Cuts Like a Knife

The KnickAh, the summer TV season. A time of reruns and “reality” series.

Thank God it’s almost over.

Ushering in the new season, albeit a bit ahead of the others, is Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick, a sort of House-now-with-extra-blood! set in early 1900s New York City at the famed Knickerbocker Hospital. If you’re looking for a feel-good sort of medical show, this isn’t it. Instead, The Knick stars Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery, a renowned surgeon with a taste for cocaine and daring. In the show’s pilot, Thackeray’s friend and mentor has just died leaving him as The Knick’s new chief of surgery. Much to Thackery’s chagrin, however, even as the Chief, he does not call all the shots, and financial troubles mean that Thackery must deal with the board’s decision to invite a new doctor to join their staff. In the midst of this monumental change, Thackery rules The Knick with little regard for his staff and their own difficulties.

I will freely admit that I watched the pilot because of Eve Hewson, who plays nurse Lucy Elkins, and is notably the daughter of U2’s Bono, and then for the pedigree of Soderbergh and Owen, and none disappointed, but it was Cara Seymour playing Sister Harriet who was the most pleasant surprise in the first episode. And of course, Dr. Algernon Edwards’ (André Holland) attempt to join the circus at Knickerbocker could lead to some interesting storylines, as well.

Pilot episodes have a tendency to feel like pilot episodes because they are so concerned with establishing character, storyline structure and tone that it takes some time for the plot to get its due, but The Knick feels promising, if a bit languorous, so I’ll sign up for some more time under Thackery’s Big Top.

Cinemax has made the first episode available on YouTube; the series has already been renewed for a second season.


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