Review: Treme Season 1 Blu-ray

STUDIO: HBO/Warner | DIRECTORS: various | CAST: John Goodman, Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Clarke Peters, Rob Brown, Steve Zahn, Kim Dickens, Melissa Leo, Michiel Huisman, Lucia Micarelli
RELEASE DATE: 3/29/11 | PRICE: DVD $59.99, Blu-ray $79.98
BONUSES: commentaries, featurettes; BD adds enhanced viewing mode on interactive content, additional featurette
SPECS: NR | 690 min. | Television drama | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Treme, described at its simplest, concerns a cross-section of residents of post-Katrina New Orleans. But as exemplified in his previous HBO television dramas The Wire and The Corner, creator David Simon isn’t looking for simple descriptions in his work. His Treme weaves a rich and detailed tapestry about the lives of the people of New Orleans as they try to rebuild their city and their futures.

Treme scene

Wendell Pierce takes it to the streets in Treme.

As is Simon and his team’s method, there are a bunch of overlapping and extended storylines going on in Treme, and though they don’t draw you in as quickly as those in his previous series, viewers in for the long haul will find the narratives and characters ultimately satisfying. I was most taken by the story threads involving struggling restaurateur Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens), hardened English teacher (John Goodman HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack) and his lawyer wife Toni (Melissa Leo, Welcome to the Rileys), musicians Annie (Lucia Micarelli) and Sonny (Michiel Huisman The Young Victoria), and DJ Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), whose problems go way beyond coming up with a playlist. There are a bunch more that could prove equally rewarding for those who descend into Treme for a second or even time, and then supplement the viewing with the fine extras that can be found on the discs.

The bonus features are led by full-length cast/crew commentaries on five episodes. The talent is sprinkled liberally across the quintet of tracks: Simon and co-creator Eric Overmyer are on the first episode, cast members Wendell Pierce and Khandi Alexander do the talking on another one, and various writers, directors and other actors can be found on the remainder. It’s a well-portioned selection of contributors talking about virtually every aspect of the production, all of them expressive when revealing their frequently emotional emotional feelings about the city where the drama takes place.

Speaking of which, New Orleans plays as major a role int eh supplemental package as it does in the series proper. The featurettes The Making of Treme and Treme: Beyond Bourbon Srtreet explore the city, it’s history and the challenges of producing a series there following a catastrophic natural disaster. The show’s indispensable music, which serves as both a subject, a metaphor and a soundtrack, gets its due via music commentaries on all the episodes made by jazz radio personalities Josh Jackson from WGBO and Patrick Jarenwattananon from NPR.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray is Down in the Treme: A Look at the Music and Culture of New Orleans, a kind of interactive guidebook/atlas that can be utilized for all 10 episodes. There’s a menu on the bottom of the screen that—if accessed—adds pop-up details and depth to the New Orleans-centric culture that’s being presented. It’s a diverting tool and particularly helpful for those interested in taking their tour of post-Katrina New Orleans’ neighborhoods, cuisine, and landmarks to the next level. This enhanced interactive viewing mode can also be used for the The Music of Treme, an in-episode guide to the series’ wealth of rich music that includes the work of such Louisiana stalwarts as Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas, also known as “The Soul Queen of New Orleans” and singer of one of my favorites, “It’s Raining.”

 

Buy or Rent Treme: The Complete First Season
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.