The first episode of the ten-part premium TV series, The Knick, is aired nationally tonight, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen as Dr. Thackery. It is a medical drama set in Manhattan in 1900. Considering a second series is already in production before the first has been aired, it promises to be a blockbuster like Mad Men. Don’t be put off by the salacious start (which used to be associated with Cinemax) and be prepared for gore and violence, but this is a fascinating story of a surgeon’s life and work from not so long ago, but a very long time in the history of medicine.
A brilliant technician in the O.R., Dr. Thackery is not a sympathetic character-haughty, prejudiced, and a cocaine-opium addict. But he is fictional. For his real-life counterpart, read Robert Morris’s own words. He was a pioneer surgeon of those times in NYC, but also a compassionate and well-rounded person whom we celebrated in A Surgeon’s Story (see side-bar).