Antoine Treme

Treme – “What is New Orleans?” Review

That’s straight New Orleans right there.” -Sonny

Sunday night was a whirlwind night of TV. All of the talk was about the finales of The Killing and Game of Thrones. These three episodes all aired essentially at the same time. Game of Thrones pleased everyone from 8-9. Then everyone switched to AMC to get disappointed by the finale of The Killing. All the while little Treme was in the background quietly airing a pretty excellent episode that had a bit of a shocking ending in and of itself.

This episode, for the most part, was really fun and exciting. There were a lot of people’s story line really clicking. First off, I was totally into Albert and Delmond’s story. I don’t know a lot about Jazz, so I have no idea if what they’re doing is groundbreaking and original, but it seems absolutely genius. And if reality is truly perception, then I’m guessing that other people are feeling that this is pretty genius too.

Also, it’s a real joy to watch Wendell Pierce play Antoine Batiste. Every scene he does grabs my attention. Whether it’s him teaching students or busting the balls of his band mates, he’s excellent. I thought it was a brilliant little bit when he stole the crowd from Kermit only to lose the crowd back to him. He’s got balls, but they’re not the biggest in New Orleans yet.

I haven’t been too engrossed with Toni and Sofia B Real’s story line up until this point, but during this episode I found it tolerable. Maybe that’s because Sofia seemed like a real person this episode. She got a heavy dose of reality from both her lawyer and the councilman. Toni also turned into more of a real person when she finally had to tell Colson that she couldn’t quite handle getting into another relationship so soon.

Everything was all well and good until the final scene. Earlier in the episode when Harley Wyatt was playing alongside the Irishman with the pocket flute I wrote in my notes, “ Steve Earle as Harley Watt has been a real pleasant surprise.” His musical interludes all throughout the season had been very enjoyable. He was Annie’s mentor and tried to get her her songwriting sea legs. He was the ultimate in being humanistic. And ultimately, it was his undoing. He, so stupidly, told his assailant, “You’re making a big mistake, son.” Natrually the mugger with the gun felt empowered, came back and said, “I’m not your son,” and shot him right in the face.

I learned that the writer of this episode ***SPOILER ALERT FOR THE WIRE*** also wrote the episodes where Snoop, Bodie, Wallace, and Stringer Bell were all gunned down. There is such a brilliance to the way he writes these scenes. The killing always is a climax, but it sets in motion so many other events. Annie’s story has kind of been falling flat a little this season and it will be very nice to see where this takes her. Will it shut her down? Will she become inspired? Will Davis be a great and supporting boyfriend? Will Sonny be in the mix? How will this rally the local musicians? So many great things are sure to come from this.

Second Line Steppers Treme

Treme – “Feels Like Rain” Review

Could you do anything else?” -Janette
Probably not.” -Delmond

This episode of Treme felt like the most like the first season than any other in the second season. That’s neither a good nor a bad thing, but for those who were more happy with the more direct narrative of season 2, they’d be a little disappointed. This episode felt so much more thematic. It felt like we were all told just why each character NEEDED to do what they did. It wasn’t that they were just kind of playing the cards they were dealt, but that they couldn’t possibly be doing anything else. Or at the very least, the character’s struggling with figuring just what it is they SHOULD be doing.

Delmond’s story rang the most true to the theme in the episode. Here is a brilliant musician who knows he supposed to be playing jazz for the rest of his life, but yet he’s always drawn to his home town. He’ll be playing music forever, but not at the sacrifice of his father and the Indian culture in New Orleans. I really liked the scene where Delmond gives his father the Indian patch. It was a nice honest moment between the two. I don’t always enjoy Albert Lambreaux’s character, but I do when he’s being light hearted with his son.

Janette, like Delmond, knows that she must cook for the rest of her life. She too has decided to make a go living in New York City, but again, is heavily influenced by her home town. I don’t think that she’s going to stay away forever, especially knowing that her Sous-Chef, a partnership that is stronger than family, is on the verge of being deported. I know it’s not a surprise that that she’s passionate about cooking, but the episode went out of if it’s way to expound on that fact.

I’m enjoying the idea of Annie struggling to write a song. She wants so desperately to become a songwriter that she thinks that’s the next step. This is a sort of contrast to Delmond and Janette. They both know what they want and have the path to do so. Annie just thinks she knows, but may ultimately just be a player. Perhaps, she does need Sonny, musically, after all.

