Expanding on a comment I left back o’ town:
Finally saw it Thursday night. Absolutely blown-ass-away. All my expectations were exceeded. I’m so impressed by the execution of the pilot and the potential of this series.
I think it is going to give The Wire a run for its money. That’s high praise; I loved The Wire.
You know who turned me on to The Wire? Ashley Morris, that’s who. For those who don’t know, the character played by John Goodman in Treme is based (more or less) on the late, great Ashley Morris, one of the most colorful and passionate of our local bloggers, a man I barely knew in truth. But I read him. And it was his writing in praise of The Wire that led me to check it out on DVD. We watched the first three seasons in rapid succession, just after our daughter was born. Eventually we watched them all, and I do think it’s just about the best TV I’ve seen.
I think The Wire and all the other work David Simon and his team have accomplished have set the stage for this. I think we may be seeing an artist reaching his peak. I think this could, just maybe, be the beginning of a masterwork, which is a rare thing in any medium — but especially television.
Having produced roughly a hundred television programs myself, having taught production at the university level, I feel I have some minor inkling of just how difficult a feat that is.
Watching this show Thursday night I feel like a bunch of things are coming full circle. Seeing Ashley dramatized was part of it. Most of all it’s given me pause to reflect on the fact that, in spite of everything, in spite of all the challenges and hardships along the way, I’m glad we came back after the storm. I’m glad we made that decision. Proud, even. This show may just illustrate why I feel that way, to a national audience.
A recurrent anxiety I hear from fans has been the question of how well Treme will relate to a national audience. I’m not worried about that. If the pilot is any indication, the series would seems to strike just the right balance between authenticity and accessibility. I think it will mystify and intrigue and ultimately seduce a national audience.
There are some things it would be cool to see in this season.
- In December 2005, Eyehategod played at Juan’s Flying Burrito in Mid-City. The building was freshly gutted. They used a generator to power the amps because there was no electricity.
- Speaking of electricity, when we had our juice restored just before Xmas ’05 it was the only light for blocks in any direction. A magical moment to be sure.
- The re-opening of the universities (on my birthday) in January ’06 remains the single most hopeful day in the city’s recovery, I think, with only the Super Bowl giving it a run for the money.
I don’t expect to see these things, nor will I be disappointed if they don’t materialize. These are just some random thoughts inspired by the possibility.
(Perhaps a few more words about the first item: I was in Mid-City but I missed the show, to my everlasting chagrin. In fact, I’ve never seen Eyehategod live. As their name might suggest, they are an extreme metal band, and are in fact consider progenitors of a distinctive style known as sludge. It is dark, heavy, brutal stuff. Since music plays such a big role in Treme, wouldn’t it be a trip to see (and hear) something like that, something that runs so contrary to the sound of brass bands and dixieland jazz? It would also allude to the “dark” underground subcultures that seem to thrive here, which add to the general mystique of the city.)
Word’s already come down from on high that HBO has green-lighted a second season. Apparently they are going to try to cover a year of recovery in each season, which would mean the wave of violence that took Dinerral and Helen and the March for Survival would fall in that second season. I wonder if they will tackle those? It would only make sense. But I have no idea how closely they intend to cleave to actual events. I wonder if David Simon and crew have been watching tapes of me speaking at that rally at City Hall. That’s a bizarre thought. And if they did stage that event, does that mean they’d have to cast someone as the mayor? Maybe he could play himself, like Kermit Ruffins.
This is a hell of a lot more than I ever wrote about K-Ville but that’s as it should be. Still, I doubt that I’ll have much more to say as the season rolls on. I’ll be watching but I doubt that I will be commenting. I have too many other topics that preoccupy me.
So, for good local perspective on the series as it unfolds, be sure to check out Back of Town on a regular basis. I know I will.