Treme, Sky Atlantic, Friday
The Model Agency, Channel 4, Wednesday

Musical ducking and diving in the heart of New Orleans should have been action-packed, but it takes a model agency to make things happen too fast

For those who enjoyed The Wire, David Simon's epic saga of crime and punishment, there was a familiar scene early in the first episode of his latest drama, Treme – a group of African-American men in a half-lit, derelict room conducting an illicit negotiation about the value of a highly prized local commodity that seemed to be in short supply.

In this case, the commodity was musicians rather than crack cocaine, and the deal concluded with a slap on the back rather than a bullet to the head. But, just as some viewers resorted to subtitles to help with the specialist terminology of Baltimore drug deals, the venerable musical traditions of New Orleans were wreathed in equally mysterious language: 'bones, second lines, or indeed the word "Treme" itself (it's a district of New Orleans and is pronounced Tr'may).

The chat among the musicians as they formed an impromptu parade – the first "second line" since the flood three months previously – wasn't a necessarily exclusive code as it was in The Wire; rather, it seemed an overture to the music of Treme, an irresistible melange of jazz, soul and funk that you assume is faithful to the neighbourhood.

As the parade ambled through the ruined streets, it gathered in storylines and characters: a wayward local musician (Wendell Pierce), his ex-wife and local bar owner (Khandi Alexander), the female chef-owner of an up-and-coming restaurant (Kim Dickens), and a DJ and self-appointed protector of the "real" city (Steve Zahn). What, exactly, the "real" New Orleans might be clearly preoccupies Simon: it's neither the tattered image of the all-welcoming Big Easy; nor is it the disaster zone abandoned to its fate first by the American government after the flood in 2005, and then by the media as their news agendas moved on.

So in these expansive opening episodes – the first the week before last, the second last Friday – a panorama rather than a drama was revealed to us. In the clunkiest scene, a grumpy academic (John Goodman) – a proxy for David Simon himself, presumably – literally got to grips with an arrogant British TV reporter so crudely drawn as to be beyond stereotype. Considerably better was the depiction of the search for one character's brother, who's either been washed away by the flood or the equally murky waters of the state judicial system.

If all this sounds a little dutiful, it was, and Sky Atlantic's ad breaks helped not one bit in developing momentum. But after The Wire, Simon might reasonably argue he's built up the requisite credit with audiences. In America, perhaps – but over here? We'll see. The performances and the music, equally good, helped, as did minor felicities such as offhand exchanges about how high the waters had risen in any given character's property, and the dawning sense that perhaps race rather than sandbags determined the extent of the collateral damage.

Still, it was with relief that after over two hours of drama, we saw the bar owner (Clarke Peters) beat a burglar, possibly to death. We had bobbed about aimlessly quite long enough.

No such dilly-dallying in the offices of the Premier model agency, the subject of a new, promising, fly-on-the-wall documentary series, The Model Agency. When India, a 16-year-old whom Premier had been grooming for four years, decided, on the eve of her debut at the New York shows, that catwalk modelling wasn't for her, the crux of the industry was laid bare. At times, the weepy brand of compassion espoused by Annie, the agency's head of new faces, for her young charge seemed genuine. But her wonky understanding of her pastoral duties ("You sometimes feel closer to them than their parents") was terribly compromised by the business of making money out of kids.

Thank goodness for India, apparently the only grown-up on screen: "I just wanted to go to the cinema and see my friends. I'm just 16 and I don't know what I want to do."

You can't help but hope that you never hear of her again.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border