Speaking of Sonny, I’m glad he’s not working out well with Antoine’s band. There’s nothing in his character that leads us to believe that he’d have the discipline to make it work. I do wonder where he goes next now that he’s not in the band. I imagine he’ll make his way back to Annie somehow. They just seem to be linked and I think the show will pull them back together. Maybe Sonny does something to Annie that catapults her to write a hit song, or maybe they join up again. Either way, his story sort of starts a new next episode.

I worried a little bit about the direction of Antoine Batiste’s character last week and unfortunately I feel my suspicions were confirmed. He’s probably my favorite character, but his story just seemed to sputter around this episode. I thought we were going to see him start forming the middle school marching band, but it turned more into music education. It feels like his sole purpose was to kick Sonny out of the band this week. He did take the gig with the bigger musician, so we’ll see if he’s truly passionate about his own band or just passionate about making money playing music.

Davis’s story line was more of what we saw last year. He’s making politically conscious music with a bunch of local musicians. Only this time, the musicians are better. That leads me to believe that they would be quicker to oust him singing on the track. Davis has the mind and drive, but his vocal talents are not as strong as the people he plays with.

Sofia B Real and Nelson Hidalgo are still uninteresting to me. I’m not quite sure what the show is to do about this either. Nelson is the only one who is interested in developing the city and Sofia is really the only kid on the show. These are both important things that the show can’t do without. What they can do without is the romance between Toni and Terry Colson. We’ll see if that can interest me in way, but I’m not sure it will grab me.

As a final note, despite being a little slow and at times uninteresting, Treme is still such a unique and enjoyable show. Where else can you see a show that just shows a fiddle, clarinet and rag piano play music for a few minutes and it advances the plot? It doesn’t exist. Not to mention a show that just lets the cameras role on the second line. It’s as if we’re voyeurs catching a glimpse of a world we’d otherwise never see.

Davis Smiling Treme

Treme – “Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues?” Review

I’m pure pale nastiness. So back up off me bitch!” -Davis

Before I start the review I’d like to congratulate Treme for being picked up for a third season. This show deserves it! Now, on to the review!

What a difference a season makes. I liked Treme last season even though I could get bored from time to time. I took it for what it was: a show that captured the spirit of a city that had some very interesting characters. But this season, not only are we capturing the spirit of New Orleans, but we’re beginning to tell several stories that we’re becoming invested in. Every character is on the move in some way. Either up or down or out or in. The characters now have goals and tasks and that makes for a complete show.

The story that I’m most interested in is the forming of Antoine Batiste’s band. First of all, I love the dialogue between him and his band mates. It’s so authentic and enjoyable. Second, it combines a lot of what I like about the show. It allows us to hear some really great music all while trying to recover and rebuild what was lost. Antoine is trying to the forefront of the music scene. And now that his girlfriend is making him take a job at a school, it gives him a sense of urgency. He needs to make the band work (and pay) so he doesn’t have to teach. Though I think I will enjoy seeing him make those kids great musicians.

Also, the Antoine story is bringing Sonny into its world. The more the show weaves the lives of these characters together, the better. I thought it was good story telling when all things pointed to Sonny being a shoo in to get the guitar gig and they went another way. However, by episodes end, due to the death of the former guitarist, he winds up with the gig anyway. It’s part of crafting an individual episode that can stand alone and fit into the serial arc. Very well done.

I also always love when Davis puts his mind to a task. In this instance he’s starting a record label with his Aunt Mimi in hopes to get his hip hop career off and running. I absolutely love Aunt Mimi, though it looks like she’s set to screw Davis over with all the contracts. There’s just an energy that Davis brings to the screen that is undeniable. Steve Zahn does a great job of infusing the love of the city into Davis and letting him be so open and vulnerable. He always jumps headlong into his tasks and it’s fun to watch him fall in love with everything he’s doing. The scene with Kelli laying down that Bounce track was absolutely awesome, “I’ll tell ya when I’m ready, I’m ready when I tell ya” will be stuck in my head for a long time.

Janette continues to be fun to watch in New York City. I think this is the episode that starts her return home to New Orleans. She quits her job by tossing a drink in the face of a famous food critic that insulted New Orleans in a recent review. She’s apparently legendary in the online food critic world. I think once word reaches back home that she stuck up for her city she’ll be welcomed back as a hero.

