The Knick – Season 1

 

HBO, in conjunction with Cinemax, have done it again. Director Steven Soderbergh puts Clive Owen as Doctor John W. Thackery through his paces in this series created by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler. Now before you ponder the question of why, oh why, we would need yet another medical drama, take a look at the setting…

It’s New York, 1900. Medicine has progressed further in the past five years, than it has in the previous five hundred, and yet, as a viewer, we can see how far behind us they are. With in an influx of immigrants, areas of New York are a hotbed for diseases like tuberculosis, and even things such as childbirth can cause complications even death for both mother and child. Into this immediately recognizable, yet shocking world, the viewer is thrown, and we are just as haunted by those practicing medicine as those receiving it in the Knickerbocker Hospital, or The Knick for short.

With themes, and ideas that still resonate through to the modern age, Thackery and his fellow doctors, Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland), Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and Bertie Chickering, Jr. (Michael Angarano) wade through blood and gore, dealing with their own addictions, loves, prejudice, class structure, and financing.

The series starts strong, and gets stronger with each episode, as we view advances, setbacks, and things that would help us live that much longer, pushing back at Death. Owen is nothing short of fantastic, embodying Thackery completely, and bringing the early 20th century to life with the help of his amazing cast and crew, some brilliant production values, and tightly plotted and scripted storylines.

the-knick-image

The first season, which was released on Tuesday this week, is everything you would expect from a HBO release, a gorgeous transfer – the picture is sharp and beautiful, commentaries, little post-ops for each episode wherein the surgeries and techniques used or pioneered in the episode are expounded upon, I particularly dug on these, its amazing to learn what was accepted and what was practiced, and how much it’s changed, and in turn makes me wonder what future practices will think of what our medicine is like today…

And let me say, this one hooked me right from the off, I love the look, the cast, and honestly, as graphic as the surgeries are, they’re fantastic to watch, because they’re just so realistic, and it’s stunning to think that this is the way surgeries were done, literally in an operating theatre, with dozens of people watching! Then there’s the competition, often violent, between ambulance drivers like Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) for patients, the foundlings wing overseen by the tough as nails Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour), not to mention the struggle, financially, to keep the hospital running. Things get more complicated for Thackery when he’s made head surgeon and is then added to the hospital board, often overseen by Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) who chafes and fights against the institution of sexism to get her wishes for the hospital across.

Everything in this series is solid, smart, and no detail is overlooked. It is well worth your time, and by the end of the first season, 10 episodes in length, you’ll be clamoring for more! And you’ll be well caught up on this Award winning series, including the AFI Award for TV Program of the Year, by the time season 2 gets underway in October. I CANNOT WAIT! You’ve done it to me again HBO, addicted to yet another series…

Check it out on Blu-Ray or DVD today!

clive

 

 

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