Steven Soderbergh may be the busiest retired filmmaker ever. Following the release of his last two feature films, Side Effects and HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, we learned that Soderbergh was teaming up with Clive Owen to bring period medical drama The Knick to Cinemax.
Period shows are something of a specialty for premium networks like HBO, which subsidize and sustain the budget for projects like Todd Haynes' miniseries remake of Mildred Pierce or Boardwalk Empire, but Cinemax's original programming has trended toward the action-packed.
The Knick will join the ranks of Cinemax shows Strike Back, Hunted and Banshee, and while we could have guessed the tone would differ significantly from those offerings, we had no clue as to just how much until now. The first teaser trailer for The Knick has arrived, and you can watch it above.
It may be brief, but the stills of the blood-soaked cast against this moody, ominous soundtrack is dripping with atmosphere. With this in mind, we can look at this synopsis of the show in a slightly different light:
Set in downtown New York in 1900, THE KNICK centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff, who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. The writing team of Jack Amiel and Michael Begler (Raising Helen, Big Miracle), who wrote the pilot for the series, will serve as executive producers, along with Soderbergh, Owen, Michael Sugar (Rendition) and Gregory Jacobs (Behind the Candelabra).
If The Knick's overall mood ends up reflecting that teaser's offbeat, even playful tone - a smirking Clive Owen covered in blood spatters manages to say quite a bit - Soderbergh and Owen could have something unique in store for audiences. The fact that Soderbergh will be directing all ten of the season 1 episodes also ups the expectations for the The Knick to a significant degree, since this model reflects that of HBO's True Detective, in which all eight episodes have Jane Eyre director Cary Fukunaga at the helm.
Given the overall stellar quality of True Detective, audiences have seen just how much this kind of show benefits from having the vision of one director throughout its run. This, coupled with Soderbergh's acknowledged mastery of just about any genre or medium he puts his hands to, places The Knick high on the list of 2014's most anticipated shows.
The ongoing question of how The Knick will be received by the core audiences of Cinemax's original offerings remains significant, but we'll have a better idea of what to expect once a full-length trailer surfaces. Expect this to happen soon, since The Knick is expected to premiere later this year.
The Knick will premiere on Cinemax sometime in 2014.