Cut­ting edge

What’s got TV bosses so ex­cited about new med­i­cal drama se­ries the Knick? We ex­am­ine the facts.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - DRAMA -

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!

sCript doC­tors

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.

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