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.

Violence Crowd Treme

Treme – “Slip Away” Review

Bar can run itself.” -LaDonna

This episode of Treme sort of typifies the series. In it we have several really interesting story lines that we care a lot about. I personally find myself invested in Davis’s record, Janette’s cooking career, Annie’s struggles to write a song, Antoine’s formation of the band, Sonny’s success. The other stuff, like Lieutenant Colson’s crime, Toni and Sofia B Real, Nelson Hidalgo’s quest to rebuild the city, Albert Lambreaux’s struggles under the weight the social system I don’t find particularly interesting but it fits in very nicely thematically. I don’t think they could do away with those story lines, but I think there is a way to make us care about them.

The best example I can think of that changed my mind about a certain character is Delmond Lambreaux. I wasn’t very invested in his story through season one and at the beginning of season two, but I’m slowly starting to come around. I think the show has found what’s good about Delmond and is highlighting it. He’s a brilliant musician who left New Orleans but is still influenced by it. He was always pushing it away, but now he’s starting to realize that New Orleans is him. His vulnerability and openness at this point in time is quite endearing. It also helps that he has Janette there to keep his likability high.

In the past episodes I praised the show for giving the characters specific tasks that moved the story. It gave the stories definition and allowed the viewer to hang on to something to keep them interested. I fear that there’s a few stories that can potentially stymie. For one, I loved Antoine Batiste’s formation of his band. Now his band is formed, Sonny is the guitarist, and what’s next? Certainly he can’t go gigging around the city again. We saw that last season. What’s going to be his next task? Is it going to be about his school work? If so, then what happens to Sonny? I’m worried.

Also, Janette’s story fills me with that same worry. She committed a pretty drastic act in the cooking community and landed on her feet rather easily. I thought for sure it would lead her back to New Orleans, but she’s actually getting further entrenched into the New York community. Maybe with the inclusion of the Delmond, the two can celebrate New Orleans half way across the country. It can illustrate the point that the city has a sense of culture that is universal. The problem is, I’m more interested in her cooking career rather than her carrying the banner for her city. Hopefully we see her work her way up in her new kitchen.

With Janette out in New York, I do like that it continues to allow Davis and Annie to further develop their relationship. As they continue to develop their relationship, they’re also looking to strengthen their music careers. There story lines have been interesting since day one and they still have legs. Each are looking to take the next step in their careers and both are being met with varying degrees of success.

Davis, against all odds, is flourishing in his recording company thanks largely to his Aunt Mimi, who is an excellent addition to the cast. He’s finding great talent and relying on others input to take it to the next level. Him learning that he can’t rely only on his own ear and his own talent gives him a more well rounded character. He had great vision, but always wanted to include himself in the music process. Now he’s having to step back and be a professional. I still think there will be issues surrounding that contract he signed with his aunt, but I think his sampler will be a success.

Annie, on the other hand, is looking to take the next step in her career, but is struggling. She knows that she needs to sing and write in order to garner interest from agents and managers. She’s really having trouble writing a song and when she thinks she did write something good, it turns out she stole an old Bob Dylan tune. Her mentor tells her, “It’s why the world is full of players.”

When she and Sonny broke up he warned her that she couldn’t succeed because she needs him as a front man. Was he right? She can be the best fiddle player in New Orleans, but that has a ceiling. I think she’s reaching the ceiling and I wonder if she’ll find her way back to Sonny in some respect. Maybe she can join Antoine’s band. That’ll be my solution for everything. Just put ‘em in Antoine’s band. I think it’ll be interesting to see Annie struggle with finding success. She’s obviously very talented, but how will she get on further in the music world?

I don’t particularly enjoy Nelson Hidalgo’s story, but I’m starting to get the feeling that he is very necessary to the show. So much of the show is restoring the city *back* to it’s former glory, but he is the one character who sees a different vision. He wants to rebuild and progress the city into something even greater. Without this contrasting point of view, I think the show would border on annoying self importance. We’re suppose to be getting a 360 degree look at the city, so we need to acknowledge the good with the bad.

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.

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