Monday, July 4, 2011

Treme - Season 2

Treme's second season expands on the scope of the show a bit while staying true to its roots, trying to show a complete picture of post-Katrina New Orleans and its many colorful inhabitants. The whole cast is back except for the ones who obviously wouldn't be, a couple characters get meatier roles (including David Morse as the cop friend of Melissa Leo's Toni, who deals most directly with the show's increased focus on crime), and Jon Seda from The Pacific shows up to kickstart a new plotline involving the city's attempt to rebuild and the seedy things that go into it.

If you didn't like the first season, you won't like the show now. It has the same natural feel, where characters go through their lives and something dramatic isn't really guaranteed to happen. There are a couple shocking moments beyond anything from the first season in keeping with the theme of crime returning to the city as it recovers, but they're rare and not what the show is about. There's also the same amount of extended scenes with live music, and if you don't like the kind of songs they play... well, it can be a hard show to watch. I do think there's enough variety of style that there's usually at least a couple songs I like per episode, though I occasionally wish they got less screen time, so the show would go by a bit quicker.

Being the second season, the show does branch out just a bit and have a few characters spend time away from the city. Del continues to hop back and forth between NO and New York, but this time his father comes along, and Janette is also in the city, with a story about being a cook there that feels mostly separate from the rest of the show but is still pretty interesting, even if you don't watch the Food Network. The writers also managed to miraculously save Sonny, having him clean his act up by working a fishing boat. I like the way the show avoids typical dramatic story beats with its characters, having developments that would usually go one way turn out another, more realistic and somehow more satisfying way. I won't go through every single character, but the show did a great job of continuing to intertwine all their lives, and the series is getting to the point where watching a new episode is like spending time with old friends and family. Treme will never be the amazing, game changing drama that The Wire was, but as a portrait of an interesting place tinged with political ideas without being overwhelmed by them, it is a very good show on its own. I look forward to season three.

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