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The Game Goes Past New Orleans

November 11, 2012

New Orleans, this is Houston. All your base are belong to us.

It’s free play time, kids, on the Open Thread.

  1. Beth Arnette permalink
    November 11, 2012 10:10 pm

    Aha! So this is the place to be, while watching new episodes and directly afterwards! The Facebook HBO Treme page is not as active as this blog.

    Coming to you from Houston, where I was exiled back to (it’s my hometown, sigh) after 23 years in Galveston, following Ike.

  2. November 11, 2012 10:11 pm

    That guy behind the bar at Chickie Wah Wah —  I don’t know his name but I’m pretty sure he’s the proprietor. I met him once when I was hanging out with Derek Huston and he was getting ready to open that place. I’m glad to see the joint getting some exposure in Treme. I don’t get out much these days but I hear it’s a great spot to see live music. I think my daughter was being born about the time this episode takes place.

  3. November 11, 2012 10:12 pm

    “I don’t want to feel like I never looked past New Orleans.”

    Did you see that chart? Is Antoine ready for that Chinese shit?

    Toni suspecting Colson while the his men make him for the Fed mole? Anyone want to go down to the Inner Harbor for some clams?

  4. dexterjohnson permalink
    November 12, 2012 2:28 am

    I was glad to see Chef’s restaurant get off to a good start in spite of some injury and confusion.
    Annie’s gone, Davis…get used to it.
    Colson is about to get either a case of the fukkitts or else the pressure is gonna blow his head off.
    La Donna …I was hoping she would fire some shots off at that motherfucker with the match outside LaDonna’s house. I worry about her family’s safety, of course.
    Poor Antoine, so frustrated…he has his students ready for parade, but teaching ain’t his gig…but he’s realizing he just ain’t got it. He is not going to cash in any time soon. I know the feeling: I had two tryouts lined up, one with the Expos minor league facility in Florida and one over in Clearwater with the Phillies, but I got drafted into the US Army instead. Oh well…I hope Antoine finds magic in his ‘bone.
    But the ass-kick moment was SONNY asking Linh to MARRY him! Two weeks in recovery now, and everyone in recovery knows one basic rule: NO MAJOR DECISIONS FOR A YEAR. Sonny is in no shape to be married. He has a long way to go before that.
    But I damn-sure love his bike! I really like the Dutch bikes…he said that one was a 1936…wow…that bike is worth some real bucks.

  5. November 12, 2012 7:34 am

    We’re up through episode 6. Got three more to catch up with and then can talk 2. 🙂

    Love, C

  6. November 13, 2012 2:36 am

    This is the second week in a row where it is all drama. The way these two episodes have engaged me is very different than the way the first two or three did. This is more “enjoyable” as opposed to “educational”.

    Agreed about Sonny moving to fast. Great to see he recognizes the danger in old patterns (performing) but he hasn’t really faced his demons yet. He knows what bottom is and he doesn’t want to go there, but he never really hit it, as was demonstrated by his attitude in the MG meeting.

    The older I get, the greater my respect for people who won’t bow down. Part of me wishes we could have been in on Albert’s visit with LaDonna. I would like to have heard what he said to her (and there can be no doubting Khandi Alexander’s chops for acting – I really hope she gets recognized for her performance).

    Albert’s after-chemo appetite and regrettable results predicted by his daughter were very reminiscent of the first meeting of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List.

    I feel sorry for Sophia and yet if her Mom is also not going to bow down, then Sophia better get the heck out of Dodge before the bullets really start flying. Their relationship may never recover, however.

    Again, with Terry Colson, we have just one more way in which this drama is taking on tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Any other TV and we could rest safely knowing that it will somehow end happily, but this is Simon, and Omar met Kenard in a convenience store.

    As for Annie and Davis, the writing has been on the wall since she got her contract and he had to tell her first about his “Opera”. Aunt Mimi never spoke truer words than that he better start paying attention to her. Two other points, seeing Lucia play violin again in the studio was a stark reminder of where her true talent (and passion) lie… with every stroke of the bow. Also, to the point about the unbelievability of Annie’s character (raised in last week’s thread), her agent has been wanting to get her in bed from the time he met her dressed as Cleopatra. She has enough talent that he can surround her with others to make something work, and maybe in the meantime, she will become really “grateful”, is his hope I think. It costs him nothing, and might gain him a night with her. Agents are demigods, exulting one and shutting out the other. The world of artists is full of one hit wonders, lucky breaks, and all things unfair. Really, Davis’ work is what should be getting the recognition and support (much as I don’t want to admit it, but that probably only because he isn’t succeeding, not because he isn’t actually worthy – is that right? Its like “a wedding ring is a magnet for chicks” while single men go undesired, or rich people getting free Rolex watches).

