In an ideal world, I would have enough time to run a smuggling empire from my prison cell, watch every TV show that interests me, and still get seven hours of sleep every night, but the crushing truth is that I don't have an evil henchman/vice president to assist in these endeavors. Oz is one of those shows that sounds damned good, but watching all of it is daunting as fuck. That's why Gatos's TV-to-movie edit feels as liberating as an early release from hard time. It condenses the story of Tobias Beecher into a tight arc, and evaluating the edit on its own terms, without comparing it to the first season from which it was assembled, I find the narrative coherent and gripping, hellish and darkly comic. The supporting characters—Schillinger, Augustus Hill, Ryan, Sister Reimondo—serve in this edit to flesh out Beecher's story as he grows survival balls.
Nowhere in this edit does Gatos stray from Beecher's tale. Solid construction, as if it were a stand-alone piece released by HBO itself. As a bonus, you also get the unique HBOish intro with the Gatos moniker, a stamp of quality and an indicator of the shady-good entertainment to come. Now excuse me as I return to scraping away the concrete behind my bed.
What, the original show was not all about Tobias Beecher? One would never guess based on this edit. Brutal, gut-wrenching, and to the point, Gatos brilliantly tells the story of a man being destroyed by a dehumanizing environment, without distracting side plots. This edit grabbed me and didn't let me go until it was over, even if I felt like I needed a shower afterwards. The only flaw is that some unnecessary flashbacks have been left in. They work as recaps for different episodes in the original, but here we're just seeing again stuff we've seen minutes before, and thus they become distracting and completely superfluous. Otherwise, it was all perfect from both a narrative and technical point of view.
Another Gatos triumph. Now, where's my Season 2 edit?
(NOTE: “Degree of Editing” is a 100% arbitrary rating that I keep in mind when reviewing edits. This is not meant to insinuate that a faneditor is lazy or not. Some fanedits require a lot more work than others and I take this into account.)