Email Roundtable #8 – Treme – The “Belly Full O’ Gin” Edition

Because of the relative (and I mean very relative) popularity of our last Treme Roundtable we thought we would take a look at the Season Finale, “Tipitina”, as well as the season as a whole and where the show might be headed. 

Photo by MichaelTutton. 2012.

Photo by MichaelTutton. 2012.

Kerri: I’d like to say that I really enjoyed this episode. Although, there were times when I was pulled out of the episode by its, sometimes, technical showiness I found myself genuinely moved throughout.

I’m thinking, specifically of, in no particular order: The scenes with Toni and Terry, the final shot of Albert and the beautiful scene at the Bar Mitzvah.

Jane: I enjoyed this episode by the end. The montage gave me joy and hope, which I felt has been missing from later episodes this season. I had some issues with the episode as a whole, but as always, the powerhouse performances were enough to keep me interested.

Kerri: I always love a good David Simon finale montage, Jane. What were your issues with the episode as a whole?

Katie: I found the episode to be a touch didactic – but there were moments that transcended my general feelings of “meh-ness.”
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Roundtable #5 – Treme – More Auntie, Less Boyfriend Edition

We are a little more than halfway through the current season of Treme and thought it would be a good time to attempt discuss the latest episode, the season so far and the series as a whole. 

Image by Karen Apricot. New Orleans

Kerri: I’m pretty excited that we are discussing Episode 6 of Season 3, “Careless Love” (originally we were going to discuss the previous episode, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say”). I thought that the episode did some really great things that we haven’t seen much of this season and some other things that I don’t recall the series ever doing in a single episode. I felt like this episode made really great strides in getting the season to point where it now feels like the stories are moving. For me, the episode had a fair amount of propulsive energy. I think that is often lacking in other episodes.

Jane: I agree, Kerri. I’m glad we are writing on Episode 6. I am always the first to defend Treme. It is one of my favourite shows on TV. That being said, it pains me that Episodes 4 and 5 really disappointed me. They were very one-sided. Preachy even.  Episode 6 is getting back to the Treme I know and love.

Kerri: To me there are really only two types of characters on Treme: those who live in New Orleans and those who don’t. The people who don’t are usually idiots. I really find that hard to deal with and I have felt like we had been dealing with that a lot early this season. This episode did away with that entirely and was just a nicely crafted episode with a true beginning, middle and end.

Jane: I completely agree. I really appreciate how this episode veered away from the clear-cut good vs. evil storylines. The characters don’t have much room to maneuver when good and bad are so clear-cut.

Katie: Good point. I especially found that to be true of “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say” (Episode 5). Annie’s parents were so obviously “not from New Orleans” and seemed to be speaking in generalities rather than actual words. Like, “But is Treme safe?”

Kerri: That’s exactly the scene I was thinking of, Katie. As excited as I was to see Isabella Rossellini, I was really disappointed with her character.

Jane: Ok here is my proclamation. My former fave Annie has finally begun to get on my nerves. Maybe it is because the Davis storyline isn’t doing anything for me. Or, maybe it is because Annie can’t sing. No matter how much I would like her to be able to sing.  Her parents visit really fueled my Annie dislike.

I was also disappointed, Kerri. Let‘s round these characters out, please!

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Treme Season 2 Episode 5: Slip Away

Rock my soul, with the Milneburg joys,
Rock my soul, with the Milneburg joys,
Play ’em mama, don’t refuse,
Separate me from the weary blues,
Hey, hey, hey, hey,
Sweet girl, syncopate your mama.

I have two words for those who complain nothing happens on Treme: Pay Attention. From the first image of the pilot episode, we are thrust into creators David Simon (The Wire) and Eric Overmyer’s vision of New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina. The opening sequence is a series of disorienting close shots of instruments, feathers, cigarettes, booze, drugs and the stern faces of authority figures coming in and out of focus. We are not provided with establishing shots, we must establish ourselves in the world of Treme. If you don’t pay attention you’ll be left behind.

Another common complaint about Treme is that it that the musical sequences are dull and don’t add to the story. This one baffles me. These sequences are where all the best stuff happens. One of my favorite examples is from Season 2 Episode 5: Slip Away directed by Rob Baily. The first part of the sequence happens in Delmond’s (Rob Brown) apartment. As I Wish I Was in Heaven Sittin’ Down blasts from his record player, the camera slowly tilts up over the record strewn floor to reveal an agitated Delmond searching through stacks of records. As he sings, a few bars behind the song, his reflection in the mirror creates a singing twin. This reflection is neat because it physically shows Delmond’s conflict between his classical Jazz roots and the modern jazz he plays now. This conflict runs deeper than music, though, as it also represents his previous life in New Orleans with his father vs. his new life in New York. This conflict has plagued Delmond for two seasons and the next two scenes are its climax. As the song plays Delmond grows more and more agitated. Brown uses his entire body to convey this agitation. In one shot he seems to be close to finding what he is looking for as he grooves with his eyes closed to the music. In the next quick cut he is cramped in the frame hunched and frantic throwing himself off balance to get back to the groove he found before. Just as he is on the verge of finding that grove again, Delmond is interrupted by a knock at the door. I wish I could adequately describe what Rob Brown is up to physically as an actor here. All I can come up with is that it looks like his body is battling his brain for control. His body is lurching toward the record player while his head is being pulled towards the door. It’s something you have to see for yourself.  Knocking at the door is Delmond’s New York girlfriend Jill (Danai Gurira). She walks into the apartment and turns the music down. Her interruption sets up the love quadrangle of their next scene. Continue reading