and played by J K Simmons) is easy to hate and their continued tug-o-war provides truly shocking but compelling moments.
Simon Adebisi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is worthy of a mention as he is a real force to be reckoned with. He also leads the racial war in series 4 and, if I'm being honest, steels the show.
I should probably mention Chris Keller (Christopher Melloni) who comes strutting into Oz near the beginning of series 2. He becomes emotionally involved with Beecher and is one of the story strands that constantly evolve as the series rolls by. Keller is a real manipulator of people and their emotions, which is what makes their relationship compelling to watch. Feeling such an immediate empathy with Beecher I found myself becoming increasingly concerned when manipulations and other such deviances became apparent. Melloni portrays the devilish character of Keller so well that you really don't know whether to love or hate him.

Every episode begins and ends (with a little thrown in through out for good measure) with a topical narration by Augustus Hill (the wonderful Harold Perrineau) who himself is an inmate. These are most times witty one-sided conversations he has with the camera that are well written and quite enlightening.

Summary: Charting prison life warts and all in takes no prisoners (excuse the pun) and really purveys a sense of unease. In a place where it's dangerous to smile and even the odd noble act can have devastating repercussions, it really is as intense as it gets. Uneasy alliances, betrayals, violence, capital punishment, full-frontal exposure, manipulation, degradation and tenuous love affairs - it really is hard to find anything redeeming in the characters' actions - and not just the inmates either. But that's what makes it sooo good. There are moments of levity and also kindness but there isn't much in Oz that goes to according to plan. Overall it shows just what human beings are like when all need for civility has been stripped away and it's survival of the most cunning - it's ugly, but so very entertaining.
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on 30 December 2012
incredibly well-done portrayal of prisoner's day-to-day lifes. a show without typical heroes. these guys are bad guys, no one is innocent. and that's what makes it so interessting and honest. always a overstepping of moral limits, but dealt with delicately.
you want to love the characters, despite their cruelty. and sometimes it nearly works.

the idea of placing a narrator is great and gives the show an additional twist. the characters are fun to watch (that is if they are not plotting to kill someone...) and you can feel with them. the storylines and themes are well-thought and wide-ranging.

i got so addicted, that i finished all six seasons in only two weeks. i couldn't stop watching.
but it is pretty violent and graphic, so if you got problems with violence, blood, sexuality and/or nudity - maybe you shoudn't watch it...

many people seem to have had problems with the dvds itselves due to bad packing. my set works just fine, i had nor problems playing the dvds whatsoever :-)
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on 4 December 2012
First I'd like to say that OZ is one of the best drama series I've ever seen! Considering that there are already lots of reviews out there discussing the series itself, I'd like to say something about the packaging - which has been improved over the years!

Today (4.12.2012) I got the ordered boxset for the third time (I ordered 2 of them over the last 3 years as gifts) and I was suprised to see that the 7 cardboard pockets, holding the overall 21 discs LOOKED glossy and not harsh, like they used to look and how the boxset holding the pockets looks like. While I was unpacking the boxset, this suspicion confirmed itself: the cardboard pockets ARE glossy. That means that the blank discs are not placed on a harsh ground anymore but on glossified carboards - this way the discs most likely will be more protected than before - even though I must say that there are already some scratches on the discs.

However it looks like the manufacturer listened to the feedback of lots of buyers, saying that the older package was actually damaging the discs and decided to finally do something about it! Isn't that great?!
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on 9 May 2009
I have just finished watching all 6 seasons of Oz and I must admit that it is a hard peice of television to review. At times a little to obvious, a little to 'soap-opera', little too far fetched and cheap. At other times it can gritty, thought provoking, well acted, and must watch TV.

Many of the main story arcs are very absorbing like Beecher's conflict with Schinlinger and his freindship with Keller. Many other complex characters and storylines also grab you. However some of the story lines can be corny, unbelievable to the point of boarding on the super-natural. It can also be predictable but somehow I found myself interested enough to complete all seasons.

When I say "Oz can be far fetched" this opinion comes from episodes that concentrate on faith, god, the Devil .... and at one point it thought that I wouldnt be suprised if Aliens somehow made it onto the screen ... Honestly at times Oz can be as rediculus as Dynasty or Dallas.

Try to put the more stupid elements, that you may find in the story, to one side and you may find yourself liking OZ as I did. It is a mixed bag of poor TV and good TV but you should find the good outways the bad.
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on 13 January 2013
Possibly the most violent, brutal and savage portrayal of mans inhumanity to man that I have seen. Incredibly executed as a series, with some epic characters who, despite committing horrifying atrocities, you just can't help but feel for.

Despite that I won't be seeking employment as a corrections officer anytime soon.

Amazing. Watch it.
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