Pausing briefly between seasons, the HBO drama Treme has returned to the airwaves with the promise of a more congealed and centralized storyline.
Highly lauded by critics, the first season of Treme took viewers through the rebuilding of New Orleans after the devastation brought about by hurricane Katrina. The series was noted for the subtle performances by the cast, and for its apparent love for the culture of the Big Easy. Showcasing New Orleans by highlighting the flavor of the citizens, as well as the cuisine and the music, Treme went on to become a modest success in its first season.
While the series seemed to be firing on all cylinders with acting, writing and directing, many began to take note that despite its spectacular locale and characterization therein, Treme meandered a bit too much and lacked a central plot.
Taking notice of some viewers’ apprehension with the lack of a linear narrative – likely from the drop-off of the audience last season – series producer and creator David Simon has reportedly touched on some of the aforementioned complaints with the onset of season 2.
For starters, the myriad plotlines that drove the first season will still be present, but Simon intends to fortify those rich, character-driven elements by placing them against the backdrop of the larger problems facing the distressed city and its people. Much of season 2 intends to focus on the issue of crime, and how it took the aftermath of Katrina from bad to worse. Featuring prominently in this equation will be David Morse (Drive Angry 3D, The Hurt Locker) as Lt. Terry Colson. With luck, the beefed up role of Colson will allow for a deeper analysis of the New Orleans Police Department, not unlike the Baltimore PD, which was Simon’s claim to fame in programs like Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire.
To compliment the centralized theme, Treme has added John Seda (The Pacific) to its already impressive cast, which includes Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Khandi Alexander (News Radio, CSI: Miami), Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway). Seda will play Nelson Hidalgo, a politically connected developer from Texas who is looking to reap as many benefits as possible from the mending city; foremost on his agenda will be the many financial opportunities that have arisen in the wake of the rebuilding. Seda’s character looks to be the kind of slow-burn troublemaker this series needs in order to further unite its storylines and truly connect with viewers.
Beyond a more congealed storyline, Treme has miraculously remained untouched. While many of the first season’s detractors bemoaned the seemingly arbitrary inclusion of musical numbers (many of which go on for several minutes), as unnecessary breaks in the organic pacing of each episode, it looks as though they are (thankfully) here to stay.
Don’t be fooled by the slow, rambling pace of Treme. If The Wire is any indication, Simon and his crew will have some amazing treats in store for those in the audience whose patience has been tried, but still remain loyal to the program. And if some new viewers catch whiffs of the show’s praise and ultimately hop onboard, it is possible season 2 of Treme will be the breakout HBO was hoping for.
Catch Treme Sunday nights on HBO @7pm.