EZ Streets showed characters in shades of grey, told intricate stories and had great cinematography. It featured Joey Pants, d/b/a Joe Pantoliano. It had the full backing of Anita W. Addison and Leslie Moonves, two powerful CBS executives. Les Moonves was the president of CBS Entertainment in 1996, so he obviously felt EZ Streets was going to hit big.
CBS didn’t know what it was doing with EZ Streets. EZ Streets‘ two-hour pilot, sensibly aired after an episode of Touched by an Angel on October 27, 1996, earned limbo-low ratings. The second episode, aired three days later, fared just as well. CBS overreacted, killed the show and relaunched it in the spring of 1997.
More great scheduling followed, as EZ Streets – a show where every episode is crucial to its overall plot – picked up where it left off. The ratings improved, but not enough to justify the effort spent on EZ Streets. Paul Haggis’ brainchild died its second death after six more episodes.
This episode of Make or Break TV is not as good as last week’s, as Haggis and Gene Stein are not nearly as fun to listen to as Savage Steve Holland. Luckily, MoBTV doesn’t have to sell EZ Streets like it did The New Adventures of Beans Baxter. To be honest, the show sells itself.
Haggis has had a spotty career as a showrunner – he created Due South, a Canadian/American co-production. It lasted two inglorious years on CBS but fared better on Canadian network CTV. Family Law eked out three seasons on CBS from 1999 to 2002. Michael Hayes lived out the 1997-98 season, but didn’t salvage David Caruso’s career as CSI: Miami would years later.
Haggis returned to television after winning the 2006 Best Picture Oscar for Crash. The Black Donnellys would last six episodes on NBC before being relegated to NBC.com. Haggis’ newest show, Crash, is the first original scripted drama for pay TV service Starz. Time will tell how that series fares.
Perhaps Haggis can’t run a show to save his life. He’s been at the helm of many niche shows, but his main claims to fame are EZ Streets and co-creating Walker, Texas Ranger. He plays down that part of his career, but creating a well-liked Chuck Norris vehicle is nothing to sneer at. If anything, he should be playing down his scripts for Heathcliff and The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour.
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