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Treme


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Started a couple of weeks ago.....

 

David Simons new HBO series is called Treme and the title alone suggests the difficulty of the subject. Treme doesnt rhyme with ream; its pronounced truh-MAY, and its the name of an old New Orleans neighborhood famous for music and, in some parts, for crime. Its the kind of area sought out by intrepid travelers eager to bypass the tourist traps on Bourbon Street, the kind of place that guidebooks label authentic.

 

Its a title that serves as a warning: people who say it wrong have no right to be there. Treme, which begins on Sunday, takes place three months after Hurricane Katrina, and it is a tribute to the real New Orleans by filmmakers who have become connoisseurs of the city, depicting its sound and ravaged looks with rapt reverence and attention to detail. The narrative chronicles the efforts of an eclectic group of locals among them a trombone player, a chef, a civil rights lawyer, a disc jockey and a displaced Mardi Gras chief as they struggle to repair their lives after the storm. But mostly, their stories follow the music, the real hero of the tale.

 

The creators, Mr. Simon and Eric Overmyer, are best known for their work on the HBO series The Wire, a sprawling five-season drama of crime and corruption in Baltimore, a city that Mr. Simon covered as a newspaper reporter. (David Mills, his long-time associate and one of the shows key writers, died on the set of Treme last month.)

 

In the new show there is anger over government incompetence and neglect, but this is not a Dickensian exploration of failed institutions like The Wire. Nor it a call to arms like Spike Lees documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which ran on HBO in 2006. Treme, which features real musicians, including Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint and the New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins as themselves and the violinist Lucia Micarelli as a street musician, is more an act of love, and, odd as it sounds, that makes it harder to embrace.

 

The effort to get New Orleans right, to do justice to the citys charm, its jazz tradition, and now its post-Katrina martyrdom, is at times so palpable it is off-putting, a self-consciousness that teeters on the edge of righteousness.

 

New Orleans is not Venice, but its more chauvinistic natives share the Venetian contempt for tourists. Whether it stems from snobbery or insecurity, some residents nurture a cult of authenticity that villainizes the very outsiders who allow them to remain on the inside. And newcomers who adopt the city as their own sometimes acquire a converts zeal. It can sometimes seem as if the creators align themselves with a street musician who in one scene sneeringly plays When the Saints Come Marching In for a trio of post-Katrina volunteers from Wisconsin, mocking them for their cornball taste.

 

Fortunately Treme has a sense of humor, and most of all a binding love of jazz. The lilting New Orleans-style R&B theme music, Treme Song by John Boutté, is a tip-off: the jaunty good spirits that distinguish the New Orleans sound soften the seriess more moralistic moments.

 

This is an elliptically told tale, and it takes a few episodes for the plot and the characters to pick up steam. Some of the stars of Treme, notably Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters, were in The Wire, but this is not a Bayou version of that show. Hard-core Simon fans will be disappointed if they expect multiple homicides, drug rings and city hall conspiracies.

 

More than 1,600 people died as a result of Katrina, and three months later in these neighborhoods near the French Quarter there are still missing persons, brawls and bad feeling, as well as members of the National Guard on street patrol. But Treme is most of all a story about survival and the pursuit of pleasure in the wake of a catastrophe that quickly morphed into, as one character puts it, federally induced disaster.

 

High dudgeon is not the same as hypocrisy. One of the charms of the series is that characters who have let the good times roll right over them dont begrudge others who are just learning to unwind.

 

Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn), an alternative-music D.J., is the citys most zealous booster and snob: a jazz-loving, pot-smoking bon vivant who torments his bourgeois, gentrifying neighbors and denounces his radio stations new headquarters in what he describes as the completely soulless, faux-French market, a shameful shell and shadow of its former self.

 

Davis turns apoplectic when his station decrees that he play old New Orleans standards during a pledge drive, songs that he denounces, in cruder language, as the New Orleans canon. He defiantly puts on Buona Sera, a signature song of Louis Prima, a New Orleans native son. Its not exactly a radical departure from French Quarter fare, but its enough for Davis, who happily sings along, surrendering to the swing and sentimentality.

 

He, like almost everyone else in Treme, is battling the sense of powerlessness and loss. When Davis hears stray notes outside his window one morning, he bolts out of bed naked. Theyre doing it, he shouts, the first second line since the storm. He is referring to a New Orleans tradition musicians and dancers who gather behind the first line of a parade that has given its name to a style of music and even a dance.

 

Rickety houses are still boarded up, rotting roofs sag, but half the neighborhood turns out for the second line, dancing, twirling parasols and sashaying as the Rebirth Brass Band tunes up.

 

That almost doesnt include Antoine Batiste (Mr. Pierce), a trombone player cadging cab rides to gigs, perpetually hard up and running from woman trouble. Antoine shows up late, but when he catches up and lifts his trombone to join in on Feel Like Funkin It Up, there is an electrical surge of delight.

