Tag Archives: prison

Oz Season 2

Oz Season 2 is the second season of HBO’s acclaimed dramatic series about life behind bars of the fictional Oswald State Penitentiary. It’s only 8 episodes, each one about an hour long, so you can watch the whole season in a few days. The first season introduced you to the rising tensions of the prison staff member and inmates that culminated in a deadly riot. Season 2 is about the aftermath of the riot, about the lessons learned or ignored by the main characters. You catch up with old characters and you meet new ones that change the dynamic of the prison.

Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) reopens Emerald City, determined to make it succeed. He does this by separating the inmates into different groups (The Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Muslims, the Homeboys, the Latinos, the rejects, the homosexuals, etc.) with only four members each. Amongst this new backdrop new issues and problems arise.

There are way too many story arcs to cover, so I won’t even try. I’ll just mention a few that I enjoyed. The warden’s daughter gets raped and one of the inmates knows who is responsible. The talented Poet (who happens to be a poet) gets his poetry published and becomes a celebrity who gets his freedom, even though he’s not ready for it. Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) and Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) wage psychological warfare on each other. And Ryan O’Reily (Dean Winters) falls in love with the prison nurse, gets his mentally challenged brother to kill her husband, and deal with the guilt when his brother gets sent to Oz for the murder. There’s another subplot involving two old inmates trying to dig their way out.

There isn’t as much as stake as in Season 1. Season 2 seems to be more of a character study. And there are a lot of interesting characters so there is a lot to explore. It’s not a tame season by any means. Remember that Oz is an HBO show about prison. You’re gonna see a lot of shocking and fucked up shit. If you liked the first season, you’ll love the second season.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

41hLyemkt5L._SX500_

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Oz Season 1

Oz is an HBO series created by Tom Fontana about life behind bars at the fictional Oswald State Penitentiary. It ran for six seasons from 1997 to 2003. It was a milestone in television history. It was the first hour-long HBO drama series, and opened the doors for The Sopranos, Deadwood, Game of Thrones, etc. Season 1 introduces you to the major players in Emerald City, a special unit of the prison, which was created to rehabilitate and not simply punish prisoners.

Emerald City is run by Unit Manager Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) under the supervision of Warden Leo Glynn (Ernie Hudson). You meet a few other staff members such as correctional officer Diane Whittlesey (Edie Falco), prison counselor Sister Peter Marie Reimondo (Rita Moreno), prison doctor Gloria Nathan (Lauren Vélez) and prison chaplain Father Ray Mukada (B.D. Wong). The staff struggles to suppress the rising tensions of the inmates to avoid an imminent riot.

Emerald City is controlled by the staff of Oz, but the inmates run the show. Each episode is narrated by paralyzed inmate Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau). He talks about the themes and issues of each episode, and he is often neutral and the voice of reason in a chaotic place. The stability of Emerald City is rocked by the arrival of Kareem Saïd, a devout Muslim and political activist who immediately assumes a position of power amongst the inmates. He becomes the unofficial leader of the inmates, and that causes some rival inmates to forge an unsteady alliance. There is an awful lot of politicking and shady deals between the Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Homeboys, the Irish, the Bikers, the outcasts, and the Muslims as each group attempts to gain more power and control.

New inmate Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) is perhaps the most relatable character on the show. He was a successful lawyer that was convicted of a DUI and sent to a maximum security prison. He has no street skills and doesn’t know how to handle life in prison. Consequently he ends up being the property of Vernon Schillinger (J.K. Simmons), leader of the Aryan Brotherhood. Beecher becomes a bitch. And you don’t want to be a bitch in Oz. Beecher must adapt or die, and he slowly grows a pair of balls and transforms himself into a badass.

Season 1 is all about struggle. The inmates struggle for power and respect. The staff struggles to keep control. Everyone struggles for survival. Oz is a realistic show. It almost feels like you are watching a documentary. It makes you grateful that you aren’t behind bars. It makes you relieved that you don’t work at a prison. But it’s relatable. There are a few characters that you see yourself in. It scares you a little bit, but it compels you to keep watching more. Oz is a few years old now, but it’s still relevant. Good storytelling never goes out of style.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

oz

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Alcatraz: The True End of the Line (book)

Alcatraz: The True End of the Line is an autobiography by Darwin E. Coon, an ex-con who served four years on Alcatraz, the world’s most notorious prison. He tells the story of his life, everything from his childhood to his criminal capers, to the stints he pulled at various prisons and jails. It’s a short book, only 144 pages, and it’s not written that well (but that’s to be expected from an ex-con I suppose). But Darwin had an interesting life and he has some pretty amazing stories.

