The Brilliant But Cancelled DVD series is the brainchild of the web site of the same name, run by the Bravo network. As of now, there are just two titles in the series, a set of four different crime dramas, and this show. EZ Streets was a show from the 1996/1997 television season that was something of a precursor to The Sopranos. Hardly the same quality, but a similar idea. This time, Joe Pantoliano plays the boss of a crime family simply called the EZ. Ken Olin plays an undercover police detect…ve who has infiltrated the organization, and is sometimes torn between his job and his loyalty to his new friends. Meanwhile, Jason Gedrick plays a gangster that is fresh out of prison, struggling between his desires to play it straight and his need to rejoin the high income lifestyle of his friends.
The show may have been Canceled because it was just a bit ahead of its time. It’s possible that America wasn’t ready for a sympathetic look at the lives of career criminals on network television in 1996. As a result, the show only got an eight episode run on the air, including a two-part pilot. That pilot is included on this disc, as are episodes 6 and 7 from the shows short broadcast run. It seems odd to only present the series’ first episode and two mid-season episodes. The episodes don’t flow together, so there is no overarching storyline.
The only audio option here is Dolby Digital 2.0. However, the news is not all bad, as the track has an amazingly clear bass component. Dialog is a bit on the low side, and scenes that are supposed to be quiet are just plain too quiet. This is not one of those shows that will have you constantly adjusting the volume level throughout each episode, but the volume fluctuations can become a minor annoyance. The real story of the audio track is the shows score, however. It is minimal and touching, and it is smart enough to know when to add color to the emotions being conveyed by the actors, and when to keep silent.
If this show were produced today, it would most certainly be shot in High Definition. As a show that is just ten years old, however, it is only available in the full screen format. Black levels are not always as rich as I would like for them to be, even though many scenes are far under-lit for dramatic effect. Grain is not a big problem, but there are some digital artifacts that plague the scenes, especially with things like mini-blinds and the grille of a car. There are also frequent problems with jagged edges which can really become a nuisance for those of you with larger displays. Truth be told, this is not a very good transfer. I think the translation from analog to DVD has resulted in a product that shows each inherent flaw with annoying clarity.
There are really no extras on this disc. There are some trailers for other TV-on-DVD releases, but that’s it. This is a DVD set that begs for extras, but there are sadly none here. The whole point of this DVD series is to bring to light excellent programming that was killed before its time, so why would there not at the very least be a short featurette on the genesis of the show, and maybe a bit from the network explaining why it was cancelled? The studio is getting revenue from the release of these old episodes, the least they could do is spend an hour chatting in front of a camera.
Here’s the thing… viewers are supposed to be so excited to see even a few episodes of this show on DVD that they should overlook any problems with audio, video or extras. The problem is, I just can’t do that. The show is entertaining, but it is not so great that I am willing to overlook a complete lack of extras and shoddy technical aspects. I don’t really see the point of purchasing three episodes of a canceled show from 1996, no matter how good each episode is. If you are one of those viewers that loved the show upon its original broadcast run, then this is probably as good as it is going to get for you. For new viewers, however, there is just not enough here to make a purchase worth the investment.
Special Features List