I've gotten to know (Shawn) S.A. Cosby online through discussions of films and books and through third party accounts of his readings at N@B events and am looking forward to meeting him in person. He brings up films I haven't thought about in a long time or have never heard of and I always take note. A few months back he asked if I'd ever seen EZ Streets and when he described it I knew he had me pegged - it sounded made for me. Since he sent me this piece I've watched the series on YouTube and concur - it's a shame it was cancelled after the first season, Shawn Ryan's The Shield owes it a debt of stage setting and too many programs that attempt to dramatize police fail to follow the examples set forth here in their approach (and then become big prime time hits).
I'm comfortable saying EZ Streets is both good as it is and a huge missed opportunity for what it could have become.
Today S.A. Cosby is writing about EZ Streets at HBW.
by S. A. Cosby
When someone bestows the designation hidden gem on a creative work whether it be a movie, a book or in this case a television show what they are really saying is:
This was so far ahead of it’s time and you sheep couldn’t recognize it.
Well maybe not everyone. But that’s what I’m saying.
EZ Streets is a hidden gem. Created by Paul Haggis the man behind dozens of films and television shows of varying quality. Two of his scripts have won Academy Awards but he also created Walker: Texas Ranger.
The dialogue on EZ Streets was razor sharp. No long soliloquies or proselytizing speeches. There were no needless words. Paul Haggis and his brother Ted wrote many of the scripts themselves. Each script had a simple rhythm. Dramatic scene, dramatic scene humorous scene dramatic scene. EZ Streets scripts were like a punk song that only used a few chords. Hard, fast and effective.
So incredible scripts. Amazing production design. Fantastic cast many of them doing the best work of their careers and a moody melodic soundtrack that went down like honeyed whiskey. With all this going for it why did it fail?
Tricky question but I have a few ideas.
Like I said. Complex characters.
2. EZ Streets inhabited a world of unrelenting realistic violence. While tame by today’s standards EZ Streets still has about two violent acts every five minutes in a show that was sixty minutes long. In the first episode alone, we see a cop murdered, the mayor gets the nail driven into his hand, a man is stuffed in an oil barrel and drowned, a police van is firebombed, and the owner of a diner is pummeled like a government mule. Network television audiences weren’t ready to see such bloody fare as they sat down to enjoy a nice Hot Pocket.
A series that has the cojones to kill Rod Steiger in the first episode doesn’t deserve the ignominious treatment it received. In preparation for writing this article I re-watched the entire first season on YouTube. The show is still as lyrical and moving and mesmerizing as it was when I would watch it after I came home from night school. A crime story that crammed more emotional character complexity into an hour than most movies can articulate in a trilogy.
A deeply layered multifaceted feat of storytelling that we tossed aside in favor of the vapid denizens of the Central Perk on Friends.
And Dennis Franz’s ass.