The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 2, 1997 - 9
Abstract themes make 'Streets' solid
I Kiran Nandalur
Michael Jordan. "Crime and
Punishment.' "Citizen Kane." "EZ
It has become cliche to classify some-
thing or someone
as the best, but in
Oe case of "EZ R
Streets," only this
.superlative can cap-
ture the greatness
of the show. The
CBS program transcends the mundane
drama of sappy and artificial shows like
"ER" to reach an unparalleled level of
complexity and darkness.
The show takes place in a mythical
scaying city bordering Canada, where
an established mob boss and the socio-
pathic upstart Jimmy Murtha (Joe
Pantoliano) are waging war for control of
the streets. Meanwhile, the stoic cop,
Cameron Quinn (Ken Olin), is investigat-
ing Murtha for the
death of his partner,
VIEW who may have been
EZ StreetS corrupt. In the
major side plot,
CBS Danny Rooney
ednesdays at 10 p.m. (Jason Gedrick), a
who has done time covering for Murtha,
is torn between rejoining the mob and
going straight with his daughter and wife.
The plot, however, is secondary to the
ambiguous motivation of the characters.
There is a perpetual state of mystery; as
no player can be reduced to good or evil.
For example, Jimmy Murtha kills coldly
and cuts off the hands of his victims, yet
he displays loyalty and concern when
dealing with Rooney. His lawyer,
Theresa Conners (Debrah Farentino), is
also an enigma. She exhibits power and
confidence when committing sexually
masochistic acts, but she shows signs of
torment when neglected or alone.
Another element that makes "EZ
Streets" intriguing is the theme of being
entrapped in circumstances. The voli-
tion of the characters is constantly lim-
ited by external forces. For example,
Quinn, whose policeman father was
compelled into corruption, recently
faced the choice of covertly removing a
dead officer from his apartment or call-
ing the police. Circumstances and sus-
picion regarding his credibility coerced
him into the former choice.
The script and production of the
show separate it from the pack. The set-
ting is so dark and gloomy that you
would swear it is in black and white.
When there is color, like the color of
Conners' dress, it is eerily reflective of
the character's persona. Finally, the long
scenes of silence and telling facial
expressions give the show a certain con-
tinuity and allow insight into the char-
Overall, "EZ Streets" has the poten-
tial to dethrone "Quantum Leap" as the
best show of all time, but the public's
demand for the concrete and dismay for
the abstract may be the show's doom.
Danny Rooney (Jason Gedrick) is one of "EZ Streets"'s many complex characters.
James scores with "Whiplash."
Continued from Page 8
Nearly three years in the making,
Whiplash," James' latest musical
offering, marks a triumphant return for
the Manchester, England, band. Given
all the problems the group faced in
making the album - slide guitarist and
original founder Larry Gott quit tour-
ingaltogether, the band found out it
owed tons of money in back taxes and
'theremaining sextet nearly broke up -
4ltis a miracle "Whiplash" is remotely
as good as its last proper studio album,
@993's "Laid," let alone as stunning and
'compelling as it is.
"Tomorrow," an absolutely brilliant
song, commences the album. Lead
singer Tim Booth, who recently collab-
orated with "Twin Peaks" aural guru
Angelo Badalamenti for its "Booth and
the Bad Angel" record, enters the fold
with his magnificent voice, passionate-
ly singing, "I see you falling / How
,long to go before you hit the ground?"
e song soon turns oh-so-pretty and
inspirational, as Booth instructs the lis-
tener, "Gotta keep faith that your path
willchange / Gotta keep faith that your
luck will change tomorrow." Complete
with David Baynton-Power's powerful
'rumming and Mark Hunter's beautiful
keyboard lines, "Tomorrow" might
well turn out to be the best opening
song on any album in 1997.
"Lost A Friend" follows, another
Snder, well-crafted song that is quite
common throughout James' oeuvre. A
'uite dreamy tune, "Lost A Friend"
finds Booth pondering, "Across the
satellite beams / Across the oceans and
seas, / To the lighthouse, I could be,"
before lamenting, "I see some soldiers
with guns / And they are killing for fun
I/They are killing to entertain me ... I
lost a friend to the sea.'
The first single of "Whiplash,"
l9She's A Star" may be James' ultimate
pop song, with an energetic buildup to
its cathartic conclusion. Booth once
again delivers excellent vocals, boister-
ously singing, "It's a long road / It's a
good call /You got it /You got it / She's
a-star," as the music winds down.
The album's next few songs take an
unexpected detour toward a more bass-
'driven sound. "Greenpeace" and "Go
To, The Bank" are so-so, but "Play
read" (originally entitled "Whiplash")
Is a winner. It quickly shifts from the
quasi-techno beats of its first 30 sec-
'onds into a much more intimate and
After "Play Dead," the album returns
to the style developed in the first four
songs. "Avalanche" and "Homeboy"
are.standard, up-tempo James material,
the, latter just about as great and com-
plete as a song can be in just over two
It would be better for all our sakes if
MTV and the radio were to play "She's
A Star" and "Tomorrow" ad infinitum.
James' music puts a spring in your step,
a smile on your face and makes your
heart grow lighter. There's far too little
$400 Bucks of Incentive*
Land Big Job
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Drives Like a Shoebox
Looks Like a Shoebox
Interview After Interview
Living Back With Parents
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