Quick Take: Treme, "Shame Shame Shame" "This is for New Orleans in her hour of need." – Davis
Review: Treme, "Shame Shame Shame" Over the last few episodes, Treme has shifted into darker territory, exploring the real world tragedy and struggles that came out of trying to rebuild lives and homes and communities in post-Katrina New Orleans. "Shame Shame Shame" brought back much of the exuberant spirit that we saw early on – replete with music and dancing and celebrating and welcome good tidings for several major characters – only to turn dark again in the final moments.
Davis (Steve Zahn) uses his restless energy and stoner con man's eloquence to talk a bunch of his local musician buddies (including Kermit) to record one of his alcohol and pot-inspired anthems. The result is "Shame Shame Shame," a charming and funny and biting retort to "Dubya" and the failed government reaction at multiple levels to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Creighton (John Goodman) gets into the act in his own way, lowering the wattage on his now popular YouTube proclamations but upping the intensity to intoning President George W. Bush to, "Keep your f---ing promises."
Janette (Kim Dickens) and her struggling restaurant get a break when a who's who of celebrity chefs waltzes in the door (Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame, Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne, and David Chang all playing themselves). I felt like I was rooting along during a Top Chef competition as Janette and Jacques (Ntare Mwine) scramble to cook the best meal of their lives. Even Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce), who has been down and out of late, gets a boost from an exotic corner of the globe when Koichi Toyama, a jazz musician and wealthy tourist, shows up and buys him a new bone.
The good feelings coalesce when a second line forms for ReNew Orleans, a parade that took place in real life in 2006. It both showcased a city that yearned to be whole again, dancing and partying and drinking through New Orleans winter city streets, and presaged the darker tidings to come in the fact that three people got shot at what was otherwise a celebratory event. Toni's (Melissa Leo) conversation with a corrections officer (David Morse, I believe) allowed for the message to get delivered: with people returning to New Orleans, there is a wave of crime and disorder coming that a beleaguered (and demoralized, in some ways) police force is in no way equipped to handle. Antoine's confiscated trombone, which shows up at a music store, is a microcosm for the current state of affairs.
As with the last few weeks, there are number story threads running at once. Sonny (Michael Huisman) is on the drugs again, and Annie (Lucia Micarelli) is onto him. Albert (Clarke Peters) is angrily working on putting the crew back together, but seems to be happy with his new lady friend, Miss Lula. And Ladonna is busy serving notices to those who cross her while continuing the search along with Toni for Daymo.
It was a good but somewhat uneven hour of TV overall. I'm guessing we'll get payoff on some of the smaller storylines we're seeing, but it can be distracting and a bit overwhelming to see so much packed into the last few episodes.
More thoughts on "Shame Shame Shame":
Looks like Creighton's meeting involved the real life Krewe du Vieux, which is "one of the earliest parades on the New Orleans Carnival calendar. I love that they have a serious conversation about how the parade is meant to mock the serious. Creighton adds that he's at his most serious when his tongue is in his cheek.
"Captain, a respite to appreciate the second line?" – Creighton
Davis has a nice but small moment of character development when he removes the speakers from his windows. Looks like the gay neighbors will be spared his racket for a while after taking him in off the street after getting beaten up… for saying the "N word." Treme street cred can only go so far!
"I am telling you Toni, the wheels are off the cart."
Video: Treme, "Shame Shame Shame" Here's the recap, courtesy of HBO:
Recap: Treme, "Shame Shame Shame" Davis enlists some top local musicians and a Japanese jazz fan does a good turn for Antoine.
From Around the Web: Treme, "Shame Shame Shame"
Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall: After four episodes of depicting New Orleans struggling to rise from its post-Katrina stupor, "Shame, Shame, Shame" climaxes with a moment of triumph for the city and for our characters, with a re-creation(*) of the 2006 ReNew Orleans second line parade, the first large-scale event of its kind since the storm, and a vastly bigger, more inspiring event than the one Antoine and Davis marched in during the opening moments of the series pilot.
More Sepinwall: And speaking of infectious enthusiasm, the smile on the Japanese jazz fan's face when Antoine played his new horn in the style of Kid Ory was a reminder, just like the parade, over the power that this city and its culture have over the people who know and love it.
nola.com: The title of episode five of “Treme,” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” is a song by Smiley Lewis, who also recorded “Tee-Nah-Nah,” “I Hear You Knocking” (covered by Dave Edmunds), “One Night” (covered by Elvis Presley) and “Blue Monday” (a huge hit for Fats Domino). Lewis died in 1966. The episode was written by former Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie, a staff writer for the series. Elie’s documentary, “Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans,” co-made with Dawn Logsdon, offers vital background for fans of “Treme.”
postbourgie: This week’s episode opens with a dream sequence, which are typically annoying, but it was a great way to allow the audience to catch both a glimpse of LaDonna’s missing brother, Daymo, and for us to grasp the kind of stress she’s under. But it’s not just her brother: after a night of haunting dreams she’s got to deal with another nightmare, a crooked contractor, Thaddeus Riley, who she watches get served with her papers. “He gon’ plead poverty when it comes time to pay y’all,” she says to a crew he’s recruiting.
TV Squad: Antoine Baptiste (the amazing Wendell Pierce) is slowly emerging as the character with the most screen time, and this episode was no exception, although I much preferred the other storylines, for once. Khandi Alexander continues to impress as LaDonna, who is a woman who knows when to be tough (with the deadbeat contractor) but is also quite vulnerable (dreaming of and searching for her brother Daymo).
IGN: One guy perfectly summed up the way we, and everyone else, feel about Davis when he muttered "asshole" at Davis's retreating back with a mixture of both annoyance and begrudging admiration. You don't have to like Davis to respect him -- a feeling his neighbors echoed by taking his drunk ass in off the street despite his determination to annoy them until they move out of the Treme.
Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com
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