August 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm #254961
The season 3 premiere of “Treme” airs on Sunday, September 23, 2012 @ 10 PM ET on HBO.
The first trailer is finally out. It looks like they’re going for it this season, since it could be their last. Talks are in motion for a fourth season though (according to HBO chatter at TCA press tour).
TRAILER:September 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm #254963
Sepinwall’s glowing review, and one of the few we’ll likely get before the premiere. I know this will get lost in the shuffle airing on Emmy night (really, HBO), but be sure to catch the repeat airings throughout the week.
Review: HBO’s “Treme” continues to cook in season 3
New Orleans drama continues to do what it wants, and very well.
by Alan Sepinwall Thursday, Sep 20, 2012
In an early episode of the new season of “Tremé” (it returns Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO), chef Janette Desautel is wined and dined by Tim, a businessman who wants her to come work for him. Tim points to the restaurant where they’re eating as a model for what he’d like Janette to do, and says the place is “Much loved by critics, by customers, and you know why? Because from day one, these guys did whatever the fuck they wanted. They didn’t give a shit what the market told them to cook. They figured out who they were, what they were good at, what they wanted to do, and they did that.”
That’s the dream for any artist, whether their tools are a kitchen knife, a paint brush, a trombone, or a laptop: do what you want to do, do it best, and you will find success.
Reality rarely works out that way, unfortunately. Talent only sometimes turns into success, and the successful often aren’t as good at what they do as the strugglers.
That scene, written by “Tremé” co-creator Eric Overmyer, plays out like a mission statement for what he and David Simon have been trying to do for three years now. “Tremé” doesn’t bend to the demands of the market. It’s a show about New Orleans and jazz, a city and an artform that are distinctly American but have both been half-forgotten. Its priorities are character, music, and local color, with plot waaaay down the list. Even Simon’s “The Wire,” with its annual police investigation, was more overtly commercial.
And over the 10 episodes of the new season, “Tremé” remains outstanding at what it sets out to do. The performances—by Wendell Pierce (as charming trombonist Antoine Batiste), Clarke Peters (as immovable Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux), and Khandi Alexander (as Antoine’s fierce ex-wife LaDonna Batiste-Williams), among many others—are so good that the characters can drive the series whether their stories are big (LaDonna prepares to testify against the man who raped her last season, Albert has a medical problem) or small (Antoine embraces the responsibilities of his day job as a school band director). The music is so well-chosen, and eclectic (this year, heavy metal joins the rotation with jazz, soul, alt-country, hip-hop, and more) that the show can get away with pausing the (minimal) action several times an episode just to let us enjoy the performances. And the sense of atmosphere and local color is unmatched among any show in recent memory; even though “The Wire” was loaded with Baltimore specifics, it could have taken place in many cities, where “Tremé” could only be about New Orleans, and captures the city so well you’ll feel like you’ve just spent an hour there.
Though the new season isn’t any kind of radical transformation—”Tremé” is what it is, and anyone waiting for it to turn into “The Wire: Port of Call New Orleans” had best give up hope(*) — it does feel like the best one yet.
(*) Though, perhaps as rewards for those who followed them from Maryland to Louisiana, the writers insert a few very familiar turns of phrase into the new season, including “all the pieces matter” and “the game is rigged.”
The longer you get to know the people on a character-based show, the more their stories come to matter, so that even small changes—say, a slight distance between boisterous DJ Davis (Steve Zahn) and his violinist girlfriend Annie (Lucia Micarelli), or musician-turned-fisherman Sonny (Michiel Huisman) going through an elaborate courting process with the daughter of his Vietnamese boss—have tremendous weight. And there are also small tweaks to elements that didn’t quite work previously. As civil rights lawyer Toni Burnette, Oscar winner Melissa Leo spent the second season investigating the case of a young man who was allegedly murdered by police in the aftermath of Katrina. Because it took place before the series began, and involved the death of a character we had no connection to, the story felt like an abstraction. This season, Toni makes an unofficial partnership with young reporter L.P. Everett (Chris Coy), who’s looking into a story that parallels hers, and the friendship between the two of them gives the story a hook it didn’t have last year.
Yet for all that quality, this is a situation where artists doing what they wanted to the best of their obvious abilities has not translated into success. “Tremé” isn’t the uniform critical darling that “The Wire” was, and it continues to exist entirely due to the generosity of HBO and their executives’ desire to keep working with Simon. Simon and Overmyer have a four-year plan for the series, but it’s unclear if they’ll get to play it all out. Last month, HBO co-president Michael Lombardo said a decision on a fourth season would probably have to be made before the third debuted, just to allow for the logistics of filming in a city with a hurricane season, but no decision has been announced yet. So these 10 episodes may be it.
And though Simon has often said that his characters are not mouthpieces for his political views (even if they often say things he agrees with), it’s hard to look at this season and not see Simon and Overmyer using the people of “Tremé” to engage in a 10-hour dialogue about artistic integrity versus the promise of commercial success.
