Though set in the beginning of the 20th century, The Knick stands out in its continual ability to delicately comment on issues relevant today, while staying true to the past. The themes of addiction, class, race, desire, competition are timeless, and dealt with in a realistic, detailed manner.
In 1900 New York. Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), is the Chief surgeon at The Knickerbocker Hospital (The Knick for short). A gifted, albeit unconventional surgeon, Thackery works to solve various medical issues notwithstanding limitations of the era. Despite an addiction to cocaine (which was legal at the time), he is highly respected among his peers. Thanks to the influence of rich patrons such as Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance), most work with a young black doctor, Algernon Edwards (André Holland), whose intelligence and procedures rivals his Thackery’s. and was hired instead of his protégé, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). Given that it’s 1900, it’s no surprise that Dr. Edwards finds little respect among any of the staff.
As the second season begins, things at the Knick are in flux. Thackery is in rehab for cocaine addiction, and the hospital, in dire financial straits, has been shut down. Men who could have helped to keep the hospital open resisted, and instead, uptown, construction on a new building is underway. With Thackery away, Dr. Edwards is the acting chief of surgery, a position he would like to make permanent, but an injury might make that impossible. Meanwhile. Thackery has an epiphany that has him determined to find a cure for addiction.
Beyond that, everyone at the hospital is looking for a way to survive various upheavals. Corruption is par for the course, so nothing is easy. Doctors, nurses, nuns, and administrators deal with various issues at work including eugenics, syphilis, patient deaths, malaria, conjoined twins, and more while balancing difficult personal lives.
A character driven drama directed by the excellent Steven Soderbergh, The Knick is aided by an excellent ensemble cast. Led by Clive Owen and André Holland, both actors inhabit their characters, which makes the series all the more fascinating. The season is 10 episodes long, each one well-constructed and an investigation into the human psyche.
Spread over four DVD’s the standard definition presentation (1.78:1) looks as good as it possibly can. The palette, made up of sepia tones and muted primaries looks very impressive. Carefully filtered lighting also adds to the series look. The image is also quite good. Since Steven Soderbergh films the show with an HD camera, it stands to reason that the DVD’s would offer as much quality as possible.
The 5.1 audio track is solid. Dialogue is clean, and clear throughout, while sound effects are given some depth via the center channel. The front speakers are actually given a nice level of separation. There’s also a nice level of bass response.
English, French, Latin, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Czech subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentaries: with cast and crew on three episodes.
- Post-Ops: Ten inside-the-episode recaps.
- Knicktoids: Get the real story behind some of the events during Season Two.
- Behind The Scenes: Five Featurettes – 1.) Eugenics 2.) Feminism, 3.) Addiction 4.) Race Relations 5.) Corruption
- The Knick: Under Construction: Join the series production designer on a tour of the major set pieces.
- Inside the Costume Shop: The costume designer is joined by some of the cast to discuss how she creates their look for the show.
- Invitation to the Ball: Get an inside look at how Steven Soderbergh, and crew created the extravagant ball featured in episode 7.
- Inside the Body Shop: A look at how the medical scenes on the series are accomplished.
- Digital HD