TREME: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON”
Blu-ray widescreen and DVD widescreen, 2010, TV-MA with language and nudity
Best extra: WBGO's Josh Jackson and NPR Music's Patrick Jarenwattananon explore the show's rich music in mini-episode commentaries (roughly 15 minutes each)
DAVID SIMON got the idea to set a show in New Orleans as far back as when he worked on “Homicide” (1993-1999), the NBC procedural based on his book. Simon was also the creator of “The Wire,” which brought Baltimore to such vivid life on HBO. Conceived by Simon and Eric Overyer, who worked together on both “Homicide” and “The Wire,” “Treme” focused on a single neighborhood in New Orleans, one of the city’s oldest, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Painfully intimate, “Treme” is reminiscent of Robert Altman’s best, such as “Nashville” and “Shortcuts,” taking you into the heart of an American city and letting you hang out with its citizens through the good times and bad.
Jazz enthusiasts and audiophiles will be blown away by the outstanding uncompressed DTS-HD soundtrack. This is truly one of the finest audio tracks I've ever heard on a television release; it rivals most movie tracks as well. Music lovers should run – not walk – to grab this release. Recorded live, “Treme’s” sound design is off the charts, bringing the neighborhood to startling, awesome life.
The hi-def image is no slouch either. HBO has always delivered high quality Blu-ray releases, making their higher price points almost tolerable. Simon and Co. take you to Treme and let you bask in all of its ruined glory. This is a clean, colorful and highly detailed transfer.
Ten episodes are spread across four discs. Exclusive to Blu-ray is “Down in the ‘Treme’: A Look at the Music and Culture of New Orleans,” an interactive feature accessed throughout the episodes. It allows viewers to go deeper into the city’s minutia via a text-based supplement that expands on the music and culture. Similar is “The Music of 'Treme,’” which offers instant info on the songs and musicians featured in each episode.
The meat of the supplemental material is housed on the fourth disc and includes “Treme: Beyond Bourbon Street,” a half-hour documentary that shows how much of the local customs and festivities found their way into the show. It also explores the history of the neighborhood and the locals who inspired characters in the series (HD). Less in depth and more promotional is "The Making of Treme," a 15-minute behind-scenes featurette where the primary movers and shakers discuss the conception, development and filming in Louisiana (HD).
Five commentaries with various cast and crew members, including Simon and Overmyer, provide a detailed if repetitive overview of the pilot episode. Much of this info can be found on the other docs. The standout track highlights George Pelecanos, who has a rich history as both a crime novelist and a television writer, working on "The Wire" and "The Pacific," and the great John Goodman, who plays Creighton Bernette, an English teacher and aspiring novelist. The two are a good match, discussing their connection to the city, the writing process, and more.
”Treme” is one of the best shows on television and HBO has put together a top notch Blu-ray release that’s sure to satisfy fans while they wait for the second season to begin April 24.
— Josh Boone