What was HBO’s first original series?
Although “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” and “The Wire” helped HBO develop its repertoire for groundbreaking, complex original series, “Oz” was the first one-hour drama produced by the network, debuting in 1997.
Although the show borrowed references from “The Wizard of Oz” movie, “Oz” was short for a fictional prison called Oswald State Penitentiary. The show followed the daily lives of prisoners and guards, and featured the likes of Ernie Hudson and J.K. Simmons. Source: IMDB.
Beginning with the 1997 launch of its first one-hour dramatic narrative series Oz, HBO started a trend that became commonplace with premium cable services. Although critically acclaimed, it was not until The Sopranos premiered in 1999, that the network achieved both mass critical and Emmy success.