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Oz (television program)

Oz was the first one-hour dramatic television series to be produced by HBO. The show, which aired for seven seasons (1997-2003), is set in a maximum-security prison in an unspecified eastern state in America.

Oz is the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility, Level 4. Most of the stories concern Emerald City ("Em City"), a prototype wing where rehabilitation is the goal of the unit manager, and a high body count is the reality of the show.

Oz avoids any easy answers as to the origin of violence and criminality. Even the worst offenders are shown to have moments of humanity, while the supposedly "normal" characters come to commit their own atrocities.

Oz stars many famous actors such as Ernie Hudson[?], whose character was, unfortunately, killed off in the final season, Christopher Meloni[?], who plays on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Rita Moreno[?], and B.D. Wong[?], who also appears in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

Oz is narrated by Augustus Hill (played by Harold Perrineau), in bizarre, surreal segments that usually relate to an overall theme of the episode. Hill, a wheelchair-bound, drug dealer and ex-junkie, appeared as a recurring character in the show's storylines until the end of the 5th season, where he was killed (although he still came back to narrate).

The major plotlines in Oz typically involved rivalry between the different prison groups (Muslim, Italian, Latino, etc.), which often resulted in murder and retaliation. There are some long-standing individual rivalries including the ongoing struggle between Vernon Schillinger (J.K. Simmons[?]), Aryan Brotherhood leader, and Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen[?]), a family man jailed for killing a child while driving drunk.

Oz took advantage of the freedoms of cable television to show material that would be too extreme for networks: coarse language, drug use, violence, male frontal nudity, homosexuality, rape, ethnic and religious conflict.

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