Thursday, 14 January 2010


This is a teaser trailer for David Simon’s new series for HBO, Treme, set in the New Orleans district of the same name, the traditional home of the city’s muso community. It doesn’t tell you an awful lot about the story, but according to Simon, the show is centred on the local music scene and also deals with a number of themes familiar to fans of The Wire (political corruption, the criminal justice system), as well as the post-Katrina attempts at regenerating the city. It debuts in the US on April 11. No idea who’s picking it up for broadcast over here, but if it goes to form with HBO shows in the UK, then FX should get first dibs.

Wire geeks will doubtless be delighted that Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters are teaming up once more, although I’m not expecting any “Lester and the Bunk”-type comedy this time out. It’ll be interesting to see how Simon et al tackle the oft-documented ambiguities of the city, particularly since it's said to be one of the most racist yet racially inclusive cities in America. Likewise how they’ll deal with the popular perception of New Orleans as a city in perpetual recovery from Katrina. Given how long Liverpool struggled to leave behind the 1980s post-riots/Thatcherite whipping-boy image it had in the eyes of British dramatists (Jimmy McGovern included, if we’re being completely honest), it's probably wise of Simon to rope in local writers Tom Piazza and Lolis Eric Elie alongside George Pelecanos, so there’s less cause for concern than there might be otherwise.

A few more reasons to hope it reaches our screens sooner rather than later; the excellent Melissa Leo (a veteran of Simon’s Homicide: Life On The Street) is in it, as is Khandi Alexander (The Corner) and, reportedly, John Goodman. Fittingly for a show about musicians, Simon has found room in the cast for Steve Earle, although from what I can gather he’ll be playing a supplementary role similar to that of Walon, his character in The Wire. I understand Wynton Marsalis is also involved on the music side, which doesn’t exactly thrill me. Brilliant musician he may be, but his "guardian of the artform" approach to jazz gets on my pip most of the time. That said, when you’re after the specific kind of accuracy that a project like Treme calls for, then I suppose Wynton is the go-to guy, or at least as good a go-to guy as anyone else. And, to tell the truth, I can almost forgive him his tedious, fusty, academic purism when he sticks to things like this.

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