Treme (10 episodes to date, 2010-).
In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of New Orleans seek to revive their city, their culture and their lives. These include trombonist Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce); his ex-wife LaDonna Batiste-Williams (Khandi Alexander), a bar owner seeking her younger brother who was lost in police custody during the storm; Creighton and Toni Bernette (John Goodman and Melissa Leo), a university professor and civil rights lawyer; Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn), a musician and DJ, and Janette Desautel (Kim Dickens) a struggling restauranteur; Albert ‘Big Chief’ Lambreaux (Clarke Peters), a respected Mardi Gras Indian chief struggling to bring his tribe back to the city; and French Quarter buskers Annie (Lucia Micarelli) and and Sonny (Michiel Huisman).
The 90-second intro combines a theme song performed by New Orleans jazz singer John Boutté with a mix of evocative video and still images in both black-and-white and colour, depicting the impact of Katrina as well as aspects of the city’s musical and social culture. Cast names are played out over a simple backdrop of flood-ravaged home interiors.
In terms of setting the scene for the tone and flavour of this series, the intro puts New Orleans front and centre of the action. It is simultaneously a history lesson and a celebration of the city’s unique and vibrant nature. In an era where the traditional theme tune is all but dead and I am all too happy to fast-forward through most of those which remain, the Treme intro is one of the very few I can happily sit through every week, singing quietly along to the song’s lyrics, tapping my toe and waiting for the music which is such an integral part of every episode to unfold.
Creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer previously collaborated on The Wire. The cast of Treme also includes The Wire alumni Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters.
John Goodman’s character Creighton Bernette was not included in the original pilot. Goodman was only cast after the pilot had been filmed, with scenes including him subsequently incorporated into the first episode.
Creighton Bernette was based on real-life New Orleans blogger Ashley Morris. Some of the character’s dialogue is drawn directly from Morris’s writings.
Do you think the intro for this show deserves the status ‘classic’? And do you have a favourite of your own? Watch out for more ‘Classic TV intros’ posts coming soon.