DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Treme, Season Two, Blu-ray (2012)

There are many different layers to this tapestry of life in New Orleans, and the accent on the music makes it a delight.

Published on April 16, 2012

Treme, Season Two, Blu-ray (2012)

“Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams”
Creator: David Simon
Cast: Steve Zahn, Wendell Pierce, John Goodman, Kim Dickens, many others
Studio: HDB Studios [4/17/12] 4 disc set, 11 episodes
Video: 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS Surround 5.1, Latin American or Castillian Spanish DTS Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, both Spanish, French, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: “Behind Treme: Food for Thought,” “Behind Treme: Clarke Peters & the Mardi Gras Indians,” The Art of Treme, The Music of Treme (diff. info on each episode), Music commentaries on each episode, Four audio commentaries with producers, director, writers, music supervisor and cast members
Length: 674 minutes total
Rating: *****

The first season of what many consider to be the best series on TV today concerned the struggles of the various characters (a la Altman) with the chaos and misery following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The second season focuses on the music community and opens about a year after the disaster. I don’t think the music has ever before been such an integral part of any dramatic TV series. And some of the extras—which can be accessed while watching the various episodes—tie in beautifully with the music being heard and seen.

The various characters fine it harder than ever to get their lives back together, and some have moved away. There are a number of scenes in New York City, where budding chef Janette and also professional trumpet player Delmond have moved. There is the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to collect on insurance and rebuild homes, a terrifying increase in crime and drug use, and one carpet-bagger-type character illustrates those taking advantage of the FEMA corruption. A woman attorney, whose husband died during the first season, is trying to follow up on a killing which could involve police corruption, while her daughter is pulling away due to the tragedy of losing her father.  Her main contact—a police detective—is caught in the middle but attempts to do the right thing with the meagre resources at hand. A trombonist, Antoine, who teaches a school band by day, is starting a new band, and a street performer—after being robbed of his gear—is looking to join a band and give up street performing. The bouncy Ladonna, who runs a small bar, is laid low by a brutal assault which affects her the entire season. The former boyfriend of Janette’s—who gets fired from his DJ job and is an aspiring rap music exec—now lives with terrific fiddle player Annie.

Treme has been described by one reviewer as “a Dickensian look at one of America’s greatest cities,” and that certainly sums it up. It only takes viewing a couple of the episodes to draw the viewer into the lives of these characters. There are many different layers to this tapestry of life in New Orleans, and the accent on the music makes it a delight even when the going is really tough for the characters. The Blu-ray transfer looks great, especially the many very dark scenes, which come across well on the screen.  The primary bonus features are at the end of the fourth DVD, and you might want to view them first to have a better handle on the series—especially if you didn’t see any of the first season. The music information even covers recorded selections heard in the background, and the extra on the Mari Gras Indians is fascinating.

—John Sunier

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