What’s got TV bosses so excited about new medical drama series the Knick? We examine the facts.
the Knick Season 1 Mondays (from 11 August) M-Net 21:30
On november 2013, the citizens of manhattan’s Lower east side in new York went back in time 114 years. cars and bicycles were exiled, a layer of dirt covered tar roads and horse carriages took over the streets. as did rubbish, including the occasional (fake) dead horse. and series director steven soderbergh (the movie director behind the ocean’s eleven trilogy, 2001-2007, and magic mike in 2012) got ready to film clive owen (from 2004 movie King arthur) at work as Dr John thackery, the brilliant, grumpy chief of surgery at the Knickerbocker hospital aka the Knick. their work has earned the series a second season renewal more than a month before its first episode even aired in the Us on Friday 8 august!
But why are tV execs all “full speed ahead and who cares what the audience thinks” about a medically oriented period drama? it could be down to the writing. clive, best known as Larry in 2004 flick closer, hasn’t been interested in a tV series since he played lead Detective Ross tanner in the BBc crime drama second sight back in 1999. he admits, “Before i started reading the script, i wasn’t sure i wanted to commit to 10 hours of television… 40 minutes later, i knew i had to do this.” steven hints that “i had a similar reaction to clive’s when i read the first script. and i knew that as the first person who got to take a look at it, if i didn’t say yes, then the second person who was going to see it would say yes”.
so what’s it all about?
the Knick’s writer-creators Jack amiel and michael Begler uncovered a gory goldmine when they researched historical case studies and surgical procedures for the show. it’s easy to forget now, but aspirin was only “born” in 1899, doctors in manhattan didn’t have an x-ray machine in 1900, the first successful blood transfusion didn’t happen until 1907 and antibiotics weren’t even around until 1928.
“this was a wild time and doctors were the new heroes,” explains Jack. surgeons were operating in the dark, literally as well as figuratively, because another thing that they didn’t have back in those times was a reliable power supply. in fact, the lights come on at the Knick only at the end of the first episode. “i wanted the show to be dark enough that viewers could understand what it was like to walk around in that period,” steven explains.