DJ Davis McAlary: "Ladies and Gentleman, a live chicken in the studio!"
Not for long.
New Orleans' famous Coco Robicheaux appears in the introductory scene of Treme's second episode, having the dubious distinction of being the first to sacrifice a chicken in the series. The moment was a nod to the significance of Haitian voodoo and more than a nod to the importance of Haitian society to New Orleans culture. Summoning Ezili Dantor, mother and protector, Mr. Robicheaux pours the Barbancourt Rhum, lights the spirit candles, and hypnotically strokes a rooster's feathers with a fearsome knife. Slaughter thankfully takes place off camera. More on Ezili later.
In a recent radio interview Treme creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer posed the question: "Can you do a show about regular people - [a show] not about doctors saving lives or gangsters killing people or people making decisions about the fate of democracy in the West Wing?"
Apparently, the answer is yes. You can.
After just one episode, HBO announced it was picking up a second season of Treme. "I can't think of another show that is more emblematic of what we aspire to be as a network than Treme," Michael Lombardo, HBO's programming president, said Tuesday in announcing the renewal. "We are thrilled that the press has recognized the profound artistry and intelligence of this show and are eager to see where David Simon and Eric Overmyer take us in a second season."
In last night's "Meet De Boys on the Battlefront," named for a famous Mardi Gras tune, Simon and Overmyer take us to the music as New Orleans song moves to forefront of the story, as important as any character. I would argue, sometimes sacrificing forward movement of the narrative for the color and atmosphere of New Orleans. "Music was the raison d'être of the show, the heart of the show," explains Overmyer. "We've been learning how to do the music in such a way that it doesn't stop the show cold." The music in the episode soared; the story wasn't cold but started and stalled through its carefully paced, building and rebuilding storylines.
Simon describes Treme as a "fictional story but we're trying to be rigorous about what has happened in New Orleans since the storm." Trying to be rigorous forces a lot of exposition into the narrative. There is a lot of preaching and high-handedness as well in Treme so far. Moments with Steve Zahn's character thankfully balance all this out. Davis McAlary's (Steve Zahn) storyline was one of the more entertaining of the episode. Losing his DJ job over the bloodletting in the radio studio, an historic event "just not in the positive sense," he returns home, and we get a glimpse of Davis' sheltered childhood. Antiques? Garden District? McAlary is fast becoming one of my favorite characters with his mixture of bemusement and intelligence and his own self-mythologizing.