almost everything about the knick is problematic
This is not going to be a real review, because it’s after midnight on a sunday and I have to get up for work tomorrow morning. Please read this piece from Emily Nussbaum for the general writing and structural wrongness.
The central failure of The Knick is its anachronism, not that in portraying the past, but its seeming unawareness of the landmark developments in television of the past decade. Just as all Soderbergh films seem to belong in 1999, this show would have killed it in 2004 but the bar has been infinitely raised since then. Modern prestige dramas serve an educated, or at least willing to read the relevant wikipedia, audience seeking challenging content will sustain repeated viewings. The Knick seems to assume that none of its audience has seen a Thomas Eakins painting or know that tenements were deplorably dirty disease incubators. Are we meant to be shocked by the blatant racism of middle aged white men or the fact that an immigrant child works in a sweatshop?
The accents are ridiculous and the art direction worse. Could they not have cast a real southerner as the nurse from West Virginia (instead of Bono’s daughter), or a child who is a little bit better at reading yiddish phonetically? It’s unfair to pick on the performance of a little girl, but this a casting issue that come up time and again with the snippets of foreign language dialogue sprinkled into tv shows, performed by actors without convincing fluency.
The exteriors have the sterility of a backlot sitcom New York street and breaks between physical sets and matte painting are visible even in my sd copy viewed on a 13” laptop. It wouldn’t surprise me if the extras were rendered with Massive although the lack of crowds would suggest a very lazy hand at that. The overall effect is less convincing than that of a Wes Anderson miniature. How is that street so clean? There should be horse shit everywhere.
Lastly, if the initial selling point of your show is the hotness of Clive Owen, you better show some male nudity. I’m not even talking about full frontal, although there’s a perfect opportunity tor a penis shot to end all penis shots in the pilot. I’m talking a standard premium cable hairy chest or upper buttock shot. You do not expect the only nudity in a HBO-family drama to be an out of focus shot of a Chinese prostitute in the opening scene.
This would all be okay is the show was full season streaming or even just a 2 hour pilot. I watched a full season of House of Cards out of boredom. I would totally push through a few episodes if only to watch excellent performances by Michael Angarano and Cara Seymour. Or see what happens to Dr Edwards or Nurse Elkins, both of whom clearly could have been our entree into this world. But wait for weeks for this to get good? I don’t think so.