Now that I have watched every current season of every HBO series available, I find myself craving new material like a smack addled couch surfer. The DVD shop owners are tired of me turning up every day looking for the newest season of Dexter, 30 Rock and Underbelly. “Are they here yet? Are they here yet?” I beg them over and over like a kid who has spent too long in the family car on the way to Grandma’s house. “I’ll pay you top dollar DAMN YOU!!” They politely shake their head but I can hear their under-breath utterances as they shoo me out of their shops ” damn HBO junkies. They are all the same”.
In a moment of sheer deprivation I even found myself ringing my Cambodian father, Darren, for advice on what “product” he was currently using. Even he sounded like he was in day 3 withdrawals. He lowered his voice and whispered “Deadwood” which I promptly bought on the spot and it was so tasty I devoured in two or three binge sessions. I thought the name was quite apt because were it not for Deadwood, I would have been dead….er…wood. As the credits rolled on that series, my cravings kicked in again and I cursed the day I started this whole spiral into dependency with the full box set of The Sopranos. That was such euphoric viewing I knew I was in trouble.
So off to Russian market I go again the other day and in a sheer moment of sweaty, palm itching lunacy I purchase the box set of OZ. I race off back home and fumble as I try to open the product in record time. Damn this shrink wrapping technology. Just give me the damn disc in its raw, pure state….I know what to do with it! It is Pchum Pen and the family are all out at the Pagoda so I strip down to my undies, crack a beer and recline on the couch waiting for that all too familiar ” I got a new HBO series” feeling to wash over me. AHHHH. That’s better.
OZ is set on the Oswald ( OZ ) Correctional Facility, also otherwise known as Emerald City. It is an experimental unit where the rules are hard but fair and the prisoners get some rewards for good behaviour such as conjugal visits, TV and plenty of gym and sports activities. Failure to abide by the rules and you are in the hole for long periods of time. No prison show is complete without the various ethnic and gang groups being represented; The Latinos,Brothers,Italians,Gays and Aryans all vie for their slice of the prison pie and as usual…only the strong survive, Seeing what happens to Lawyer Tobias Beecher when he is given 4 years for drunk driving and killing a little girl is chilling. He is turned into a punk by the head of The Aryan Nation and constantly raped and degraded, even having a swastika burnt into his butt cheek. Ouch. Thankfully, he gets some revenge later in the series.
Overall, OZ is good viewing. The level of violence is satisfactory with plenty of regular shankings and beatings to keep the blood levels flowing and there is an edgy quality to it with an over-narration by one of the inmates, Augustus Hill, that is quite theatrical with some pretty trippy scenes. Many of the HBO stable of actors present. Luis Guzman is the Latino boss Hernandez and has made a career out of playing bad ass Latino Gangstas.Eamonn Walker ( ex The Wire) plays the Muslim leader and Dean winters ( ex Sex in the City ) plays Irishman Ryan O Reilly – one seriously nasty piece of work who is conniving on the inside and orders murders and rapes on the outside. The series is set almost exclusively in the main lock down area of the prison, the kitchen and the gymnasium which gives it a slightly claustrophobic feel but it does make you think about what it would be like to spend every waking hour locked away.
I am trying to control my intake of this series. I really need to break my HBO habit but I figure going slow is better than going cold turkey. If I can get it under control then when the new series of Dexter and 30 Rock etc DO finally come out, I will hopefully be able to contain myself and not run around like a slathering glue sniffer who just got given a carton of Hobbytex for Christmas.
Of course, if anyone CAN recommend an entire HBO season I might have missed, please contact me and …………HURRY UP DAMN YOU !