Baking Day —2021 (II)

Tonight I powered through the last of the baking and cookie decorating. As always, it was fun.

Tomorrow morning it’s tin time. I’ll be glad to get the cookies and fudge out of the house and on their way, to remove the nibble temptation. For now, though, it’s time to kick back with a glass of wine and watch some TV while the icing hardens.

Gone Too Soon

Everyone has a list of TV shows that–in their view at least–were inexplicably cancelled, or ceased production, just as the shows were hitting their stride and you were fully and firmly hooked. Kish and I spent the last few weeks binge-watching The Knick, which was broadcast for only two seasons and which ended with a cliff-hanger and numerous plot lines dangling, and we put it firmly into our pantheon of shows that we wish had continued.

The Knick tells the story of the Knickerbocker Hospital in turn of the century New York City. Led by the brilliant but hopelessly addicted and self-destructive Dr. John Thackery and trailblazing surgeon Dr. Algernon Edwards, the Knick deals with all kind of issues of the day: racism, mass immigration, rampant public health problems, addiction, appalling medical quackery, the eugenics movement, abortion, corrupt city government and skimming hospital employees, and just about every other problem you could imagine in an American city at the dawn of the modern era. It’s fascinating, and the rich historical setting itself adds to the fascination: it was an era when the early motor cars mixed with horse and carriage on Manhattan streets, travel by steamship brought a flood of rich travelers and impoverished immigrants to the City, electric lights were being installed, the x-ray was introduced as a diagnostic tool, and new approaches and inventions were found around every corner.

I am partial to historical dramas and period pieces, and The Knick does an excellent job of presenting the era. The sense of historical reality–from the street scenes, to the interior of houses, to the hospital’s surgical amphitheater and scrub room, to the pitch-perfect nurse outfits, the ambulance driver’s uniform, the fancy dresses, and the hats worn by seemingly every character–is total. And The Knick doesn’t downplay the primitive (by our standards, at least) medical and surgical techniques, either: Dr. Thackery is happy to try newly devised techniques on living patients (including, notably, himself) in the name of advancement of medical science, and total charlatans mingled easily with legitimate doctors. You’ll find some of the surgical scenes to be bloody and hard to watch, but also presented with the definite ring of authenticity.

Alas, The Knick ended in 2015, and we’ll never know what happened to Dr. Thackery, Dr. Edwards, hard-charging nurse Lucy Elkins, contemptible and corrupt hospital manager Herman Barrow, ambulance driver Tom Clancy, or the many other interesting characters on the shows whose tales must be left untold. But at least we got to enjoy two seasons of this very engrossing show. The Knick is right up there with Deadwood in our list of shows that were gone too soon.