My Struggle with Treme, Season 4 Episode 1 “Yes We Can Can”

I was over-the-moon-excited for the Season 4 premiere of Treme, “Yes We Can Can”. From its first episode Treme has been my favorite show on Television. I stuck with it through its ups and downs because I fell in love with the community of people David Simon and Eric Overmyer created. They are characters so well developed and lived in that they stick to your brain. Continue reading

Email Roundtable #24 – Corn on the Cob Edition

Corn_on_the_cobWelcome back to our weekly Roundtable, friends! We have been a bit slackerly over the  past few months with these Roundtables (it is summertime with vacations, the lake and other wonderful distractions that aren’t TV related, after all) but here we are, back at it.

Kerri: Katie thought it would be a good time to discuss summer TV past and present. So, I suppose we should start by discussing what some of our favorite summer shows have been over the years and what makes for a good summer show.

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Television: An Apology

I watch a lot of television—by my calculations too much. This wasn’t always the case. For the majority of the last 15 years I did not own a television. That all changed two years ago when my fiancée and I bought a nice big television. We bought the television because, well, it would be a hell of a lot nicer to watch than the both of us trying to cram in front of the laptop. This is not to say that I did not watch TV for fifteen years, only most of my TV viewing was restricted to what I could rent at the video store or download or stream when it became more prevalent. “So what’s the problem?” you may ask yourselves. If the existence of this blog is any indication, we live in an era when some of the best TV shows in history are being made.  I strongly believe this to be true. We also, however, live in an era when more TV shows are being made than in any time in the past. For every Girls there is a Honey Boo-Boo; every Treme a Pawn Stars. The problem becomes, not that I now own a television but rather, that I now have cable to go along with the television—and extremely shitty viewing habits. Continue reading

Pairs of Awesome: My favorite TV Pairings of 2012

Nothing excites me more on a TV show than a great pairing. I love to watch two talented actors play off each other, using good writing to their full advantage. Here are my favorite 2012 pairings and the scenes that show them off so well.

3.  The Hour: Belle and Freddie

Belle: And we’d be happy?                                                                                           Freddie: Ecstatic. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…with anyone else.

It was this pairing that held my attention in the beginning episodes of The Hour. The plot is complex and twisty and to be honest I had a hard time following along at first. Belle (Romola Garai)  and Freddie’s (Ben Whishaw) chemistry is clear from their first scene. They are best friends who are in love with each other.  How they met is never explained but it is obvious that their connection is deep.

Season 1 Episode 2

Freddie puts Belle to bed after a night of drinking following a disastrous news broadcast. The scene is short and simple but effective. Belle won’t let Freddie look at her as she cries about the failed evening. He obeys without question which is rare for him.  When Freddie knows something is important to Belle his listens. As Freddie tugs at her shoes there is a familiarity between them, even without looking at each other. We haven’t known these characters long but as Freddie pulls Belle’s blankets up around her and tucks her hair behind her ear it is clear that they care deeply for each other. Continue reading

Email Roundtable #9 – A Few of Our Favorite Things of 2012 – Part 1

In the interest of it being a particularly busy time of the year and because it is also the time of year for lists we thought we would forego our regularly scheduled Email Roundtable. Instead, we have each asked each other about a few of our favourite things from 2012. We attempt to discuss those things here. **Warning: this article probably contains spoilers**

What this exercise taught us, is that we all love Christina Hendricks.

What this exercise taught us is that we all love Christina Hendricks.

Katie asks Kerri: What was your favorite episode from any TV show? (pt. 2, what were you doing while watching it?)

I’m going to cheat a bit answering my questions so please bear with me (and I plan to discuss more of my favorite episodes and moments in my next blog post). The sexy answer to this question is “Christmas Waltz, an episode of Mad Men that includes one of my favorite scenes in an episode of TV this year: the one with Don and Joan at the bar. Continue reading

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