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Treme: Bring on the second line, bring on the second season Sunday, April 24 at 10 on HBO

In television on 04/24/2011 at 1:15 pm

Treme returns Sunday, April 24 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO Canada, Treme being the dramatic series from David Simon (The Wire) about life in New Orleans after Katrina. Season 2 picks up 14 months after Katrina and seven months after the crescendo of events that bashed together at the end of Season 1, which included a terrible loss, an even sadder recovery, the beginning of a sweet love story and a whole lot more change set in motion. And yes, I am being intentionally vague, partly on account of my extreme hate of spoilers but also to make a point, which I’ll get to presently.

I just watched the first two hours of Season 2, gratis of the preview discs sent by HBO and here’s how I’m feeling:

1. I’ve been bouncing around the apartment to the music from the series replaying in my head, particularly the music called bounce, but also the stuff pure laine New Orleanians play for themselves and the few visitors who get it.

2. I’m impressed by the depth of story that is revealed in Simon’s detailed character studies.

3. I’m equal parts heartbroken at the backsliding of some characters and rosy-happy for the small gains (well, hope of gains, more than actual gains) made by others.

4. Finally, I’d have to say I’m a little impatient for things to GET GOING. But then I think about No. 2.

Just as it was in its first season, Treme is a slow story. Too slow for some. An acquired taste that will appeal to some on the level of music, of acting or of the kind of storytelling that demands and rewards patience. If you’re not in those groups, don’t bother. No judgment. But don’t bother. Also, don’t bother watching Sunday night if you haven’t seen Season 1, which is why I stayed so vague in the opening of this little review. You’ll read some reviews, as is always the case, that say you don’t need to have seen the first season; you’ll be able to figure out where you are in the story. I call bullshit. Start at the beginning; Season 1 was released on DVD a couple of weeks ago. Record Sunday’s Season 2 opener and go rent or buy the first season.

You’ll be glad you did.

Glad because of the characters who will slowly knit you into their stories, which in Season 2 include:

The can’t-say-no lawyer who tries and fails to say no to a man wanting not justice but just to know what happened to his son, found dead after Katrina.

The police lieutenant trying, really trying to do good and keep order in a city that is worse off 14 months after Katrina that at the three-month mark when Season 1 began.

The session musicians trying to make their own luck, the one who lands in New York and feels the distance more than expected and another going up and up and up.

The sometimes radio DJ who is just as annoying and no smarter than ever.

The chef without a restaurant just taking it one day at a time and even then it’s not working.

The Big Chief of the Guardians of the Flame who needs to start again and doesn’t quite have it in him.

And a cunning newcomer.

These and other stories start slow. I can and will complain that maybe Season 2, like Season 1, moves too slowly. But I love the detail, the slow revealing, the many music scenes that are used so expertly, as elements of the story; I love all this more than I’m impatient. I’ll take that tradeoff.

Treme returns Sunday, April 24 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO Canada. Enjoy.


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