WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
There is drug use, unthinkable and graphic violence, rape, lying, cheating, bribing, and brutal murders…and that’s once they get in jail! OZ is an hour-long HBO TV series which focuses on a special section in Oswald penitentiary (Oz) called Emerald City in which criminals of all kinds (there are cliques of Muslims, blacks, Christians, bikers, Aryans, Irish, gays, Italians, Latinos, etc.) are given special privileges, but must also follow a specific set of guidelines. In another words...it’s a big mistake!!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is the third season of this brilliant and compelling television series and rather than waste time re-capping the first two years and dissecting all of the fascinating characters one by one (you can just read The Shootin’ Surgeon’s reviews of seasons 1 & 2 here), I’ll instead enlighten you with a few of the splendid plot points of this 8-episode, 3-disc set. One of the main highlights is a boxing competition that runs through pretty much the entire year in which all the cliques pick one of their own to participate -- just another one of McManus’ oddball ideas that you just know will eventually blow up in his face. Some of the other irresistible plot twists include: Schillinger’s son being sent to Em city, McManus being sued for sexual harassment by a guard and an inmate, a couple of Russians joining our merry men, Said beginning to have “feelings” he shouldn’t be having and for that matter, Sister Pete too. The most amusing season-long development is the inmates being obsessed by Sally, the buxom host of a children’s puppet show on TV.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Ryan O’Reily is still playing everybody against one another to get his own way – easily the coolest inmate in all of Oz. I mention a few of the storylines to illustrate just how imaginative and fresh they manage to keep this series, year in and year out. This show’s best attribute is that it skillfully mixes some of these horrifying men and the acts they commit with truly emotional scenes of redemption and heartfelt pain. Yes, that’s right, this show has a lot of heart! The only thing that might deter a first-time viewer is the ungodly amount of violence that occurs several times through each season. Even I have yet to be completely desensitized by the new and gruesome manner of ways these sick puppies think of offing one another each episode. But aside from that, season three of Oz is just as addictive and jolting as it ever was with a series finale that will have you looking up the release date of the fourth season as soon as the credits roll. Seriously folks, THE SOPRANOS is SESAME STREET compared to the hard-asses in Emerald City!
Season #2 Recap: It had been over a year since I had seen the last season’s episodes, so this extra really hit the spot. There are a multitude of plotlines always brewing in this show, so you’ll need to catch up a bit. Watch this!
Audio Commentary on Episode #4 (Unnatural Disasters): Tom Fontana, the writer, creator and producer of OZ and Chazz Palminteri, who directed this particular episode, both share duties on this track. This is the only episode which boasts a commentary track so take advantage and give the whole thing a listen. It’s always great to hear the show’s creator share some behind the scenes OZ fun facts. Chazz comes off very cool, as always.
22 minutes of Deleted Scenes: More Oz!!!! Needless to say, this is essential viewing. A lot more gore, comedy and yes, even tender moments in the wonderful world that is Emerald City.
Season 4 Preview: I wasn’t expecting this extra feature, which turned out to be a very pleasant and crucial addition. I defy you to resist watching this and not see what repercussions the cliffhanger of season three’s final episode will bring.
If you’ve got a strong stomach and an open mind, then you’re ready to add this (including season’s 1 & 2) to your DVD collection. This is a very raw and fantastically written and acted drama that will, without a doubt, stop you from ever committing even the pettiest of crimes. It’ll scare the hell out of you, touch your heart and even bring a smile to your face. What more can you ask for from a television show? People, there’s even a Christmas episode!!!