Monday, October 25, 2010
AiAA: Escape from Oz
I'm admittedly late in bringing this to the attention of the blogosphere, so you'll have to forgive me. It's just that I was a BIG fan of HBO's hour-long prison drama Oz. The series -- set within the fictitious confines of the Oswald State Correctional Facility -- ran from 1998 through 2003. During the early years of my weekly music news column, Oz was one of the first pop culture references I ran into the ground through overuse and repetition -- right up there with Lil' Kim and the multi-hued Huxtable kids.
After Oz ended, several of the show's stars moved on to even more prominent television roles. Harold Perrineau was an important cog in the mythology of Lost -- for awhile. Chris Meloni manages to maintain a straight face throughout every ridiculous plot twist of Law & Order: SVU. And, Edie Falco completed her cable television trifecta with critically-acclaimed turns on The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie.
Dean Winters played sh*t-stirring inmate Ryan O'Reily.
JK Simmons played neo-Nazi prisoner Vern Schillinger.
The below clip features both characters, but before you watch, keep in mind (1) the acting was frequently uneven and/or over-the-top -- without making Oz any less entertaining and (2) NSFW:
These days, Winters -- who landed post-Oz gigs on Rescue Me, Life on Mars and a well-received recurring role on 30 Rock -- can be found in commercials for Allstate Insurance:
I like these commercials. Really, I do.
But, the origins of this lightly-read blog lie within Oz character landmarks like Adebisi's teeny knit hat and Jaz Hoyt's enormous...uh, enormity. I don't want them selling me insurance.
JK Simmons has coincidentally landed an equally irreverent ad campaign for insurance. Schillinger! He played J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies and appeared regularly on the Law & Order franchise and TNT's The Closer. Now, Farmers wants me to "come study with Professor Nathaniel Burke"?
I hope we'll always have Oz, y'all.