The Knick takes a step back into time to 1900 when medicine was much different than it is today. A simple wound could bring death and visiting a doctor could cause more harm than good. The series from Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) stars Clive Owen (Children of Men) as Dr. John Thackery, a brilliant and arrogant surgeon at New York City’s The Knickerbocker Hospital. 

Authentic Look of the 1900s

When filming Soderbergh wanted the sets to feel like it was really 1900, which included using natural lighting, ” The sets were all designed to be lit practically by the kinds of instruments that existed during that period, and the good news is that cameras are now sensitive enough to shoot in literally any circumstance that you can see,” said Soderbergh.

“I wanted the show to dark enough for you to understand what it was like to walk around during that period, hopefully not so dark that you become frustrated.”

Dr. Thackery’s a Cocaine Addict

During research, the creators found that it was common for doctors of this era to use cocaine, such as, one of the founders of John Hopkins, William Halsted, “He was taking cocaine to do his job and to progress medicine, but he also needed to balance that, and his drug of choice was morphine,” explained Co-Creator Michael Begler.

For Thackery, using cocaine suited his personality and desires, “We felt that at that time these doctors were trying to do so much to progress at such a high rate and tat such a quick rate that … it just made sense for him to want to drive forward and keep driving forward.”

High Death Rate

“Thackery is a guy who is forcing himself into the future. He’s the bow of every boat he’s ever been on. And I think, for him, cocaine allows him to not look back,” explained Co-Creator Jack Amiel.

“When you’re a surgeon in this era, you have a body count behind you. And for Thackery, how do you forget the body count and cut into the next patient, who you know may have 100 percent mortality rate in this particular procedure.”

Filmed Like a Movie

Soderbergh directed all 10 episodes of the series and he said it was handled similar to filming a movie. The entire series was written, scheduled and boarded like a film, which made it more economical and efficient. 

He also found it more creatively satisfying, “There’s a positive aspect to having a visual language that is very, very specific and very, very unified throughout the show. In  this case, it’s not only creatively satisfying, but it’s also, practically speaking, a much better way to work.”

The Knick Renewed for Season 2

Even though the show hasn’t even premiered yet, don’t fear it being cancelled. The series has already been renewed for another 10-episode season. Soderbergh plans on directing all 10 episodes of season 2 as well.

The Knick premieres Friday, August 8 at 10pm ET on Cinemax

(Image and video courtesy of Cinemax.)

Carla Day

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Contributing Editor and Writer for Collider, BuddyTV, TV Fanatic, CliqueClack, and other publications. TV criticism, reviews, interviews with actors and producers, and other related content. Founder of TV Diehard.