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Oz Season 3

HBO’s acclaimed prison drama returned for its third season on July 14th, 1999 and there are a few changes afoot. For starters, the name of the prison is changed to Oswald State Correctional Facility Level 4. Glynn is still the warden, McManus is still the unit manager of Emerald City, and most of the other Correctional Officers, prison staff, and main prisoners are still around. There are a few new additions to the cast, most notably Seth Gilliam as Clayton Hughes, Kristin Rohde as Claire Howell, and Phillip Casnoff as Nikolai Stanislofsky. Hughes and Howell are new Correctional Officers. Hughes father was also a CO at Oz and he died in the line of duty. Hughes makes it his mission to find out who did it and why. Howell is feisty, manipulative, and develops a dangerous crush on McManus. Stanislofsky is a Russian contract killer who purposely got incarcerated to pull off a hit.

There are a few major storylines that unite the 8-episode season. The first involves a boxing tournament between the different factions in Emerald City. The tournament stretches throughout most of the season and sets up a lot of drama and tension amongst the prisoners. Tobias Beecher and Vernon Schillinger continue to hate each other and scheme to break the other. Beecher gets the advantage when Schillinger’s vulnerable son gets incarcerated in Oz. Muslim leader Kareem Saïd starts to lose his power and loses control of the Muslims, effectively isolating himself in a place where you don’t want to be alone. Adebisi seems to go crazy for a while, but then he goes back to being a badass after a few episodes. Miguel Alvarez remains an intriguing character.

There are simply too many characters and plot points to cover, so I’ll be lazy and not talk about them. I’ll just say that Oz is an awesome show and leave it at that. You should watch it. Especially since I’m watching it for the first time and I have nobody to talk about it with. That’s the worst part about watching a show that’s been out for so long. There’s nobody to geek out with. Nobody cares anymore, and it’s frustrating because they should.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Shameless Season 3

The Gallagher clan is back for the third season of Showtime’s Shameless. William H. Macy plays Frank Gallagher, the alcoholic deadbeat father of six kids. Emmy Rossum plays Fiona Gallagher, his oldest child and surrogate mother to the rest of the kids. The first two seasons were about meeting the Gallaghers, and a few other families and crazy characters around their neighborhood. Season 3 is all about exploring the relationships between those characters.

            Frank has always been deplorable, but he’s at his absolute lowest in this season. His relationship with his kids has always been strained and it finally reaches the breaking point. Fiona kicks him out of the house, he responds by anonymously reporting them to child protective services, temporarily breaking up the family. Fiona has relationship problems with her boyfriend, Jimmy (Justin Chatwin), who is stuck in a green card marriage with the nymphomaniac daughter of a dangerous drug lord. Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) has a love triangle of his own, sleeping with his best friend’s brother and with Jimmy’s closeted father. Next-door neighbors Kev and Veronica (Steve Howey and Shanola Hampton) want a baby but can’t conceive, so they ask Veronica’s mom to be the surrogate and that leads to some awkward love scenes.

Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White) still doesn’t know if he wants to go to college or not. He’s in a twisted relationship with Mandy Milkovich (Emma Greenwell) and he still has feelings for Karen Jackson (Laura Slade Wiggins), the succubus who broke his heart and ran away. The Jackson family is almost as dysfunctional as the Gallaghers. Sheila Jackson (Joan Cusack) is kind of crazy and is sleeping with her daughter’s rejected ex-husband, Jody (played by Zach McGowan). We knew from Season 2 that he’s a recovering sex addict, in Season 3 we find out what that means.

            Sex, drugs, violence, and family values… Shameless has it all. Showtime doesn’t get the same respect as HBO, but they would if more people watched this series. This is quality television. It’s a marathon show. You sit down to watch one episode and end up watching three. There are only twelve episodes per season, so you have to pace yourself or else you will run out episodes to watch and your life will seem hollow.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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