She also met up with Delmond Lambreaux in the Big Apple. I’m not a big fan of either of the Lambreaux characters. but if Delmond can prove to be a worthy friend or companion with Janette, than surely I’ll like him more. Maybe her meeting him lets her know it’s ok to stay from New Orleans. That would be interesting if they fully committed to her staying in New York for this season. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it would make her return home have more of an impact.

Annie appears to be poised to be the next of the characters that finds fortune. She’s gaining a lot of respect for her fiddle playing abilities. She met a manager from Austin that seemed very interested. I’m glad that she didn’t leap at the first chance to be signed. She loves gigging and knows she can get better. I don’t think the show wants her to get signed and then fail or be unhappy. I think she’ll be a success story that juxtaposes nicely against Sonny.

This episode probably was so much more entertaining for me because the stories I care least about, Toni the lawyer, LaDonna and her bar, and Hidalgo the developer, were sort of placed on the back burner. They weren’t ignored. In fact they progressed too. It was the perfect amount of screen time for those stories. More episode like these and the show will have me hooked forever.

Picture 16

Treme – “On Your Way Down” Review


All politics is local. You know that? It’s true.” -Hidalgo

This week’s Treme really hit us with quite a lot of story for certain characters. In a show that’s largely thematic and atmospheric it’s always good when they put some plot in their to give the audience something to hang on to. The stories we got also are going to drive future action and it looks as if their is a conscience effort to merge story lines. The show follows many characters around and at times it seems like a bunch of vignettes all borrowing the same backdrop, but it seems as if there’s an attempt to merge some stories and focus the show.

First off, the biggest event that happened was the beating and rape of LaDonna at her bar. LaDonna has always been able to stand up to her husband in the past and basically tell him that she’s staying in New Orleans to work the bar. After these events I can’t see her having the same sway with him anymore. This was a horrible event, but I believe it to be a catalyst in her on going arc on whether or not to leave town. She was just going to start offering live music at her bar too with Antoine possibly getting some gigs. I would like to see them grow in success together as they will undoubtedly grow in love with each other. But with these recent events, it’s not going to be that easy.

Antoine is also finding the creation of a band to not be easy. Before he used to just hop in with another crew and play and drink and carry on. Now he has to be the leader of the group and hear problems and then fix them. It’s nice to see a rehearsal where things aren’t perfect. Too often in TV shows do we see a band just be great. We don’t see the struggles so we can’t fully appreciate the progress they’ve made. Some of the best scenes of this episode came from Antoine arguing with his band mates about getting the song perfect. One of the conclusions they made is that they need a guitar player to fill out the sound.

It just so happens that there’s a guitar player in New Orleans looking to join a band, Sonny. Sonny is finding it very hard to make it on his own. One of his last things he said to Annie is how she couldn’t make it on just a fiddle alone, she needs a front man. Well, Sonny is learning that he is no front man. This is a specific instance where two stories are going to merge into one. The other great thing about this is we haven’t seen an Antoine and Sonny on screen pair yet. I think they’ll work very well together. They both love music and want to be great, but both have a selfish streak and a bit of rough past that gets in the way frequently. It’ll be interesting to see how all of that resolves itself.

Janette came back to New Orleans, if only for a day, after Davis told her house had been burglarized. I love Janette, and I may love Kim Dickens more, but I’m not too worried or interested in her story at this point until she returns back home. I don’t feel like the show is going to carry the New York arc for very long. The show is about New Orleans and it will inevitably take place in New Orleans. Though this was our only time to see Davis in this episode. It’s not a wonder the episode felt like it lacked a little energy.

Perhaps another reason why I felt it lacked a little energy is we spent a lot of time with Hidalgo and Delmond. For some reason, I’m not as interested in watching the wealthy and talented go through their struggles. I know it’s a part of the life, but I just identify with the struggles of those characters who are truly struggling. Except for Toni. She’s still lawyering around the city trying to find ways to create a stink. I really am over her arc. I do think there’s a little promise to Sofia going into politics.

Treme is still a show that is very polarizing. You either like it or you don’t. I do see that there is a conscience effort to drive story and connect some arcs, but for the critics of the show, it probably won’t be enough to win them over. This was my least favorite of the first three episodes, but I think it set up a lot in the future. Sometimes a show needs to lay some exposition. I’m very much looking forward to Sonny joining Antoine’s band and Janette’s return to New Orleans. Let’s just hope those happen sooner than later.


