Steven Soderbergh recently decided to turn to TV-shows instead of cinema. “The Knick” is a show about a hospital in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. Soderbergh shows medical procedures at a time when doctors could easily be confused with butchers. The leading role is played by Clive Owen.
One of the first things we get is a surgery. A very bloody one with no good end. As it turns out, many scenes like this will follow. Dr. John Thackery becomes Chief Surgeon after one of this procedures. However, his brilliance in the medical field is overshadowed by his drug addiction. Thackery is not only in a constant fight with himself as well as the patients he also has differences with Cornelia Robertson who is the chief of the hospital. Thackery is pressured to hire Algernon Edwards a highly acclaimed doctor with only one problem: he is black. Neither Thackery or his colleagues have any interest in his help or knowledge. On top of that the hospital is confronted with other problems: electricity is about to be installed but due to the manager of the hospital defrauding money the job is done poorly and accidents pile up. Another severe problem Edwards comes across is the fact that black people are not treated at the hospital. He decides to install a makeshift clinic in the basement.
After watching the first episode I was not too fond of the show as several plot lines seemed highly artificial. The introduction of Dr. Edwards for example felt like “hey we need some more drama”. However, in the course of the second episode he appears more versatile and his character gets more depth.
A part of the show I still can’t make my mind up about is Cornelia Robertson, the chief of the hospital. This is another point which seems to exist merely for drama. Of course she is rich with is the first controversial point in a world where everyone else seems to be poor. So far her character didn’t show me enough depth to overcome the part of the drama starter. But maybe she’ll develop throughout the show.
Let’s move on the lead: Clive Owen aka Dr. John Thackery. He appears to be one of those cliché types: genies and madman in one person. An anti-hero with a drug problem. (Doesn’t that sound familiar?). So far another drama starter that is way to forseeable. I don’t think it is necessary to remind the audience very ten minutes of his drug addiction. It’s already getting on my nerves and I’ve only seen two episodes.
Don’t get me wrong, the actors are doing a great job, I think their performances are very good. It’s just the script and the basic idea of the show I am struggling with. However, an interesting point Soderbergh gives with his show are the medical procedures of the time. I can’t help but wonder how many of the scenes actually are authentic. There are many surgeries in the show and where other directors cut, Soderbergh keeps the focus. Watching this show you need to have a strong stomach. The surgeries are show in great detail (and great amount of blood) and on more than one occasion the doctors reminded me of butchers.
Before this all gets a far too negative tone I’ll give out some praise: The general situation of the city in 1900 is shown very well. Many different aspects are covered and you get a good impression. The music used is also a plus point. The music blends in with the fast pace of the city – and the show in general.
Summing up I have to say that there are many cliché points in the script but I wonder how these plot lines will develop throughout the show. Up to now the show gets a rating of 6.5/10.