There are many famous musicians throughout "Battlefront." Some are world famous like Allan Toussaint and Elvis Costello. Some are New Orleans famous like Mr. Robicheaux and Kermit Ruffins. And then there are so many more musicians ducking in and out of scenes; it's disorienting to the viewer without a scorecard. I knew I should know some of these musicians, but, to misquote Donald Rumsfeld, I do not know what I do not know.
Much of Treme is in a secret language that can be frustrating to the audience. The non-New Orleans resident is constantly reminded of what they don't know about the Crescent City, but patience, as I said in last week's column, patience. "It's a beginning," as Albert Lambreaux, having returned home to clean up and gather up his Mardi Gras Indian tribe, says when only one person shows up for tribal practice.
I appreciate David Simon's refusal to ever talk down to his audience, trusting that they will follow these immersions into unique urban cultures. I also understand those who may be put off. A little patience by the writers with their audience would help. After all, isn't everyone a tourist somewhere? Isn't the audience essentially a tourist buying a tee-shirt, a story a souvenir hawked by a writer?
To their credit, there is acknowledgment of the other side. Creighton Bernette is hesitant to finish his book on prior New Orleans flooding. "I don't want to be accused of cashing in on the storm like some other schmucks I can mention." Just who are the schmucks?
The Wire still casts a heavy shadow on Treme, hopefully to dissipate with time, or maybe it won't. Perhaps that's what is inevitable to the follow-up series to the greatest television drama of all time.
It was disconcerting to see Clarke Peters (below) as Chief Albert Lambreaux beating up a young thief in a scene so dark I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Lester Freamon would never do that! And the scene when the missing Daymo Brooks is found and to be reunited with his family doesn't quite work for The Wire fan. In a case of mistaken identity, David Brooks turns out not to be the vanished Daymo Brooks. "This is not my son" says the mother. "There's been some kinda mistake," says the attorney.