 

Half of Treme has left town, including most of the criminals, but the hardier souls return, and that includes Albert Lambreaux (Mr. Peters), a contractor and Mardi Gras Indian Chief who sets out to repair his house plank by plank. Albert is a man of few words, and that is rare.

 

Male characters like Creighton Bernette (John Goodman), a professor and lapsed novelist who rants about federal and municipal incompetence in press interviews, are the voices of outrage. But it is the women who do the harder work of doing something about it. While Creighton fumes, his wife, Toni (Melissa Leo), a civil rights lawyer, struggles late into the night with the local bureaucracy, trying to locate a young man lost in police custody during the storm.

 

Antoine, scrounging for gigs, is too busy or too proud to take the bus to Baton Rouge to visit his sons, but his ex-wife Ladonna (Khandi Alexander), commutes between the two cities to salvage the neighborhood saloon she inherited.

 

Treme uses sound and imagery to suggest that even the worst damage and disruption cant extinguish the joie de vivre, and that is found in the pearly gleam of fresh oysters, the high notes of Antoines trombone, the crunch of barbecue, a glistening bottle of French wine, the feathers on a Mardi Gras costume and, most simply, laughter.

 

Are you saying New Orleans is not a great city, a city that lives in the imagination of the world? Creighton thunders at a British journalist who speaks dismissively of his citys decline.

 

The series turns almost didactic at times, but for a reason. Treme is a work of imagination that seeks to reacquaint the world with a struggling citys reality.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/09/arts/tel...ml?pagewanted=2

 

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"The artistic achievement of Treme is that it blends bluntness with the nuances of gorgeous music."

 

"This is a spectacular new series, with some stunning performances--Pierce, Peters, Zahn, in particular--and gorgeous music."

 

"Just like "The Wire," Simon has again delivered a series unlike anything you've seen on television before."

 

"Treme is like Cajun food--it's spicy, it's weird and it's good, but it takes a while to appreciate."

 

"Treme puts everything into every scene. The camerawork is rich and the direction squeezes every nuance from the actors. The city's history has been painstakingly researched and effortlessly inserted into the writing. As a result, the moments—or notes—that make up this show are all that much richer, that much livelier."

 

http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/treme

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Yeah I was gonna post about this a lil while back but wasn't aware if there were Wire fans on here. I've been aching to watch this, but who has time to watch telly nowadays? The world needs more siesta time so I can catch up on TV shows. Still haven't seen season 3 of Mad Men.

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  • 4 weeks later...

If you love the music check out Backatown by Trombone Shorty.  Really awesome album straight from the Treme but with some really obvious influences from other genres but mixed really well with the bop of the Treme.

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If you love the music check out Backatown by Trombone Shorty.  Really awesome album straight from the Treme but with some really obvious influences from other genres but mixed really well with the bop of the Treme.

 

Cheers

 

Been looking for some John Boutté but no luck as yet.

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  • 7 months later...

Is this worth watching then?  I mean, it's pointless question as I've got it ready to watch but a little bit of praise may just bump it up the list.

 

Had me in tears at the end.

 

Not as devastating as the end of the first series of The Wire, but I'm looking forward to series 2.

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Is this worth watching then?  I mean, it's pointless question as I've got it ready to watch but a little bit of praise may just bump it up the list.

 

Had me in tears at the end.

 

Not as devastating as the end of the first series of The Wire, but I'm looking forward to series 2.

 

Will need to watch it again, I can't even bloody remember the ending off the top of my head.  Shame on me, as I know the second I see the start of the episode it'll all comes flooding back. :angry:

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Is this worth watching then?  I mean, it's pointless question as I've got it ready to watch but a little bit of praise may just bump it up the list.

 

Had me in tears at the end.

 

Not as devastating as the end of the first series of The Wire, but I'm looking forward to series 2.

 

Will need to watch it again, I can't even bloody remember the ending off the top of my head.  Shame on me, as I know the second I see the start of the episode it'll all comes flooding back. :angry:

 

 

John Goodman has a nice day.  As soon as he said goodbye to his wife and daughter you could tell.  The weight of the world was off his shoulders and I was filled with dread....until he jumped ship.  Then Damo's funeral happened and they all danced down the street celebrating.

 :weep:

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  • 1 month later...
Guest toonlass

I dunno if I'm going to watch it. Listening to Richard Bacon's show yesterday, they reviewed it and said that it was slow and not as good as The Wire.

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Anyone know if it's going to be available on other channels or is this only and exclusively on Sky Atlantic?

 

The advert says it's exclusive.

 

Right then, I need to find a good Sky deal. Had it with Virgin Ripoff.

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