Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

HBO has its mojo back

Watching the latest episode of “Treme” on Wednesday, I was thinking that there was a time when it seemed that HBO’s original productions were going straight down the tubes.

Everyone remembers “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood” and “Six Feet Under” as great shows, and rightfully so, but let’s remember that HBO has some barking pooches in the back catalog, like “John from Cincinnati,” “Family Bonds,” “The Mind of the Married Man” and others.

I once commented on a newsgroup for “The Wire” that it was a sign that HBO was willing to take a chance that sometimes, it created a barker of a show that needed to die quickly. Still, shows like “Deadwood,” “Carnivale” and “Rome” were awesome, with production quality that was far above ordinary network fare, but died due to production costs. I mourn them all the time.

After “The Corner” and “The Wire,” I didn’t know if David Simon had another great show in him, but “Treme” has proven to be another star in HBO’s pantheon. The absolute tragedy of seeing Creighton commit suicide in despair was multiplied with the death of Harley Watts, who is gunned down in a senseless murder following a violent mugging. Oh, Harley, why’d you have to tell the armed mugger that he was making a mistake? And right in front of beautiful Annie, who was almost Harley’s protégé in a way.

As someone who’s been through a couple of hurricanes and seen the destruction they can bring, I do wonder about why the people of New Orleans are in such a state, both in reality and in the show. Look, there are areas in Florida that took a beating in 2004, including the Treasure Coast region, which got hit with two hurricanes in the space of five weeks. Hurricane Charley caused a disaster from Charlotte County up through Arcadia, and I remember driving to my job interview at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in September 2004, thanking fortune that we’d not been hit in Vero Beach (yet, it turned out) and being stunned at the damage in Arcadia.

Maybe Florida doesn’t have the unique culture of New Orleans, or maybe we’re used to loss and rebuilding, but we seem to take hurricanes better. New Orleans people, just weeks after the storm, seemed to be in a state of shock that everything was disordered. Well, it took months and sometimes years before areas of Florida recovered, and most of us cursed FEMA and the insurance companies, but eventually things came together for us.

I remember when I was working for The Bradenton Times and covering a hurricane drill, and someone mentioned that the last lawsuit over 1992’s Hurricane Andrew had just been resolved, nearly 18 years after the storm.

“Treme” got a well-deserved renewal for a third season, and I look forward to seeing the characters continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The ‘Game’ is afoot!
I have not been recording “Game of Thrones” on Sunday night due to the need to record “Treme” and “The Killing,” but picked it up on my days off from work (Wednesday and Thursday) on HBO’s OnDemand service.

I was a little antsy about this series but have changed my mind. It’s great! And the absolute horror of seeing Ned Stark summarily executed – even after swearing fealty to the boy-king – made me shake with rage. The Starks are not happy with the way things turned out, and the Lannisters will pay, as well as Joffrey, the king, who seems to take delight in visiting so much horror on his older daughter. The younger daughter, in disguise, is having to fight to survive now.

Daenerys, who was sold by her brother to the Dothraki and is now the leader of the remnant, will no doubt be a major factor in season two.

There’s so much coming that makes HBO the best network, though AMC is not far behind. With “Breaking Bad” on the verge of coming back and “Mad Men” scheduled for 2012, there’s much to look forward to.

With “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “True Blood” in the wings, my TiVo will be getting a workout this summer and fall.


June 24, 2011 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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