My resistance to regular television watching is about to become impossible: Tonight HBO is premiering the 10 episode first season of “Treme” (pronounced Tra-may/rhymes with “away”… I was saying “Treem” for weeks now)… David Simon’s New Orleans-set follow-up to “The Wire,” aka the greatest series ever made. Adding fuel to my anticipatory fire are the crazy good reviews it’s been getting. Some examples:
“Where “The Wire” was driven by its plot, and required strict attention to every minute of every episode – if not repeat viewings – to understand, “Treme” is more of a character piece, and therefore easier to follow. There are a few ongoing arcs – Albert tries to reassemble his Indian tribe before Carnival, while Toni helps LaDonna look for the brother who disappeared during the storm – but mainly it’s a chance to watch these characters (played by a tremendous group of actors at the top of their game) work to rebuild their lives and find a sense of normalcy.” [Alan Sepinwall, The New Jersey Star-Ledger] link
“There are times when Treme’s large cast, overlapping dialogue, and gliding tracking shots can remind you of the film work of director Robert Altman (think Thieves Like Usor McCabe & Mrs. Miller, not his condescending country-music film Nashville). Simon and co-creator Eric Overmyer use a variety of writers and directors while achieving a unified tone and look that gives the damp rubble of Treme a muted visual beauty. Simon has little use for subtle arguments; you know Goodman’s prof is speaking the auteur’s thoughts when he says the government should be ”put on trial” for pre-and post-Katrina policies. The artistic achievement of Treme is that it blends bluntness with the nuances of gorgeous music.” [Ken Tucker, EW] link
“Best of all, perhaps, is what the show does with music. Without getting sappy or preachy, Treme demonstrates, early and often, how organic music is to the culture of New Orleans. Real-life musicians like Dr. John and Elvis Costello make the rounds in the recording studios, and music is everywhere — from funeral parade lines to tunes on the radio and songs from street buskers. Music is always lurking in the background — and every so often, it rises to the surface, takes center stage, and all but takes your breath away with its defiant vitality.” [David Bianculli, NPR] link
“‘Treme’ concerns itself with survival — of a culture, a city, of downtrodden individuals — but it also dares to explore the highs and lows of a passionate life. The series captures the romance of those fleeting moments when your whole existence rests on a few staccato notes, tripping out across a crowded room, but also digs into the dark times when you can’t afford to pay your utility bill or buy a sandwich for lunch. This fragile balance, walking the line between creative rapture and destitution, not only personifies the artist’s life, but reflects the at once ethereal and impoverished nature of New Orleans itself. Even in a few of the clunkier scenes, where Creighton’s daughter laments the unbearable oppression of Catholic School or Davis sticks it to the man by stealing his CDs back from a closed-down Tower Records, some struggle to transcend the ordinary can be found.” [Heather Havrilesky, Salon] link
“Will it be as good as “The Wire”? Three episodes in, I’m willing to say “Treme” (the title is two syllables; it rhymes with away) has the potential to be better than “The Wire.” It’s suffused with characters and an amazingly crafted musical and ethereal texture that is as lovely and depressing as New Orleans itself. The pain and joy it portrays are as beautiful as the faded, peeling paint and floodline watermarks on which the camera tenderly lingers.” [Hank Stuever, The Washington Post] link
Potential to be BETTER than “The Wire”?? I don’t know if that’s even possible, but the fact that it’s even suggested is pretty incredible.