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Oz: Season 01 ()

Seen mostly through the eyes of wheelchair-bound prisoner Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau Jr.), who serves as narrator and "tour guide," the first season of Oz begins with the establishment of a "prison within a prison" on Cell Block 5 of Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary -- aka "Oz." Under the watchful eyes of Warden Leo Glynn (Ernie Hudson), Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) serves as unit manager of Cell Block 5, which he rechristens the Emerald City. It is the hope of the idealistic McManus that by allowing the prisoners more freedom and privileges, and getting them used to a daily routine, they will become rehabilitated more quickly. Perhaps it goes without saying that McManus is in for a lot of disillusionment and disappointment during the eight episodes of season one. Newly interned at "Em City" are former lawyer Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen), nervously serving time for murder; famed Muslim leader Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker), who calmly informs Warden Glynn that he intends to become "top man" at Oz; pro basketball player Jackson Vayhue (Rick Fox); and cannibalistic serial killer Donald Groves (Sean Whitesell). Their assimilation into the prison population is uneventful until Governor James Devlin (Zeljko Ivanek), who has sailed into office on a platform diametrically proposed to Glynn's "coddling" of prisoners, orders the removal of such newly installed privileges as smoking and conjugal visits. Going one step farther, Devlin reinstates the death penalty, resulting in the immediate execution of one of the Em City "residents." Clearly, this does nothing to alleviate the tension between cons and guards -- nor, for that matter, between the various powerful factions within the population. In the course of events, an undercover narc is found hanged in his cell, another prisoner is set afire, the Oz staffers wrestle with the problem of what to do with elderly inmates, a turf war breaks out over a game of checkers, and Kareem Said suffers a heart attack. The season ends with a bloody and destructive riot -- with no indication as to who will survive to appear in season two. Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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