The Knick: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

Check out our review of this Peabody Award-winning hit Cinemax series starring Golden Globe nominee Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery a brilliant surgeon working on the cutting edge of modern medicine. Unfortunately, it’s the year 1900 and the cutting edge is still a bit rusty. From director and executive producer Steven Soderbergh, this engaging dramatic series, set at The Knickerbocker hospital in New York City, follows Dr. Thackery and his team pushing the boundaries to discover experimental medical breakthroughs.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89

Details:

Studio and Year: Cinemax (Distributed by HBO) – 2014
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 600 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish DTS 5.1, Portuguese/Czech DTS Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Czech
Starring: Clive Owen, Andre Holland, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance, Eve Hewson, Michael Angarano, Chris Sullivan, Cara Seymour, Eric Johnson David Fierro, Maya Kazan
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Written by: Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 11, 2015

“Modern medicine had to start somewhere…”

My Take:

Set in downtown New York City in 1900 The Knick, centers on Dr. John “Thack” Thackery a gifted albeit unorthodox surgeon that searches to solve a plethora of medical mysteries and develops an unhealthy addiction to cocaine, which was legal at the time, while the fate of The Knickerbocker Hospital hangs in the balance. Thanks to the influence of rich patrons like Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) Thackery is paired against his will with a young black doctor, Algernon Edwards (André Holland), whose intelligence and at-all-costs methods rivals Thackery’s, and who is hired over Thackery’s protégé, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). Other supporters of Thackery at the hospital include Dr. “Bertie” Chickering Jr. (Michael Angarano), a young surgeon secretly in love with nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson), who is drawn to Thackery; Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour), who runs the foundling hospital and maternity ward; Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb), the Knick’s crooked superintendent, awash in debt and willing to risk The Knick’s future to pay it off; and Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan), the ambulance driver who will stoop to the lowest depths to bring the right kind of patients to The Knick.

The Knick is a period drama with a character driven narrative and defined scope that revolves around a group of people associated with the Knickerbocker hospital. Set in 1900 the script pays strict attention to detail as it portrays the time period, not only focusing on the personal trials and tribulations in the lives of its characters, but the medical techniques and practices employed in those early days. I watched the entire season with my wife and we were immediately drawn into the show’s penchant for edgy subject matter, graphic detail of the operative techniques and unsavory lack of sterile conditions as well as balancing this with engaging themes such as racism, abortion, drug addiction, and racketeering.

At that time commonplace things of today such as electricity, x-rays, blood typing and simple lifesaving surgical methods were in their infancy or on the precipice of discovery. An integral part of the series’ context is built around the struggles of the doctors and medical minds of the day to develop these new methods/devices while coping with the limitations of their understanding, administrative red tape and the wonderfully interwoven drama/melodrama that revolves around the primary/secondary characters interpersonal relationships and fallibilities. The characters are well drawn and neatly folded into the various subplots, some of which coincide with the primary storyline and some that don’t. The blend works incredibly well making for a thoroughly entertaining TV drama derived from tangible elements that have historical significance. The ensemble cast lead by Clive Owen and Andre Holland own their respective roles which adds to the show’s appeal. We absolutely loved The Knick and can’t wait for the opportunity to see what lies in store during season two.

The Knick season one’s 10 episodes are spread over four BD-50 Blu-rays with the bonus features found throughout. The set comes housed in a “chubby” amaray keep case with matching slipcover.

Parental Guide:

The show contains violence, language, sexual content, nudity, drug content and strong thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The Knick: The Complete First Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3 Mbps.

This high definition video presentation looks great and features a distinctive visual aesthetic that utilizes a reserved chromatic palette which makes use of sepia tones and muted primaries. This along with the application of filtering/lighting provides the period style look the show’s creators were striving for. Certain sequences/elements make bolder use of color with noticeably deeper saturation. Contrast and brightness are well balanced which results in distortion free and satisfying image quality. Blacks appear deep and punchy but delineation in low level scenes can range from very good to average. Flesh tones are a bit on the bland side but retain enough complexional variety to avoid appearing lifeless. Close ups offer appreciable texture and subtle refinement. Wide angle shots, especially those shot in the natural light of day, have excellent depth, with sharp resolute definition quality that is rarely questionable. I didn’t notice any signs of compression or video related artifacts.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds highlighted by the wonderfully eclectic music by Cliff Martinez. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably tight, and punchy low end.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentaries with cast/crew
  • (HD) Episode post-ops featuring cast/crew briefly discussing episodic topics
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Set in the New York City in the year 1900 The Knick is an engaging period TV Drama that features excellent writing, terrific casting/performances and sterling direction in the hands of Steven Soderbergh. It comes toBlu-ray from HBO Home Entertainment featuring rewarding high definition video, crystal clear lossless surround sound and a subpar supplemental package that includes complimentary cast/crew commentary tracks and a series of brief production vignettes. Season one of The Knick proved very entertaining and is highly recommended viewing on Blu-ray.

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package