    Janette’s recognizable regret as her first offer to return to NOLA walked out the door “hurt and jealous” – she “has it all” but she isn’t really happy – it twisted my guts.

  7. November 13, 2012 6:56 am

    One problem with long-form television of this sort is that, unlike a novel, you are going to have episodes (chapters) necessary to the advancement of the plot and characters where nothing truly dramatic happens. We saw that a few episodes back where the only really dramatic moment was the discovery of the pathology witness. Yes, there was Fats Domino’s cameo and that was wonderful for people on the in but I could see where that would fall flat if some. The Carnival episode was again all character advancement without real drama. The Mardi Gras episode was much the same, if you were looking for “We Know Drama” spectacular. Janette tumbling into bed with Davis was a nice way to accentuate her looking backward after her venture into corporate cooking, but didn’t surprise anyone. It was Mardi Gras. It didn’t count (but it did, for both).

    A novel can sustain such chapters more easily, when we have come fresh from the prior chapters, and have a daily or at least more frequent engagement with the characters and are engrossed (if it is a good novel) in its progression. In television we are a week between chapters in mid-season and what is necessary from a narrative point of view leaves a part of our own internal programming as to how something on a screen should progress disappointed.

    I was on a panel immediately following Episode 27 and was the first asked the question, “What struck you about this episode.”‘ I was backed into an abbreviated version of the above explanation with a little less literary theory, which hopefully made Dave Walker’s answer a little easier. Eric Overmeyer had the best answer, later in the panel, when he unzipped his hoodie to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with Not My Episode like Superman pulling off his tear-away suit. (Note: he was not criticizing the episode as a whole, just trying to not-answer an audience question he felt ill-equipped to answer with humor).

    I don’t know the technical answer to the problem of “slow” episodes. Perhaps few episodes of two hours would allow for the capital D Dramatic along with the necessary character development and plot advancement, but I’m not certain that would work better. The sequence of plot episodes differently to try to come up with one set of scenes producing what the audience is programmed to expect of drama would make a difference. Certainly, a wider acceptance that we are into new television territory here on the part of the audience, a literate audience who spends as much time on Goodreads as on as on Glue who understands the necessity of such plotting and accepts it the way in which they do in a bound book.

    We are really are all–audience, producers, writers–in uncharted territory here. In The Wire we saw entirely new plots introduced that defined later seasons: the docks and the Greeks, the schools, the newsroom. Here we are holding onto a single major story thread across three-and-a-half seasons. I am outside my own frame of reference, having never watched the Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire for that matter, so I am under-equipped to operate as television critic while at the same time exactly the sort of person who could be attracted into a series like Treme or the Wire without being the sort of person who has the HBO Guide printed out and laying on my coffee table. I represent instead an audience not terribly pleased by most television, and so initially disinclined to give long-form cable television shows a chance until I was dragged (thankfully) into The Wire and then The Corner and now Treme. We are a small audience in the eyes of the executives but only because our needs were not met in the past. I don’t think the world has grown stupider over time. You just have a cadre of people who prefer books and establish cinematic modes of presentation to anything on television. And we are all figuring out exactly how this new thing works as we go along because we need to. I don’t see it going away. At least I hope it’s not, that folks like myself are released from the claustrophobic production values of the Upstairs Downstairs ghetto and given something as meaty and cinematic and novelistic as these productions for many seasons to come.

  8. November 13, 2012 8:50 am

    Regarding Dexter’s comment in particular — Hasn’t Sonny technically been “in recovery” for over a year now? With one relapse, I think. When did the bass player get him on that boat?

  9. November 13, 2012 11:28 am

    As usual, the Mardi Gras episode was spectacular. Imagine what it took to stage, shoot, and then record for the screen, the Marine Band and Antoine’s school band, just for starters. That was magnificent.

    It was so much about our principals looking forward, or looking back, or maybe not looking at all, but determined to stay where they are. Davis is the one determined to stay where he is, and even his character is feeling the stresses and strains of how things are changing around him, even as he attempts to be a part of it. This is where the Mardi Gras coming together of Davis and Janette makes such perfect metaphorical sense for where both their characters are situated at this moment — in between.

    As well, Davis’s relationship, that began two Mardi Grass ago, is begining to founder on that rock of moving ahead instead of staying in one place. And that’s even literal when it comes to geography. As a successful gigger, Annie’s gone all the time, and not only gone to Lafayette or Baton Rouge, but to Austen, and then to D.C. Mardi Gras. He’s staying right there in New Orleans. She’s in the air or on stage. (Still, really, that thrilled and impressed by a suite, with her family and background? And — um, does she not know manager is charging it to her account, not his?)

    Sophia at the place she should have been last year on Mardi Gras. Her growth since then is both amazing and plausible. Kids do make such leaps of maturity in short periods at times.

