I watched the first episode of Steven Soderberg's new TV series "The Knick" a few weeks ago, realized immediately its depth, and Put It The Fuck Away Until I Had Time To Binge Watch The Whole Series At Once. I have only in the last few days been able to binge watch the whole series. I think it's one of the best things on television.
Soderberg did a kind of sideways shuffle into television with this series, coming as it does on the heels of his public announcement that he was done with making films, forever. Well, TV must not count as film, because he appears to have been Pretty Fuckin' Busy making this series. He wrote most of the scripts, directed all 10 episodes, and IMO basically created a weird kind of masterpiece that I suspect in the future will be favorably compared to "Deadwood" as being one of the best TV series ever created. OK, for you in countries in which you'll have to pay HBO prices to see this and who resent that, it's kinda worth it. Say it costs you ten bucks. Just being able to watch Soderberg's cinematography when recreating 1900s New York would be worth ten bucks. Besides, if you are familiar with his work, you've got Clive Owen. There are few more commanding faces of the modern screen. From "King Arthur" to "Sin City" to "Inside Man" to "Children Of Men" to "Hemingway and Gellhorn," Clive has never been less than interesting. He's interesting here, too, as Dr. John W. Thackery, head of surgery at a great New York hospital. It's just that it's the Knickerbocker hospital, and at the turn of the century, so the medicine being practiced is not exactly what we would today consider "state of the art." But is WAS so considered back then. And therein lies the magic of this series. Thackery is a visionary, a seeker of perfection within the realm of medicine, driven to create new surgical methods with which to better save lives. He's also a total cocaine and opium junkie, fuels he needs to keep up the furious pace of his live-fast-die-young-leave-a-lot-of-scientific-papers-behind-you lifestyle. The "medicine of the times" is all up onscreen, and at times it makes you want to avert your eyes. But you can't, because of the magic of Soderberg's cinematography. The plot dynamic of this series is very much character-based. Thackery, ego-driven, cocaine-driven, but brilliant, is forced to hire an equally talented surgeon pushed on him by the hospital's primary donors. He's black. This does not sit well with Dr. Thackery, or with anyone else in the hospital. This black doctor, played wonderfully by André Holland, walks into such a poisonous environment *anyway* and pulls it off. Don't look for flawless heroes in "The Knick," any more than you would have looked for them in "Deadwood." But if you're interested in getting to know some real CHARACTERS, this could be what you're looking for as your next binge-watch. Expect to see this series all over the nominations for Golden Globe and Emmy awards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08V4RHGuGqE