On Oz...

9:56 PM / Posted by Ashley /

No, not this Oz...

This one.

I suppose I'm jumping on this band wagon a little late... 7 years late to be exact. However, I'm absolutely undone by this show and will most likely be writing a few more blogs about it before my obscure little summer obsession runs its course.

I'm in the middle of watching the series via dvd (currently at the beginning of season 4). It's hands down one of the best episodic drama series that I've ever seen. I will have more comments as soon as I'm through the entire series as there's A TON to say, about the writing, performances and the issues it raises. I think the storytelling is superior and am personally interested in how the structure (narrative/narration) affects the way the audience understands the various issues that it raises about the prison/legal system, gender, race and class. It's a structure I've seen done both successfully (and not so successfully) in theatre and something I would like to work with a bit more in my own work, though adapting the structure of Oz to the theatre could end up creating a very pretentious/didactic theatre piece. Though on the flip side, it's incredibly Brechtian, which I think is another reason why I'm so captivated. I haven't had the chance to read any criticism/discussions on the series (I'm holding off until I'm done in a sad attempt to not spoil the ending) but I imagine all of these points have been raised.

Oz successfully puts a face onto statistics, the rather large and insane US prison incarceration statistics. Not only do we get to know, attempt to understand and empathize with the characters but Tom Fontana (the writer) skillfully weaves in larger humanitarian/ethical themes and statistics through narration by a character named Augustus Hill (played by Harold Perrineau) who breaks the 4th wall and addresses the viewers.

With facebook, twitter and the other social networking sites that dominate our lives and the way we watch television, I wish this show was still on the air not only for the crazy comments everyone would be posting at the end of each episode, but to get a sense first hand of the way that people are interpreting the ethical issues jam packed into every episode. Does it make people want to take action? How does one view the prison system after watching this series? How does the structure affect the way the information and storytelling is coming through? I may be digging deep but I'm hooked (and for good reason...). I would love to hear the dialogue on this one.

And one final thought for tonight ... How the heck does Simon Adebesi keep that hat on?

(Simon Adebesi [played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje] and his infamous hat)

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