Saturday 1 October 2011


Treme is the latest HBO production to be available as a box set and since it is advertised as being the first season then hopefully more are to follow.

Set in New Orleans six months after the devastating hurricane which caused massive flooding and thus loss of life, loss of homes, and loss of livelihoods, it tells the story of individual musicians, chefs and residents struggling against the odds to restore some normality to their lives, in many cases to actually find out if close relatives are still alive, to find somewhere to live and to earn a living.

Characterisation is developed very quickly and so you get involved in their lives very quickly. Not surprising really since it comes from the creators of The Wire, which is, of course, the best TV series ever created. YEAH !!!

And it has all the hallmarks of The Wire: a multitude of scenes involving easily identified characters and the subtle weaving together of different plot strands. Plus, many of the actors were also in The Wire. Wendell Pierce, for example, plays a happy-go-lucky charasmatic trombonist who has an eye for the girls, and the wonderful Clarke Peters plays a steely willed musician who concentrates on Native Indian music.

But perhaps the dominant character is the music itself as we see musicians striving to re-establish the great New Orleans tradition of jazz, so there is hardly a scene without wonderful jazz music as the focus or in the background.

Life is exceedingly difficult, money is scarce and it is a struggle to survive. And, as with The Wire, it presents a powerful condemnation of the political situation in America. In the case of Treme, it is the reluctance of the government to help rebuild the city of New Orleans and to help its residents.

This is made abundantly clear by the podcasts of the University academic, played brilliantly by John Goodman, as he berates the government for its inactivity, using very forceful language. These podcasts are very funny but poignant at the same time.

A production like Treme can explore and expose inadequacies in the system far more effectively than a documentary.

Despite this bittersweet underlying theme, Treme is a delight to watch and I shall certainly be getting Season Two if and when it is released.

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