The Knick: Pilot Review

Set in 1900 at The Knickerbocker Hospital in New York, medicine is pretty brutal on both the patients and the doctors. It’s a long way from ER, and yet, fundamentally still the same.

The Knick sets out its position pretty quickly, opening with a surgery on a pregnant woman, conducted in the middle of an amphitheatre full of bearded, suited men. There are the very beginnings of the sorts of things that will be familiar to anyone who’s watched modern medical shows, but the sterile environment and surgical tools leave a lot to be desired. The surgery is short but intense, the doctors’ reactions likewise.

After the incredibly tense start, the pilot settles down, and for the most part, we’re back in familiar territory for medical dramas, certainly American ones. There’s a conflict between the guardians of the money and the guardians of the medicine, a new doctor with an undesired ‘background’ arrives, a new nurse struggles to get things right, a risky and innovative new treatment is needed to save a patient and a doctor fights an addiction that he’s fallen into because he was so dedicated to his patients he neglected himself. Yes, they’re all dressed up in stunningly realised period detail, but it’s the same series we watch over and over again.

The biggest problem for me however was that I’d watched A Young Doctor’s Notebook a couple of years ago and just couldn’t shake that I’d found that show so much more engaging. In comparison to John Hamm, Clive Owen was completely flat and completely uninteresting to watch. Meanwhile none of the supporting characters quite brought the energy that Daniel Radcliff did, although the new doctor may well manage it if he doesn’t get bogged down in his main story (staying vague to avoid spoilers). The other supporting characters just kind of blended into one droning background.

The series just didn’t grab me. I didn’t find myself wanting to watch another episode. It may have worked better if the hospital was more remote, or less well funded. Yes, they’re having money issues, but they also have a generous benefactor and a lot of ‘cutting edge’ stuff going on. It all just felt a bit unremarkable.

Bits and Bobs

I think I’m going to start a new type of blog post (although I also reserve the right for this to be the only time I use this structure). Often I’ll find myself watching things during the week that aren’t quite worthy of a whole post by themselves, but that it seems a shame to ignore completely. This will also give me the opportunity to point things out on iplayer or various other catch-up services in time for you to watch them. I may even occasionally link to bits of news that interest me. Basically, it’s a random collection of bits and pieces!

The Driver
driverI’ve watched two out of the three episodes of BBC’s drama The Driver, starring David Morrisey. It’s a good story and David Morrisey is always a very watchable actor. It’s the sort of thing that’s perfectly suited to this sort of very short burst, I don’t think I could take the intensity or sense of doom that fills it for any longer. I’m not expecting a happy ending!
Available until 6th November on iplayer

The Detectorists
detectoristsAbout as far from the Driver as you can imagine is this nice little easy going half hour show on BBC4. It stars the wonderful pairing of Toby Jones (Marvellous, The Girl, Infamous, Harry Potter…) and Mackenzie Crook (Almost Human, Pirates of the Carribean) as some very ordinary metal detectors who may be on the verge of a huge find. It’s somewhere between comedy and drama and is just wonderfully easy to watch.
Episodes 1 and 2 are on iplayer and new episodes air on Thursdays.

The Code
An Australian drama sucked me straight in with its first episode blending together politics, journalism, hacking and a small town mystery about two missing teenagers. It reminded me a lot of State of Play with the interweaving of small and large plots linked together by a journalist. I’ve no idea how it’s all going to come together, but it’s a great set up.
Episodes 1 and 2 are on iplayer and new episodes air on BBC4 on Saturdays.

Downton Abbey
Downton_AbbeyThree episodes in and Downton seems a little more energetic this series. I can actually think of things that have happened, which is a lot more than I could say of previous years. Mary is irritating me less, she seems to have started moving with the times a bit more and her occasional flashes of feeling and connection to the people around her (I liked the bit with Tom last week) makes her more interesting. I hope they move Edith’s character on and give her something positive soon though.
Episodes are available on itv player

Great British Bake Off
8077683536_38efd98443_mI can’t really not mention what seems to be the television event of the year, particularly given that I’m a bit of a baker and am a big fan of the show. It’s clearly more popular than ever, with ratings of the final topping those of the World Cup Final but for me, I don’t think it was the best series. I found the recipes far less inspiring than usual, particularly the technical challenges, and I got increasingly frustrated with the artificial time pressures (you can’t ice a hot cake!). The contestants, hosts and judges however were all lovely as usual, and in the end I think the right person won. (Ps, that’s a picture of my own version of the GBBO title cake)
Most of the episodes are still on iplayer but they’re disappearing soonish.

Cat Watch 2014: The New Horizon Experiment
5347376050_4707fb35ac_zI’m slowly catching up on this three part update to last year’s amazing cat-stalking documentary and it’s every bit as interesting, original and cute as the previous show. It’s a good job my housemate is allergic to cats because frankly within just 10 minutes of gorgeous close ups and slow motion shots I was overwhelmed with a desire to fill the house with moggies. (That’s my dad’s cat in the photo).
All three episodes are available on iplayer until 9th October.

Coming up next week
I’m incredibly excited about the start of season 5 of The Walking Dead, 9pm Monday night on FX. There are three interesting looking new shows starting this week. On Monday at 9pm on Channel 5 is Gotham, following young detective James Gordon as he investigates the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. It’s one of the top picks for the year’s crop of new shows in the US and my expectations are pretty high. The Knick starts on Sky Atlantic on Thursday at 9pm, set in a New York hospital in 1900 which sounds like a fascinating idea and as it stars Clive Owen and is directed by Steven Soderbergh I’m quite optimistic for the delivery. I’m less optimistic about The Great Fire on ITV, 9pm Thursday. I’ve also spotted that Justified is available on Sky Box Sets on Demand, a series that I’ve wanted to catch up on for a while.