New David Simon series aims for kudos that escaped 'Wire'

While it’s hard not to compare David Simon’s music-infused “Treme” to his past efforts, some wonder whether this new venture might play the right tune for Emmy voters.

With its ensemble cast, multiple storylines and its middle-to-lower class setting, there are similarities with Simon’s previous series “The Wire,” a show applauded by auds and critics but not rewarded by the Academy. Simon’s two Emmy wins came for miniseries “The Corner” in 2000.

Kim Dickens, who plays tough-as-nails restaurant owner Janette on “Treme,” says it’s the appeal of New Orleans that separates this from other ensembles like “The Wire.”

“Even after all it’s gone through,” Dickens says, “it still is one of those rare cities that has held on to its rituals, whether that be the music or the parades or the culture, and I think the show really brings that to light.”

Alan Sepinwall, TV critic for HitFix.com, agrees that New Orleans is one of the stars of the show but adds that the star power could also be what voters will notice when the nominations come around.

“I think the one thing it has going for it is how the cast is much more recognizable with stars like John Goodman and Steve Zahn,” Sepinwall says. “With ‘The Wire,’ you had a bunch of unknowns set in an urban landscape that voters couldn’t relate to.”

If the city is considered its own character, then the copious jazz music flowing through the series is its heartbeat and what Sepinwall believes gives “Treme” a lighter tone that the older, more conservative voter might like.

Dickens also sees the music as a major draw, as the piece of New Orleans culture that can make the show so appealing and somewhat of a treat for its fans.

“The music does take a lot of time away from the story at times, but it makes it work so well that you hardly notice it,” Dickens adds.

With all the comparisons it will have with “The Wire,” Dickens adds that it deserves to be compared with another HBO show that also portrayed a city looking to survive.

“It really does bare similar ties to ‘Deadwood’ with its non-homogeneous American feel,” she says. ” ‘Treme’s’ New Orleans bears similarities to the Wild West in ‘Deadwood’ where people were trying to create a camp, build it up and ultimately survive in it.”

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