'Treme' has long been my favorite show on HBO. Even though it's only gone three seasons, it seems like it's been around forever. During 'Treme's run – which will finish up with its fourth and final season in 2014 – HBO has always had flashier, more highly publicized series. Eric Overmyer's and David Simon's creation has always been content to linger in the shadows. It's never tried to outdo other shows that draw publicity and viewers. It's never really tried to gain new viewers along the way, instead it's rewarded consistent viewers who have stuck with it. The way the show is constructed, it's never been about the cliffhanging finales or the water-cooler-baiting plot twists. It's always been about the characters, and the disparate situations they find themselves in. It's been about telling an intricately complex web of storylines. A love letter to New Orleans, its people, their perseverance, their music, and their food. Over the years 'Treme' has established itself as the best least talked about show on television.
I still can't get the haunting ending to the first season out of my mind. It's stuck with me this long, and will probably stick with me forever. It was a culmination of the utter helplessness felt by the city as a whole. How many of the characters, mired in seemingly stagnant lives, might just be better giving up. Thankfully many of them persevered.
Season two was about rebuilding. Getting lives back on track. Renewing relationships. Making life choices, good or bad. And simply moving on and trying to achieve some sort of normalcy after Hurricane Katrina.
Continuing with the understated theme of the show as a whole, season two went out relatively quietly with the New Orleans Jazz Festival acting as a backdrop. Many of the characters were still reeling over the devastating loss of Harley (Steve Earle). Antoine (Wendell Pierce) found out that trying to run his own band is extremely difficult, especially if you upstage the talent. In my favorite storyline, Chef Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens) was presented with an offer to run her own restaurant in New Orleans that she couldn't refuse. Even though it meant moving back from New York. Sonny (Michiel Huisman) found a new love after his relationship with Annie (Lucia Micarelli) hit a brick wall. Instead of playing music on Bourbon Street, Sonny found himself on a shrimp boat trying to prove himself to his girlfriend's strict father. Toni (Melissa Leo) is on the cusp of uncovering a massive police cover up. And finally, Delmond (Rob Brown) discovers making a record with his father Albert (Clarke Peters) is definitely harder than even he thought it could possibly be.
Season three continues slowly along the paths of your most beloved characters as the try to navigate a New Orleans, which is still feeling lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina years later. There's little to be gained in discussing various storylines and where they go to in season three. That's because the show has always felt like a cohesive whole instead of a culmination of parts. Season three is about rebuilding the city. New money is starting to arrive. Along with corruption and greed, it also brings hope, jobs, and a promise for something better on the horizon.
The third season of 'Treme' follows right along with the brilliance of the first two. It's keenly attuned to the culture and counterculture of New Orleans. It's a showcase of savory food, unique characters, and amazing music. It treats its characters like real honest-to-goodness people. Fear not fans, 'Treme' is still a complete joy to watch.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
HBO has released the third season of 'Treme' in its patented cardboard foldout packaging. The season consists of four discs. There are 10 episodes in the season. Discs 1 and 4 contain two episodes while discs 2 and 3 contain three each. Each disc is provided its own hub. The foldout slides nicely into an outer cardboard box which will look nice on any shelf. All four Blu-rays are 50GB discs. The packaging lists this set as being Region A only.
Through the first two seasons of 'Treme' HBO provided a nearly flawless video presentation. As we get into the third season it's quickly obvious that there hasn't been any loss in quality. Season three is as superbly detailed as the first two Blu-ray releases.
The infinitely colorful world of New Orleans is depicted in startling clarity. Even in the dank, dark Jazz bars and alleyways of the Big Easy, the video presentation is precise. Detail is clear in close-ups and mid-range shots. Whenever the camera pans over the skyline of New Orleans there isn't an errant artifact to be seen.
Crushing is never an issue, which is great because much of the show is spent in low light situations. Colors pop tremendously well. Fine detail is optimally visible. Look, if you've purchased the first two seasons of this show then you understand the high bar it's already set. There may be a soft shot here or there, but it's negligible at best. In the end you're getting the same exact stellar quality you've come to expect from these releases.
I should be able to just write: "The best audio for a TV show on Blu-ray ever." Except I'm not sure my editor would accept that as an acceptable review of the audio prowess. Apparently we have to provide support for our arguements.
Here's the thing, I've reviewed a hell of a lot of TV Blu-rays during my time at High-Def Digest. There have been some great titles, no doubt. But, I've always been consistently blown away by the quality of 'Treme's audio presentations. This is partly because the show already has a leg up on the competition. No other show out there showcases music the way this one does. Musical performances make up a good majority of the show's scenes. Sometimes we're treated to whole sets as we continue to watch performances that would've been cut short in any other show. So, it's important that the show's music is presented in demo quality. And it is!
The clarity and fidelity here is outstanding. The highs, mids, and lows are all equally balanced. Listening to a Jazz ensemble is a treat for any music lover. Nothing is lost in the fray either. Every sound of every instrument is clearly heard. Singing is presented cleanly through the front channels. The rear channels host a variety of noises from the busy comings and goings of Bourbon Street to the hoots and hollers of a rowdy crowd taking in some classic New Orleans music.
I can't get enough of HBO's audio treatments when it comes to 'Treme.' As far as I'm concerned these are the best audio presentations that TV on Blu-ray has to offer.
'Treme' remains one of the top series on TV. Sure there are flashier shows out there that all your co-workers are talking about. Chances are if you tried to bring up the latest happenings of 'Treme' at the proverbial water cooler you might get a whole bunch of confused looks. Maybe, just maybe you might find a kindred spirit you can relate with, but chances are if you've made it to the third season of 'Treme' you've done it largely without anyone else to confide in. That's okay though. It's almost like the show is our little secret, right? A top-notch production on all fronts that outshines most dramas on cable or network. Season three cements 'Treme' firmly as one of the best shows over the past few years. It's highly recommended.