Wednesday, The Shadow League joined other journalists and tastemakers at the New York Medical Academy for the screening of the new Cinemax series The Knick. Directed by Stephen Soderbergh, starring Clive Owen and Andre Holland, The Knick takes place at a fictional hospital, called The Knickerbocker, set in New York City in 1900.
The show highlights dark times when diseases such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis were running rampant throughout the immigrant population. With the slums being a breeding ground for sickness, characters deal with cocaine addiction, sexism, racism and organized crime, all while overcoming the psychological weight of working in the medical field during a time when a 60 percent mortality rate was considered exceptional.
Owen plays Dr. John Thackery, a brilliant surgeon who is haunted by the demons of an addiction to cocaine. He appears to not realize his disease, despite going through withdrawal symptoms upon missing a dosage. Although Illegal in the present day, cocaine in 1900 was seen as a miracle drug.
Holland, who plays Dr. Algernon Edwards, is named assistant director of the hospital. Although because of his black race, he is relegated to glorified nursing duty by colleagues. Taking measures to practice medicine on his own accord, he opens a secret clinic for African-Americans in a hospital basement.
Wednesday’s classy event featured a screening of the first two, one hour episodes of The Knick. And from the looks of it, Cinemax has a huge hit on their hands. Aspects from the film score to the grit and gore of a 1900 hospital added authenticity and heart to a debut series that’s like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire set in the medical field.
After the screening, guests were treated to a reception that featured tasty delicacies and ongoing cocktails set to the backdrop of a live jazz band headed by Amanda Seales (formerly known as Amanda Diva.) The stately turn of the century ambiance, provided by the New York Medical Academy, added to the noire of The Knick and the classiness of the evening.
The Knick is slated to premiere on Cinemax Friday, August 8. An informed period piece with legitimate suspense and layered characters, it’s a must see.