I actually knew Darwin. He was a regular at the restaurant that I work at in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and we both went to the same dive bar. He would go to Alcatraz a few times a week and sell his book to tourists and he made a killing. He would tell us stories and buy us drinks. He would talk about how he used to chase the girls, and how much easier they were to catch back then. He was the local celebrity and couldn’t walk down the street without somebody recognizing him and saying hello. He was quite the character, but he was also an ex-con and you couldn’t forget that. One day he got banned from the dive bar for threatening to kill the bartender for cutting him off. He got sick not long after and became spotted less and less frequently around the Wharf. There came a day when I spotted his name in the obituaries and I knew that an era had ended. They held his memorial service at the dive bar. Darwin passed away a few years ago, but every now and then I’ll see The Rock on my way to work and think about him.

I can’t say that Alcatraz: The True End of the Line is a good book because I’m obviously biased. But I can say that Darwin Coon had an interesting life story and it won’t take long to read about it. The guy robbed banks and escaped from police custody and served time with famous criminals. He has anecdotes about kidnapping and people getting shanked in the mess hall. He lived a life that few have experienced, and this book lets you catch a glimpse of that world. R.I.P. Darwin E. Coon, Alcatraz Inmate #1422.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Shawshank Redemption

Some movies transcend the big screen and will change your life. The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies. The first time you see it you want to run around shouting about it and share it with the world. Frank Darabont directs this adaptation of a short Stephen King novella, and Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman headline the amazing cast. Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a hotshot banker who gets locked up for killing his wife and her lover.

Andy’s not cut out for prison. He doesn’t belong there, he kind of strolls around like he doesn’t have a care in the world. He maintains his innocence, but so do all the other prisoners except for Red (Morgan Freeman), the only guilty man in Shawshank. Andy and Red form a friendship, and he makes a few more friends as well. Tim Robbins does a great job, but Morgan Freeman steals every scene that he’s in, plus he narrates the movie (which is always awesome cause his voice is like sexual chocolate).

Prison life kinda sucks. Especially when you’re constantly getting man-raped by the Sisters. And when the corrupt warden relies on your prodigious banking skills to launder money. And when a sadistic guard will beat the shit out of anyone for any reason. And when you’re getting thrown into solitary confinement for months at a time.

Despite a few minor setbacks like those, Andy is able to maintain his sanity when a lesser man would break. He finds flashes of freedom by celebrating the little things in life. He makes a deal with the guard and gets a few bottles of beer and Morgan Freeman goes, “We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy, he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.” Another memorable part is when he broadcasts the opera music over the loudspeaker and all the prisoners drop what they are doing and listen in silence. Little victories like these make you all warm and fuzzy inside like an Irish coffee in the shower.

Some of the happier moments are really inspirational, and you kinda want to go to prison. Then you remember the man-rapes and realize you’re stupid.

The Shawshank Redemption

So here comes a little spoiler: Andy actually is innocent. He’s just a victim of circumstance. He also escapes at the end. Oh yeah, another spoiler. Not only does he escape, he escapes in spectacular fashion. It’s not super spectacular, there’s no ninjas or exploding hot air balloons, but it’s a memorable reveal that blows your mind the first time you see it.

Most chicks don’t like prison movies. But they like this movie. That’s because it’s not really a prison movie. It just takes place in a prison. It’s about a man who finds freedom, hope, and happiness within himself. So even though he’s trapped he’s free. Brooks (the decrepitly old inmate) got institutionalized, and when he finally got released he couldn’t handle the world. He had no friends, no family, no hope. He was trapped in his freedom, and took his own life. Red is going down the same path as Brooks, but Andy’s friendship saved him. You have two choices: get busy living or get busy dying.

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of all time. Go to IMDB and see for yourself. It’s practically a perfect picture. If you don’t like this movie you have no soul.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment