The Knick is a gritty period drama, set at a fictional version of The Knickerbocker hospital in early 1900s New York, and gives us a view into the lives and work of the hospital staff. Clive Owen stars as chief surgeon John Thackery who’s obsessed with pushing the boundaries of medicine at a time when you had a better chance of leaving the hospital dead than alive. The fourth episode is airing Friday (Sept 5th) on Cinemax, and if you’re not already watching, here is why you need to catch up:
Medical Treatment in 1900 is Fascinating and Horrifying to Watch!
Imagine that you’re sick and need surgery. The doctor rolls you into an “operating theatre” filled with an audience of creepy men silently watching you as you are prepped to be cut open. You are then put to sleep with the surgeon stating that this is the first time he is testing a new procedure which “should” work. And this is when The Knick becomes more of a horror movie than a medical drama. The no holds barred look into how an operating room and the equipment (like pumping blood into glass jars with a crank) they used at the turn of the century is captivating to watch. It will also give you nightmares.
It’s a Period Drama but Feels Modern!
Thanks to the direction of Steven Soderbergh, The Knick has a modern and fresh feel to it, but also feels authentic. It is beautifully shot, and edited like it was set in modern times rather than giving it that “stuffy” feel a lot of other movies and shows that are set in this time period have. It makes the characters in The Knick feel like real human beings rather than something that belongs in a museum.
The Synth Score is Amazing!
A big part of the modern feel is the score by Cliff Martinez. Putting a synth score together with a historical setting might seem like an odd choice, but it fits perfectly with the editing style and gives the show a different kind of pulse. It makes everything seem sort of alien. Like we are visiting a different planet rather than a different time period. Considering how different society was back then, coupled with the alien abduction like operating theatre, we might as well be.
The Characters are Terrible – in a Good Way!
There are no good guys on The Knick. Every character so far has flaws of varying degree, and that makes them entertaining and interesting to watch. Dr. Thackery is the brilliant “surgeon” who is struggling with a cocaine addiction but he is also somewhat of a racist. For a show that is set in this time period the main character will always be the “enlightened” one who is fighting on behalf of whoever is mistreated but that is not the case in The Knick. Thackery isn’t actively a racist but he isn’t making any attempt at improving or disagreeing with the other more racist doctors regarding their new colleague Dr. Edwards who happens to be black.
But even Dr. Edwards who despite his medical education, and working as a surgeon in Europe, and has been relegated to the basement because of his skin colour is wrongly taking out his frustration by beating up an innocent man.
We also have an ambulance driver who will literally steal patients from other ambulances and, pretends dead bodies are still alive because he gets paid per patient he delivers. A hospital administrator who isn’t just cheating on his wife, but steals her jewelry and gives it to his favourite prostitute. A Catholic nun who gives abortions and this is only after three episodes!
Put all this together and you have a unique looking period drama with a modern feel which will suck you right in! Go watch it!