Treme – “Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky” Review


“Let Bourbon Street be Bourbon Street, ladies and gentlemen.” – Colson

It’s Thanksgiving in New Orleans and the inhabitants are doing their best to find reasons to stay thankful. We’re having to follow a lot of different story lines at this point and it’s not a big surprise that some mean more to us than others. I don’t think the show is too interested in joining all the plots somehow because that’s not how the show is set up. It’s about painting a picture of New Orleans and all the people of New Orleans serve to accent that painting. It just so happens that I find certain accents of the painting much more interesting than others.

I absolutely love what the show is doing with Janette in New York. Yes, I know, she’s going to come back, but it’s good for us to see her actually get to shine and make mistakes all at once. She was so articulate in her defense of her city when dissecting the food article about New Orleans in GQ, but then stood on in amazement as the chef prepared a perfect salmon. I’m glad Anthony Bourdain is a part of the creative team as he makes all the kitchen scenes more authentic. We also got to feel bad for Janette as she makes a few New York rookie mistakes. The first is sleeping through her stop on the subway. If you’ve done that, you know how frustrating it can be. Then we see her get robbed after yet another one night stand. The man she just shared a bed with looked her in the eyes, said he was leaving and just took off with her cash. Poor Janette Desautel. At least she has entertaining roommates. I could listen to them talk about cereal for quite a while.

I’m also fully invested in Antoine Batiste starting a band. He seems to enjoy making music the most on screen so it’s always fun to watch him play. He’s really coming into his own and getting better. He’s singing now, so he’s becoming more of a complete artist. This played against the degradation of Sonny as a musician works nicely. I secretly hope those two find each other and make some sweet music together. Sonny clearly isn’t the same without Annie, but he’s still bound and determined to make good music.

Speaking of Annie, I like Davis. I like Annie. I like them together as I think they’re compatible, but I like Davis when he’s going nuts and crusading and I like Annie when she’s playing the fiddle. But when they’re just being cuddly, we lose what’s great about them. The dinner scene at Thanksgiving was a much better use of their time on screen. Elizabeth Ashley as Aunt Mimi was great. The bounce show that followed dinner was even more entertaining. I’m glad the show is recognizing New Orleans bounce as I’ve grown to really enjoy it since hearing some a few years back. I do feel like the Davis and Annie love story is too good to be true. Not that I don’t want them to be happy, but they could easily get boring, and that’s the last thing you’d want these two characters to become.

As for things I’m not really feeling, I look no further than the Toni and Sofia story. Toni Bernette the mother is a lot more interesting than Toni Bernette the lawyer. We get what she’s doing a lawyer, we saw it all last year. She’s a crusader for the people and devotes a lot of time and energy to what she does. I feel like the ghost of her husband would be more prevalent, but I guess not. She’s just there, being a lawyer. And to make matters worse she has a kid that’s rebellious. I feel like on every show there’s a kid, they’re rebellious in some way. Why can’t we figure out something more interesting for “Sofia Be Real” to do.

But perhaps my biggest complaint so far about this season is the addition of Jon Seda’s character Nelson Hidalgo. First off, I don’t really understand all of the politics and business involved with the roofing contracts and such, so I can’t even take an interest in the procedural side of it. Second, I find that his performance is coming across as very forced and it makes the writing stand out as clunky. He even did a walk off pun while putting on his sunglasses. “Now make like the holiday, [puts on sunglasses] and be thankful.” YEAHHHHHHHHH!!! I should never be thinking about CSI: Miami when I’m watching and HBO show. I hope he can somehow spread a little of the wealth and joy to  some of our other favorite characters who are in need.

At this point I am apathetic towards the crime scene in New Orleans. Not that I’m rooting for it, but I think it needs to effect our characters a bit more if they want me to care. If the roofing scandal didn’t happen to Ladonna last season, we wouldn’t have cared. The shooting in episode one felt much more real because Sonny was there. Here in the second episode, it’s just referenced.

Keeping up with its season one tradition, the Lambreaux story has me totally uninterested. I did like Delmond’s opening scene where he talks about his music on the radio and then plays a song for his dad. Other than that, I’m finding Big Chief Albert Lambreaux to pretty one note and boring. I get what he’s up to, being a stubborn man looking to make a difference but I need some action from him. He got me interested in season one when he staged the sit in, so I think now is a good time for him to start doing something.

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