'EZ Streets' paved with grit Preview: Bleak is the word as life in the big city gets harsher than ever in CBS' gripping new crime show.

It might be hard to imagine a gritty, urban cop drama looking grittier or more urban than "NYPD Blue" or "Homicide." But that's the case with "EZ Streets," a new series starring Ken Olin and Jason Gedrick that premieres tomorrow night on CBS.

"EZ Streets" is set in a "mythical American city" but it uses filmed exteriors and street scenes from Detroit and Chicago that look like Dresden after World War II or Beirut today. It is an urban landscape so grim and bleak that it makes "Blade Runner" seem positively sunny.


But bleak and grim are good in this case. In fact, it is better than good. The canvas of bombed-out buildings, rusted factory gates and crumbling warehouses is a near-perfect backdrop for this drama of cops and criminals working and dying in a shared gray combat zone most of us will never know.

Ken Olin, of "thirtysomething," plays the main cop, Det. Cameron Quinn, a straight arrow whose career and life are shredded after his partner is killed during an undercover drug operation and the $10,000 they were to use for the buy is missing.


Jason Gedrick, formerly of "Murder One," plays the main criminal, Danny Rooney, an ex-con who went to prison for a robbery he didn't commit to protect a boyhood friend, Jimmy Murtha (Joe Pantoliano), now an up-and-coming gang leader.

Rooney reluctantly goes to work for Murtha as his driver, while Quinn is given one last shot at salvaging his reputation by infiltrating Murtha's gang. Rooney and Quinn come to breathe the same fetid air as they struggle to survive on this barren moonscape of a Rust Belt American city.

While the narrative of tomorrow night's two-hour pilot -- with all its lies, half-truths and double-dealing -- is not the easiest to follow, Olin's stark, finely chiseled portrayal of Quinn provides an emotional center that keeps you involved.

Pantoliano, Gedrick, Rod Steiger, Mickey Starr and Sarah Trigger all turn in strong supporting efforts. Debra Farentino, an "NYPD Blue" alum, delivers as Murtha's attorney and the not- so-obscure object of desire for several men on both sides of the law.

There is some room for debate as to whether it is the best or only the second best new drama of the season, but there is no doubt it is the most daring. From its haunting soundtrack of Celtic songs to its insistence on challenging the good guys/bad guys shorthand of even some of the best cop dramas, "EZ Streets" runs the risk of being different, of taking a hard road rarely traveled in network television.

Pub Date: 10/26/96