Treme” has been going strong during its second season, and while much like “The Wire“, we feel as though this might be the kind of show that is best enjoyed on DVD, when we can watch several episodes in succession, we still look forward to every Sunday night when it returns to screens. As we’ve come to expect, this week’s episode features a strong focus on music, food, and character, making for a great hour of television. Read on to find out how we felt…

The Players:

  • Director: Roxann Dawson
  • Writer: Tom Piazza
  • Cast: Melissa Leo, Steve Zahn, Wendell Pierce, Lucia Micarelli, Rob Brown, Jon Seda, David Morse, Kim Dickens

Episode Title: “Feels Like Rain”

Determined to write a good song, Annie studies the work of icons like John Hiatt to determine what makes a song truly memorable. In the meantime, Davis is able to convince some local musicians to form a political hip-hop group with him, much to the dismay of his neighbors. Sofia continues to distance herself from Toni, having secretly learned the truth about her father. Delmond tries to convince Albert to participate in Mardi Gras. Janette enjoys her new job, but must return to New Orleans when her sous chef is arrested and faces possible deportation.

The Good:

  • The music: Since its first episode, “Treme” has placed a strong focus on the significance of music in regards to New Orleans culture, and this is especially true in this episode. Antoine eloquently explains to his class the difference between reading notes on a sheet of papers and improvising, Annie has some insightful (if slightly inaccurate) things to say about John Hiatt’s songwriting skills, and as per usual, Davis is barely able to contain his little-kid-on-Christmas enthusiasm.
  • Delmond and Albert: These two have had a strained relationship throughout the entirety of this series; unfortunately, it has always felt as though they were making slow progress as they come to understand one another better. They manage to take a few awkward steps in the right direction this week, finding that they are willing to at least try to have more in common than they normally do.

The So-So:

  • Sofia and Toni: “Treme” features a large cast of characters, so it is inevitable that some episodes will introduce subplots that don’t end up going anywhere interesting that week. Now that we know that Sofia knows the truth about her father, it’s tough not to anticipate the eventual confrontation she’ll have wth Toni. It looks like that will have to wait, however.

The Bad:

  • Dream sequence: With David Simon’s name in the credits, viewers of “Treme” can be forgiven for wishing that the show would be exactly as realistic as “The Wire” was. Sadly, such is not the case, as this week’s episode opened up with an awkward dream sequence that felt out of place in the context of this type of show. Granted, this isn’t the first time this happened–last season also featured an episode that began as a dream–but there probably could have been a more subtle way to express Toni’s internal struggle.
  • Nelson’s mini-monologue: Nelson is the outsider in New Orleans, and it has shown all season, as he tries way too hard to be enthusiastic about the food, music, culture, and way of life. Still, when he waxes poetic about the nature of the city towards the end of this episode, it feels forced. If “Treme” has had one major flaw, it is the fact that its love-letter to New Orleans has sometimes been a little too sappy. The best way to celebrate the city is to do what the show has done from the beginning: display different aspects of the culture. Talking about it just oversimplifies it.

Overall:

Damn, even a mediocre episode of “Treme” is ten times more impressive than a good episode of most TV shows these days. While this series will never be remembered as fondly as David Simon’s “The Wire” is, it still manages to be one of the best series on television. With material like this, how on Earth could anyone call TV “the idiot box”?

Rating: 8/10

“Treme” airs ever Sunday night on HBO!

What did you think of last night’s episode? Tell us in the comments!