Archive for November, 2011

Treme Season 1

November 23, 2011

Finally got around to beginning Season 1 of Treme.

For HBO fans this one wont let you down.

It’s the latest work from David Simon (who gave us one of television’s great series, The Wire) and Eric Overmyer.

The show is set three months after Katrina sank New Orleans and deals with a city and a people in the process of rebirth. While similar in scope, attention to detail and structure to The Wire, Treme diverges from the crime genre and instead concentrates on an ensemble cast of characters, all trying to make sense of the tragedy and move on with their lives… and livelihoods. Like all of Simon’s productions, the narrative is dense and doesn’t pander to the audience. This isn’t a show you watch passively… it demands and rewards your attention, like all good storytelling should. For those of you who like fast story telling with action around every corner this might not be your cup of tea.

Remarkably, particularly after 5 years of unrelenting bleakness on the streets of Baltimore, the real surprise here is just how much optimism Simon and Overmyer have injected into Treme. Despite nearly everyone letting the side down during and after the Katrina disaster, the characters here remain upbeat and willing to do what’s necessary to rebuild their homes and their community. As always, the writers of the series nail the nuance and rhythm of language, how people talk and interact in real life. The locals, for example, have little patience for the disaster tourists that descend on the city by the busload, but recognize that they’re key to the recovery of New Orleans. By the third episode, there are at least a dozen major characters seamlessly woven into narrative, each and every one of them realistically drawn out and portrayed by actors giving all-in performances. Treme is extremely engaging and deals with subject matter that should appeal to all of us as at any given time we could be struck by tragedy.

The music of New Orleans, like it is with the city itself, is an integral part of the show. Along with the region’s famous cuisine, it’s the glue that holds everything (and everyone) together. In addition to being a terrific and realistic drama, Treme has a political agenda and isn’t afraid to call out the various levels of government and the institutions that let this great city down. There is an ingrained political activism running just under the surface here that adds to the realism and focus of the series. That it all works as well as it does is a testament to the creative team behind the camera and cast in front of it.

The back story that has us all desperate for answers is the search for Ladonna’s (played by the brilliant Khandi Alexander) brother, a man who was arrested moments before the hurricane reached it’s full might. He seems to have been lost in the system and a juicy conspiracy is brewing. Academy Award winner Melissa Leo plays Toni Bernette a lawyer hired to help find Ladonna’s brother.

The cast as with almost all HBO series is well chosen and full of veteran professionals of the highest quality.

Clarke Peters, John Goodman and Steve Zahn have all hit the ground running and I trust the dedication to perfection will continue.

Many will argue that Treme is David Simon and company’s best work to date.

I’m giving it an 8/10

As always leave me any feedback you have or tell me what your currently watching!