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Barnes & Noble -There is no Scarecrow, Tin Man, nor Cowardly Lion in this "Emerald City," an experimental cell block of the Oswald Maximum Security Prison, a.k.a. "Oz." The show -- created by Homicide executive producer Tom Fontana -- plays out each week like a vicious Beat poem from a psychopath. With no holds barred literally, it focuses on the chaotic day-to-day routine of prisoners, guards, and administrators. The man behind the curtain is Tim McManus Terry Kinney, a reform-minded optimist operating sometimes with, and sometimes against, Warden Leo Glynn Ernie Hudson. In the debut season 1997 collected here, Oz flourished with tense, character-driven story lines built around the prison's numerous inmates and fluctuating roster. Each episode is a dense soap opera with abstract interludes of narration by hobbled inmate Augustus Hill Harold Perrineau Jr. -- effectively a Greek chorus in the slam-angry form of an urban poet. Viewers learn early on that Oz is a virtual tinderbox of brutal competing gangs, corrupt internal politics, and despair: a place where one suspects a Survivor season would fail to go the distance. Among the famous faces in this first season are future Sopranos costar Edie Falco as a corrections officer and, in a role reversal, Homicide's Detective Paul Falsone Jon Seda as a prisoner. This collection includes all eight episodes from the groundbreaking first season:
- "The Routine" -- Several new inmates arrive to meet Oz's diverse, gang-banging population of Latinos, Muslims, Westies, Aryans, and wise guys. Among the newcomers is Muslim activist Kareem Said Eamonn Walker, who seems destined to start a prisoner riot. Hotheaded Dino Ortolani Seda gets burned.
- "Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise" -- Cowardly prisoner Tobias Beecher Lee Tergesen gets a conjugal visit with his estranged wife; an inmate stabbed upon arrival is visited by his grandfather, who is also an inmate; Jefferson Keane Leon asks to marry his girlfriend on the outside; Ortolani's enemy Ryan O'Reily Dean Winters is transferred to Emerald City; and wise guy Nino Schibetta Tony Musante investigates his paisan's murder. Directed by Nick Gomez.
- "God's Chillin' " -- When Governor Devlin Zeljko Ivanek visits, Glynn warns the gang leaders to quiet their boys down or else suffer a prison lockdown. Meanwhile, Keane finds God, and Beecher gets in with O'Reily.
- "Capital P" -- Capital punishment has been reinstated, and Keane is first on the list, while prison psychologist Sister Peter Marie Rita Moreno protests; Said has health problems; and O'Reily sends a nasty message to Schibetta.
- "Straight Life" -- The infiltration of drugs into Oz has reached unprecedented levels; Beecher is forced into counseling; and an undercover investigation by McManus and Glynn backfires in a deadly way. After the death of his baby on the outside, Miguel Alvarez Kirk Acevedo begins to lose his mind.
- "To Your Health" -- Three generations of Alvarezes -- all prisoners -- are united when the partiarch, Ricardo Tomas Milian, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Beecher's drug abuse takes its toll; Schibetta gets it in the gut; NBA all-star Jackson Vahue Rick Fox arrives at Oz; and violent Muslim Huseni Mershah Roger Guenveur Smith isn't the only thing paining Said.
- "Plan B" -- Said and Mershah part ways, permanently; prisoner Donald Groves Sean Whitesell pulls a no-no on Glynn and gets fired, by a firing squad; bitter and jealous Vahue breaks a cello belonging to Eugene Dobbins Zuill Bailey; and Beecher gets his revenge on neo-Nazi Vernon Schillinger J. K. Simmons.
- "A Game of Checkers" -- A sensational season-ending riot breaks out when two inmates get into a fight over checkers. There's no place like home.