THIS IS THE SHOW CABLE DESERVES
BUT NOT THE ONE IT NEEDS.

‘The Knick’ Soderbergh’s medical mind-fuck time warp. 

Starring Clive Owen, The Knick, is a penetrating drama that focuses on the early stages of turn of the century surgical/medical practices in New York City. The Knick is a moniker of “The Knickerbocker’ the aptly titled hospital where Owen’s Dr. James Thackery is the Chief Surgeon. Brilliant but ornery, he possesses a handsomeness in a misleading despicable way as he operates through mistrials and arrogant tribulations while being high on cocaine. The complexity of Thackery is that his intentions are noble, as he knows he is at the pioneering forefront of surgery. He is seamlessly transitioning the whole surgical industry from the back of “barber rooms” to the wards of hospitals and is honestly determined to stridently help people in the name of science and his own reputation. The 11 one hour episodes show is on Cinemax, Friday nights at 10:00pm. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, he masterfully commands the lighting, camera and blocking to a visual delirium. He is one of the few directors regardless of medium that inherent talent like his shines. Now, I’m not the most well versed TV expert, but I know that typically for polished, big named, time period tentpole shows like Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, Sundays are game days. But on a Friday, Cinemax isn’t really demonstrating any sign of confidence. For me however, since it’s the summer and we all know summers on TV are like the plague, it's incentive for me to give this show a chance even if Cinemax airs it on at the same time as Shaun T’s infomercials. I’m grateful I did because there is an unusual macabre presence for a summer show is rarely focused upon. I have finished the first two episodes in which for all of Dr. Thackery’s brilliance, it don’t mean shit when you have limited resources cutting up live patients and pig organs instead of actual cadavers (those go to the big entitled med schools and hospitals) and that is where the show's hook comes from. As fascinating as Owen’s lead is, and how authentically perverse the peripheral world and it’s inhabitants are, and how masterful Soderberg’s directing can be – the hook of ‘The Knick’ is the provocative way that Thackery and the rest of this merry band of old school doctors focus who not only crudely hack and slash their way to possibly save the patient but also use them as a test subject for radical procedure to prove their brilliance in this arms race for turn of the century surgical procedure. Trial and error with live human capital has never been paid at the cost of medical collateral damage until now. This show doesn’t have a happy ending with the patients and there is no feeling of (then) modern medicine effectively saving lives. Through this show's interpretation, one can see a doctor and his staff trying to “break a couple of eggs to make an omelette” or “see a licensed serial killer carte-blanching his way to ironically save lives but piling the bodies all over the place.” Either way – this is television viscera on the deepest of levels.  

 


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