(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."
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.
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?
(S02E13) "I've been having one helluva shitty month and someone is gonna pay." - Patty
Another great ending to another great season of television. The general consensus seems to be that season two of Damages far outpaced season one. They were pretty tied up for me - that was, until last night's finale. Just like the first season, by the time we got to the end, we'd already seen most of the episode because of all the flashbacks. Same goes this time around - season two's flash-forwards provided us with a pretty solid sense of what to expect. The beauty of Damages is that there was still about 20 minutes worth of plot holes that needed filling. Seeing it all play out, in order, was phenomenal.
Damages has lived up to the hype. After a jaw-dropping debut season that garnered Glenn Close an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her turn as Patty Hewes, the FX legal drama roared back in January amid speculation regarding whether or not the unique storytelling techniques used in season one could be re-created again. The result? Eight episodes into the new season and Damages is as thrilling as ever.
However, after learning that Patty is indeed the person being held at gunpoint in last week's final moments, it proved one thing - Patty isn't the only one in the hot seat. The creative team behind Damages should be sweating too.
The law/crime genre is a tired and used television landscape. In an era where almost every channel has been saturated with no less than four Law & Order's, three CSI's, and countless other attempts - some good, some bad - it reached a point where it seemed as though we'd seen it all. Then FX premiered Damages back in July 2007 and everything changed. Fast-forward over a year later, add in three history-making Emmy wins, a Golden Globe, and one lingering question remains - how can they possibly re-create the tense past-meets-present plot device that made season one so unique and memorable?
(S05E06) "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." - Freamon
I thought the theme of this season was supposed to be newspapers and the media? Maybe it's just me, but more than any other season of The Wire, this one seems to be focusing the least on its stated theme. Other than the steady story of Scott "worst journalist ever" Templeton, we really don't see The Sun as much as I'd like. I love Gus Haynes. He's a great character and I hope that the final four episodes take a little more time to dig deeper into his role.
That being said, I realize this is the final season and I'm hugely appreciative that any and all plots (new and old) are being addressed. Most shows don't take the time to wrap everything up properly. Remember the final season of Alias? What a mess. I just think things could be a bit more evenly balanced.
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]
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