Author Topic: Treme  (Read 29940 times)

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Offline Disco Dust

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Re: Treme
« Reply #60 on: June 02, 2011, 02:51:30 AM »
A Limbaugh-like ditto to Cass on the last installment...the only bit that looked like something worthy (for the future) was the identification of the 2 thugs who jumped the bar lady a while back.

Though I dig the NOLA music scene and history as much as the next bloke, by now it has become a rather insipid part of the show; taking up a large chunk of each episode.

Perhaps Simon should have a closer look at the 2 Spike Lee documentaries on NOLA and Katrina, as well as an excellent one which I believe was titled Trouble the Water.

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #61 on: June 09, 2011, 08:23:39 AM »
So the most recent episode was okay. Mardi Gras lovemaking, so we were distracted from the thin and terrible subplots.

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Re: Treme
« Reply #62 on: June 20, 2011, 04:16:44 PM »
Whew... A bit of a shocking episode.  The show's turned around here as we ride towards the finale. The last two or three episodes have kind of felt like the show's made peace with itself.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #63 on: June 22, 2011, 01:55:01 AM »
Ugh.  I totally disagree.  This episode had so little going on in it that you're almost lulled to sleep until the "oh no!" mugging.  Seriously, that was horrible.  But I think I've finally figured it out.  "Treme" is a village...a village full of dolls on an island.  These are not characters anymore, at least not in the sense that a highly-acclaimed TV show has characters.  Every single character has lost the velocity they had when Season one got underway.  We are languishing along with them in limbo as the writers treat them more and more like Sims, winding them up to see where they go. 

I'm beginning to understand that I hate this show not because of how it portrays New Orleans (although it is a semi-sickening fairy tale world where our brave likable folk who looove music and food are constantly beset upon by exterior, evil forces) but of how insulting it is to someone who is expecting another great thing from the team who brought us the Wire and Generation Kill. 

Here are three examples:

1) Last episode when it came time for LaDonna to fess up and tell her husband she'd been raped, the two characters look at each other with anticipatory glances then...we cut to another scene!  can't think of how to tackle that exchange?  don't worry about it.  We'll come back to it later in the car when we get the insulting, "I was going to tell you about it, I just didn't know how" then moments later "I was never going to tell you if I could help it."  The Wire's writing staff would have never passed up an opportunity like the scene where a broken LaDonna confesses or at least explodes into tears and we slowly zoom in on her husband's eyes as he tries to understand all the ramifications.  Instead, LaDonna continues in zombie mode for another two episodes and her husband just gets angry.  Contrast this with the LaDonna of S1 who is vibrant, vivacious, worried about keeping her family together, worried about staying true to her roots...all that is gone.  We now only have rape survivor LaDonna who is going to be pummeled through the justice system and, according to the new David Simon rules, will have her throat cut on the witness stand after identifying her attackers.  Here we've traded complexity of character for the brute force of sympathy and we've lost any real interest. 

2) Compared with LaDonna's misery, Davis' plight of being pushed into the background of the band that he formed seems trivial, but we're supposed to make something of it, I guess.  I know Davis is supposed to be comic relief and a mouthpiece, but it's been hard for me to watch him just get abused this season as a tool for the writers.  When he's not introducing us to small genres of New Orleans music he's atypically giving up Mardi Gras to watch a 16 year old girl puke, checking in on his ex-girlfriend's house, or going down to the parish prison to encourage Jacques because...well...because...uh....  And don't even get me started about one of the most tepid TV romances ever between him and Annie.  He's transitioned from lovable loser to punching bag with no end in sight.  I seriously doubt he'll get a chance at a "One more day in New Orleans" set of scenes like in S1 to redeem his complete deflation.

3) The most bewildering to me is Jeanette, who in season one carried us through every scene she was in with her spitfire, elbow grease approach to rebuilding her life after the storm interrupted it.  We got the sense that she was burning all these coals in a constant effort to not only keep her dream afloat but to validate a part of the city's appeal, it's ongoing fondness for talented entrepeneurs.  We watched her struggle and cave in.  Now, aside from a few meetings with Lambreaux and her brief return to check on her burgled home, she's cut off from everyone, completely isolated in her own little chef world and subject to the whims of Anthony Bourdain.  God bless his show and his opinions, but they don't gel at all within the context of Treme.  There's this giant food porn mutual masturbation thing going on for about 7 minutes each episode that is doing NOTHING for her character or for the show in general.  Tell me where all her passion has gone, where her heart has gone.  She gushes over king cake but seems perfectly happy to be working on a line in NYC.  so, barring something drastic happening in the last two or three episodes, I'm not sure what we're supposed to take away from this.  That some people left town and found happy lives outside of the city and remain slightly wistful about NOLA?  That's great, but why focus on a character like that so much?  Why trade in all that strength for a character who gives us an eye into the backstage of New York's culinary elite?  Who the fuck cares?

