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.


Mark Smo said...

Sadly, Chuck Zito and Poet are nowhere to be found.

that nicka said...

let's not forget how many people "graduated" from Oz to The Wire.

Lew B said...

Wow, that lil' Kim video really worked for me.

I'll go ahead and assume it's 20 years old and I'm totally behind the times (as usual).