Brilliant But Cancelled: EZ Streets
R1 - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and David Cormack (9th July 2006).
The Show

EZ Streets isnít 21 Jump Street (1987-1991), itís not Elm Street (of Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)), itís not even Sesame Street (1969-current). Itís the street that The Sopranos (1999-2007) would live on had the Sopranos been Irish-American and a much crapper show.
Thatís right, EZ Streets is just a bit stink. Just a bit mind you, it certainly had some potential that had it been allowed to go on it may have developed into something of a reasonable show.
It made its CBS debut in 1996 in a 2 hour feature which had terrible ratings, then the season started 3 days later and that too got dreadful ratings. So the show got pulled; only to reappear again 4 months later with no repeat of the premiere to bring new fans up to speed. Thus, as happened before, it got terrible ratings. So it got canned altogether after 9 measly episodes.
The Brilliant but Cancelled series of DVDs brings you 3 episodes of this series. Thatís right, read it again. 3. Notice how I mentioned there were 9 episodes in the series before it got canned? Yes that there, in the fourth paragraph of the review is the biggest problem with this DVD. It takes the feature-length pilot then plucks 2 other episodes seemingly at random from the 9 that aired - episodes 5 and 6.
The feature length (read 90 minutes) pilot is a bad example of the program and despite the fact that it is Paul Haggis who created it (he of Crash (2004), Million Dollar Baby (2004) and unbelievably Walker: Texas Ranger (1993-2001)) the script is incredibly trite (mind you, Crash can be incredibly trite). Example, when the lead character, Detective Quinn (Ken Olin, now to be seen as the Exec. Producer of Alias (2001-2006)) is talking to his mother in an early character-setting scene his mother gives us the wonderful metaphor - youíve (Det. Quinn) been drawing in black and white since you were a child - when you gonna use different colors?
The pilot, as it should be, is all about showing us whoís who and what do they do. Detective Quinnís partner is killed by some baddy whilst him and Quinn are working a take-down together. After his death it appears that his partner wasnít such a squeaky clean guy after all and so, as it is in TV world, Quinn is tarred with the same brush.
But then from a murky police division a job offer. Intelligence suggests that it was local up and coming hoodlum Jimmy Murtha (Joe Pantoliano who seems to have the poor manís Joe Pesci niche all sewn up) who popped a cap in his partnerís ass and it just so happens they are trying to bring down that gang. Would Detective Quinn like the job? Would he ever!
And so the 90 minutes lurches from one development to the next without any real cohesion. Oh, thereís the sympathetic figure, Danny Rooney, (Jason Gedrick) he just got out of prison, a prison-term he served for Jimmy. He goes back to his wife, and oh dear, sheís turned into a hooker and a heroin junkie. But still she manages to look after their little fat child ok? Only in TV land. And oh thereís the sex object, Theresa Conners, (Deborah Farentino) Jimmyís attorney and bit of a kinky one. And look, out of nowhere, thereís Quinnís father, an ex-cop who was also crooked, but donít get to know him too well guys because in 15 minutes heís gonna turn up dead in an oil barrel. Why? Who knows. Who by? Weíll never know. It may well have been answered in the second episode but as mentioned above we get 3 randomly selected episodes.
The second episode is moderately better but it is the third episode where the show starts to hit its straps (for me personally anyway). In this episode, we get the following: attempted murder of a perceived stoolie, who takes 6 bullets to the stomach, only to seemingly get up and climb out a window, then we get Danny about to face off with Jimmy, something heís never even contemplated doing before, then Dannyís wife is arrested for prostitution in an attempt to get Danny to squeal on Jimmy and oh the drama, oh the excitement.
Whilst it sounds a little overly-dramatic the tension is wound at just the right pace so that the intelligent viewer can see the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place. Somewhat difficult seeing as the parts are so fragmented for me but they are at least decipherable (ok Iíll stop bitching about the 3 random episode bit).
Another complaint I do have is the lighting. In an attempt to get a film noir feeling to the show they sacrificed view-ability. Quite often I was pausing the DVD to turn the brightness up so I could make out the images on my screen. In fact at times I was questioning whether or not the thing had been shot in black and white.
The acting is reasonably good for TV. Joe Pantoliano is always solid, he does seem to play the same character time and time again but he does it well so thatís ok. Olin is brooding without having much range, I would hate to see him try and play happy. It would be a big struggle. Gedrick is certainly very pretty but is not really able to keep up with the other two. The rest of the actors play supporting roles that do not really bear mentioning.
I think this could have been a good show had it stuck around; the script was showing real signs of development and promise as was the storyline. Iíve spent some time trying to track down an episode guide so I can find out what happened to who and where and when so I suppose Iím mildly interested.

Video

Presented in the show's original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1, this full screen transfer ranges from ok to terrible. The pilot episode is quite solid for a show from the mid nineties. Although the image isn't as sharp as I'd like it to be, it still holds up quite well. Skin tones are spot on and black levels are adequately bold. The other two episodes suffer from much bigger problems, it looks as if VHS masters were used for the transfer, the image is entirely too dark and lacks detail.

Audio

Only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround is included here, the pilot episode includes the best sound presentation. Dialogue is clear and distortion free, there isn't a hell of a lot of surround activity and I did find the music was mixed a little too loudly. The other two episodes feature nothing impressive from the soundtrack other than the fact that dialogue is clean of any distortion.
Optional subtitles are also includes in English for the hearing impaired on all three episodes featured on this DVD.

Extras

Universal have included only a collection of bonus trailers for the following:
- "Brilliant but Cancelled" promo, which runs for 49 seconds.
- "Law & Order" which runs for 30 seconds.
- "Columbo" which runs for 1 minute 3 seconds.
- "Murder She Wrote" which runs for 1 minute 6 seconds.

These are all start-up previews and play prior to the menu screen, to skip them just press the 'menu' button on your remote.

Overall

The Show: C+ Video: C Audio: C Extras: F Overall: D+

 


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