OFF BEAT

OF NOTORIETY: HBO's 'Treme' rules while showcasing soul of New Orleans

2012-04-18T15:15:00Z 2012-04-18T16:20:40Z OF NOTORIETY: HBO's 'Treme' rules while showcasing soul of New OrleansBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

I receive countless books and media to review and it can be tough to find the time to give each the thorough write-up they deserve, instead of just a mention.

So when HBO sent along the DVD release of their original television "Treme," it was the perfect assignment for my intern this semester to check out and write up his thoughts.

Ross Blankenship, 22, of Schererville is a senior who just about to graduate from Valparaiso University.

And so, I'm dedicating the remainder of this installment of Of Notoriety to Ross' review:

"Treme" tells the story of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who previously collaborated on "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Wire," the show "Treme" follows a large cast of characters from all walks of life, as they struggle to survive and keep their culture alive.

On the surface, it appears that New Orleans is a lost city.

But beneath the wreckage, life goes on.

And at its heart is Treme, which is the name of a historic district of The Big Easy peppered with 150-year-old beautiful homes and the favored space of an assortment of musicians.

The series provides a story of triumph of human nature, over the chaos of mother nature.

Every character in "Treme" tells their own story.

The characters include a veteran Trombonist, a street musician who lost his home and instruments, a chef whose restaurant shut down, a father searching for the body of his lost son, a civil rights attorney, and a venture capitalist from Dallas rejuvenating property; just to name a few.

Each character, while apparently alone in their struggle, is connected as the series weaves their stories together.

Viewers will recognize many of the actors from previous work, like Wendell Pierce and Clark Peters from HBO's "The Wire," Kim Dickens of HBO's "Deadwood," Melissa Leo, the Oscar winner for "The Fighter" and Steve Zahn from "A Perfect Getaway," among others.

Some of the most important characters of the series are not the names and faces.

The City of New Orleans, the culture, and the music play the most important roles in "Treme."

HBO creates a feeling of authenticity by employing many actual musicians of New Orleans who can be seen and heard throughout the series in various scenes.

Many successful musicians who hail from New Orleans are also given cameo roles. Some of these musicians include Dr. John, Juvenile, John Hiatt, Lucia Micarelli and the Hot 8 Brass Band.

Throughout the series, the music comes alive and viewers can lose themselves in a club or blues tavern in New Orleans amid the sounds and sights of "Treme."

In fact, on the DVD special features, there is a feature, when selected, shows information on the screen about all the music the viewer hears while watching each episode. There is another DVD special feature in spotlighting New Orleans chefs and restaurateurs as they discuss the culture, preparation and cooking of New Orleans style food.

"Treme" makes for great television with compelling subject matter and fascinating characters.

In addition to spotlighting the city, people, music, and culture of New Orleans, "Treme" is also helping to give back to the community which it depicts on screen.

On Saturday, March 31, 2012, HBO and the "Treme" production crew staged a "My Darlin' New Orleans Benefit," raising more than $90,000 donated to local organizations like Sweet Home New Orleans, The Roots of Music, and The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic and Assistance Foundation.

"Treme" is a brutal yet beautiful portrayal of New Orleans.

The series captures the essence of the city, the music, and the people.

Treme is captivating to viewers and audiences both from New Orleans, and those who have never been. This show is about the spirit of the people who saved their city from being washed off the map.

Season 3 of "Treme" premieres on HBO in the fall of 2012, while Seasons 1 and 2, along with soundtrack CDs from both seasons, are now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writers. Potempa can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327 and Ross Blankenship can be reached at patrick.blankenship@valpo.edu.

 

 

 

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