And speaking of the cast, not only is it diverse, but it also happens to be extremely talented. One of my personal faves, Edie Falco stands out as a fatigued prison guard, Ernie Hudson puts in some solid work as the warden, and Terry Kinney puts in some long hours as McManus, the mastermind behind Em City who sees his dream collapsing into a murder infested cesspool. On the inmates' side, although they're too numerous to mention here, a cast of about 20 alternating "regulars" is par for the course. J.K. Simmons is incredibly detestable as the Aryan sodomite Vern Schillinger. His relationship with his prison bitch Tobias Beecher (the great Lee Tergesen) is frighteningly cruel and displays the most fearsome reality of prison. Others who stand out are Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the disgusting Simon Adebisi, leader of the brothers from the ghettos and one of the most sickening individuals on TV, Dean Winters as O'Reily, the manipulative Irishman who uses inmates as pawns in his struggle to survive until he can walk out and Eamonn Walker, as the intense leader of the group of Muslims.
This first season does not take the time to slowly introduce you to OZ. Like the inmates who serve time in it, you're tossed in and left to fend for yourself. Understandably, the scenes of murders, homosexual rape and drug use may turn some off but they are unfortunately part of prison life and by extension, part of the society in which we all live. This series has the balls to dive in and to present us with an uncompromising look into these people's lives and to make us thank every god in the books that we don't have to go through it ourselves. OZ also stands out among television series through its high production values and some extremely well-written dialogue. This first season packs some serious firepower with 8 episodes full of betrayal, deceit, brutality and all around vitriol. Despite having seen them all on TV already, I remained glued to my screen for almost 2 full days swallowing up what OZ had to offer. Need I say, it was time well spent.
Also included in the 3-disc set are 11 deleted scenes. About 10 minutes in combined length, they don't really show you anything new but they're well shot and fun to watch. Available with Fontana's commentary as well, they make for a light dessert following a very heavy meal. A 3-minute long featurette is also there but in 3 minutes, you don't learn much about anything but nonetheless, you can stop and check it out. It includes some cast & crew interviews and pretty much adds up to an intro of the series. Cast & Crew bios are also available in a text feature. About 20 of the stars are spoken for in this.
Next up is a music video called "Behind the Walls", by Kurupt featuring Nate Dogg. I'm not a big fan of the hip-hop, so I had to ask around as to who Kurupt and Hot Dogg were. When I couldn't find out, I tried to watch the video but the music got to me. You'll have to check that one out for yourselves.