Olin plays Cameron Quinn, a tough-guy police detective whose reputation is shot when his partner is murdered and the $ 10,000 theyd signed out for an operation turns up missing. Quinn, now looking like a cop gone bad, is recruited by the head of police intelligence to infiltrate the local mob controlled by Jimmy Murtha (Joe Pantoliano), a small-time Caligula capable of stunning ruthlessness as well as occasional outbursts of loyalty. Indeed, we first encountered Jimmy in the two-hour premiere, when he was the only one to show up to meet Danny (Jason Gedrick) as hes released from prison after three years for taking a rap on Jimmys behalf. Danny yearns to go straight, to reconnect with his indifferent wife (Sarah Trigger) and infant daughter, but thats not in the cards. EZ Streets draws unsettling parallels between Danny and Cameron; indeed, the shows strength lies in its deliberate ambiguities. Jimmy Murtha may be pure evil, but little else is what it seems to be in this depressed but strangely compelling universe. Olin, best remembered as straight-arrow ad exec Michael Steadman of thirtysomething, is remarkable as Quinn, clearly a man tormented by demons. We learn something about them in an astonishing scene with Quinns estranged father, a true cop-gone-bad played grippingly by guester Rod Steiger (Rosemary Murphy has a recurring role as Quinns mother). The shows mob/cop nexus includes politicians and businessmen, too, along with the usual assortment of fringe characters, all perfectly cast. Theres a rare vibrancy in EZ Streets, even if some of the moral equivalencies drawn between characters can be more than a little shocking. Haggis sometimes goes for the cheap shot: Jimmy negotiates the details of confession and penance with his parish priest, only to be ambushed in the church sanctuary by his high-priced uptown lawyer-girlfriend (Debrah Farentino) lying naked in a pew. I dont think so... And some of Ron Garcias generally graceful camerawork has a showoffy feel off that intrudes on an otherwise beautifully wrought environment. Nevertheless, once you sort out the characters and still realize that assigning white hats and black hats here is going to be a thankless ordeal, you can sit back and let EZ Streets pull you in. Its remarkable TV.

Olin plays Cameron Quinn, a tough-guy police detective whose reputation is shot when his partner is murdered and the $ 10,000 theyd signed out for an operation turns up missing. Quinn, now looking like a cop gone bad, is recruited by the head of police intelligence to infiltrate the local mob controlled by Jimmy Murtha (Joe Pantoliano), a small-time Caligula capable of stunning ruthlessness as well as occasional outbursts of loyalty. Indeed, we first encountered Jimmy in the two-hour premiere, when he was the only one to show up to meet Danny (Jason Gedrick) as hes released from prison after three years for taking a rap on Jimmys behalf. Danny yearns to go straight, to reconnect with his indifferent wife (Sarah Trigger) and infant daughter, but thats not in the cards. EZ Streets draws unsettling parallels between Danny and Cameron; indeed, the shows strength lies in its deliberate ambiguities. Jimmy Murtha may be pure evil, but little else is what it seems to be in this depressed but strangely compelling universe. Olin, best remembered as straight-arrow ad exec Michael Steadman of thirtysomething, is remarkable as Quinn, clearly a man tormented by demons. We learn something about them in an astonishing scene with Quinns estranged father, a true cop-gone-bad played grippingly by guester Rod Steiger (Rosemary Murphy has a recurring role as Quinns mother). The shows mob/cop nexus includes politicians and businessmen, too, along with the usual assortment of fringe characters, all perfectly cast. Theres a rare vibrancy in EZ Streets, even if some of the moral equivalencies drawn between characters can be more than a little shocking. Haggis sometimes goes for the cheap shot: Jimmy negotiates the details of confession and penance with his parish priest, only to be ambushed in the church sanctuary by his high-priced uptown lawyer-girlfriend (Debrah Farentino) lying naked in a pew. I dont think so… And some of Ron Garcias generally graceful camerawork has a showoffy feel off that intrudes on an otherwise beautifully wrought environment. Nevertheless, once you sort out the characters and still realize that assigning white hats and black hats here is going to be a thankless ordeal, you can sit back and let EZ Streets pull you in. Its remarkable TV.

Ez Streets Cbs, Wed. Oct. 30, 10 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Chicago by Paul Haggis Prods., in association with Universal Television/MCA. Created and executive produced by Paul Haggis; co-executive producer, Mark R. Harris; co-producers, Robert Moresco, Christopher Seiter; supervising producer, Tim Iacofano; consulting producers, Ted Haggis, David Latt; written by Paul Haggis and David Black; directed by Ken Olin; director of photography, Ron Garcia; edited by Elba Sanchez-Short; production designer, Laurence Benett.

Crew

Music, Mark Isham; casting, Nan Dutton, Jane Alderman. 60 MIN.

With

Cast: Ken Olin, Joe Pantoliano, Jason Gedrick, Debrah Farentino, Richard Portnow , Mike Starr, R.D. Call, John Finn, Sarah Trigger, Ken Lerner, Bobby Spillane, Saverio Guerra, Andrew Divoff. EZ Streets presents viewers with a formidable challenge: No other new series has this kind of novelistic flow, with upwards of a dozen fully fleshed out characters whose lives crisscross, interweave and diverge. Tracking them requires sustained attention, a violation of natural law in couch potato land. But its worth it. EZ Streets isnt perfect the first thing Id jettison is that title but its effect is hypnotic, and Ken Olin is a revelation. This Paul Haggis production is also the most cinematic show on TV. Long, swooping crane shots parry the staccato thrust of car chases filmed through the steel skeleton of an aging, unnamed port city. Mark Ishams moody, Celtic-flavored score is so seductive you want to live in it for a while, and the people who really do inhabit this world make the time with them seem time well-spent.
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