The new season picks up 25 months after Katrina. Money has begun to pour back into New Orleans—and with it, temptation and even more corruption. We get a good view of the latter through contractor Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda), a carpetbagger who seems to genuinely enjoy the city, and not just for the ample opportunity for profit.
But the temptation appears in many forms, as several characters—including Janette (Kim Dickens), Annie, and Albert’s trumpeter son Delmond (Rob Brown)—get lucrative offers that sound too good to be true, and usually are. There is money, and there is doing what you love the way you want to do it, and the opportunities to have both at once are few and far between.
When Delmond tries to put off a suggestion of doing a European tour for his new album, his manager tells him that New Orleans is “a small stage with a low ceiling,” and “If you stay in New Orleans, you’re making a choice.”
That Simon and Overmyer are making this one of the key themes of the new season suggests they have also made their choice. They figured out who they were, what they were good at and what they wanted to do, and they’ve done it, for three seasons (and hopefully one more). That it hasn’t been a huge success is unfortunate but also unsurprising. HBO likes being in business with David Simon because they like being associated with the quality of his shows, and, I assume, what they stand for. You would hope everyone could find a way to make a fourth season work, but if it doesn’t, I don’t expect this creative team’s next project to be a romantic comedy starring Channing Tatum and Emma Stone.
Near the end of the season, cop Terry Colson (David Morse, making stoicism its own artform), feeling like the last honest man in a crooked department, asks Toni, “When the rest of the world just doesn’t give a fuck, what is it that actually helps?”
Without missing a beat, Toni says, “Lasting. You gotta outlast the bastards.”
“Tremé” has lasted for three unlikely seasons already. All it needs is one more. It’s great enough to deserve it.September 23, 2012 at 8:53 am #254964
HBO has renewed Treme for an abbreviated fourth and final season according to a report by Dave Walker in
The Times-Picayume. Walker reports that on the eve of the third season
premiere that show co-creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer informed
cast and crew at a special screening.
are going to be back for a season 3.5,” Simon said during pre-screening
opening remarks Saturday. “HBO, upon viewing the 10 (season-three
episodes) that we gave them and what we’ve done, they want to see the
end of the story. They fought very hard to give us half a loaf. We’re
going to take it and run.”
Other than that it will be less than 10 episodes, no details yet on just how many episodes the fourth season will haveSeptember 23, 2012 at 10:22 am #254965
That’s better than nothing, and now they can finish telling the story they want to tell. I hope they at least get six episodes so they can compete in the drama field in theory, but with the way the Emmys treat this show, I guess that’s not much of an issue either.September 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm #254966
Hmmm, shortened final season. With the Emmy rules for movie/miniseries so up in the air now, I wonder if they’re going to do a final season with 5 or fewer episodes and then try to enter it as a miniseries.September 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm #254967
Episode Title: “Knock With Me, Rock With Me”
Synopsis: Season 3 begins in the fall of 2007, as the neighborhood is shocked by police officers’ response to a brass-band processional for a fallen musician; Delmond and Albert experience different reactions to their new album; Toni finds a new ally in her quest for justice; Antoine toys with martyrdom; LaDonna is uncomfortable in her temporary lodgings; Janette encounters an old nemesis and a new suitor.
Discuss.September 30, 2012 at 11:00 am #254968
Finally got around to seeing the season premiere. Airing this on Emmy night was a mistake. I hope more people catch up with it soon. It was a strong start to the season. Mostly it was just catching up with all of the characters, and for a show this rich in detail and atmosphere, that worked out well in the end. Khandi Alexander is as fierce as ever, and it’s still surprising to me how effective Melissa Leo is on here when she dials it down and plays balanced characters. It looks like the major arcs of the season will be police corruption and continued NO rebuilding. I’m hoping for another great season, and I’m glad they’re getting the chance to finish out things.
Grade for “Knock WIth Me, Rock With Me”: B+September 30, 2012 at 11:30 am #254969
Episode Title: “Saints”
Synopsis: Encouraged by a young trumpeter’s interest in New Orleans music, Antoine organizes a chaperoned outing to Preservation Hall; Nelson doggedly pursues a way into the housing market; Annie records a demo and considers the next step in advancing her career; LaDonna is at her wits end with her in-laws; L.P. learns more about post-Katrina crime; Albert seeks out a doctor about his cough; Janette is wooed by a persuasive restaurateur.
