Non-Geek TV From The Geek Perspective: The Knick

Gabbing Geek What We're Watching

There’s a lot of TV out there, and more premium channels want to jump onto the “acclaimed original programming” bandwagon.

Which means we’re covering the Cinnemax show The Knick this week.

the-knick

What’s the premise?

Set in 1900, the series chronicles the ups and downs, both social and medical, in the Knickerbocker Hospital, or the Knick for short.

What’s the appeal?

Executive producer Steven Soderbergh gave up Hollywood moviemaking, but he did direct every single episode of this gorgeous, but depressing, series, creating a sense of strong continuity of style.  Lead actor Clive Owen helps a great deal as well.  Besides, period dramas create a lot of fan buzz.

Anything stand out?

I’ll be honest:  I didn’t get the chance to watch the series closely when it came to HBO Go temporarily before the new season starts airing, but my wife watched it.  Every episode.  Twice.  In about a week.  What little I did see was highly compelling.

Clive Owen makes for a good sleazy doctor, since the first we see of his Dr. John Thackery is him waking up in an Asian brothel, and then injecting himself with something on the way to an ultimately disastrous operation at the hospital conducted by his mentor.  His drug of choice turns out to be cocaine, which is commonly used as a painkiller in hospitals.  He’s arrogant and brilliant, and Owen is a compelling and charismatic lead.  It’s easy to see why the young nurse, Lucy, is attracted to him.

Trivia note:  Lucy is played by actress Eve Hewson, daughter of U2 lead singer Bono.

Likewise, Andre Holland is another stand out as a brilliant African American doctor trying to get his due at the hospital that is uninterested in making social waves.  One episode dealing with a race riot between the city’s Irish, many of whom are cops, and the city’s black population is a stand out for how bad things can go, but Holland’s Dr. Edwards is a steady man who does his job regardless of what’s going on.

Meanwhile, the hospital is being severely mismanaged and the manager is taking loans from a loan shark, and another doctor’s wife loses a baby and her sanity in short order.

Really, this is one tragic show.

Any downsides?

Surgery in 1900 is, well, messy.  This show is not for the faint of stomach.

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