Author Topic: Treme  (Read 18470 times)

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Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #75 on: July 02, 2011, 09:51:24 PM »
The Atlantic:

Quote
To get an idea of just how little drama is present in HBO's Treme, which wraps up its second season this Sunday, just read the online plot synopses. They contain lines like: "Antoine Batiste is doing right by the young people" and "Janette Desautel has found her groove at Lucky Peach" or "Sonny is moving forward on all fronts."

That's what a show without conflict sounds like.

The most obvious problem with Treme is that it is boring. Probably the most significant plot development of this past season was that one character formed a band. Also another character formed a band. Some bad things happened as well, and there seems to have been some shoddy police work that took place during Katrina, but all in all, it feels like things are going to be more or less okay. All we have a group of well-meaning characters sort of muddling their way towards happiness.

It's baffling to see, because creator David Simon showed such a keen sense of plot, structure, and all the different ways to deploy tension with his previous show, The Wire, set in Baltimore. In The Wire, there was no okay, just a desperate clawing toward a status quo that killed everyone it touched. Simon understood that—he'd worked at the Baltimore Sun city desk for 12 years. But the crusty old reporter that took such an unsparing eye to a troubled city seems to have turned himself into an affable tourist when he got into the Big Easy. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler.

Treme takes every opportunity for extremity and crams it into an amorphous, semi-pleased middle. We have a cop and a lawyer who are occasionally at odds but still understand where the other is coming from. We have a man who gets along swimmingly with his ex-wife's new husband. We have a dope fiend, who, you know, is working on it with strong support from a bandmate. One of our characters quits in disgrace at a job she hates, then immediately gets a great new job with a swell boss. And then she gets an even better one.

It's all set to an endless montage of New Orleans things: People in the know are meant to constantly recognize restaurants, musicians, streets, and sayings. The Columns! Domilise's! Dr. John! Simon sure has done his homework, the audience thinks. He's been to restaurants! Even in an episode set in New York, the series can't avoid its rampant referentialism and feels the need to cram David Chang in there. The audience thinks, "David Chang!"

In a recent episode, one of the characters went out to Cajun Mardi Gras because, hey, Cajun Mardi Gras is cool.

That bit is authentic New Orleans—there is nothing New Orleans loves so much as New Orleans—but the show can't get past the desire to be authentic. It feels like a hell of a vacation in New Orleans. Granted, it's a well-informed, nuanced vacation, and Simon has clearly made an effort to ask the locals where to go, but it is a vacation nonetheless. In the first season, a Katrina tour bus rolls up on a Mardi Gras Indian funeral, and we balk at the voyeurism (of course, after being scolded the driver says: "you're right, you're right," and drives off. Everyone must get along!). But the show functions with the same impulse to uncover the "real" New Orleans.

"When it comes to the show Treme, I'm not afraid of any audience outside of New Orleans," Simon told NPR in 2010. "I don't care what anyone else thinks."

He does, however, seem terrified of the local audience. He deals with the city with kid gloves, saying: Mardi Gras Indians, look how great. Jazz, look how great. Corruption, oh, you know, it's kind of fun too, right? In the second season, former council president Oliver Thomas plays himself, and why wouldn't he? He comes off well. He was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for bribery in 2007.

To call Treme skin-deep would not be fair—Simon has given his best shot to show a side of the city the tourist doesn't reach, and reminds the viewer that he's on the inside at every chance he gets. But he cuts himself only so much so as to hold up his hand and say: look, I bleed.

Simon bled rivers for Baltimore. There was no praise and nothing spared, and yet the city loved it. It was a true love letter to a truly troubled city. It was love masked by hate. Treme is indifference masked by fascination.

There is evil in Simon's New Orleans. He seems to have figured that much out. But abusive cops, shadowy rapists, criminals, and uncaring bureaucrats remain faceless, amorphous, and the audience is not expected to think of them as any deeper than a pure force of bad that will ultimately be counteracted by our characters and their pure force of good.

There was no evil in The Wire, there was only humanity tearing itself apart in an effort to make it one more day. That's what made the tragedy so poignant—we were asked to love murderers and lawmakers alike, and know that nothing they did could change the self-destructive system they lived and worked in. It's the essence of Hegelian tragedy—that the success of one character necessarily means the downfall of another.

Simon could ask all the same questions about New Orleans that he did about Baltimore, but his infatuation with the city clouds his eye. That, of course, is also authentic New Orleans.
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #76 on: July 03, 2011, 08:26:32 AM »
There we go. Sums up the problem perfectly.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #77 on: July 04, 2011, 06:30:31 PM »
well, I'm glad that's over! 
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Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #78 on: August 14, 2011, 02:28:55 PM »
Sounds like Treme may be over sooner rather than later.  
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Simon recently indicated that a five-season life for "Treme" is now in question.

"We have to figure out is, is three-and-out right?" he said. "Is four-and-out right? What should we plan for? How would this work? What is the best storytelling? And then we'll take that to HBO. Ideally, they'll make a decision on the merits, and we'll talk to them about that.

