As with New Orleans residents still grappling with Hurricane Katrina's bitter aftermath, patience is required in viewing "Treme." Yet here, at least, that virtue is rewarded. Producer David Simon's "The Wire" charted a vicious cycle of poverty, violence, neglect and political ass-covering in a corroding American city; his latest urban tragedy takes a lower-key approach, examining the hardscrabble existence of musicians, restaurateurs and others desperately clinging to their way of life in a damaged, wounded town. Rich, textured and too leisurely in its gait, "Treme" won't be to everyone's taste, but by episode three, a hardy band will be hopelessly hooked.
In producing the show (co-created with Eric Overmyer), Simon is joined by collaborators associated with earlier landmark offerings -- "The Wire," "The Corner" and "Homicide" (which was based on the former journalist's book). And if there's a connective tissue to those projects along with the miniseries "Generation Kill," it's the bracingly uncompromising nature of Simon's work. The people here are meant to feel real; whether an audience likes them -- and what happens to them -- is essentially left to the viewer.
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