Review: "Treme"

Reason to watch: Second season of David Simon's ode to New Orleans

When/Where: Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO

'Treme': Still stellar in second season

Wendell Pierce stars in HBO's "Treme"- Season II

Wendell Pierce stars in HBO's "Treme"- Season II (Credit: HBO Photo/)

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A year after Katrina, with most of New Orleans still on its knees, police sergeant Terry Colson (David Morse) describes the entire city as "depressed, anxious, angry . . . everybody is out of their minds." But not newcomers like Nelson Hildago (Jon Seda) who arrives from Dallas because there's a lot of easy money to be made for contractors with the right connections. Meanwhile, much has changed -- or remained the same -- for so many others. In the wake of Creighton Bernette's (John Goodman) suicide, his daughter has taken to YouTube with the same intense profanity-laced rants that were her father's signature. Antoine (Wendell Pierce) has his trombone back and is still looking for gigs. LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) finally located her dead brother, Daymo, but business has evaporated in her bar. Delmond Lambreaux (Rob Brown) leaves his big-time jazz career in New York to be with his father, Albert (Clarke Peters), who is still homeless. Davis (Steve Zahn) is working as a DJ again and tormenting his boss, while girlfriend Annie Tee (Lucia Micarelli) has returned from the Northeast, where she had a gig with the Subdudes. Chef Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens)? She's moved to New York, where she works at a high-end restaurant for a sadistic chef.

MY SAY "Treme" was critically lionized a year ago, then forgotten, so I kind of feel like it needs a new supporter. Here goes: Please watch this show. Really. It's excellent on far too many levels to enumerate here, but it is truly entertaining and (I promise) watchable. At some point, "Treme" picked up a rep as difficult and intense; it can cop to the latter, not the former. This was -- and very much remains -- advocacy journalism as practiced by an especially intense journalist, Simon, and his co-creator, Eric Overmyer, who have peopled their huge canvas with believable, sympathetic, complex and fully human characters. Most of them don't know each other, or only cross paths (literally) in the night. But none of them are cheaply or hastily drawn.

BOTTOM LINE It was last year, and remains so this year -- one of TV's very best.

GRADE A+

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