Is there anything better than watching television about the past, when people were wrong about everything? The past, with its glamorous clothes, copious smoking, and easily judged mistakes? If you said, “Nothing, except perhaps television set in the past full of gory surgery scenes,” well, you’re in luck. Cinemax’s new show, The Knick (directed by Steven Soderbergh), serves up present day feel-goodness and old time gore in equal measure.
The Knick opens with our hero, Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) being awoken by a naked woman in a brothel. From the brothel, he hails a carriage to the hospital. On the way, he injects some cocaine into his foot. All in the day of the life, one supposes, of a TV anti-hero.
In any case, Thackery rolls into Knickerbocker Hospital, ready to operate on a pregnant woman . The surgery is risky, and the woman bleeds to death on the table in a genuinely horrifying sequence: her blood, which is being vacuumed by an assisting doctor into jars, goes from steadily filling one to filling many.