(HBO MAX/VOD) Steven Soderbergh’s THE KNICK was part of the ‘auteur TV’ moment that bloomed in 2014, which included shows like TRUE DETECTIVE where the entire series was helmed by a sole director with a vision. Not only did Soderbergh direct all twenty episodes of the show, but he also shot it — not just taking on director of photography duties, but also filling in as the camera operator, -and- he edited it.*
The end result is a spectacularly modulated historical drama featuring Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery as a brilliant doctor/addict at NYC’s Knickerbocker Hospital at the turn of the 20th century, Eve Hewson (the previously mentioned TESLA) as a nurse who falls into Thackery’s orbit, and André Holland (MOONLIGHT, HIGH FLYING BIRD) as Dr. Algernon Edwards, fighting for his right to practice medicine as a Black man. Its use of wide lenses, extended long takes, and unflinching portrayals of early 20th century surgery made it look like nothing on TV, and it sounded unlike anything else thanks to a throbbing electronic score from stalwart Soderbergh composer Cliff Martinez.
The second season ends with a jaw dropping moment, one that you will never forget — although you may wish you could unsee it — one that seemed to put a pin in the show but, no, there’s been talk of the show being revived; first with Soderbergh at the helm again, now with Barry Jenkins as the show runner. I hope it happens but, if not, Soderbergh gave us two astounding seasons of television that deserve to be seen by more folks.
Here’s the trailer, but you may to skip it — and the show — if you do not have a strong stomach.
- If you’d like to read more about Soderbergh’s process of shooting THE KNICK, there’s an in-depth article available at Vulture: https://www.vulture.com/2015/10/on-set-steven-soderbergh-the-knick.html