    Coulson and Toni, too, are moving into the future, including a threatening one — overtly, and plainly spoken threats even — by their determination to sort out criminal acts done in the past. And then there’s LP, who isn’t enthralled or bewitched by the Quarter NO, or any of that tradition. He’s for social justice via investigative reporting. These three are a fascinating trio, aren’t they?

    Love, C.

  10. November 13, 2012 10:49 pm

    3Suns-I totally agree with your take on Annie playing on that session work. Her “rise” as a vocalist just hasn’t resonated with me, especially when she is surrounded by so much great talent in this show.

    My “ear-to-ear grin moment” in this episode came when Hidalgo found Parkway. That resonated with this old Mid-City boy!


  11. November 13, 2012 11:13 pm

    Yes to all, Foxessa, and good point, Editor B.

    Mark, thank you for the insightful presentation of the challenges of this new “long-form” television. There is a singular cure to all the difficulties you mention including the “slow” episodes, and that is DVD sets; watch these shows whole seasons at a time, preferably entire series within a month or two. Flaws in continuity, where they exist become more visible, but the enjoyment is greatly enhanced. Of the shows I list below, Treme is the first one that I have watched episode by episode and that is only because I trust Simon et al, and I cannot wait for the the season DVD sets to be published.

    To list a few, I have watched all of the Sopranos, Deadwood, Big Love, Carnivale, Rome, Sex In The City, the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire (after which I quit for all the egregious violence), all currently available episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Newsroom (of which I will watch no more for its desperately slanted view), mini-series such as John Adams, Generation Kill, and Band of Brothers, The Pacific (utter rubbish). I can say confidently that we are indeed in a “new” era of television.

    First two seasons of Sopranos were brilliantly written, performed, and directed. Were I to list shows that I would recommend without reservation it would be:

    The Wire (standing tall above all other TV ever)
    Breaking Bad
    Generation Kill and Band of Brothers
    First two seasons of Sopranos
    and then John Adams

    (I still haven’t watched The Corner yet. It has been sitting on my shelf for a year now, but I have found it difficult to be in the mood for its content.)

    *Treme is a difficult sell. I have gifted entire series packages of The Wire, and have had to wait for years before my friends even bothered to watch through it. How much more so for Treme (for those who aren’t intimately familiar with New Orleans).

  12. November 14, 2012 8:02 am

    Thanks, 3Suns. I did disregard the disc-viewing experience. The problem is that something this large can’t be produced as direct-to-DVD, and is initially judged by its potential viewership by its presentation on the screen, My son and I devoured The Wire disk-by-disk, and spent one Memorial Day weekend watching all of Band of Brothers broadcast back-to-back.

    Critics generally have the opportunity to view an entire season at a sitting, but I wonder how many appreciate the task they are given with a series like this, how important it would be to sit down and watch it in a few days, with as little other distraction (probably not possible but ideally) to take in a season in whole.

    Many of us here on BoT do a re-watch of the previous season’s DVDs in preparation for a season, but i doubt many viewers do that.

  13. November 14, 2012 12:51 pm

    I do that — re-watch via dvd prior to the new season. Having an entire season — or, as with Buffy, the entire run — on dvd is luscious watching.

    This isn’t generally that sort of taste, but the only long-running series that can give The Wire a run for the money in sheer excellence of writing, both character and plot, in long, long arcs, is Buffy There were problems with Buffy that The Wire never had, due to the embedded immaturity of male geekery-comix orientation of the worshipped Joss Whedon and the genre, but it was always good, and far more often than often given credit for, actually brilliant.

    For what it’s worth, I judge Homicide by these standards as well, and Homicide remained fascinating through seven seasons too, unto the very last episode. That is so hard to pull off, even when you have a team of great writers. Things inevitably get stale. So I’m in awe of Homicide and The Wire — and so far, Treme

    Watching a Treme episode replicates that experience I had the first time when a newly arrived New Yorker and married person, retiring to bed with My Person, fairly early on a freezing winter night, listening together then, in the dark to the radio, tuned to weekly programs like “The Harlem Hit Parade”. Each segment of the program seemed to run forever, every part as fascinating and revealing as the preceding part, until you drifted into blue time, music time, history time, and it went on and one, forever, and you traveled all over the country with fascinating people and voices. Sleep was so restful, filled with good dreams, that hung around as one rose ridiculously early then, in the still, the cold, and got ready for the trek to the subway and the day’s job.

    Believe me, this is the highest praise I can give to any broadcast media series! 🙂

    Love, C.

  14. November 14, 2012 12:54 pm

    What is puzzling to me, is as much as I loved Deadwood, I have never had any impulse to re-watch it!

    Whereas, I’m sure I’ll re-watch Treme many times. I already have, re-watched, the two seasons I’ve got. 🙂

    Love, C.

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