By Caryn James | James on Screens April 24, 2011 at 3:10AM
If you weren’t hooked by the first season of Treme, HBO’s series set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, I completely agree. But this exuberant new season may change your mind.
With its swirl of characters – a lawyer, a bar owner, poor people literally washed out of their homes, dozens of musicians – last season was uneven, and never created the buzz or the passionate following of co-creator David Simon’s brilliant earlier series, The Wire. Powerful though they are, Simon’s series can also carry a tone of self-satisfaction for being so sensitive about the unfortunate, and mid-way through, Treme began to feel as tendentious as the perpetually outraged professor played by John Goodman – he wasn’t wrong, just tiresome.
At the end of the season Goodman’s character committed suicide and in the first of this season’s energetic new episodes, the self-righteous tone seems to have gone with him.
Season two is still concerned with the outrages the powerful foist on the poor, but there is a sense of ease in the new episodes as we follow the lives and especially the music of the city. Melissa Leo is back as the lawyer-widow of Goodman’s character, still trying to help families victimized by the hurricane and the government. Trombonist Antoine (Wendell Pierce, as good here as he was as Bunk on The Wire) , is trying to form his own band. The DJ played by Steve Zahn is now living with former street musician Annie, played by violinist Lucia Micarelli, just one of the musicians who give this season an irresistible soundtrack that varies blues, jazz and anything else in the air of New Orleans.
The new season begins tonight. Here’s a look at the trailer:
Here's a gimpse at Annie's ex, from next week's episode:
And if you gave up on season 1, here's a recap: