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I have recently started watching the first season of “The Knick” and thought it would be a good time for a review as the second season premieres on Cinemax on Friday (Oct. 16).
The show’s opening season takes us to the world of The Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City in 1900. An actual hospital by that named existed but this is a fictionalized account of the goings-on at that facility.
The most well-known cast member is the main character. Clive Owen plays Dr. John W. Thackery who is the hospital’s chief surgeon. Thackery is a very talented doctor but is also a drug addict. The first scene of the pilot episode has him waking up in a Chinatown opium den. I think that’s a strong enough hint.
In 1900, there have been advances in medicine just not enough of them. Sure, the doctors at “The Knick” save some of the poor and immigrants that mostly make up the patients at the hospital. But many don’t make it. It’s not because the doctors are bad, but the equipment and procedures to save them don’t exist or are simply not advanced enough.
“The Knick” can’t really be considered entertaining. But it’s fascinating. And a big reason why is watching Thackery and his medical staff. You can tell they are tired of working in this primitive state of medicine. They know medicine will modernize, but they are frustrated that their efforts are not making it come fast enough.
And while the state of medicine is the primary concern of “The Knick”, the social issues of the time are also touched upon including racism. Andre Holland plays Dr. Algernon Edwards, an African-American doctor, who fights for acceptance at “The Knick” as a lot of other doctors and patients want nothing to do with him.
And be forewarned, the surgical scenes in “The Knick” are extremely graphic and you’ll cringe when you see how primitive the hospital equipment was back then.
Steven Soderbergh, who directed such movies “Erin Brockovich”, “Traffic” and the “Ocean’s 11” remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, directs “The Knick” episodes and is one of the executive producers.
Also, New York magazine has a story about the second season of the show in its current issue.
My hope for “The Knick”, regardless of how long it lasts, is that Thackery and all of the rest of the hospital staff see their efforts pay off and I want to see that.