Oz: The Final Season

Launched in 1997 by Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man), Oz showed other theater and film vanguards that the path to creative freedom on the small screen led to HBO. The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire soon followed. Oz follows the lives (and untimely and/or gruesome deaths) of the prisoners in Oswald Penitentiary’s experimental unit, the Emerald City. The cast of neo-Nazis, murderers, and arsonists make Tony Soprano and his goombas look like the Backstreet Boys. Long-timers have only eight more episodes, but new kids on the (cell) block should check out seasons one and two, newly released on DVD, featuring early cast members like Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano) as corrections officer Diane Whittlesey, alongside lifers like Rita Moreno as Sister Peter Marie, still going strong 52 years after her screen debut.