Overall the collapse of all the characters into lifeless 2x4s with emotions painted on the surface combined with a surplus of engineered drama have made the show weak.  There is no balance between the realistic and the supernatural, almost as if no one can decide what type of show this should be.  I know I've harped on it for 9 weeks now, but it really is a sorry excuse for a drama because it is neither hot nor cold, flashy nor understated, true to life nor made up of engaging lies.  So I guess I am sorry that yet another show has failed to capture New Orleans, but for a different reason.  Treme tried so hard to capture New Orleans that it forgot it had to also be a show.  They would have done better to make a ten part documentary along the lines of "On the Corner" than waste so much money fictionalizing the truth.  With all their tools and budgets they've only managed to water it down.
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #64 on: June 22, 2011, 07:49:54 AM »
Gotta get you bashing Treme on the front page, man! Cult Culture from Cass!

Despite the fairy tale aspect, there's the sneaking suspicion that the show is very anti New Orleans, yes? That's one theme I see this season.  We march people from club to club and have fine dining, but then heads roll down the streets and David Morse sulks over a corpse. Random acts of violence happening anywhere, at any time. And people have to leave the city to find work, hope, and happiness.

There's a fall of Rome feel... From vibrant city to, 50 years later, rural village with sheep grazing in the streets.

I agree with you! I think we get back to what we've discussed before. Treme's outside-NOLA popularity is based on white man's burden-style guilt. We stood by and did nothing for you poor folks. And that's how the show is written. People who, when they visit, never leave the Quarter have their hearts go out.

I don't know. I watch it up here and blowing away Steve Earle is all I need to keep me watching. I've become invested in the dolls, and, even then, they play second fiddle to the food/music porn of each episode. Is anyone watching the story anymore? Certainly Treme Explained has given up. The characters and the story mean nothing -- soap opera level nonsense. Simon's made the show about the "culture." He's failing at that, but... Well, Cass, I can see David Simon's childhood suburban Silver Spring house from my window right now. He grew up in the gentle lap of Montgomery County, had the run of Rock Creek Park, and walked one block to elementary school and was driven eight blocks to high school. He had my life growing up. So, Baltimore? Okay. Give it a try. New Orleans? No. Treme is the New Orleans that people like Victory Party see.

But we're watching up here, man! Our hearts go out to your violent, horrific, confused, jobless city full of junkies and very clean street musicians and tortured black people.


Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #65 on: June 22, 2011, 02:52:40 PM »
Actually, now that I think about it, what's the point of the Bourdain interludes? Why take us all the way to NYC and have another writer write scenes that have nothing to do with the episode?

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #66 on: June 23, 2011, 10:03:52 AM »
to whack off until completion!
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Offline Disco Dust

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Re: Treme
« Reply #67 on: June 24, 2011, 01:02:44 AM »
Simon's Earle fetish is fully understandable considering the latter's musical pedigree, but it has gotten to the point where all the others who feel the same way about Steve have now begun to view it as a bad joke...in the same vein as former superstar athletes like Jim Brown or OJ's TV and film careers.


Simon has to get inventive and daring with lifeless and/or annoying characters that seem to permeate the show. Let us see Jeanette doing a DP with her stoner roomies...Davis only shown when doing his W. shtick, or best of all Wendell Pierce's character secretly packing fudge on the side (as in The Wire).

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #68 on: June 27, 2011, 11:06:34 AM »
Okay, fine. After this season -- Treme goes on the personal cancellation list.  The last episode is next Sunday. Thank god.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #69 on: June 29, 2011, 10:00:04 AM »
Yeah.  Especially love the "People are getting stabbed and shot every day, and places are getting robbed constantly, but I'm going to let my 16 year old daughter man a coffee shop by herself.  To BUILD CHARACTER."

Also, as Jeanette continues her meteoric rise through the NY culinary scene I can't help but think about Jacques still wasting away in his cell, abandoned about 5 episodes back.  Guess that chef-sous chef relationship ain't so special after all.
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #70 on: June 29, 2011, 10:31:16 AM »
Your 16 year old delinquent on probation daughter.

And, hey, Davis went and said hello to Jacques once and wished him happy raping and deportation.

