This is what I have always thought about Americans: When the
camera and the microphone are put away, they start talking
like everybody else.
When the cameras are on, you get something like this line of
dialogue from new series Treme: "Say bra, you was
gonna have Shorty kickin' with ya."
When the cameras are off, I believe it would come out more
like: "Excuse me chum, my friend Shorty was going to spend
some time with you".
I can't help feeling it is a deception on a massive scale.
My suspicions will have to be put aside this week, as most
fare on the unmissable SoHo channel is from that place where
they speak like that.
This Thursday at 9.30pm, Treme continues what is
admittedly a harmless deception.
Treme is a drama series that takes its name from a
neighbourhood of New Orleans, where the accents are so strong
one has to listen closely to make sense of it all.
But the effort is worthwhile.
The series goes back to a time three months after Hurricane
Katrina, as residents try to rebuild their lives.
Treme loudly sings quality (and the music is
excellent) from the opening credits, beginning with some
stunning close-up imagery of the people and the city.
Everyone lives with frustrating deprivations - broken
possessions, mud-filled homes and knee-deep rubbish - which
litter the storylines as they unfold.
Not only the personal is developed in Treme; the
political also rears its head.
The wonderful John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where
Art Thou) plays Creighton Bernette, an English teacher at
Tulane University who specialises in expletive-fuelled media
interviews about the man-made aspect of the tragedy, with the
US Army Corps of Engineers and the Government looming large
in his sights.
Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) is a trombonist constantly
hunting for his next gig, LaDonna Batiste-Williams (Khandi
Alexander) runs a tavern and Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) is an
extremely annoying DJ and musician.
Treme has the very best of pedigrees. I have banged on
at length about The Wire, another excellent drama that
SoHo is so decently bringing back. The Wire, of
course, can be traced back to Homicide: Life on the
Streets, a stunningly good crime drama which aired in New
Zealand more than a decade ago. Treme's writing team
of David Simon (a Baltimore Sun journalist who worked on the
city desk for 12 years) and Eric Overmyer first worked
together as writers on Homicide, then collaborated on The
Actors from both feature in Treme.
Remarkably, and for no immediately apparent reason, Elvis
Costello turns up in episode one.
What more could you ask?