"What I did promise HBO is that I'm not the kind of showrunner that keeps asking for seasons because you have a show up and you want to run it to the end. I've come to believe that's not the way to make anything that stands.

"As you tell story, as you put story behind you, you look at what you've already said and you look at what's still left to say, and you make an argument as to how much more you need and when you're going to start repeating yourself.

"We knew the show was going to move at a very delicate speed, that nuance was going to be the order of the day and that we were not going to be hyperbolic about what happens in the lives of ordinary people and how fast things happen.

"In the beginning, we imagined we were going to need a lot of time. As we were premiering, there were certain obvious things -- the Super Bowl, the mayoral election – that were certain dynamics that seemed like, 'Wow it would be fun to get to that,' because they were happening at the time."

More important now, Simon said, is keeping the characters moving forward in their recovery stories.

"You have to look at 21 hours of Antoine Batiste, 21 hours of Janette Desautel, 21 hours of Davis McAlary," he said. "You have to look at them and say, 'What hasn't been said and what still needs to be said?' And you get varying answers. Some characters, you still have a couple of mountains to climb. Other characters, you have a mountain and then you have a couple of hills, and you say, 'If we're going to go forward, we're going to need another mountain.'
"You have to do that for every single character, and then overall, as an umbrella, you have to look at New Orleans. What is the social, political, cultural story for New Orleans after the storm? By going to season five, what do you gain and what do you lose in terms of the power of the story by holding stuff back? Are you gaining momentum if you go toward season five, or are you losing momentum at the end? You want the whole project to stand as being meaningful. You don't want it full of padding, nor do you want to cheat the story. You want it to be the right length for the story."

Whatever the writers' conclusion about the story's length, HBO appears fine with it.

"Here's what we have said to David," HBO's Plepler said. "We want David to finish his novel. He's writing a novel (with 'Treme'). We, as beneficiaries of his art, want him to finish the completion of his artistic expression.

"When he tells us he's finished with his artistic expression of this, that's when we're done, and then we'll turn to him and say, 'What's next?'"

Sounds to me like HBO really doesn't care much about the show as much as they don't want to step on Simon's toes and drive him away.  He could always come back to them later with a more important show that will be a hit and as widely accessible and important as the Wire.  I think deep down Simon sees the writing on the wall with the ratings: he may be doing his show completely his way, but it's pretty self-indulgent and un-entertaining.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 02:33:43 PM by Cassander »
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #79 on: August 14, 2011, 08:17:45 PM »
Well, it's staying on my personal cancellation list. Season two was agony.

Jesus... 2011 has been about pushing through these shows, hasn't it? Treme, now True Blood and Torchwood. Just fight to the end out of some sense of loyalty and completion.

Offline Cassander

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Re: Treme
« Reply #80 on: August 14, 2011, 09:09:33 PM »
C'mon...Treme had a little more going for it and more potential than a show about were-rednecks. 
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Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #81 on: August 15, 2011, 07:32:28 AM »
It did!

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #82 on: November 04, 2011, 08:48:29 AM »
Well...Simon says two more seasons of Treme. Which I won't be watching.

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #83 on: September 24, 2012, 11:03:11 AM »
And that's it for Treme. 10 episodes this season, and then HBO will give Simon a bone and let him wrap everything up in a four episode "fourth season." The show's been a failure from day one, but I guess Simon has lots of rope thanks to The Wire.

Offline Disco Dust

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Re: Treme
« Reply #84 on: September 25, 2012, 01:25:53 AM »
Did you even bother watching the first installment of Season 3 last weekend?

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #85 on: September 25, 2012, 07:33:18 AM »
No, because season two made me want to jump in front of a bus. And, in hindsight, so did season one. Is it no longer insultingly stupid, meandering, boring, pointless, and strangely completely out of touch with New Orleans?

Offline Disco Dust

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Re: Treme
« Reply #86 on: October 01, 2012, 11:40:55 PM »
Well, I wanted to watch multiple episodes of the new season before giving a reply...and alas, 'meandering' as you put it is the best term in my opinion to describe why the show just fails to get one excited.


The sad part is that in The Wire the multiple storylines and sundry characters were interwoven masterfully, and most likely Simon was aiming for the same thing with this project; but has way overextended himself.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 07:17:20 AM by Disco Dust »

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #87 on: October 02, 2012, 08:13:33 AM »
Well, all those multiple storylines in The Wire were also tense and exciting as opposed to "Will Annie find her keys?"

Offline Disco Dust

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Re: Treme
« Reply #88 on: October 04, 2012, 07:16:54 AM »
The sad part is that Simon missed a great opp when choosing NOLA, since its dark underbelly is and has long been arguably the most fascinating of any American city; and he in the past has proven that he can portray B-more's underbelly in a tantalizing manner.

Offline nacho

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Re: Treme
« Reply #89 on: October 04, 2012, 08:47:46 AM »
My theory on that is that Baltimore is closer to his home turf. He's treating NOLA like any other gentrified transplant treats it. A sense of tourist-level wonder that only strays from the beaten path if it's a topical issue that the native on the barstool next to you brings to your attention.