(S01E01) The opening title cards of David Simon's new HBO series 'Treme' (pronounced "treh-MAY," not "treem") tells you all you need to know: "New Orleans, Louisiana"/"Three Months After." I suppose Simon is saying that if you need to ask what "After" refers to (Hurricane Katrina, of course), then you shouldn't bother. Simon, the writer-producer-creator of 'The Wire' is back, and there isn't a 'Wire' fan alive who wouldn't want to see what he has up his genius sleeve for us this time.
Right away, the shots are close-ups of various jazz musicians, residents and cops preparing for a brass-band parade. There's a funny conversation with a musician negotiating his fee for participating in the main line, and then the parade starts, with its accompanying crowd of reveling second liners.
Late to the parade, because he can't afford the cab fare (a running gag throughout the episode), is perpetually broke trombonist Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native), who starts playing with a cry of "Play for that money boys, play for that motherf---ing money."
When dealing with serious and potentially flammable subject matter, especially something as cataclysmic as 2005's Hurricane Katrina, a TV show has to tread carefully. 'Treme', a 10-episode HBO miniseries focusing on post-Katrina New Orleans, does not tread at all. Instead, it dives deep under the floodwaters and resurfaces with the corpses of those dead and gone -- lest we forget the immense tragedy that unfolded there.
Where most shows would exploit the exploitable (the riots, the pillaging, images of dying or dead people, the Dome), 'Treme' takes a raw look at the aftermath through a series of vignettes. The viewer follows different families and individuals as they try to put the pieces back together. Sometimes those pieces are tangible, like the rotting structure of a flood-damaged home, and sometimes they're purely emotional, like the trauma caused by a relative missing for months.
But given that this is the latest effort from David Simon -- the much-heralded creator of the seminal HBO series 'The Wire' -- this drama proves to be so much more than just that.
Those expecting a Big Easy version of 'The Wire,' however, are out of luck. This is no police drama, and the city's politics are largely unexplored. The series takes its title from Faubourg Tremé, the historic New Orleans neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter thought to be the birthplace of jazz. And the music from this multi-cultural, multi-storied, proud yet battered city pulses like a heartbeat throughout.
There's been no shortage of talent gracing this drama. The ensemble cast includes 'Wire' vets Wendell Pierce (a New Orleans native) and Clarke Peters, Khandi Alexander, Kim Dickens, Melissa Leo, John Goodman and Steve Zahn, in his first regular TV series role. Guest appearances from musicians such as Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello, Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins lend authenticity.
Nor has there been a shortage of media coverage leading up to 'Treme's April 11 premiere. Sadly, part of that has been due to the unexpected death of one of the team's writers, David Mills. But 'Treme' is also being hailed as more than just another television program: It's an event. While some have noted the series' meandering pace, many critics have been praising Simon and co-creator Eric Overmyer's new series for its ability to immediately transport viewers on a musical journey into the heartbeat and the heartbreak of this weird and wonderful city.
Read what the critics had to say after the jump.
Set three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the series will focus on how the neighborhood of Treme is rebuilding. The series comes from David Simon, creator of HBO's 'The Wire' and his collaborator on 'The Wire' and 'Homicide: Life on the Street,' Eric Overmyer.
'Treme' stars quite a few familiar faces such as Steve Zahn in his first series regular role, Khandi Alexander, John Goodman and Wendell Pierce.
Check out the video after the jump.
So when word came out that they were going to take on one of the most complicated issues in the country -- the effort to rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005's devastating Hurricane Katrina -- fans and pundits alike were both intrigued by the idea and dismayed at the wait for the project to actually materialize. Could the team from 'The Wire' find their magic again? And, if so, could even they do the subject matter justice?
So, with Treme, debuting on HBO in April, Simon tries to examine the lives of ten people who are trying to pull things together three months after Hurricane Katrina flooded out New Orleans.
"New Orleans, to me, represents a place where it's a triumph of American urban culture," said Simon. It's what - it's the best that an American city can be and also the worst in a lot of ways, as I said before, but it has created a culture that has gone around the world."
Of course, the duck in the image isn't so odd. I looked for an odd duck and kept thinking I didn't want my own image plastered here on the main page. So, we'll suffice with your basic common duck from New Jersey. He could be mob-related, so he could be a tad odd. Read on!
If any fans of the critically-acclaimed HBO drama The Wire would like to visit the set sometime in the future, you better bring a shopping list. It's being turned into a Wegman's Food Market.
Yup, The Wire is ending after this upcoming season. I have to admire the show for ending after five seasons even though it's a big hit with critics and loyal fans. I've often said that many shows should be like novels and have a definite end time (Lost, Alias, other shows) so they don't go out of control or overstay their welcome or come up with lame plots in later seasons, so it's good to actually hear that creator and executive producer David Simon feels the same way.
This final season will focus on the slimy tactics some people in the media use (that doesn't include bloggers, of course). The show returns in January.
[via TV Tattle]
Another strong episode, one that balances out the intensity of last week's ending. City hall and police bureaucracy wins, busting up the major case unit, shutting down the wiretaps on Marlo's crew. Now Kima and Lester both land in Homicide, in the same office the McNulty was in when he started all this four years ago. All that work down the drain, but that's the game.
Man, does Bunk (Wendell Pierce) miss McNulty. Seems Bunk's the only one who's not obsessed with his job, and he longs for the old days of drinking and whoring all night with his old partner. McNutly (Dominic West) looks so damn happy still. Maybe that's the only way for him to be happy -- stay away from the politics, and the desire to do good -- or even to make good.
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