Yeah...The show is a fucking hideous trainwreck.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #71 on: June 29, 2011, 10:44:43 PM »
I talked to some like-minded friends today who didn't even make it past episode 4.  So now I feel better.  It really was the characterization aspect all along.  I'm glad I'm not conflicted about the city as a whole.  Actually, if you read all the comments (which you shouldn't do) on the "Treme explained" pages, there's a few people complaining about "white people problems" and "HOW COME NO ONE IS FIXING THEIR HOUSE?"

Actually, my friend and I were comparing and contrasting Treme to Generation Kill.  A good 8 episode miniseries could've been blockbuster TV for the ages.  instead we're watching "Law & Minutiae: New Orleans."
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #72 on: June 30, 2011, 10:48:06 AM »
I gave up on Treme Explained when they gave up on Treme.

Saxophones (link).

Mint julep. (link)

Ladonna mentions a major event. (link)

Buy Steve Earle's album. (link)

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #73 on: June 30, 2011, 06:50:50 PM »
Vulture defends Treme... Maybe we're just jaded, Cass?



Quote
As it happens, even as The Killing was getting all the press, Treme was having a quietly amazing second season, one that happened to feature a right-brain holistic journey and a refreshing unwillingness to tie things into bows. Because while Treme has plenty of lively stories in its mix, the most distinct thing about the show is its playful, circular, unpredictable, unresolved structure. Unlike almost every ambitious TV experiment, including great ones like The Sopranos and terrible ones like The Killing, Treme isn't an elevating riff on a sitcom, or a police procedural, or a soap opera. It isn’t fueled by generic familiarity, even as something to reject. When I interviewed David Simon on the set of Treme, before his show began airing, he described Robert Altman as an inspiration and Altmanesque is how the show feels: intuitive, sly-humored, unexpectedly moving, subtle and full of visual surprise, adding up in bits and pieces, wild performances bracketing scraps of dialogue, quick cuts, an emphasis on facial expressions and a slow, flowing, satisfying overall feel of ... well, funkiness. Or gumbo. Oh God, I shouldn't say gumbo, should I?

Last season, that slow and funky flow also meant that the show could be boring. But as another recent raging cultural debate made apparent, one man’s "boring" can be another woman’s "totally worth it." And for me, the second season of Treme is not only un-boring, it’s thrilling — the rare television show that rewards careful attention. In this way, the show actually is a bit like The Wire. And in these dicey days for TV ambition, Treme has become a rarity, a show that pays back our loyalty rather than leaves us feeling ripped off.

I’m not requiring you to re-watch season one, if it wasn’t your thing. I watched it all, but I was mainly onboard for Kim Dickens as an underdog chef and also [spoiler alert] for the unexpected punch-in-the-chest of Creighton Burnette’s suicide. But now I’m interested in all the characters, even the chatty D.J., even the gloomy New Orleans Indian, hell, even the mediocre guitarist/junkie. Wendell Pierce is great, Khandi Alexander is great, Melissa Leo is great, her daughter is great, I’m not quite as interested in the saintly violinist but she certainly has her moments, and the newest character — a shark of a real-estate speculator played by hip-twitching Jon Seda — adds a welcome note of aggression. Unlike the dour cartoons in The Killing, these people feel at once real and unfamiliar. The Killing got a ton of unearned praise for its portrayal of Rosie Larsen’s bereaved family, but Treme has gone a mile deeper into grief, tracing Creighton’s family’s shock and denial, but also giving other characters meaningful traumas that scar rather than resolve. There’s plenty of joy on Treme. But when its characters hurt, it's more than one-note wailing.

I don’t want to give away every plot turn, since you’re about to download season two On Demand, but suffice it to say that people are suffering. Crime is back in New Orleans: One character was gang-raped, and in a truly devastating sequence that aired the same night as The Killing finale, another was murdered. And yet violence isn’t the show’s engine. The artist’s life is. There’s a meta-quality to many of the scenes of artists making art, since nearly all of them touch on debates about which types of creativity are authentic, political, pleasurable, meaningful, or lucrative, questions that clearly apply to the creation of the series itself. But rather argue like an op-ed, Treme feels like poetry, and even better, it has begun to incorporate critiques of its own New Orleans exceptionalism, playfully showing the ways these attitudes can sour into pedantry, as they do on occasion with that Indian Chief, who is currently in New York driving his jazz musician son crazy with his passive-aggressive provincialism.

Did I say poetry? I meant music. Often, Treme feels like we’ve been invited to a very cool party. Or a party full of parties: The party scenes on this series are spectacular. I’m not into jazz — at all — and I’m loving the music scenes. Look, people, what can I say, you'll just have to trust me. The finale is this Sunday, but you know how to use that DVR.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #74 on: June 30, 2011, 07:07:56 PM »
No, none of that is true.  And I'm not jaded...I just demand characterization and continuity! 

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