Discuss.October 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm #254970
The best parts of this episode were anything to do with LaDonna’s bouts with her in-laws on in court facing her rapist from last season. I think I could watch an entire series based on her character, b/c Khandi Alexander is a fierce biotch. It’s still hard to pinpoint exactly what Jon Seda’s character is all about, and even though Nelson does have a charm about him, his land development scenes come off as dry to me. Same for this new reporter character L.P. I’m waiting for him to be paired off with Melissa Leo’s character hopefully soon. Antoine taking more of an interest in his band teacher job is good. The rest of things are chugging along pretty much. Janette looks to be close to a move back to New Orleans to open up her own restaurant. Albert might have more serious health problems than he previously thought. Steve Zahn provides some needed comic relief here, and Davis’s latest scheme (a “Katrina opera” inspired by Verdi) is a howler. I wonder how long it will take before Annie leaves him to further pursue her solo music career. Her ex-boyfriend seems to have found love with the Vietnamese shrimp-boat captain’s daughter. It looks like the tone of things this season will be more about where these characters currently are than buiding up to a grand climax. David Morse is another actor (like Terry O’Quinn) who can do much with little on the page. I hope this police corruption storyline is a good one for him, and he needs to get back to sharing more scenes opposite Melissa Leo pronto.
Grade for “Saints”: BOctober 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm #254971
Episode Title: “Me Donkey Want Water”
Synopsis: Antoine hits the road with a new band for some gigs in Texas, though the idea doesn’t thrill Desiree, who begins to investigate some suspicious construction work; Janette tours a new space with an ambitious restaurateur; Annie moves one step closer to a management deal; Davis turns to Aunt Mimi for financial support; Toni takes a big risk to find a killer.
Discuss.October 10, 2012 at 12:22 am #254972
Loved how they had the characters interact outside of their usual circle! Can’t wait to see scenes with Ladonna and the Chief!October 10, 2012 at 7:00 am #254973
I think Simon said that there would be more organic interactions between the characters this season. It seems like the right time to do that now that everyone’s past the initial shock of Katrina that kept people from NO, and now that they’re re-building their lives, it’s time that they start being a part of each other’s lives. Good episode this week. Sad that Albert’s sick, but I can’t wait to see how he crosses paths with LaDonna (maybe drinking his sorrows away at her bar?). Janette coming back to co-own her new restaurant was telegraphed, but Kim Dickens is really good on here, and I haven’t always liked her storylines in NYC so separate from the rest of the cast. Antoine’s back to his old tricks again on the road, literally. I kind of hoped that Toni would be done with her corrupt cop crusade, but it’s a marvel how effective Melissa Leo is on here compared to her nutty real-life persona. It’s really like night and day. David Morse’s role is becoming more involved as the episodes progress. Still can’t get on board with Jon Seda, even though I guess I get what Nelson’s role is as a businessman/hustler in this new era for NO. Not as interested in what’s going on with Annie or Sonny right now. I do hope that Davis gets his Katrina musical off the ground. That could be hilarious to watch.
Grade for “Me Donkey Want Water”: BOctober 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm #254974
Episode Title: “The Greatest Love”
Synopsis: L.P. continues to dig deeper into his investigation of police cover-ups and corruption post-Katrina, but he worries that his work is startng to attract unwanted attention; Janette interviews possible candidates for her new kitchen, but she frowns on Tim’s choices for the front of the house; Delmond talks to a developer about a musical project and later helps Albert find medical assistance; LaDonna and Larry go house-hunting; Antoine does an unexpected good deed; Nelson feels left out of the lucrative business deals he’s sure are coming to New Orleans.
Discuss.October 15, 2012 at 8:20 am #254975
Toni’s walking a fine line with her cop-baiting ad, and her daughter might have to pay the price there. Melissa Leo was great, especially in that scene at the play when she remembered Creighton. The young journalist guy might be a more likely target for that, though I do like the actor playing L.P. The continued interactions between the ensemble that’s never had screentime together are episode highlights. That one scene between LaDonna and Albert elevated the entire episode for me. It was like two titans finally having their first proper sitdown hashing out terms of doing business together. LoL. Loved all of that. It’s hard picturing the show without Clarke Peters in it, but this is the first episode where that became more of a reality. The show has survived some major losses in the past, particularly John Goodman and Steve Earle, but Peters would be huge. While I get the purpose of Nelson’s character to the backdealings of NO’s rebuilding, I still don’t have much of an attachment to Jon Seda in his second season. I’m rooting for Janette’s new restaurant to be a success and that her sleazy partner guy isn’t too much of a hindrance. Antoine doing a good deed for one of his students was good. It’s a nice balance to last week’s episode when he was a cheating dog to poor Desiree back home. Annie and Davis don’t look like they’ll be together much longer (I sense something brewing between Annie and her shady new manager guy). No Sonny tonight, but unless he knocks up his strict Vietnamese girlfriend or something, that storyline is sort of stalling right now with few prospects. Terry got some action for a change. Can’t unsee that unfortunately, but at least David Morse is being given more screentime than ever this season.
Grade for “The Greatest Love”: BOctober 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm #254976
Episode Title: “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say”
Synopsis: A visit from Annie’s parents at Christmas coincides with the news of her record deal, but it takes more than that to sell her mother on her new musical direction; a protest of the proposed demolition of public housing erupts in violence, but Desiree is helpless in the face of a personal loss; run-ins with the police are becoming increasingly frequent for the Bernettes; Albert’s condition is finally revealed to the rest of his family.
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