Oz (1997–2003)
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The Routine 

In the 'Emerald City' experimental unit of Oswald State Penitentiary, we meet some of the diverse inmates who exist in a pecking order of Gangbangers, Latinos, Muslims, Westies, Aryans and Wiseguys.


Darnell Martin


Tom Fontana (created by), Tom Fontana

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ernie Hudson ... Warden Leo Glynn
Terry Kinney ... Tim McManus
Harold Perrineau ... Augustus Hill
Eamonn Walker ... Kareem Said
Kirk Acevedo ... Miguel Alvarez
Edie Falco ... Officer Diane Whittlesey
Leon ... Jefferson Keane
Rita Moreno ... Sister Peter Marie Reimondo
Tony Musante ... Nino Schibetta
J.K. Simmons ... Vern Schillinger
Lee Tergesen ... Tobias Beecher
Sean Whitesell Sean Whitesell ... Donald Groves
Dean Winters ... Ryan O'Reily
Luna Lauren Velez ... Dr. Gloria Nathan (as Lauren Velez)
George Morfogen George Morfogen ... Bob Rebadow


In the 'Emerald City' experimental unit of Oswald State Penitentiary, we meet some of the diverse inmates who exist in a pecking order of Gangbangers, Latinos, Muslims, Westies, Aryans and Wiseguys.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller


TV-MA | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 July 1997 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally producer Debbie Sargent approached artist Anthony Papa who served a 15 to Life sentence with the idea to shoot the opening of Oz playing a prisoner painting in a cell who loses it and destroys his cell and picks up his painting punching his fist through it and the episode of Oz would begin. Papa was commissioned to paint a copy of his famous self portrait "15 to Life" (www.15tolife.com) which was exhibited at the Whitney Museum. An 8 hour shoot was conducted but in the end it hit the cutting floor. The good news was that a segment of the shoot was retained and Papa was placed in the opening montage of season one painting at his easel. See more »


When Dino is in Tim McManus' office after he beats up the guy in the shower, if you look behind Dino you can see in the reflection a crew member holding up the Boom Mic. Right when Dino is looking at the officer outside the window. See more »


[first lines]
Augustus Hill: Oz. That's the name on the street for the Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary. Oz is retro. Oz is retribution. You wanna punish a man? Separate him from his family, separate him from himself, cage him up with his own kind.
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References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »


Oz Theme
By Dave Darlington and Steve Rosen
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User Reviews

The start of HBO's run of fantastic TV shows
27 November 2011 | by thaharSee all my reviews

Before The Wire, before Six Feet Under, before the Sopranos, we had Oz. This first episode got me hooked. I didn't watch it when it first aired back in 1997; I started watching it recently in the year 2011, 14 years after it originally aired, and I've already decided that Oz is now one of my favourite TV shows of all time. I kind of wish I could have started watching it a little earlier. Now I know where the Wire and The Sopranos gets its HBO high quality style programming from. Though Oz is one of those shows that is actually easy to follow the plot.

So this TV show is about the daily routine of prisoners and staff in the penitentiary of Oz. Each episode looks at a particular theme of stories that affects prisoners in Oz. We have at least one person die in each episode. "The Routine" starts it all, which introduces our huge ensemble cast, where there is no protagonist, and where characters that you get to know a lot might eventually get killed off. This episode is no exception, having this crazy prisoner, who steals the episode by getting into trouble a lot, but gets killed. The show is really dark but feels realistic. The acting is fantastic, the writing is superb, and the pacing is nice and slow. It's a TV show that you'd never see anything like it before 1997.

Oz wouldn't work in any other TV channel but HBO, and probably Showtime. The show has the freedom to do anything, like have bloody violence, strong language, discrimination, and sexual references. It's unfortunate that only 8 episodes are made each season, but I guess the season with 16 episodes makes up for it.

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