TV Show Review

TV Review: THE KNICK: Season 1, Episode 1: Method and Madness [Cinemax]

Clive Owen The Knick Method and Madness

Cinemax‘s The Knick Method and Madness TV Show Review. The Knick: Season 1, Episode 1: Method and Madness is not for the faint of heart.  Steven Soderbergh declared his retirement from feature filmmaking, yet the vivid, intriguing possibilities of turn-of-the-century medical technology has beckoned the Oscar winning director back to the small screen with Cinemax’s new series The Knick.

The Knickerbocker hospital, set in an audacious, abrasive New York in the early 1900‘s, was once a respectable facility, whose wealthy patients have now moved on and uptown. The “Knick” now caters to a more dungy, bedraggled clientele. For resident chief of surgery, John Thackery (Clive Owen), that’s good news.

Dr. John W. Thackery, an intense, brilliant surgeon working at the grisly dawn of modern medicine…who is also a liquid cocaine addict and spends his time off at downtown opium dens. With the arrival of the talented, Boston educated, Paris trained Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland), who is black…we learn that Thackery is also an unabashed racist as well. Perhaps not a deep-seated soulless racist, but one that doesn’t want to have to worry about patients and co-workers objecting to a black doctor. However, The Knick’s top benefactor, in the midst of installing the hospital with electricity, insists that Dr. Algernon stay.

The flawed antihero grappling with life and times in a hospital setting is not a revolutionary theme…but The Knick is good. Innovation is what drives the drug addled Thackery, who is willing to try anything to keep patients alive for another day, a few more weeks, another year. Watching primitive surgical practices is compelling and provides us with an intimate peek in to a time in the medical world rarely explored.

From the start, The Knick stands out from convention. The texture, palette and feel are timeless…modern even. “Strangely enough,” said Soderbergh, “my goal was to, in a way, make you forget that it was a period piece. At least in the sense of how it sounded, how it felt, how it looked, I wanted to somehow have the viewer feel, oh, their sensation of New York in 1900 is like our sensation of New York now; that’s how it felt to them.” Steven Soderbergh, directed, shot, and edited all 10 episodes of the miniseries.

Jack Amiel and Michael Begler’s script is solid. Accurately describing each character and thoroughly spelling out upcoming A, B and C storylines.

Bolstering the series even more palpably is Cliff Martinez‘s pulsing electronic score. The present-day keyboards evoke a modern day sci-fi or fantasy story, not a tale set more than 100 years ago. The contrast is truly excellent.

The ensemble cast is wonderful and deserve mention here. Michael Angarano, as the hungry young Dr. Bertram; Eve Hewson, the demure young nurse Lucy, with eyes for John Thackery; Juliet Rylance, the compassionate social working Cornelia; Cara Seymour, as the wicked witted Sister Harriet; Jeremy Bobb, as a sniveling hospital administrator.

The Knick is a departure for Cinemax, whose niche largely depends on nude female bodies and bullets. How refreshing for them…the pairing of Clive Owen and Steven Soderbergh would have been insane for them to pass up. I’ve heard excellent things about future episodes. Looking forward to the unfolding of this mysteriously barbaric world of medicine we’ve been introduced to.

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Eden Tirl

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